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Understanding VPN Split Tunneling – A Comprehensive Guide


VPN split tunneling is a powerful feature for people who want some level of security while also maximizing their performance. It allows users to route specific apps and URLs through the VPN while allowing other traffic to bypass it.

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A VPN creates a secure tunnel between your device and its servers, protecting all data that travels through it. It’s useful when using public Wi-Fi networks, which can pose significant security risks if you connect to them without proper safeguarding. Thus, it’s essential to understand the definition of VPN split tunneling.

With split tunneling, all your standard internet traffic travels unimpeded down one path while the other is encrypted through your VPN’s private network. This ensures that sensitive and critical information stays safe while you can enjoy the freedom of browsing and streaming on your terms.

Several types of VPN split tunneling exist, including app-based, URL-based, and inverse tunneling. Each offers distinct features and advantages for specific use cases. App-based split tunneling allows you to specify which apps and traffic should use your VPN while others can bypass it.

This allows you to securely access websites and apps that don’t require encryption, like games and 4K video streaming. URL-based split tunneling is similar, except it encrypts all internet traffic except for specific URLs or IP ranges. This allows you to block specific websites so they can’t be edited using a VPN.

Inverse tunneling works differently by encrypting all traffic and blocking or exempting specific low-risk applications you don’t want to be secured by your VPN, such as recreational browsing and gaming.



When using a VPN, your network data is tunneled, encrypted, and directed to a server. This process increases your internet speed but also has some trade-offs. Specifically, the extra overhead required to encrypt and direct your traffic through the VPN can negatively impact connection speeds. With split tunneling, you can avoid these performance issues by allowing nonessential applications to bypass the VPN.

There are several different types of split tunneling, and the right one for you will depend on your specific needs and security concerns. App-based and URL-based split tunneling options allow you to create exclusion lists of specific apps or websites that will not be routed through the VPN tunnel. This provides a level of granularity that can be beneficial for users concerned with privacy but who still need to access certain apps and destinations.

Inverse split tunneling is a variation of this method that works in the opposite direction. All your traffic is sent through the VPN tunnel, except for specific sources (like web browsing) that you identify to be routed directly to the internet.

This type of inverse tunneling maximizes privacy while providing high performance for critical apps. However, it’s important to note that ISPs can still see your unencrypted web traffic and other non-tunneled data, which malicious actors could monetize or leverage.



With split tunneling, VPN users can choose which apps and online destinations go through the VPN and which bypasses it. This enables them to secure sensitive apps like financial services and medical systems while leaving other activities like web browsing or video streaming on the open internet.

It also helps prevent slowdowns caused by encrypting every activity. There are various ways to configure split tunneling, allowing users and IT administrators to customize their VPNs for specific needs. App-based split tunneling is the most common, enabling users to specify which apps they want routed through the VPN and which should bypass it.

This is helpful when a VPN is only needed for specific tasks, such as accessing geo-restricted content or working remotely. URL-based split tunneling is a more advanced option, allowing users to specify which apps and websites should be protected by the VPN and which should bypass it. This can be useful for security-conscious enterprises, which may want to limit the use of a VPN to specific online applications and services that are considered more sensitive.

Inverse split tunneling is another way to configure a VPN for maximum flexibility and performance. This type of split tunneling lets users route specific low-risk applications through the VPN, keeping critical systems secure and enabling other online activities to bypass it for optimized performance. This approach can also help organizations avoid saturating their WAN connections and reduce the risk of data loss by eliminating multiple paths for cyberattacks.



A VPN’s encryption converts your data into a code that no one outside the network can read. This protects your personal information from hackers and helps keep your business’s sensitive information secure when employees connect to the internet over unsecured public networks.

But sometimes, specific websites or apps may need to connect to a local IP address to work correctly. This can include country-locked sites for research, Netflix regional libraries, or torrent clients. In this case, you can use split-tunneling to select a few apps or sites that will connect via the VPN while everything else goes through your regular internet connection.

There are several types of split tunneling for a VPN, each with pros and cons. App-based split tunneling encrypts traffic related to specific apps, such as banking, travel, or shopping. Other apps or social media will connect directly to the internet.

URL-based split tunneling works similarly but filters traffic based on particular URLs.

About the author

Miljan Radovanovic

Miljan Radovanovic

As a content editor at, I play a vital role in refining, controlling, and publishing compelling blog content that strengthens our online presence and aligns with our strategic objectives. Beyond my professional endeavors, I'm deeply intrigued by technology and digital marketing, constantly seeking to stay updated with the latest trends and innovations in these fields. Additionally, I have a profound passion for tennis and a longstanding history in football, which have instilled in me valuable lessons in discipline, strategy, and teamwork.