What is a VPN split tunnel and how does it work?
What is a VPN split tunnel?
A VPN split tunnel is a virtual private network (VPN) feature that allows you to route some of your internet traffic through the VPN tunnel while allowing other traffic to bypass the VPN tunnel and go directly to the internet.
In a typical VPN connection, your internet traffic is encrypted and routed through the VPN server to protect your online privacy and security.
However, in some situations, you may want to access resources on your local network or use specific applications that don't work well with VPN connections. In these cases, a split tunnel allows you to send only the necessary traffic through the VPN while keeping the rest of your traffic local.
For example, you may want to use your VPN connection to access sensitive work-related resources. Still, at the same time, you may wish to continue streaming videos or playing games that require a high-speed internet connection. With a split tunnel, you can route only the work-related traffic through the VPN and let the other traffic go directly to the internet.
A split tunnel can help optimize your network performance while allowing you to use your VPN connection to protect your online privacy and security. However, it's essential to understand that a split tunnel does create a potential security risk since the non-VPN traffic is not encrypted and could be intercepted by attackers. Therefore, using a split tunnel only when necessary and carefully considering the risks involved is vital.
How does a VPN split tunnel work?
In a VPN split tunnel, your internet traffic is split into two streams: one encrypted and routed through the VPN tunnel to the remote server and another sent directly to the internet without passing through the VPN.
The split tunnel is typically set up through the VPN software, which allows you to specify which traffic should be sent through the VPN and which traffic should bypass the VPN. The VPN will then use a routing table to determine how to route each traffic packet based on its destination IP address.
For example, you may configure to route traffic destined for your work-related resources through the VPN while allowing traffic to other websites and services to bypass the VPN. It would allow you to access your work resources securely while maintaining a high-speed internet connection for other activities. When you send traffic through the VPN, it is encrypted using a secure protocol such as OpenVPN, IPSec, or L2TP. It ensures that the data is protected from interception or tampering by third parties.
On the other hand, traffic that bypasses the VPN is not encrypted and is sent directly to its destination. It can result in faster internet speeds for activities that don't require the protection of the VPN. Still, it also means that this traffic is not protected by the VPN's encryption and is potentially vulnerable to interception by attackers.
Overall, a VPN split tunnel is a helpful feature that balances security and performance by routing only the necessary traffic through the VPN while allowing other traffic to bypass the VPN.The benefits of a VPN split tunnel
Faster Internet speeds
By allowing specific traffic to bypass the VPN tunnel, you can achieve faster internet speeds for non-sensitive activities such as streaming videos or downloading large files. However, the VPN maybe slow down your internet connection due to the overhead of encryption and routing.
Reduce network congestion
By routing only the necessary traffic through the VPN, you can reduce the traffic on the VPN tunnel and improve network performance.
Access to local resources
If you need to access resources on your local network, such as a printer or file server, a split tunnel can allow you to do so without disrupting your VPN connection.
Some applications or services may not work well with VPN connections, and a split tunnel can allow you to use these services without disrupting your VPN connection.
Reduce bandwidth usage
By bypassing the VPN for specific traffic, you can reduce the amount of data that needs to be sent over the VPN, which can be helpful if you have limited bandwidth or data usage restrictions.
Overall, a VPN split tunnel can help optimize your network performance while allowing you to use your VPN connection to protect your online privacy and security. However, it's essential to carefully consider the risks and benefits before enabling this feature, as it can reduce the level of protection provided by the VPN.
How do I choose which traffic goes through the VPN and which doesn't？
The process for choosing which traffic goes through the VPN and which traffic bypasses it depends on the VPN you're using, but generally, you can configure this using the settings or preferences of the VPN.
You can use split tunneling on Android and Windows only. iOS and macOS do not support split tunneling. Example as X-VPN and how to configure：
- Open X-VPN and click Advanced Features in the lower right corner.
- Select the Settings placed under the Application Control.
- Click Add to enter the app list and select the app that needs to split up.
- Return to the main page and complete the settings.
Once you've configured the split tunneling settings, the VPN will automatically route the selected traffic through the VPN tunnel while allowing other traffic to bypass the tunnel and go directly to the internet.