Split Tunneling VPN: How It Works and Why You Need It

Arsalan Rathore

June 25, 2022
Updated on June 25, 2022
Split Tunneling VPN: How It Works and Why You Need It

VPNs allow users to surf the internet with complete anonymity, privacy, and security. It can grant access to geo-restricted content, torrents, and full encryption. However, some websites and applications like Spotify, Netflix, and even Wikipedia, do not allow VPN users to access their services.

VPN Split Tunneling is a handy feature that solves this problem. VPNs are meant to help users manage their privacy and take control of their internet traffic. This guide details what Split Tunneling is, how it works, and some benefits to help you take advantage of this feature.

What is Split Tunneling VPN?

The default setting for VPNs is to re-route all internet traffic through a secure and encrypted tunnel. This is done whilst all online activity is hidden from any third parties. As the default mode for the VPN encrypts all data, whether incoming or outgoing, your entire connection is secured or encrypted. 

On the other hand, VPN Split Tunneling is an advanced feature that allows you to experience two things at once. It allows you to decide which sites, applications, or networks should run on the VPN and which should run on your standard connection. 

Split tunneling allows you to ‘split’ your internet connection into two different connections. This is done through a VPN provider that will enable you to use one connection directly with the open internet, as you would have without a VPN, and another connection that securely runs on the VPN tunnel, where your data is encrypted.

This feature is found in a variety of VPN providers. It allows the simultaneous use of two separate but initially conjoined connections. Through a VPN, you can select which applications get to use the standard internet connection and which must re-route their traffic through the VPN tunnel.

For example, you may prefer the Split Tunneling feature if you prefer to keep one browser for personal use and one for corporate or work use. In that scenario, you may only like to use a VPN tunnel to secure sensitive data for work and may not prefer to use a VPN for personal use.

Through this duality, you may enjoy access to local services on your standard connection and access to geo-restricted content through your secure VPN tunnel connection.

With Split Tunneling, you can have access to:

  1. Geo-restricted media content while still retaining a connection to your local IP address
  2. Any shared Wi-Fi devices, such as your office printer, while still having an encrypted internet surfing experience
  3. Your average web speeds without disruption from heavy downloads on your secondary connection

How Does Split Tunneling Work?

Anytime a Split Tunneling user visits a website or application, the user’s configuration decides whether to use an encryption tunnel or the standard connection. This dual-channel allows users to set specific rules to ensure that all of their privacy needs are met.

The traffic they wish to protect goes through the VPN’s encrypted tunnel. The traffic they do not want to encrypt is then free to be forwarded to the public internet. Unlike VPN traffic, excluded traffic is less likely to be slowed down due to the lack of encryption of IP addresses, which allows websites with specific local access rules to be accessed normally.

Types of Split Tunneling

Types of split tunneling

There are three main types of Split Tunneling that users can take advantage of:

  1. URL-based Split Tunneling, 

It enables the user to specify URLs to which they wish to have encrypted access.

  1. App-based Split Tunneling, 

This allows users to select specific apps that need to be routed through their VPN, while non-selected apps have traffic that goes through their standard connection.

  1. Inverse Split Tunneling

Inverse Split Tunneling works the exact opposite way. Here, the user must specify which applications or websites they do not want encrypted access to. The users must select which websites or applications they want encrypted access to for the previous ones.

How to Set up Split Tunneling

Even though a variety of VPN service providers offer Splut Tunneling, the method to set it up is nearly identical and very simple. Follow these steps to set up Split Tunneling on your desktop: 

  1. Open the Astrill VPN application.
Astrill VPN application
  1. Click in the drop-down menu on the top left and select StealthVPN.
StealthVPN
  1. Now go to settings and click on Application filter.
Application filter
  1. Now choose the apps you want to be secured through this feature.
Applications
  1. Click OK, and you’ll return to the app’s main screen.
Whatsapp Application
  1. Now click the power button and turn on the VPN connection. 
Astrill vpn app

Why You Need Split Tunneling VPN

Split Tunneling VPN

1. Staying Secure 

For security reasons, some applications block traffic from VPN servers. Users concerned with their privacy may be cornered into turning their full-protection VPNs off to access these services. Often, this can risk data leaks if the user forgets to secure their connection after they have used the application.

With Split Tunneling, you do not need to turn services on and off as you can specify which applications go through the tunnel.

2. Faster Speeds

Sometimes, a VPN server can cause slower browsing speeds. This can be due to how long it may take to connect to the VPN server, but it may also be due to the encryption process. Opting for Split Tunneling can help avoid this delay as you can increase the connection speeds of services that do not require a VPN.

3. Staying within VPN Data Limits

Most VPNs will likely offer a package with a certain amount of data usage to ensure premium speeds. Free VPNs are most likely to have such confines, but some also provide Split Tunneling. Enabling this feature allows the user to focus the VPN services on applications that need them most. 

For example, if the user only wishes to use a VPN for geo-restricted content, it would be a waste of their data package to have a full connection when accessing local, non-restricted services. Split Tunneling allows prioritization. 

4. Gain Control Over Geo-Restricted Content

A significant population of VPN users only use the service to gain access to certain content they cannot access due to their geographic location. A VPN can be used to easily avoid any geographic restrictions on certain streaming services with ease. However, you may wish to use a VPN only to access specific, blocked content on one streaming application and not the other. 

Split tunneling allows you to gain control over this situation. You can choose which streaming service requires bypassing geo-restrictions and which requires your home IP address for full access to content. 

5. Gain access to websites and services that block VPN Traffic

Spotify, Netflix, and Steam are examples of online services blocking most forms of VPN traffic. Even Wikipedia blocks any VPN traffic that attempts to edit information. Most, if not all, banking services require their customers to engage in extensive additional authentication and identification measures to ensure their security when they’re using a VPN.

Conclusion

Through VPN split tunneling, users can rest assured in their secure internet connection by only isolating applications that misbehave onto the standard connection. Not every VPN can provide optimized split tunneling because it’s a complex feature. However, with Astrill VPN, you can enjoy split tunneling without compromising your speed or security. 

Author: Arsalan Rathore

Arsalan Rathore is a tech geek who loves to pen down his thoughts and views on cybersecurity, technology innovation, entertainment, and social issues. He likes sharing his thoughts about the emerging tech trends in the market and also loves discussing online privacy issues.

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