What is VPN Split Tunneling? Complete Guide

Abeerah Hashim  - Security Expert
Last updated: November 12, 2023
Read time: 14 minutes

Split tunneling opens two simultaneous connections to the Internet for you. We explain how this handy feature works, list the top VPNs that support it, and more.

Most VPNs offer a dedicated “Split Tunneling” feature that allows users to access local and foreign content simultaneously. It divides the internet traffic into two main streams. One moves through your regular ISP route, while the other passes via VPN connection with encryption and spoofed IP. You can easily control the data you want to send either unencrypted or under the VPN protective shield. In short, split tunneling protects the user’s sensitive data without interfering much with the system’s functionality.

Amidst the growing content censorship and geo-restrictions, VPN services have gained significant popularity among internet users. However, changing online locations also means that the users should surrender their access to local content, something infeasible for many. That’s where split tunneling helps VPN users manage their browsing requirements.

Split tunneling is a dedicated feature that allows your VPN to divide your internet traffic into two streams. One of these streams regularly goes through your ISP, and the other passes through the VPN with full encryption and IP masking. That’s how it lets you browse content from other regions without losing access to the local stuff.

For instance, if there are any specific nodes within your local network that you won’t be able to access from an external server, you need to keep your local traffic open and your IP looking like your actual physical IP. At this point, split tunneling lets you have some of your traffic privates at the same time while saving you a little bandwidth.

In most cases, your VPN’s apps or software will allow you to choose the applications on your device that should send their traffic through the VPN or your regular connection.

But do you need split tunneling for your traffic? Is there any risk involved in this? Which VPN vendors will let you do it?