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. Ivacy - The cheapest split tunneling VPN on our list. From $1.50 you can access split-tunneling, but only on Windows and Android unfortunately.
  3. Private Internet Access - One of the largest VPNs, voted best VPN by Reddit
  4. Surfshark - A great value VPN with super-fast servers and a plenty of functions
  5. IPVanish - Easy to use | Apps for all platforms |Servers in over 60 countries

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 for

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Server locations

    • 94 countries
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Hulu

ExpressVPN stands as the best split tunneling VPN app, supporting the feature on macOS, Windows, Android, iOS, 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. Although it has a bit of a higher price tag than the rest, you're really getting what you pay for thanks to the overall quality of the offering as well as its ability to easily handle most geo-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.

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  $0.99 - $9.95
  • Available for

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Server locations

    • 100 countries
  • 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.

  • Pricing

    From  $2.84 - $10.51
  • Available for

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Server locations

    • 75 countries
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Hulu

Private Internet Access VPN is a US-based provider that keeps zero logs, a claim it has proven in court. The VPN was recently acquired by Kape Technologies - a CyberSec firm based in London whose primary aim is to help consumers gain protection online. PIA VPN has more than 12,267 servers in 74 countries, it provides strong OpenVPN encryption, and is one of the most popular VPN services among Reddit users. It also has live chat support and access to Netflix US.

Private Internet Access (PIA) is a respected VPN service that has been around since 2010. It is a US-based VPN that provides high levels of privacy and reliability. The VPN has a zero-logs policy – which makes up for its US-base. PIA has apps for all popular platforms that provide strong encryption and a superb choice of servers around the world. PIA is also a cheap VPN service that performs well above its pay grade. Despite the budget price (if purchased yearly), PIA unblocks a decent amount of highly sought after content – including Netflix (multiple regional libraries) and BBC iPlayer.

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

  • Pricing

    From  $2.49 - $12.95
  • Available for

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Server locations

    • 63 countries
  • 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.

A fast VPN that has split tunneling on Android and FireOs only

  • Pricing

    From  $2.70 - $10.00
  • Available for

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
  • Server locations

    • 75 countries
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • Hulu

IPVanish is a US-based VPN provider from Orlando, Florida. It is an established VPN service that is well known for providing a reliable and fast VPN experience. And, it actually has a split tunneling feature in its Android and FireOS apps (but unfortunately not on desktops, hich is pretty unusual). The split tunneling feature is available in Settings > Connection Preferences. In the menu, you can pick from a list of all the apps detected on your device to mark with a check box any application that you wish to be excluded from the tunnel.


Overall, we consider IPVanish a reliable, value-for-money VPN, that is good for unblocking a large amount of geo-restricted content. A perfect choice if you're a fan of streaming, torrenting, gaming, or just want a service to protect your privacy online. Plus, it is perfect for families with a lot of devices, because it provides unlimited use of the VPN on an unlimited number of devices with just a single subscription.

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. Basically, this allows you to select which apps or websites you want to run through the VPN tunnel and which ones you don't, as needed for your particular use-case. 

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. Ivacy - The cheapest split tunneling VPN on our list. From $1.50 you can access split-tunneling, but only on Windows and Android unfortunately.
  3. Private Internet Access - One of the largest VPNs, voted best VPN by Reddit
  4. Surfshark - A great value VPN with super-fast servers and a plenty of functions
  5. IPVanish - Easy to use | Apps for all platforms |Servers in over 60 countries

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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