When you use a VPN, or virtual private network, your internet traffic is routed through the VPN’s servers, which act as a kind of middleman between your computer and the world wide web.
This creates a disconnect between your identity or IP and what you do online, whether it’s surfing Reddit or downloading torrents.
Even better, the data is encrypted, which prevents even your own internet service provider from monitoring your online activity.
This is valuable for all sorts of reasons. It protects your privacy, for one, and allows you to download from torrents and Usenet or stream content anonymously.
But we already have plenty of in-depth explanations of how torrents work here on Cogipas.
Today, we’re going to focus on something very specific, and that’s VPN split tunneling. In short, what is it, and why should you care?
[+] 'VPN Split Tunneling' contents (select to expand)
What Is VPN Split Tunneling?
Some VPNs have a feature that allows you to “split” your internet connection, sending part of your traffic through the VPN, while the rest continues over your local network in the normal way, as if you weren’t using a VPN at all.
You do this by selecting which apps or programs you want to use the VPN – and the ones you don’t.
For instance, you might choose to send traffic from your bittorrent client through the VPN, while your web browser or email client connects as usual.
Of course, this means that your real IP address is being displayed when you use your web browser or send an email, and that your ISP can monitor that traffic.
And at first glance, it may seem like you’re losing the privacy and security of your VPN. But if we look closer, we find some really neat benefits.
Why Should You Use VPN Split Tunneling?
There are a few ways that split tunneling can be useful.
Closes Vulnerabilities in Your Protection
As we mentioned above, your VPN should ideally create a disconnect between your identity and your internet traffic. Because when you download a file or access a website, the IP address displayed is not yours but your VPN’s.
But there is a weakness to this approach. That is, when you access a personal account from behind the VPN, it creates a potential link between that IP and your real identity.
For instance, let’s say you you’re downloading a torrent through your VPN. But while you’re waiting for it to finish, you decide to check your Facebook account. This might seem harmless enough, but the problem is that anyone monitoring your traffic now sees IP address 123456 downloading a torrent and that same IP address accessing your personal social media. At that point, it doesn’t take a genius to put two and two together and realize that IP address 123456 is actually [your name]. You’ve created a dangerous link between your supposedly anonymous internet activity and your identity.
Fortunately, split tunneling eliminates that problem. Just route your torrenting through the VPN while leaving your web browsing alone, and now these two actions are going through two separate “tunnels” and using two different IP addresses. Meaning onlookers aren’t able to connect the two – at least as easily as they would have.
Speeds Up Your Traffic
VPNs provide a ton of benefits for almost any internet user, but they’re not without their drawbacks. The main one is their potential effect on connections speeds.
For starters, the traffic sent through the VPN has to be encrypted, and that takes a little extra time to process. And secondly, the VPN server may be further away from your location than your ISP’s server.
If you’re in London and using a server in Amsterdam, for instance, your connection is going to be slower than if you were using your local UK server.
With split tunneling, you can limit the traffic you send through the VPN, thus improving your connection speeds across the board. The unencrypted traffic will be faster because it’s not being routed through the VPN. And the encrypted traffic will be faster because it’s not competing for bandwidth and computing resources.
Eliminates Little Inconveniences
When using a VPN, sometimes you’ll run into the problem of being redirected to the “wrong” geographically-based website. For example, you might want to access Amazon USA but you’re being sent to Amazon Japan because of the server or IP you’re using. Or you’re getting Google Sweden when you want Google UK.
While this may not be the biggest problem to have, it’s easily fixed with split tunneling.
Split Tunneling is Great for Torrenting
If you hadn’t already guessed, all of the above advantages make split tunneling an awesome feature to use for torrenting.
By running your torrent client through the VPN and your other traffic outside of it, you’ll have better security and better speeds than if you simply ran everything through the same tunnel.
How to Split Your Traffic
Okay, so now we know why we want to split our traffic. But how exactly should we set it up?
Here’s the traffic you should consider routing through the VPN:
And here’s the traffic you shouldn’t:
You can actually set apps like your bittorrent client and newsreader to be routed through the VPN specifically. On the other hand, you can’t select the web content you want to be split.
But this problem is easily solved by setting one browser to use the VPN and the other to connect normally. For instance, designate Firefox to be routed through the VPN – but not Chrome.
Then simply use Firefox for your sensitive or personal web browsing, and use Chrome for everything else, like reading news sites and accessing your Gmail account.
Note: The above primarily applies to the times where you’re torrenting, or doing another sensitive activity that you specifically don’t want connected to your identity. At other times, it’s often still a good idea to use a VPN when doing things like online banking, especially if you’re on an unsecured internet connection.
Which VPNs Offer Split Tunneling?
Unfortunately, most VPN providers do not offer split tunneling as part of their basic service. But there are a few very good ones that do.
Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access is easily one of our favorite VPNs. And their split tunneling feature is one of the reasons why.
They’re torrenting friendly too, so you’ll be able to take advantage of split tunneling with all of your P2P downloads. Between that, their no-logs policy, and their other security features, like a built-in kill switch, they’re pretty much the ultimate torrenting VPNs.
But you don’t have to be a torrent user to take advantage of their excellent speeds and their impressive server network, which boasts over 3,300+ servers across 41 countries.
With all these features, you might expect PIA to cost a bundle. In reality, they’re one of the most affordable VPNs, with prices as low as $2.85 per month. Each plan comes with 10 devices and a 30-day money back guarantee.
ExpressVPN offers a great split tunneling feature, as well as 256-bit SLL encryption, a no-log policy, and unlimited bandwidth. And they’re based in the British Virgin Islands, meaning they’re less susceptible to the invasive internet laws of places like the US and EU.
But that’s not all. ExpressVPN also provides servers in 94 countries around the world and supports pretty much every device you can think of, from Mac, Windows, and Linux to iOS, Android, and even routers. Speaking of support, their customer service team is available 24/7 through both chat and email to handle any questions or issues you might run into.
In fact, ExpressVPN is so committed to customer satisfaction that they offer an impressive 30-day money back guarantee. Act now to lock in prices as low as $8.32.
ProtonVPN is one of the newer VPNs on the market, but they still offer every feature you could need, including split tunneling.
Based in Switzerland, ProtonVPN is a no-logs provider, with an open-source app and their own server network of 630 physical servers in 44 countries. Combined with other advanced safety features, like Secure Core Servers and Tor Over VPN, they’re one of the most secure VPNs you can get.
They’re torrent friendly and a great option for streaming too.
Want to give them a shot? Plans start at just €4,00 per month – and they even offer a 7-day free trial.
You’re really got nothing to lose by signing up today.
If you’re looking for a VPN with split tunneling, VyprVPN should definitely be near the top of your list.
Like ProtonVPN, they’re based in Switzerland and own all of their servers, with 200,000+ IPs in over 70+ locations. Plus, they have use first-party DNS, which means no DNS leaks.
VyprVPN allows torrenting and VPN, and their “Chameleon” stealth VPN feature enables you to access your favorite streaming services from anywhere.
You get all of that for as little as $2.50 per month for 5 devices. And each plan is backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. Oh, and 24/7 customer support.
Next on our list is PureVPN, which was one of the first VPNs to implement split tunneling into their service. But that’s not all there is to like about this provider.
They also offer a great spread of servers in over 150+ countries, including in regions like Africa and South America. And that includes over 80,000 IPs to choose from. In fact, PureVPN is based in Hong Kong, and is one of the few VPN providers able to bypass some of China’s rigid online restrictions.
They’re also very accommodating of torrents, with unlimited file-sharing and no logs, and are specifically optimized for high-speed video and audio streaming.
Users who subscribe to PureVPN today can take advantage of prices as low $2.95 per month. And you’re protected by their 7-day money back guarantee.
If you’re looking for a quality VPN, you can’t go wrong with IPVanish. Not only does this provider have a built-in split tunneling feature, it’s an all-around great VPN.
In fact, it’s the fastest provider we’ve used, owing to its impressive tech and huge network of over 750 servers across 60+ countries. IPVanish also offers some other valuable features, including kill switch technology, DNS leak protection, and 256-bit SSL encryption.
They’re also torrent-friendly and don’t keep any usage logs.
Cogipas readers can even get 15% off their service through our exclusive discount, which brings the price as low as $5.52 per month. And they even offer a 7-day money back guarantee, in case you’re unsure of your purchase.
The Advantages of a Quality VPN
The above VPN providers have more than just the split tunneling feature in common. They also share strong encryption, built-in kill switch technology, DNS leak protection, and Bitcoin payments. And each service has a strict no-logs policy.
In short, you can’t go wrong with any of them. Whether you choose Private Internet Access, ExpressVPN, or ProtonVPN, you’ll be getting a VPN provider that will give you the privacy protection and unfettered internet access that you want and need.
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