What is a VPN Kill Switch?

To be as safe as possible online, you should use a VPN kill switch.

VPN Kill Switch

A good VPN will hide your IP address and encrypt your traffic, protecting you and your information in the process.

But even the best VPN services go down on occasion.

And when that happens - even if it's just for a traction of a second - there’s no longer a protective layer between you and the Internet.

Suddenly, your ISP can see your traffic, snoops monitoring Bittorrent swarms can see your true IP address, and what you download is exposed.

Not good!

The entire reason you use a VPN in the first place is to keep exactly those things from happening.

So what’s a VPN user to do? If even the best VPNs suffer from occasional blips leaving you potentially vulnerable, is there any way to prevent them?

Fortunately, there is, and it comes in the form of something called a “kill switch”. Keep reading to find out what it is and how it works. 

What’s a VPN Kill Switch?

Thankfully, many VPNs now include built-in kill switches. But what do they do exactly?

In short, when your VPN goes down for any reason – whether there’s something wrong on your end or your provider’s end – your computer or device will have its connection to the Internet cut off or "killed"

That means that instead of your traffic being exposed to the Internet, it shuts down entirely, keeping your IP address from being exposed and your traffic secure.

And this happens automatically, without your input, preventing against even a momentary VPN lapse.

Who Needs a VPN Kill Switch?

In our opinion EVERYONE needs a VPN kill switch. 

A more nuanced answer would be: those who most want to protect the privacy of what they do and download and could be exposed by a VPN outage, no matter how brief. OK, so who’s that?

While all VPN users are susceptible to outages, there are certain kinds of users who are particularly vulnerable. That includes content downloaders, which generally means those engaged in torrent file-sharing, and online streaming

It's Nobody's Business

Even leaving aside the more specific examples below, why the heck should your ISP or anyone else know what you are up to online?!

Simply out of principle, you may want to ensure that your IP address is masked and your connection safely encrypted at all times.

Online tracking, monitoring & surveillance are so pervasive that everyone now has good reason to want to use a VPN and make sure it is "always on" thanks to a good kill switch. 

Risky Content Downloaders

Content downloaders are often downloading large amounts of data at a time. This puts added load or even strain on a VPN connection and can make it susceptible to a blip. That’s true even of the best VPNs.

Plus, torrent file-sharing, online streaming and Usenet content can be controversial and could potentially get you in trouble. Why even take the chance?

For example, if you’re torrenting and your VPN goes down, even for a second, every other member of the "swarm" will be able to see your IP address (that’s potentially dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of users). Among the swarm, you can count on plenty of snoops monitoring torrent traffic and recording the IP addresses of downloaders like you.

Many free online streaming sites are dodgy to say the least, and you never know who is running them or if they've been compromised. All the more reason to use a VPN with a kill switch and make sure they never get to see your true IP address. 

Usenet downloading relies on a secure (SSL), private connection with the Usenet provider making it much safer, but your ISP can still see that you are downloading lots of data from Usenet and will often punish you by slowing down (throttling or shaping) your connection. Using a VPN while downloading from Usenet prevents your ISP from detecting you are accessing newsgroups and throttling your connection because of it. 

Accidents Happen

And even if you are not intentionally seeking to download risky content, you may download something controversial by accident that could embarrass you or put you in harm's way.

The Internet is still a bit like the Wild West and it's just too easy to download something misleading or mislabeled... or for you to be tricked into doing so by trolls, malware or bots. 

No VPN Can Guarantee 100% Uptime

Be wary of any claims by VPN providers of 100% uptime. That’s simply not possible over the long-term in the real world.

And even if a VPN provider has enjoyed 100% uptime for weeks or even months, that’s no guarantee it won’t suffer a future outage, even if for just a moment.


Protecting your general privacy, shielding yourself while downloading risky content, and temporary technical blips: these are just some of the reasons why it’s important for you to choose a provider with a VPN kill switch.

Which Providers Have a VPN Kill Switch?

Now that you’re convinced of the importance of having a VPN kill switch, the only question is, “where do I get the best one?

When searching for the best VPN with a kill switch, keep in mind that some providers use different names for the technology, such as “network lock” or "tripwire".

Plus, scrolling through dozens of product pages comparing features can get quickly tedious. But we’re going to make it easy for you. We’re going to recommend our favorite VPN with a kill switch, which is also our top torrenting VPN. 

And that is... drumroll, please... PIA VPN! Not only does Private Internet Access VPN come with a built-in kill switch, at no extra cost, it has lots of other great privacy and security features that'll keep you safe, whether you're torrenting, streaming, or just browsing the web. 

And it comes with a 31-day money-back guarantee! 

Get and Stay Protected with a VPN Kill Switch

Who knows when your VPN might suffer a hiccup and leave your IP address and Internet traffic exposed to heavy-handed and well-funded snoops? And who knows what the consequences might be?

Like most things, prevention and being safe is better than being sorry.

That means signing up for a quality VPN with a built-in kill switch, like PIA VPN. It’ll be there to save the day when you need it – even if you don’t see it coming.

Get a VPN kill switch today and get protected – before it’s too late!

March 22, 2023

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