Can I route only some websites through a VPN? | i.e. Split Tunnelling

Are you wondering if it’s possible to selectively route specific websites through a VPN? If so, you’re not alone. Many people seek the ability to route only certain websites through a VPN for privacy and accessibility reasons. However, traditional VPN routing is typically done at the IP level, making it challenging to route traffic based on domain names.

In this article, we’ll explore the possibility of selectively routing websites through a VPN and discuss a potential solution called split tunneling. Whether you want to protect sensitive data on specific sites or bypass the VPN for certain websites, we’ll provide insights and guidance to help you make an informed decision.

Can I route only some websites through a VPN?

Key Takeaways:

  • Traditional VPN routing is done at the IP level, making it difficult to route traffic based on domain names.
  • Split tunneling is a feature that allows you to selectively route websites or applications through a VPN while bypassing the VPN for others.
  • Split tunneling can improve performance, provide access to local content, and reduce bandwidth consumption.
  • Consider security risks when configuring split tunneling and choose reputable apps and websites.
  • You can set up split tunneling on the Surfshark VPN app by accessing the split tunneling feature in the settings.

Limitations of Traditional VPN Routing

Traditional VPN routing operates at the IP level, which means that all traffic is routed through the VPN server. While this approach provides a certain level of security, it can also have limitations that may impact performance and flexibility.

One significant limitation is the inability to route traffic based on domain names. Routing at the IP level does not easily allow for selectively routing specific websites through the VPN. This becomes especially challenging when dealing with services like Cloudfront that utilize dynamic IP addresses.

Another limitation arises when you have bandwidth-hungry platforms that do not require VPN protection. Routing all traffic through the VPN server in these cases can be inefficient and lead to decreased performance.

To demonstrate this challenge, consider a scenario where you only want to route traffic for a particular website through the VPN, while allowing other websites to bypass the VPN. With traditional VPN routing, achieving this selective routing based on domain names becomes complex.

Although traditional VPN routing serves a purpose in providing overall protection and privacy, these limitations highlight the need for alternative approaches that offer more granular control over routing specific traffic through a VPN while bypassing the VPN for others.

So, what are the potential solutions to these limitations of traditional VPN routing? Let’s explore them in the next section.

Potential Solution: Split Tunneling

When it comes to routing specific data through a VPN and bypassing the VPN for certain websites, split tunneling emerges as a potential solution. This feature provides users with the flexibility to selectively choose which data to protect with VPN encryption and which data to transmit without it.

With split tunneling, you can route specific websites or applications through the VPN while allowing others to bypass the VPN entirely. This allows for a more granular control over your VPN connection and ensures that only the necessary data passes through the encrypted tunnel, while other traffic can take a direct route to its destination.

Why Split Tunneling Matters

Split tunneling offers several advantages and use cases. For example, you might want to route sensitive online banking or communication apps through the VPN to protect your personal information, while allowing media streaming or gaming apps to bypass the VPN for improved performance.

By separating your internet traffic, split tunneling also allows you to access region-specific content that may otherwise be restricted when using a VPN. You can bypass the VPN connection for certain websites or services that rely on your local IP address for full functionality.

This feature also helps conserve bandwidth by excluding data-intensive apps or websites from VPN encryption. With split tunneling, you can prioritize which data requires the added security of a VPN while maximizing the efficiency and performance of your internet connection.

Implementing Split Tunneling

Enabling split tunneling can vary depending on the VPN service you use. In general, most VPN apps or clients offer a dedicated setting or feature to configure split tunneling.

One popular VPN provider that supports split tunneling is Surfshark. To set up split tunneling using Surfshark, open the settings in their VPN app and locate the split tunneling feature, often referred to as “Bypasser.” From there, you can add specific apps, websites, or IP addresses that you want to exclude from VPN encryption.

Using Surfshark as an example, here’s how to set up split tunneling:

  1. Open the Surfshark VPN app on your device.
  2. Navigate to the settings menu.
  3. Look for the split tunneling or “Bypasser” feature.
  4. Add the apps, websites, or IP addresses you want to bypass the VPN for.
  5. Save your settings and enjoy the advantages of split tunneling.

Whether you’re using Surfshark or another VPN provider, configuring split tunneling can offer you greater control over your VPN connection and enhance your online experience by routing specific data through the VPN while bypassing it for certain websites or applications.

Continue reading to explore different types of split tunneling and how it can be implemented on various devices and platforms.

How Split Tunneling Works

When it comes to split tunneling, understanding the process is key. Split tunneling allows you to have two connections simultaneously: one that routes through the VPN server for protected data and another that bypasses the VPN and goes directly to a website or service.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Routing through the VPN server: When you access websites or use applications that you have designated to go through the VPN, the data is encrypted and transmitted through the secure VPN tunnel. This ensures that your online activities remain private and secure.
  2. Direct internet connection: On the other hand, for websites or services that you have not included in the VPN routing, the data bypasses the VPN and is sent over a direct internet connection. This means that your connection to these websites or services is not encrypted by the VPN.

With split tunneling, you have the flexibility to choose which data should be protected by the VPN and which data can have a direct internet connection. This feature allows you to optimize your internet experience based on your specific needs, ensuring both privacy and accessibility.

split tunneling process

Benefits of Split Tunneling

Split tunneling offers a range of benefits, including:

  • Improved Performance: By directing data-heavy applications or websites that don’t require VPN protection outside of the VPN tunnel, split tunneling can optimize your internet speed and reduce the load on the VPN server.
  • Access to Local Content: With split tunneling, you can easily access local content or services that may require a local IP address while still benefiting from the protection of the VPN for other online activities.
  • Bandwidth Conservation: By excluding specific apps or websites from VPN encryption, split tunneling helps conserve bandwidth, especially when using data-intensive apps or visiting websites that don’t require VPN protection.

Overall, split tunneling empowers you to have granular control over your VPN connection, enhancing both performance and privacy according to your unique preferences.

Benefits of Split Tunneling

Split tunneling provides several advantages that enhance your VPN experience.

Improved Performance

One of the key benefits of split tunneling is improved performance. By selectively routing specific data through the VPN while allowing other traffic to bypass it, split tunneling reduces the load on the VPN server. This optimization results in faster internet speeds and a smoother browsing experience, particularly for bandwidth-intensive applications.

Access to Local Content

Another advantage of split tunneling is the ability to access local content or services that require a local IP address. By excluding certain websites or apps from VPN encryption, you can maintain direct access to local resources, such as region-restricted streaming platforms, local websites, or intranet services.

Bandwidth Conservation

Split tunneling also helps conserve bandwidth by excluding specific apps or websites from VPN encryption. This can be particularly beneficial if you have data-heavy applications or websites that don’t require the security and privacy provided by the VPN. By reducing the amount of data that needs to be encrypted and transmitted through the VPN tunnel, you can optimize bandwidth usage and potentially reduce data charges.

Split tunneling offers these advantages and more, making it a useful feature for users looking to customize their VPN experience and maximize the benefits of both VPN protection and direct internet access.

Types of Split Tunneling

Split tunneling offers different methods to customize your VPN connection based on your specific needs. Here are the three main types:

Inverse Split Tunneling

Inverse split tunneling allows you to selectively exclude specific apps or websites from VPN encryption. With this feature, you can ensure that certain applications or websites bypass the VPN connection, providing them with a direct internet connection. This can be useful when you don’t need the added security or privacy protection for certain online activities.

URL-based Split Tunneling

URL-based split tunneling operates on a website-by-website basis. You can specify particular websites or domain names that should either be routed through the VPN for enhanced security or bypassed, allowing them to connect directly to the internet. This type of split tunneling provides more granular control over which websites benefit from the VPN encryption and which do not.

App-based Split Tunneling

App-based split tunneling allows you to exempt specific applications from the VPN connection. This means that selected apps can access the internet without going through the VPN tunnel, while other apps can still benefit from the encrypted connection. With app-based split tunneling, you can tailor your VPN usage to meet the specific requirements of different applications, ensuring the optimal balance between security and performance.

Use Cases for Split Tunneling

Split tunneling offers a range of practical applications for different scenarios. It allows you to prioritize specific websites or apps by excluding them from the VPN, catering to individual needs and requirements.

If you have specific website requirements, split tunneling can be a game-changer. For example, certain websites or online services may have compatibility issues when accessed through a VPN, requiring you to connect to them directly. By utilizing split tunneling, you can bypass the VPN for these specific websites and ensure seamless access.

Moreover, split tunneling is particularly useful for users who frequently engage in data-intensive activities such as streaming videos or playing online games. By excluding these bandwidth-heavy apps and platforms from the VPN, you can optimize your internet connection for faster performance and reduce the strain on your network.

Scenarios for Split Tunneling:

  1. Meeting specific website requirements by excluding them from VPN encryption
  2. Ensuring compatibility with apps and services that have compatibility issues with VPN
  3. Optimizing performance for data-intensive apps like video streaming and online gaming

data-intensive apps

By leveraging split tunneling, you can tailor your VPN usage to suit your specific needs and enhance your online experience. Whether it’s accessing certain websites, meeting compatibility requirements, or optimizing performance for data-intensive apps, split tunneling provides the flexibility to customize your VPN connections.

Security Considerations for Split Tunneling

While split tunneling offers flexibility and control over VPN routing, it’s important to be aware of the potential security risks involved. When you choose to exclude certain apps or websites from VPN encryption, it leaves that data more vulnerable to security threats. To ensure a secure split tunneling experience, consider the following:

  1. Choose reputable apps and websites: When configuring split tunneling, it’s crucial to use trusted and reputable apps and websites. By selecting reliable sources, you reduce the likelihood of exposing your data to potential security breaches.
  2. Maintain VPN protection for all other online activities: While routing specific traffic outside of the VPN, make sure that your VPN protection remains enabled for all other online activities. This ensures that your sensitive data is still encrypted and protected.
  3. Be cautious with unsecured connections: When using split tunneling, be mindful of connecting to unsecured networks or public Wi-Fi hotspots. These networks can expose your data to risks, as they lack the security measures provided by VPN encryption.
  4. Regularly update your VPN app: Keep your VPN app up to date with the latest software updates and patches. These updates often address security vulnerabilities and enhance the overall security of your VPN connection.

By taking these security considerations into account, you can use split tunneling in a safe and secure manner while enjoying the benefits of selective VPN routing.

Setting Up Split Tunneling

To enable split tunneling and configure it on the Surfshark VPN app, follow these simple steps:

  1. Open the Surfshark VPN app on your device.
  2. Go to the app settings, usually found in the top-right corner of the screen.
  3. Locate the split tunneling feature, often referred to as “Bypasser.”
  4. Open the split tunneling settings.
  5. Add specific apps, websites, or IP addresses that you want to be excluded from VPN encryption.
  6. Save your settings.

With split tunneling configured on Surfshark, you have granular control over which data is routed through the VPN tunnel and which remains unaffected. This feature allows you to prioritize certain apps or websites for secure VPN protection while excluding others from VPN encryption.

By customizing the split tunneling settings, you can tailor your VPN experience to meet your specific needs and optimize performance.

Adding Apps and Websites

When configuring split tunneling on Surfshark, you can easily add apps and websites to the exclusion list, ensuring they bypass VPN encryption. This can be useful for various reasons, such as:

  • Accessing local services that require a local IP address.
  • Improving performance for data-intensive applications.
  • Meeting specific compatibility requirements.

By adding apps and websites to the exclusion list, you can enjoy a seamless browsing experience while maintaining VPN protection for all other online activities.

Other Devices and Platforms

Split tunneling is a versatile feature that can be used on various devices and platforms, providing flexibility in configuring your VPN setup. While some VPN providers offer split tunneling functionality specifically for devices like Windows and Android, there are other options available to ensure split tunneling on different devices.

Routers with Split-Tunneling Support

One option is to use a router that supports split tunneling. This allows you to configure split tunneling at the network level, ensuring that specific devices connected to the router can route traffic through the VPN while others bypass it. Routers with split-tunneling support provide a comprehensive solution for managing VPN connections across multiple devices on a network.

Setting Up VPN on a Router

Another approach to enable split tunneling on various devices is by setting up the VPN directly on the router. This configuration allows all devices connected to the router to benefit from split tunneling. By routing specific traffic through the VPN tunnel, you can protect privacy and security while maintaining direct internet access for other devices. Setting up a VPN on a router provides a convenient and centralized solution for split tunneling.

Regardless of the device or platform you choose, split tunneling offers the ability to customize your VPN connection based on your preferences and requirements. It allows you to route only specific data through the VPN while allowing other traffic to bypass it, providing you with greater control and flexibility over your online privacy and security.

Conclusion

In summary, split tunneling offers a solution for selectively routing certain websites or applications through a VPN, providing users with enhanced control and flexibility. By leveraging split tunneling, you can optimize your VPN experience to prioritize performance, access local content, and reduce bandwidth consumption.

However, it is important to consider the potential security risks associated with split tunneling. When configuring split tunneling, it is crucial to choose reputable apps and websites to ensure the protection of your data. It is recommended to maintain VPN encryption for all other online activities to maintain a secure browsing experience.

Implementing split tunneling is relatively straightforward, depending on your VPN provider. For example, on the Surfshark VPN app, you can easily enable split tunneling by accessing the settings and adding specific apps, websites, or IP addresses to be excluded from VPN encryption. This allows you to have granular control over the routing of your data.

In conclusion, split tunneling offers a valuable feature for VPN users, allowing for customized routing choices that align with individual needs and requirements. By understanding the benefits and considerations of split tunneling and implementing it properly, you can optimize your VPN usage and enjoy a secure and efficient online experience.

FAQ

Q: Can I route only some websites through a VPN?

A: Yes, you can selectively route specific websites through a VPN using a feature called split tunneling.

Q: What are the limitations of traditional VPN routing?

A: Traditional VPN routing is done at the IP level, which means that all traffic is routed through the VPN server, making it challenging to route traffic based on domain names. This approach can be inefficient and not easily achievable, especially when using services like Cloudfront that use dynamic IP addresses.

Q: What is split tunneling and how does it work?

A: Split tunneling is a feature that allows users to selectively choose which data to protect with VPN encryption and which data to transmit without it. With split tunneling, you can route only specific websites or applications through the VPN while bypassing the VPN for others. This creates two connections, one routed through the VPN server for protected data and another that goes directly to a website or service without the VPN.

Q: What are the benefits of split tunneling?

A: Split tunneling offers several benefits, including improved performance by reducing the load on the VPN server, access to local content or services that require a local IP address, and the ability to conserve bandwidth by excluding certain apps or websites from VPN encryption.

Q: What are the types of split tunneling?

A: There are three main types of split tunneling: inverse split tunneling, which allows you to exclude specific apps or websites from VPN encryption; URL-based split tunneling, which operates on a website-by-website basis; and app-based split tunneling, which allows you to exempt certain applications from the VPN connection.

Q: In what scenarios can split tunneling be useful?

A: Split tunneling can be useful when you need to connect to certain websites or apps without the VPN to meet specific requirements or ensure compatibility. It is also beneficial for data-intensive apps such as video streaming or gaming platforms, as excluding them from the VPN can help maintain optimal performance and reduce bandwidth consumption.

Q: What security considerations should I keep in mind when using split tunneling?

A: While split tunneling offers flexibility, it introduces potential security risks. When you choose not to encrypt data on certain apps or websites, that information becomes more vulnerable. It is important to use reputable apps and websites when configuring split tunneling and ensure that VPN protection is maintained for all other online activities.

Q: How can I set up split tunneling on the Surfshark VPN app?

A: To set up split tunneling on the Surfshark VPN app, open the settings and locate the split tunneling feature, often referred to as “Bypasser.” From there, you can add specific apps, websites, or IP addresses that you want to be excluded from VPN encryption, giving you granular control over the routing of your data.

Q: Can I use split tunneling on devices other than Surfshark?

A: Yes, split tunneling is not limited to specific devices or platforms. Some VPN providers offer split tunneling functionality on certain devices like Windows and Android. Alternatively, you can use a router with split-tunneling support or set up a VPN directly on the router to configure split tunneling for various devices and network setups.

Q: How does split tunneling enhance my VPN experience?

A: Split tunneling allows you to selectively route only some websites or apps through a VPN, providing greater control and flexibility. It offers advantages such as improved performance, access to local content, and reduced bandwidth consumption. However, it is crucial to consider security risks and choose reputable apps and websites when configuring split tunneling.