Split tunneling is a features that's is practiced by only a few number of VPN application. This tunneling method lets you make a choice of the devices, apps, or websites that should use a VPN connection and also, which one should use the direct connection. All the apps, websites or devices using the direct connection will be excluded from the VPN tunnel.
There are many free and paid VPNs in the Android market but only few offer this Split tunneling feature. Split tunneling is very important when you want to make an exclusion of the apps that you don't want to include in your tunnel connection. Many apps, websites can get you banned when you try to fake your IP so split tunneling will be the best option in this case.
The best free VPN split tunneling app for android is Psiphon Pro VPN as it allows its users to exclude which apps shouldn't be included in the VPN tunnel. The app is equally available for iOS and Windows platform.
VPN technology has evolved considerably over the past years. In response to consumer needs, VPNs have become much more powerful. While the basic concept of VPNs has not changed over the years, providers have introduced useful innovations to add more value to their service, such as split tunneling.
Upon testing many VPN apps on all possible platforms (Android, iOS and Windows PC) for split tunneling compatibility, we have gathered in this article the best VPN split tunneling apps for these platforms which might tend to be both free and paid.
Overview of the Best VPNs for Split Tunneling for Android, iOS and PC [Free and Paid]
- ExpressVPN - Best VPN for Split Tunneling
- NordVPN - Secure VPN for Split Tunneling
- Surfshark - Budget-friendly Split Tunneling VPN
- CyberGhost - User-friendly VPN for Split Tunneling
- IPVanish - Offers split tunneling on its Android and Fire OS apps
- PureVPN - Implements Split Feature in Android and Windows apps
- Hotspot Shield - Fast, novice-friendly VPN that tunnels browser traffic.
- Psiphon Pro VPN - Free VPN Split Tunneling App for Android
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What is VPN Split Tunneling?
Virtual Private Network, VPN Split tunneling allows certain application or device traffic to be routed through an encrypted VPN—while other applications or devices have direct access to the Internet. This is especially useful if you want to benefit from services that work best when your location is known and at the same time gain secure access to potentially sensitive communications and data.
When you connect to a VPN, data travels between your device and the web through a proxy server that acts as an intermediary. In many cases, you might not want all of your traffic to go through the VPN server. Some VPN apps have a feature called "split tunneling—which lets you to choose which applications, websites, or devices you will want the VPN to tunnel—and which use a direct connection to the Internet. This way, your sensitive data is kept private and away from prying eyes.
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Benefits of Split Tunneling
Split tunneling may not be suitable for most organizations, but you have the option of enabling it when setting up your VPN. Most organizations with VPNs have bandwidth limitations—especially because the VPN must encrypt the data and send it to a server in a different location. This can cause performance issues if split tunneling is not practiced.
When split tunneling is enabled, traffic that would have been encrypted by the VPN, which will likely be transmitted more slowly, is sent through the other tunnel. Routing traffic over a public network can improve performance because no encryption is required.
Provides a Secure Connection for Secure Workers
Once split tunneling enabled, all traffic to be encrypted by the VPN, which will be transmitted more slowly, and will be sent through the other tunnel. Traffic Routing over a public network may improve performance because no encryption is required.
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Works on a Local-Area-Network (LAN)
Each time you connect your devices to a VPN, encryption of the connection can block access to your local network. With split tunneling, you can still access your local devices such as printers through your local network (LAN), while enjoying the security of VPN.
Stream Content Without Using Foreign IP Addresses
Stream your favorite content when you travel abroad and enjoy web services that depend on your local Internet Protocol (IP) address. Use VPN for connection of web contents in your home country and get the best from websites and search engines that work best when they know your location thanks to VPN split tunneling.
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8 Best Split Tunneling VPNs for Android, iOS and PC [Free & Paid]
Though there are many VPN apps in the market, Split Tunneling is a feature practiced only by few. Below, we have compiled the best free and paid split tunneling VPNs for Android, iOS and Windows PC:
1. ExpressVPN Best Split Tunneling VPN
ExpressVPN is undoubtably the best split tunneling VPN for Windows 7/8/10/11 and Mac PC. This VPN equally comes with great split tunnel functionality with flexible configurations. However, these features are only available on the VPN's Windows and Mac apps.
ExpressVPN appears to be very tough with its split tunneling function.
ExpressVPN offers three different split tunneling options to its users:
- All apps use VPN - This configuration is enabled by default and basically treats all your traffic the same. Use this setting if you want all of your apps to use the VPN.
- Don't allow selected apps to use VPN - This option allows you to choose which app you DO NOT want to use with VPN.
- Allow only selected applications to use VPN - This option reverses the logic used by the previous options. Here you need to choose which apps you want to protect with ExpressVPN.
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With ExpressVPN, You can send all traffic through the VPN, send only traffic from specified applications, or send all traffic except traffic from specified applications. These are known as the "split include" and "split-exclude" configurations settings—Many VPNs that implement split tunneling will only work on one of these methods, but with ExpressVPN you get both.
In addition to this, ExpressVPN has excellent features to increase user safety and confidentiality such as a kill switch—As for its encryption, it uses the AES-256 standard and supports modern tunneling protocols including OpenVPN and the latest Light-way protocol.
Its 3000+ servers located in over 160 locations get the job done perfectly well when you want to unblock any censored websites from area in the world.
ExpressVPN is available for $6.67 per month and Save 49% and get an additional 3 months FREE with this coupon with a 30 day money back guarantee. You can try it risk-free for 30 days and if you like the service, it offers a free 3-month subscription on its 12-month plan.
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2. NordVPN Second Best Split Tunneling VPN
NordVPN one of the best VPN apps out there with Split Tunnel feature—which has both Android and Windows 7/8/10/11 apps only. NordVPN is probably the most secured tunneling VPN you will find on this list.
NordVPN split tunneling works on the "split-exclude principle"—meaning, once this feature enabled, all selected apps will be routed directly through your ISP while unselected apps will stay in the VPN tunnel. This feature works perfectly with all compatible platforms.
This split tunneling VPN offers a server network of over 5100+ servers available in 60 countries. NordVPN is a cross-platform app meaning, it is available for Android, iOS and PC. Up to 6 devices can be connected simultaneously.
Note that, you can get the Split Tunneling feature of NordVPN only with its browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox—From there, it will be easy for you to select which websites use the VPN and which should be excluded from the VPN tunnel and be routed through the direct internet connection.
However, this the Split-tunneling feature of NordVPN wouldn't be ideal and flexible for some but, might seem perfect for some users.
Amazingly, all of these features will cost you only $3.29 per month and you can save 72% on 2-year-plan Holiday Season Offer. A 30-day money-back guarantee will let you decide whether to continue with their services or to end the subscribed and get your money back.
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3. Surfshark Split Tunneling
Surfshark has virtually all Nifty functionality packages in a single package than any other provider has to offer. This includes split-tunneling, branded by the company as WhiteLister.
As the name suggests, the Whitelister lets you to select all applications that you will like to route through the VPN tunnel. Apps not selected in the WhiteLister will be ignored by Surfshark—routing these unchecked apps through direct connection.
Moreover, Surfshark has over 3200+ servers in 65 countries rendering this split tunneller more than capable of bypassing any censored websites with ease. Easily access well known streaming services such as Netflix US and Amazon Prime Video from area in the world—since there no limit in connection, all your devices can be easily secured with just one account.
This VPN's split tunneling feature allows you to allow specific apps or websites to bypass the VPN entirely. There's also 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch (in all versions), and IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection, along with a NoBorders feature that bypasses nation wide internet blocking. Surfshark does not log any data that can identify you, but if you are concerned, you can register almost completely anonymously using cryptocurrency and a disposable email address. Support is available 24/7 via live chat if anything goes wrong.
Surfshark VPN is a budged-friendly split tunneling VPN as its rate starts at $2.21 per month with Holiday Sale: 83% Off + 3 Free Months on 2 Years Plan. Surfshark is one of the cheapest amongst all the paid split tunneling VPNs you will find out there and this seals its place as one of the best VPN services out there.
Surfshark offers apps for iOS, Windows, MacOS, Android, and Linux devices—allowing you to secure your connection through a secure VPN tunnel on all platforms. Wireless routers can be supported if configured manually.
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4. CyberGhost Split Tunneling
CyberGhost is one of the best split tunneling VPNs application that you can find in the market. With its user-friendly interface, it is a sure case that the VPN can be used by anyone. CyberGhost has the split tunneling feature—that is available under the Smart Rules section called "Exceptions".
Just as it is the case for many other VPNs, CyberGhost split tunneling functionality works by creating a list of apps that you want to secure. Apps excluded from the list will be ignored by the VPN tunnel. Websites can be equally excluded by adding their URL in the exception menu.
In addition, CyberGhost offers various security protocols such as OpenVPN (TCP / UDP), IKEv2, and L2TP/IPSec. CyberGhost also uses AES-256 cipher, with SHA384 hash authentication, and RSA-4096 key encryption. This helps in the encryption of every connection made so as to keep your online presence private.
With over 7000+ servers in 90 countries, it is a sure case that you can access any blocked or censored content on the web. Also, CyberGhost has a dedicated section with servers assigned for streaming (on Netflix US, Amazon Prime Video etc...), torrenting, gaming, and NoSpy servers for security.
Its app is made available for Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, and Amazon Fire Stick. Up to 7 devices can be connected simultaneously.
CyberGhost services are available at just $2.15 per month and offers an extensive 45-day refund policy.
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5. IPVanish VPN Split Tunneling
IPVanish VPN is another great Split Tunneling VPN that offers this feature support for Android and Fire OS—letting you route some apps through a VPN tunnel while other run with a direct connection. For instance, for these two streaming services, Netflix and Kodi, you can run Netflix through the VPN tunnel to get the most out of the target country's content and at the same time, running Kodi through a direct connection. The same situation works inversely.
This can be activated from the app's Settings and then go to the Split Tunneling section of the Connection preferences. What IPVanish will do is, it will detect all the available applications on your device and list them out. From here, you can check which application you will want to exclude from the VPN tunnel.
The app has servers located in over 60 countries. IPVanish has gotten great reviews concerning its speed—and it can be used to stream popular services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video without interruptions. Torrenting is equally possible with the app as it keeps all trackers down.
IPVanish is a split tunneling VPN available for Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, Linux Mint, Amazon Fire TV, and Amazon Fire Stick. To use the app on Ubuntu, Kali, and Fedora Linux, select routers and set-top boxes, you will need to setup the app manually. It’s a well-known app that is frequently used by Kodi streamers.
Besides, IPVanish made it clear that its split tunneling feature was mainly developed let users to securely access services like Hulu and Netflix outside of the VPN connection.
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6. PureVPN Split Tunneling
Recognized as one of the very first VPNs that offered split tunneling, its top notched services have been highly rated among its users.
However, PureVPN's split tunneling features works only on Android and Windows operating systems though it has apps for Android, iOS Windows, macOS and Linux.
PureVPN makes use of a split-include configuration—meaning, you get to choose which app you want to secure through the VPN tunnel—other excluded applications will be routed through the direct connection.
You can use its split tunneling via PureVPN's browser extensions available for Chrome and Firefox. These extensions have both WebRTC and IP leak protection. However, they happen to be SOCKS5 proxies lacking strong encryption.
With many servers servers located in over 141 countries, it is a sure thing you will grab what you need from the internet with this app.
Established in Hong Kong, PureVPN is the ideal choice for those trying to access the internet in China. With its great speeds and privacy you can do torrenting and video streaming without any interruption.
In addition, you can get an add-on Kodi version of PureVPN and apps for Android TV boxes, Amazon Fire TVs, and Amazon Fire Sticks. The VPN can be manually installed on other selected set-top boxes and routers. PureVPN works with a wide range of video streaming services, including Netflix in the US and UK and BBC iPlayer. etc...
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7. Hotspot Shield Split Tunneling
Hotspot Shield is a high speed VPN with a network of over 3000 servers in over 70 countries. This service not only works with some of the most popular streaming services (like Netflix and BBC iPlayer) overseas, it lets you stream lag-free or buffering-free even at high resolution.
With up to five simultaneous connections allowed, you can secure all your most commonly used devices with one account.
Hotspot Shield offers partial split tunneling feature as it allows users to bypass VPN on certain websites. Your traffic is protected using DNS and IPv6 leak protection, kill switch and 256-bit encryption.
As an additional benefit, this service automatically blocks ads and malware. Hotspot Shield does not retain personally identifiable information at the end of the session—so it cannot reveal details of your online activities, even on request.
Support is available 24/7. days a week via live chat.
Hotspot Shield offers user-friendly apps for Android, iOS, Windows, Linux, and MacOS.
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8. Psiphon Pro - Free Split Tunneling VPN
You must have probably heard of Psiphon Pro VPN somewhere—maybe in our list of the 10 best VPN tunneling apps for free internet. Oh yes, Psiphon Pro is a free internet app that's available for Android, iOS and PC.
Psiphon is an internet censorship VPN that lets you access blocked sites. Its services are completely free but for more experience, you will have to purchase Psicash which is a currency within the app and tends to improve your connection speeds.
Though there are many free vpn split tunneling apps for android, iOS and Windows PC—Psiphon Pro stands out to be among if not the best of these free VPN tunneling apps in the market—because it is one of the oldest internet censors in the market and has build sufficient trust for itself and services.
Many people use Psiphon Pro settings to get free internet and this is how it is done.
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Is Split Tunneling Safe?
Split tunneling is completely safe if at all it is well implemented and you are fully aware of what data will be routed via the VPN tunnel and what doesn't.
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How to Use Split Tunneling VPN
The setup process for each app might differ but here is a general guide on how you can setup Split Tunneling:
- Open your VPN app and sign in if necessary.
- Before you connect, find the split tunneling setting in your app’s menu
- Add the apps that you want to go through the VPN to the list (or, if inverse split tunneling, the devices you don’t want to connect to the VPN)
- Ensure split tunneling is enabled. You might need to check a box.
- Connect to the VPN.
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Final Thoughts on Best Split Tunneling VPNs for Android, iOS and Windows [Free & Paid]
Split tunneling is a very important feature that has been added to only some few VPN apps that we just listed above. This feature lets you choose which device should pass through the VPN tunnel and which shouldn't. This can be important if you want a certain application to be excluded from the list of encrypted apps.
There are many free split tunneling VPNs in the market but Psiphon Pro tends to be the best since it has build trust for a long time now and its quality of services is a good thing to consider for some years now.
The best split tunneling VPN should have;—split tunnel support, speed, security, customer support, value for money. For each of these split tunnellers, consider checking these qualities and see if it offers them, if one offer all good, if it offer most good too but if it offers few, look for another alternative.
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