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What is VPN split tunneling?

VPN split tunneling lets you route some of your device or app traffic through the encrypted VPN tunnel while other devices or apps access the internet directly.

Use split tunneling to protect the traffic you choose, without losing access to local network devices. Available on ExpressVPN for WindowsMacAndroid, and routers.

VPN split tunneling: Picture train tracks branching in two directions, one into a tunnel, the other not.

Do I need split tunneling?

A basic VPN routes all your internet traffic through an encrypted tunnel to protect your data from hackers and third-party snoops.

If your VPN doesn’t support split tunneling, you may run into situations where:

  • You can’t access foreign and local internet services at the same time

  • Transmitting all data through the VPN uses up your bandwidth

  • You can’t access LAN devices while you’re connected to the VPN

With a split-tunneling VPN, you can:

  • Stream foreign movies while using web services from local IP addresses

  • Download safely without slowing down your other web activity

  • Access your network printer while surfing the internet securely

Are there any security risks of split tunneling?

If you set up split tunneling to exclude certain traffic from the protection of your VPN, your internet service provider or a third party could access that traffic.

To protect your online activity, use only VPN-protected connections when you handle sensitive data, downloads, or torrents.

Device Split Tunneling With the ExpressVPN App for Routers

How does split tunneling work in ExpressVPN apps?

ExpressVPN split tunneling works two ways:

  • Split Tunneling: Protect all connected devices or applications except for those specifically excluded.

  • Inverse Split Tunneling: Protect only selected devices or applications. Everything else flows outside the VPN.

Apps with VPN split tunneling

The ExpressVPN for routers interface, showing devices that are connected and not connected to VPN.

App for routers

You can toggle among “Router VPN,” “No VPN,” and “MediaStreamer”* for every device connected to the ExpressVPN app for routers. Use split tunneling to maintain access to your local network devices, like your printer.

* MediaStreamer can let you access content that might otherwise be unavailable, but it does not provide all the security and privacy benefits of a VPN.

The ExpressVPN app for Mac interface, showing only selected apps being protected by VPN.

Apps for Mac, Windows, and Android

With the split-tunneling feature in the ExpressVPN apps for Mac, Windows and Android, select which apps use the VPN and which apps don’t when you’re connected to ExpressVPN.

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