Split tunnel vs. full tunnel VPN: What are the main differences?

Split tunnel vs. full tunnel VPN: What are the main differences?

April 4, 2024 privacy 0

If you’re using a VPN service, you can go for the standard setup, known as full tunneling, or leave some of your online traffic unencrypted with the split tunneling option. But why would you do that? Let’s compare split tunnel vs. full tunnel VPNs to find out how they differ and which one you should choose. What is a full tunnel VPN? A full tunnel VPN is a virtual private network (VPN) configuration that directs all your internet traffic through a VPN tunnel. This means that the VPN connection protects all the data you send and receive. Typically, VPN services offer full tunneling as a standard VPN setup. It provides full VPN protection for your online data by encrypting every data packet from the websites you visit to the emails you send or online videos you watch. A full tunnel VPN gives you a piece of mind – you can simply activate the VPN service and rest assured every byte of data you send or receive is encrypted. However, some VPNs offer the split tunneling option – let’s explore what it is and why you would use it. What is a split tunnel VPN? A split tunnel VPN is a VPN configuration that allows you to split your internet traffic so that part of it passes through the VPN server and the rest is sent over the network without a VPN encryption for a more direct and faster connection. For example, you can route specific apps or tasks through the VPN tunnel, especially those requiring security or privacy, like work-related communications and activities. This sensitive traffic will be encrypted and protected from being intercepted or spied upon. Meanwhile, activities that demand higher speeds or need a local connection can bypass the VPN, like watching local media content, online gaming, or accessing devices on your home network. Leaving some of your online data unencrypted means that you can operate without the encryption overhead and experience better performance and access to local resources. However, some VPNs are particularly useful for multiplayer gaming, so review your secure online gaming options with a trusted VPN. Even though split tunneling gives you more control and flexibility over your online traffic, you expose part of your data in transit to potential threats such as hackers, ISPs, and government agencies. Split tunneling also increases your device’s and network’s complexity and workload, which can cause conflicts, errors, or slowdowns. Let’s look at both VPN setup options side by side to get a better picture of their differences. {SHORTCODES.blogRelatedArticles} Main differences between split tunnel and full tunnel VPNs The main difference between a split tunnel vs. full tunnel VPN is that a full tunnel VPN shields all your online traffic with VPN encryption, while a split tunnel VPN allows you to divide your traffic, routing a portion of it through a VPN server while the rest of it travels the internet directly. Let’s explore split tunnel vs. full tunnel VPNs in more detail: Split tunnel vs. full tunnel VPN: Which one should you use?By enabling split tunneling in your VPN settings, you can choose to encrypt only sensitive traffic to strike a balance between secure online activities and high-speed access to local services or the internet for non-sensitive traffic. However, opt for a full tunnel VPN when your priority is maximum security for all your online data because full tunneling ensures complete encryption and privacy across all your internet activities. Use full tunnel VPN if: You’re working with highly sensitive information. When you need to secure every piece of data transmitted from your device, full tunnel VPN ensures that all internet traffic is encrypted. You need to mask your online location for all activities. Whether for privacy reasons or to access your home content from abroad, a full tunnel VPN makes your entire online presence appear from a different location. With a reliable VPN, you can securely stream your home content from anywhere. Use split tunnel VPN if: You need to connect to a local network without restrictions. By choosing to not encrypt certain apps and services through the VPN, you can access printers, file shares, or other devices on your home or office network directly. You want to optimize your VPN’s bandwidth usage. By selecting only certain apps to use the VPN, you reduce the total amount of data processed by the VPN server, potentially improving speeds for those apps. You use services that block VPNs. Some services or websites, like online banking, may block access when they detect a VPN. Split tunneling allows you to access these services through your regular internet connection while still protecting other activities. Check our blog for more on secure online banking. You need real-time access to local services or content. For activities that require access to local content or services that are not available through a VPN, split tunneling lets you bypass the VPN for these activities without compromising the security of other data. Let’s say you’re working from home and using a VPN to securely access your company’s remote database. At the same time, you’re trying to watch a live sports event that’s only available through your ISP’s platform, which doesn’t work when you’re connected to the VPN due to regional restrictions. By configuring split tunneling, you can do both simultaneously. ConclusionSplit tunneling allows you more flexibility and the option to tailor your internet use experience to your needs, while full tunneling encrypts all of your traffic, adding an extra layer of protection, instrumental when you use public Wi-Fi. To get the best out of your VPN service, you should be able to select which apps and services use a VPN connection and which don’t. Not all VPNs offer both full tunneling and split tunneling features, so check before choosing a provider. There’s also another option – inverse split tunneling, which means that instead of selecting which apps or traffic to secure via the VPN, you specify which ones to exclude from the VPN. Not all VPNs offer inverse split tunneling, so check before committing to a service.

The post Split tunnel vs. full tunnel VPN: What are the main differences? first appeared on NordVPN.


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