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Best VPN for Split Tunneling -And Why You Should Use It

Finding the best VPN for split tunneling can be challenging, so I've made it easy for you: Here are the best 6 VPNs for split tunneling. 

Normally, when you connect to the internet using a VPN, all of your internet traffic travels through the VPN’s encrypted tunnel. However, there are times when you don’t want or need all of your online traffic to flow through an encrypted connection.

For instance, while you may need to access a streaming service in another country, if your internet traffic is all going through a server in that country, you may be unable to access certain websites and services in your location, such as banks and other financial institutions.

Alternatively, you may want to protect your P2P file-sharing activity, while keeping the rest of your activity outside the VPN tunnel. For times like these, a VPN that supports split tunneling comes in handy.

What is VPN Split Tunneling?

Split tunneling allows a user to designate that certain types of internet traffic will be funneled through the VPN’s encrypted tunnel, while the rest of the internet traffic will continue to use the unprotected, ISP-provided internet connection.

Split tunneling can be set up at the router level, or it can be set up manually on various operating systems. However, the easiest, and perhaps most efficient way to set up split tunneling, is in the VPN app itself.

There are two ways to set up VPN split tunneling, and that’s either with settings in the app or by using the VPN provider’s browser extensions to protect the browser traffic, while the rest of the device’s internet traffic is routed as normal.

Unfortunately, not all VPNs support split tunneling, nor do all VPNs offer browser extensions. The six VPNs we’ll be taking a look at in this article offer either a split tunneling option as a feature in their app, or offer a browser extension that enables limited split tunneling.

In addition to each VPN’s split tunneling features, I’ll explain why you would want to use split tunneling, and also take a look at the other features the VPNs offer.

Best VPNs for Split Tunneling

After running my top VPNs through a number of tests, I have found that the six VPNs listed below offer the best split tunneling features. TL;DR version:

  1. NordVPN: Top-notch VPN split tunneling: This top provider offers split tunneling in the app for Android and Windows devices. Mac users can benefit from the provider’s browser extensions. NordVPN should prove to be an attractive option for users looking for reliable, split-tunneled protection at a reasonable price.
  2. Surfshark: “Bypasser” feature splits your tunnels. This budget-priced provider delivers split tunneling via its Windows and Android apps, and via browser extensions on other desktop platforms. Fast connections and top-notch protection are the rule here.
  3. ExpressVPN: In-app and browser split tunneling. The provider offers split tunneling, both in-app and via browser extensions. ExpressVPN offers excellent online protection and privacy, and its fast connection speeds are optimal for any online activity.
  4. CyberGhost: Easy-to-use for new users. Users with little to no experience with VPNs will appreciate this provider’s easy-to-use apps and browser extensions. The provider delivers split tunneling via both their Windows app and their browser extensions.
  5. Private Internet Access: Offers reverse split tunneling. This VPN provider not only offers the usual split tunneling options, its inverse split tunneling allows apps to be configured to use the VPN only or bypass the VPN .
  6. Atlas VPN: Reliable split tunneling for Android. The provider’s split tunneling support is limited to Android devices. However, it is a powerful yet reasonably priced VPN option if you don’t require split tunneling on your other desktop or mobile apps.

I evaluated and ranked the top split tunneling VPNs using the following criteria:

  • Offers split tunneling feature (DUH!)
  • Comprehensive global server coverage
  • Offers P2P (torrenting) support
  • Focus on privacy and security protections
  • Top-notch multi-platform app support
  • Excellent customer support

Here’s my list of the top six split tunneling VPNs.

1. NordVPN

NordVPN Mar 2023

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.NordVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

NordVPN delivers reliable split tunneling protection thanks to its Windows, Android, and Android TV apps, as well as its Chrome, Edge and Firefox browser extensions. This means Mac and Linux users in need of a split tunneling feature are stuck with using the browsers extensions.

The provider has more than 5,400 servers, spread among 60 countries around the globe. The provider’s global network offers access to content in most of the free world. While you can connect to any server to begin P2P file-sharing, the provider will automatically switch you to a P2P-optimized server in one of 47 countries.

The provider is moving to an owned-and-operated server model across its entire global network. This keeps third-party contractors away from customers’ personal data.

Military-grade encryption, kill switch protection, and DNS leak, and IPv6 leak prevention are just the start from NordVPN. The provider also offers obfuscating servers and a Double VPN option that routes your internet traffic through twin VPN servers.

Privacy protections include a no-server-logs policy and a Bitcoin subscription payment option. NordVPN also runs all of its servers 100% directly from RAM, writing no data whatsoever to an actual hard drive. This ensures that all data is completely wiped from the server whenever it is rebooted.

Windows, iOS, Android, Android TV, macOS (with native M1 Mac), and Linux platforms are included on NordVPN’s list of apps. Chrome, Edge and Firefox browser extensions, as well as router support, are available. Up to 6 simultaneous connections are allowed on a single set of login credentials.

24-hour-a-day customer support is available via around-the-clock live support chat, email, a “contact us” form, and a searchable support library.


  • Top-notch privacy and security protections
  • Budget pricing
  • Good global server coverage
  • Connection obfuscation feature
  • Super fast connection speeds


  • Split tunneling in app limited to Windows and Android platforms

BEST SPLIT TUNNELING VPN OPTION:NordVPN will be an attractive option for users who are looking for VPN protection for their browser activities, and who don’t require VPN protection for the rest of their device’s activities. The provider’s fast download speeds, excellent app support, as well as its global server network will prove attractive to all users. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.

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2. Surfshark

Surfshark VPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Surfshark.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

This budget-priced provider offers its “Bypasser” split tunneling feature via its Windows and Android apps, as well as its Chrome, Edge and Firefox browser extensions.

The provider is the owner of a fast-growing global server network, which currently has a 3,200+ server count, housed in 64+ countries. While you can connect to any server for P2P activity; it will be rerouted through servers located in the Netherlands or Canada. (The provider says it offers access to 30+ Netflix libraries around the globe.)

The provider protects your connections using government-level encryption, kill switch protection, and an ad-blocking feature. Privacy protection is taken care of by the provider’s no-logs policy and acceptance of Bitcoin.

App support includes offerings for Linux, iOS, Android, Windows, macOS (with native Apple Silicon support), and Fire TV devices. Firefox and Chrome browser extensions are also available. The provider can be set up on multiple types of routers. Surfshark offers an unlimited simultaneous connections allowance.

Surfshark customer support is always there thanks to a searchable support library, a support contact form, and an around-the-clock live chat option.


  • Fast-expanding global server network
  • Unlimited concurrent connections
  • Excellent security and privacy protections
  • Fast connections
  • Low-priced option


  • No split tunnel feature in macOS app
  • 1-month subscription is expensive

BUDGET PRICED SPLIT TUNNEL OPTION:Surfshark not only offers reliable split tunneling for your VPN activities, you’ll also benefit from its fast-growing server network, which seems to grow larger by the day. The provider also offers fast, well-protected connections. Budget pricing is great for users with tight finances. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.

Read my full review of Surfshark.

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3. ExpressVPN


Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.ExpressVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

ExpressVPN offers reliable split tunnel VPN protection for your connected devices. The provider offers the feature both in its apps and via browser extensions. While the provider’s price is a bit higher than others on this list, many users will appreciate its premium offerings.

The provider offers split tunneling by way of its macOS (on pre-macOS 11 machines), Windows, and router apps, as well as its Chrome, Edge and Firefox browser extensions. The apps offer app-by-app split tunneling, while their browser extensions protect all in-browser internet activity.

The ExpressVPN global server network offers 3,000+ servers, located in 94 countries around the world, providing excellent access to content around the globe. The provider allows P2P file sharing on all of its servers.

The provider offers top-notch online security and privacy to its users. Bank-grade encryption, kill switch protection, and DNS/IPv6 leak prevention all team up to protect your connection.

Privacy is also well-protected thanks to the provider’s strict no-logs policy and Bitcoin payment option. The provider’s “TrustedServer” technology runs all of its servers only from RAM, writing no data of any kind to a physical hard drive. This ensures that all data is wiped from the server each time it is rebooted.

Apps for the iOS, Android, Android TV, Windows, Linux, macOS, Amazon Fire and Chromebook platforms are available. Chrome, Edge and Firefox browser extensions are also available.

You can connect up to 5 devices at once using a single set of login credentials. If you require more, or if you have a device that is not on the above list, you can take advantage of the provider’s router support.

Customer support is available around the clock at ExpressVPN, with 24/7 live support chat, a support ticket tracking system, email support, and a searchable support library.


  • Split tunneling via app and browser extensions
  • Top-notch privacy and security protections
  • Comprehensive app support
  • Server network covers the globe


  • Limited to five simultaneous connections
  • More expensive than many other VPNs

VERSATILE SPLIT TUNNELING VPN:ExpressVPN offers reliable split tunnel VPN protection. The provider’s apps and browser extensions make it easy to designate which internet-connected apps require VPN protection, and which can be safely left out in the open. While the provider carries a premium price, a 30-day money-back guarantee makes it a no-risk option.

Read my full review of ExpressVPN.

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4. CyberGhost


Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.CyberGhost.com

Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS

CyberGhost’s split tunnel protections are available on the macOS, Windows, and Android/Android TV platforms. However, split tunneling is limited to the browser on the Mac, and to the app on Android. (The feature is not available at all on iOS devices.)

The provider’s global server network currently consists of 7,900+ servers stationed in 90+ around the world. Global server coverage like that provides access to content around the globe. P2P activity is allowed on 65+ downloading-enhanced servers. Streaming-enhanced servers are stationed in many parts of the globe.

CyberGhost’s fast connections are well protected using military-level encryption, plus IPv6 and DNS leak protection. The service’s app also blocks malicious websites, ads, and online trackers. In addition, it can force a website to load HTTPS versions of its pages if they are available.

A no-server-logs policy and a Bitcoin payment option have your privacy protected.

Native app support includes easy-to-use offerings for the iOS, Android, Android TV, Linux, macOS, Windows, and Amazon Fire platforms. Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are available.

Up to 7 concurrent connections are allowed. Router features are also available.

In addition to top-notch VPN service, the provider offers a password manager, as well as an ID Guard feature that alerts users if and when their email address is included in a data breach. The provider’s “Security Suite for Windows” provides antivirus, malware blocking, the ability to customize how much personal data Microsoft can access, and a utility that scans your PC’s hard drive to detect outdated and vulnerable versions of applications.

The provider’s customer support offerings include 24/7 live support chat, a searchable support library, and a support ticket tracking system.


  • Wide-ranging global server network
  • Easy-to-use apps
  • Split tunneling via app and browser extensions
  • Excellent security and privacy protections


  • Apps lack advanced security options available from other providers
  • No iOS split tunneling

BEST FOR VPN NEWBIES:CyberGhost is an alluring choice for beginner VPN users looking for easy-to-use split tunnel protection for their internet activities. The provider’s apps provide reliable protection without the need for complicated setup. A 45-day, no-risk money-back guarantee is available.

Read my full review of CyberGhost.

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5. Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android

Website:  www.privateinternetaccess.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Private Internet Access (PIA) offers split tunneling for its desktop apps as well as its browser extensions.

The provider’s global server network boasts more than 3,300 servers based in 80+ countries around the globe. This means that you’ll enjoy access to geo-controlled content in most regions of the world.

PIA-protected connections provide more than enough download speed to ensure an enjoyable online experience, whether you are streaming or gaming or downloading files. No data caps or bandwidth limitations with this provider.

PIA’s top-notch online security includes government-grade encryption, IP/DNS leak protection and a kill switch. The service can also block ads, trackers, malware and malicious websites.

A strict no-logs policy, as well as its acceptance of cryptocurrency as payment, help keep your online usage and payment information undercover.

PIA’s native app support includes options for the Android, Android TV, iOS, Windows, macOS and Linux device platforms. Chrome, Opera and Firefox browser users can use PIA’s browser extensions, and comprehensive router compatibility is also available.

Up to 10 devices can be connected to the VPN’s servers on a single username.

PIA’s support options include live support chat, a trouble ticket system, and a support library.


  • Split tunneling on desktop and in browser
  • Top-notch security and privacy
  • Impressive global server coverage


  • No streaming or downloading-optimized servers
  • Has issues working in some overly-restrictive countries

SPLIT TUNNELING FOR THE DESKTOP:Private Internet Access provides fast, well-encrypted connections, while also letting desktop users designate which apps make use of the provider’s protective tunnel. Has fast, well-protected connections to content around the globe. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.

Read my full review of Private Internet Access.

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6. Atlas VPN

Atlas VPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android

Website:  https://atlasvpn.com/

Money-back guarantee: 30 days

I hesitated a bit in including Atlas VPN on this list, as it only offers split tunneling in its Android app, and doesn’t offer browser extensions. However, I know I have several Android-using readers, so Atlas makes it by the skin of its virtual teeth.

This provider’s global server network is on the small side, with 750+ servers in close to 35 countries. While that is far from the largest network on this list, it delivers reliable access to online content in the countries it does serve.

Atlas VPN’s connection speeds are some of the fastest I’ve seen. Atlas VPN can easily handle your favorite online pastimes. No data caps and no bandwidth limitations to worry about with this provider.

The provider’s quality connection protections include banking-grade encryption, a kill switch and various other protections. Optional Safebrowse and Safebrowse Plus features protect users from many online perils, while also providing ad blocking.

The provider’s no server logs policy means there will be no evidence to be found of any of your online antics. Unfortunately, there is no cryptocurrency payment option with this provider.

Native Atlas VPN apps are available for the Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Android TV and Amazon Fire TV device platforms. Unfortunately, there is no support available for Linux, no browser extensions and no support for routers, although the company says that all three are on the way.

You can simultaneously connect as many devices as you’d like on a single user account.

Live support chat is available only to subscribers. However, email, a contact form, and a support library are available to all.


  • Fast connections
  • Comprehensive connection protection
  • Safebrowse and Safebrowse Plus offer additional protection


  • No support for routers, browsers, or Linux distros
  • Only offers split tunneling on Android devices

SPLIT PROTECTION FOR ANDROID:Atlas VPN provides split tunneling options for Android devices. You can also connect as many devices as you’d like to the somewhat small server network. No support for Linux, browser, or routers, but they’re on the way. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.

Read my full review of Atlas VPN.

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Methodology for Assessing a Split Tunneling VPN

Not all VPN providers offer reliable split tunneling. Any VPN that you expect to use for this feature should also offer comprehensive online security and privacy, access to content around the globe, and more.

Below, you’ll find the factors that I consider when deciding on which VPNs offers the best split tunneling option as well as other features:

  • Split tunneling: If you want to be selective about which apps and services you want to use the VPN protection. A provider with split tunneling allows users to pick and choose which online activities your VPN will keep undercover.
  • Connection speed: Fast connections contribute to any online activity. Streaming, downloading, and online gaming benefit from fast, low latency connections. NordVPN delivers some of the fastest connection speeds around.
  • Streaming: Streaming content, as well as other types of content, can vary as you travel around the globe. Look for fast connections and reliable access to Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and other popular streaming services.
  • Server network: It is important to subscribe to a VPN that has numerous servers around the globe. Also, look for a VPN with multiple servers stationed in each country, as the more servers a provider has, the less chance of any servers getting overloaded with too many users at once.
  • Value: By comparing a VPN’s services to its asking price, you’ll be able to calculate a VPN’s true value. I only recommended VPN providers that offer a high return on investment.
  • Ease of use: The VPNs on my lists are generally easy to use. However, some VPN apps are easier to use than others. A VPN worth consideration should also offer native support for as many device platforms as possible. NordVPN offers apps that are easy to use and are available for most popular devices.
  • Security and privacy: Any provider worth your consideration should at the very least offer banking-grade encryption, an automatic kill switch, and DNS/IP leak protection. Extra protections are a bonus. A total no-server-logs policy is also a must, as it means there is no evidence linked to your online travels. NordVPN offers comprehensive security and privacy protections.

The research doesn’t stop here. These factors are just some of my comprehensive VPN testing methodology. This approach means I can understand services offered by these VPNs, so I can recommend only VPN providers that are a good fit for my readers’ needs.

What Is Split Tunneling and How Does It Work?

A VPN’s split tunneling feature allows you to protect portions of your online activities by routing them through your encrypted VPN connection while allowing other apps or websites to use your unprotected internet connection.

Think of your internet connection as an interstate highway. In this scenario, split tunneling would be the fork in the road where you have the choice of taking two exits. One road goes into a tunnel and is hidden from sight, while the other road travels above ground, visible for the world to see.

If your data takes the first exit, its online activity is protected from prying eyes by an encrypted tunnel. The second exit allows your Internet Service Provider, hackers, and other nosy folks to track your online travels.

VPN providers can offer split tunneling either by offering the feature in their apps or by offering a browser extension.

Split tunneling settings for a VPN can vary from provider to provider. Even the name of the feature is sometimes different. For instance, CyberGhost calls their split tunneling feature “Exceptions,” while Surfshark calls it “Bypasser”.

However, in most cases, the user selects the apps or websites they wish to protect with the VPN, leaving the rest of the apps and websites to operate out in the open, and showing the user’s real geographical location.

This can come in handy when you may want to view Netflix Japan content while you work or pay bills, but your bank’s website has geographical security safeguards built-in and requires you to connect from your home location.

Or, you may want to use your VPN to torrent files, while leaving your web browsing in the open.

VPN browser extensions allow users to keep their browsing sessions undercover while allowing the rest of their device’s apps to connect using the unprotected connection. This comes in handy when you want to browse “sensitive” sites, such as The Pirate Bay or adult-oriented websites.

Do Free VPNs Offer Split Tunneling?

No. Split tunneling is tough to find as a feature from even pay-to-play VPNs – it’s almost a sure bet a free VPN provider isn’t going to offer such an advanced feature.

Plus, free VPNs aren’t exactly known for offering reliable access to streaming services and other blocked content, so there’s that.

In addition, “free” VPNs actually have a hidden cost – that of your privacy. Many free VPN providers will track your online activities, then sell the collected info to advertisers and other interested parties.

Plus, some freebie providers have been found to be inserting unwanted ads and tracking cookies into their users’ browser sessions.

This all kind of removes the “Private” from “Virtual Private Network,” don’t you think?

Other drawbacks to sans-payment VPNs are in the convenience and performance departments.

Some freebie VPNs will make you cool your heels in a waiting queue before being allowed to connect to a server. Then, once you’re given the green light to connect, you either find you have a severely limited server selection to choose from, or you are automatically connected to a server of the provider’s choosing.

Many free VPNs will throttle your connection speeds, keeping the fast lane reserved for their paying customers. They also have a tendency to place daily or monthly data caps on their users’ connections.

These last two paragraphs should be enough to dissuade fans of Netflix and other streaming services from using a free VPN.

If you’re looking for a VPN that offers split tunneling, don’t bother with free VPNs. They not only don’t offer the feature, but the rest of their feature set is disappointing too.

What Else Is a VPN Good For?

This article’s subject is the split tunneling feature of VPNs. However, VPNs also offer other features to both protect and enhance your online activities.

A VPN is an optimal way to access content from other regions that may normally be unavailable to you in your area. It accomplishes this by temporarily assigning your device a new IP address, making it appear that you are located in another part of the world. This opens access to blocked content.

This includes content that video and music streaming services, as well as gaming companies, offer. A VPN also offers an excellent way to access content from the free world from inside overly restrictive countries, such as Russia, Iran, China, and others.

A VPN encrypts your internet connection, encasing it in a tunnel of protection, keeping your online antics safe from observation by the prying eyes of your ISP, the government, and other Nosy Nellies. That same encryption keeps your online activities safe from hackers when using an unprotected Wi-Fi hotspot at your local coffee shop.

Some ISPs have been found to throttle your internet speeds when they find you’re engaging in “unapproved” activities, like partaking in peer-to-peer file-sharing or accessing certain streaming services. A VPN’s encryption prevents anyone from monitoring your online activities. They can’t block what they can’t see.

Split Tunneling VPN FAQs

What Is the Best Free VPN for Split Tunneling?

Free VPNs are not a good choice when it comes to split tunneling. Not only do very few free VPNs even offer split tunneling capabilities, but there are other downsides, like connection speed throttling, data caps, wait times and privacy violations. Your best choice of VPN for split tunneling is a paid option.

What Is Split Tunneling?

Split tunneling for a VPN is a feature that allows a user to pick and choose which devices or apps will use the VPN's encrypted tunnel, and which devices or apps will access the internet via the usual, unencrypted connection.

What Is the Best Split Tunneling VPN for Mac?

ExpressVPN offers a native app and split tunneling capabilities for the Mac. It offers split tunneling on an app-by-app basis, meaning you can pick and choose which apps will use the VPN's encryption and which will not. ExpressVPN also offers fast connection speeds, wide global server coverage and satisfying security and privacy protections.


Whenever you’d like to keep part of your online activities undercover, or need to preserve your access to local online resources, while opening access to foreign resources, a VPN that supports split tunneling is the tool for you.

NordVPN is my top choice for protecting and enhancing your internet usage. The provider offers excellent split tunneling performance through both their app and their browser extensions.

NordVPN also provides fast download speeds, excellent security and privacy protection, top-notch multi-platform app support, and a comprehensive global server network.

For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit the NordVPN website.

Roundup - best VPNs for speed

Position Our Score Verdict
Verdict: Our top rated VPN
Get NordVPN »
Verdict: Best budget option
Get Surfshark »
Verdict: Great privacy options
Get ExpressVPN »
Verdict: Highly versatile
Get CyberGhost »
Verdict: No connection limit
Get PrivateVPN »

PRIVACY ALERT: Websites you visit can see these details about you:

The following information is available to any site you visit:

Your IP Address:

Your Location:

Your Internet Provider:

This information can be used to target ads and monitor your internet usage.

By using a VPN you can hide these details and protect your privacy.

I recommend NordVPN - the top provider in my testing. It offers outstanding privacy features and there is currently a discounted rate available through this link.

Visit NordVPN

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