The Best VPNs with Split Tunneling | What is Split Tunneling and Why do you Need it?

Split tunneling is a useful VPN feature that allows a VPN user to pick and choose which services are routed through the VPN, and which can connect directly to the internet. This can be useful when you only want your VPN for things like unblocking Netflix, but still want to use other services without your VPN.

We discuss split tunneling and its use cases in more detail further into this guide, but first, let's take a quick look at the best VPNs that offer split tunneling. 

What are the best split tunneling VPNs?

Below we have summarized our top split tunneling VPN picks, but if you would like more information, please keep scrolling for more in-depth analysis.

  1. ExpressVPN - The best VPN with split tunneling. You can use the feature across Mac, Windows, Android, or even on your router!
  2. PureVPN - An easy to set up split tunneling VPN for Android & Windows. It has a large server network to unblock services from around the globe.
  3. Ivacy - The cheapest split tunneling VPN on our list. From $1.50 you can access split-tunneling, but only on Windows and Android unfortunately.
  4. AirVPN - A technical VPN with split tunneling. You can set up and manually configure split tunneling on Windows, Mac, and Linux with this VPN app.
  5. Surfshark - A great value VPN with super-fast servers and a plenty of functions

For us to recommend a VPN in this guide, they obviously need to have split tunneling as a feature - and only top tier VPNs tend to offer it. However, besides this, we also make sure all our recommendations also offer:

Only services that meet all the above criteria, including split tunneling, are eligible to be recommended. 

So now you know what we're looking for, let's take a closer look at our top split tunneling VPN picks.

5 Best split tunneling VPN services | In-depth analysis

Here's an in-depth look at our recommended VPNs that offer split tunneling.

ExpressVPN is the best VPN with split-tunneling. It offers split tunneling on Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, and even on your router - so you can use the feature across all your devices.

  • Pricing

    From  $6.67 - $12.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Hulu

ExpressVPN stands as the best split-tunneling VPN app, supporting the feature on Mac OS X, Windows, Android, and even directly onto your router. Split tunneling is relatively easy to find on most devices in the “Settings” menu, although this is a little more tucked away in “Options” for those on Windows and “Preferences” for those on Mac. Once the user has chosen to allow or disallow apps using the VPN, they are presented with a checklist of applications by name, and the ability to manually navigate their files. Those using router implementation can also easily split tunnel per-device.


Currently, ExpressVPN houses 160 servers across 94 countries across Asia Pacific, Europe, Americas, Middle East, and Africa, while being based in the British Virgin Islands. You get what you pay for with its higher price tag thanks to its ability to penetrate most restrictions, including Netflix. Its refusal to log personal data also makes it a prime candidate for those wanting to engage in peer-to-peer (P2P) downloads, such as torrents. Try it today with its recently launched Lightway protocol for a faster, and more secure VPN.

PureVPN is an easy to set up VPN with split-tunneling for Android and Windows users. With servers in 141 different countries, you can unblock services from around the world.

  • Pricing

    From  $2.88 - $10.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Hulu

PureVPN offers applications across a range of operating systems, including Windows, Android, Mac OS X, macOS, and iOS. Unfortunately, Apple fans are still waiting for split tunneling as the feature is currently only available on Windows and Android devices.


Based in Hong Kong, those that wish to purchase PureVPN are likely to be impressed by its price point compared to its competition, particularly as it grants access to over 2000 servers across 141 countries. It has a respectable multi-login count that allows up to 10 devices to be connected at once and an Internet Kill Switch, which protects information by automatically shutting down all online activity should the VPN server unexpectedly disconnect. Test it for yourself with a 7-day trial, and a 31-day money-back guarantee.

Ivacy is the cheapest VPN that offers split tunneling on our list. From $1.50 a month you can have access to the advanced feature, but only on Windows and Android devices.

  • Pricing

    From  $1.50 - $7.50
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Hulu

Ivacy is regularly recognized for its achievements within the VPN sector, and as luck would have it, the service is a pioneer in split-tunneling. Apple users have sadly been snubbed once again, but the feature is available on a wide range of Windows and Android devices.


The VPN is based in Singapore and has more than 1000 servers across 56 countries and prides itself on complete privacy by keeping no logs on its users. Ivacy automatically optimizes its settings based on the tasks of its user, helping to preserve its title as one of the fastest VPN services out there. Should anything go wrong with the server, there is a built-in kill switch ready to shut down online activity to ensure protection. Test it for yourself with their 7-day trial or the provider's 30-day money-back guarantee.

AirVPN is a technical VPN that offers split tunneling as a feature. A tech lover's dream, you can manually configure the split tunneling feature, along with other aspects of this VPN.

  • Pricing

    From  $4.64 - $8.05
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

AirVPN’s Eddie isn’t the prettiest client out there, but it does offer split tunneling across Windows, OS X, macOS, and Linux thanks to its ‘Routes’ tab. This is nestled away in Preferences on the desktop application and it requires users to input the IP/Host/Range manually instead of selecting from a list of names, but it allows for a wide range of customized protocols.


Italy isn’t the strongest location to be based in, but the service covers a number of servers across 21 different countries. AirVPN boasts that all these servers match the same premium quality as one another, as the company opts for performance rather than “another flag” to brag about. The company also refuses to keep logs, making P2P an option, and has been known to evade Chinese restrictions. AirVPN offers a three-day trial for €2 but also offers great savings with longer subscriptions. Try it for yourself and see why it's one of the most popular VPNs among privacy purists.

Surfshark is a low-cost VPN that offers fantastic split tunneling through its Whitelist feature.

  • Pricing

    From  $1.99 - $11.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Hulu

Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands, which is great for those who want to avoid the jurisdiction of the 14-eyes. With a global network of servers, users get plenty of choices for unblocking regional content. Split tunneling is named "Whitelister" here, allowing you to select apps and websites to bypass the VPN connection, meaning that you can watch foreign Netflix and do your online banking at the same time!


What's more, Surfshark allows for unlimited simultaneous connections, so you can protect every device you own without paying for multiple subscriptions. Overall, we think Surfshark is a great value for money VPN, with great security and plenty of features. Try it for yourself with a 30-day money-back guarantee to fall back on.

What is split tunneling?

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have many uses, from accessing content restricted by region to securing information and maintaining privacy. In all cases, the VPN acts as a ‘tunnel’ that encapsulates data passing between the client computer and the remote VPN server.

By default, a VPN client will route 100% of your traffic through a VPN server. Split tunneling is a feature that lets the user select specific traffic to be pushed through a VPN server, while the remaining data is handled by the Internet Service Provider (ISP) as it normally would be. This works by allowing or disallowing your VPN on certain apps or websites. 

Different VPN services allow different traffic to be blocked. For example, some services enable users to block VPN use on an individual website using the IP address of the website, whilst other services let users disallow their VPN to access certain Apps.

Picking and choosing these exceptions creates what is known as interesting traffic. You may be interested in specific traffic for several reasons, it may be due to security concerns or simply down to convenience.

Why do I need a split tunneling VPN?

VPNs help to secure internet traffic through an encrypted tunnel, protecting data from prying eyes. This is undoubtedly useful in a lot of cases, but can, unfortunately, be an inconvenience in others. VPNs can often have a considerable bottleneck on bandwidth as all traffic is automatically transmitted, ultimately slowing internet-based tasks down and preventing users from accessing LAN devices such as printers when connected.

Controlling interesting traffic allows users to connect the necessary devices or applications to a VPN, simultaneously remaining linked to their local network to access connected LAN devices. This is the best of both worlds, as some programs can utilize the security and features that only a VPN can provide, while others benefit from full internet speeds.

Consumers might very well want to access the American version of Netflix or download files safely with a remote VPN without sacrificing bandwidth when surfing the local web. It can also be beneficial to those utilizing online banking, which already ensures anonymized data and could potentially flag an unrecognized IP as suspicious. Although there are some VPN services that cater to gamers, latency-sensitive applications such as video games also benefit from the exemption.

Split tunneling is also prominent in the business world, specifically for remote workers that need access to professional services from an unsecured network, such as the home. It allows them to keep webmail private and secure while indulging in personal activities like streaming music from Spotify.

Is split tunneling difficult to set up?

Although there are still many services that don’t include the feature, split tunneling with a VPN has never been easier. Native support for split tunneling means that users don’t need to configure operating systems manually to be able to customize what they want from their VPN. It’s simply a case of setting up the VPN on Windows, Mac, or Android and heading into the settings.

Can you use a split tunneling VPN on mobile?

Is split tunneling safe?

The benefits of split tunneling are clear, but the feature isn’t without its detractors. Although all transmissions sent through the VPN receive the same protection whether split tunneling is enabled or disabled, some businesses fear that the unsecured tunnels could act as a gateway for an attacker or malware to hit sensitive networks. This continues to be debated in the industry to this day.

In the consumer space, it is simply recommended that the user doesn’t use split tunneling when on a public or unsecured network.

Types of split tunneling

Although traditional split tunneling routes all traffic through the ISP by default, requiring a user to choose what runs through the VPN manually, there are a number of other types available.

  • Inverse split tunneling - reverses the standard by pushing all information through the VPN by default. Otherwise known as “split-exclude,” users can utilize inverse split tunneling to customize what traffic is exempt from this. 
  • IP-based routing - This usually dictates that an information packet goes directly to its destination, but network administrators can use policy-based routing as a form of split tunneling. This changes the routing table based on alternative criteria, including the size of the packet and other information in the payload.

Users with a bit of know-how or the desire to learn can instead opt to cover all devices within a home or business at once with a DD-WRT VPN service placed directly on the router.

Conclusion

If you want to get the best of both worlds and access local services whilst unblocking content from abroad, then split tunneling is the feature for you. Here's a quick recap of our top VPNs with split tunneling technology:

  1. ExpressVPN - The best VPN with split tunneling. You can use the feature across Mac, Windows, Android, or even on your router!
  2. PureVPN - An easy to set up split tunneling VPN for Android & Windows. It has a large server network to unblock services from around the globe.
  3. Ivacy - The cheapest split tunneling VPN on our list. From $1.50 you can access split-tunneling, but only on Windows and Android unfortunately.
  4. AirVPN - A technical VPN with split tunneling. You can set up and manually configure split tunneling on Windows, Mac, and Linux with this VPN app.
  5. Surfshark - A great value VPN with super-fast servers and a plenty of functions

Written by: Damien Mason

In his first year with ProPrivacy, Damien found himself quoted in Forbes, Digital Spy, Reader’s Digest and several other publications before stepping up as Content Editor. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Film & Television Production, he is familiar with all areas of writing and often produces scripts for ProPrivacy’s own YouTube channel. Outside of the company, he can be found playing video games, binging television shows and writing about both.

7 Comments

Paperclips
on January 12, 2020
Reply
ExpressVPN doesn’t support split tunneling on IOS. Hope you will correct that in your guide -at the time it is misleading.
https://cdn.proprivacy.com/storage/images/proprivacy/02/member-dougjpg-avatar-image-default-1png-avatar-image-default-minpng-avatar_image-small.png
Douglas Crawford replied to Paperclips
on January 13, 2020
Reply
Hi Paperclips. You are correct and Damien has updated the article accordingly. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.
sal
on July 7, 2018
Reply
I like how PureVPN's tag line is "World's Fastest VPN Service" and directly underneath that the one con is "Some servers are slow", lol
https://cdn.proprivacy.com/storage/images/proprivacy/02/member-dougjpg-avatar-image-default-1png-avatar-image-default-minpng-avatar_image-small.png
Douglas Crawford replied to sal
on July 9, 2018
Reply
Hi sal, Nice spot. Stephen is no longer with us, and an error has clearly crept in. Looking at our latest sped test results, PureVPN turns in a very respectable result, but is certainly not the “World’s Fastest VPN Service”. I have updated the page to reflect this.
Kevin
on May 30, 2018
Reply
ExpressVPN ONLY does split tunneling for Windows and mac. Not android or linux.
sal replied to Kevin
on December 2, 2018
Reply
"ExpressVPN ONLY does split tunneling for Windows and mac." and it is currently very hit and miss with Windows. With Win 10 1809 there is a problem with several VPN app's split tunneling feature. ExpressVPN at least acknowledges that it is a problem and are working on it. Ivacy's support is absolutely clueless. Microsoft has acknowledged this: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4464619/windows-10-update-history Scroll down to November 16, 2018 4:15 PM PT "After updating to Window 10 version 1809, F5 VPN clients may lose network connectivity when the VPN service is in a split tunnel configuration. Workaround: To mitigate this issue, you can manually configure your systems to force all traffic through the VPN tunnel. " ExpressVPN's tunnel failed for me immediately after upgrading to Win 10 1809 and they have yet to provide a solution.
https://cdn.proprivacy.com/storage/images/proprivacy/02/member-dougjpg-avatar-image-default-1png-avatar-image-default-minpng-avatar_image-small.png
Douglas Crawford replied to Kevin
on May 30, 2018
Reply
Hi Kevin, Given that only AirVPN and Mullvad have full clients Linux clients, that is hardy surprising (ExpressVPN does have a Linux client, but its very basic and command-line only).
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