A hand hovers over a switch that says ON and OFF

As a general rule, we recommend that you always keep your VPN (Virtual Private Network) on when you’re online. It protects your privacy online and keeps you safe from a variety of online threats. However, as with most rules, this one has some exceptions. Follow along to learn when, why, and how you can turn off a VPN on your devices.

Disclaimer: Browsing the web without a VPN isn’t safe and may lead to exposing your sensitive data on a local network or the web. Always be cautious of what you do on the internet!

Table of contents

    Why would you turn off your VPN?

    Turning off a VPN may help you troubleshoot network issues or solve issues with accessing local content and websites. It can also increase your connection speed for data-heavy activities such as gaming or video streaming or even help you avoid legal troubles in countries where VPN use is illegal.

    Let’s take a closer look at some of the main reasons why you might want to turn your VPN off:

    • To access local websites or services — a VPN changes your virtual location. As a result, some websites or services in your home country may not function properly when your VPN is on. Turn it off or connect to a local VPN server to enjoy full access to banking apps, streaming services, and more;
    • To troubleshoot network issues — if you’re having issues with your network stability or connection speed, you might want to turn your VPN off to see if that changes things. A VPN can slow your connection down, and if it picks back up as soon as you turn it off, the issue may be with your VPN and not your network;
    • To play online games and stream videos — even if a VPN functions as intended, it will slightly slow down your connection. If you experience throttling when watching videos or high ping when playing online, try connecting to a VPN server closer to you. If that doesn’t work, you may need to turn your VPN off completely;
    • To save battery life — using a VPN adds additional load onto your device, which means that your battery drains faster. If you’re on the last few percent of your battery with no access to a charger, consider turning off the VPN to get a few more minutes of use before the battery dies;
    • To avoid legal issues — VPNs are illegal or heavily restricted in countries like Russia, Iraq, North Korea, Belarus, China, and Turkey. Using a VPN when visiting these countries could possibly land you in trouble.

    It’s worth noting that most of these issues can also be resolved by using Surfshark’s split tunneling feature. You can set up your VPN to bypass certain apps or websites while keeping the rest of your traffic protected. As a result, you can play games, stream content, and access local content without completely shutting down your VPN.

    How to disable a VPN on your app

    All of the following options describe how you can disable a VPN by going through your device settings. This is particularly useful for turning off a VPN that has been set up manually. However, if you’re using a VPN app, disconnecting the VPN through said app is the easiest option. Here’s what you need to do:

    • Open the VPN app;
    • Locate the Disconnect button on the home screen and tap on it.

    That’s it. No need to scrimmage through settings or look for device-specific details.

    How to disable a VPN on an iPhone

    Older iOS versions required you to navigate the General settings menu for VPN & Device Management options. But recent updates have moved the VPN connection switch to the main Settings menu, making it even easier to turn your VPN off or on.

    • Open the Settings menu;
    • Locate the VPN switch located under Personal Hotspot settings;
    • Toggle the switch off to turn the VPN off, or toggle it on to restore your VPN connection.
    A screenshot of the highlighted VPN tab under the iPhone settings

    How to disable a VPN on a Mac

    • Hit the Apple icon at the top left corner of the screen;
    • Choose System Preferences;
    • Click on Network;
    • Select a VPN you want to disconnect from;
    • Click the Disconnect option on the right.
    A screenshot of the highlighted System Preferences option
    A screenshot of the Network tab under System Preferences
    A screenshot of the highlighted VPN list and the Disconnect button under Network settings

    How to disable a VPN on Android

    Not all Android operating systems are the same, but the process should look something like this: 

    • Go to your Device Settings;
    • Look for a Connections or a Network tab; there should be a VPN option;
    • Locate a toggle switch and turn it off (it should turn gray).

    Some menus are simpler and easier to navigate:

    Two screenshots of Android’s Settings highlighting the VPN tab and the toggle button for VPN

    How to disable a VPN on Windows

    • Click the Windows icon;
    • Choose Settings;
    • Choose the Network & Internet option;
    • Locate and tap on the VPN option;
    • Pick a VPN you want to disable and select Disconnect.
    A screenshot of the highlighted Windows Settings option
    A screenshot of the Network & Internet tab under Settings
    A screenshot of the highlighted VPN tab under Network & Internet.

    How to disable a VPN on a browser

    Turning off a VPN app on your browser is all about extension management and fiddling with its settings. Take a gander at how to disable VPN on major browsers, oh great internet explorer! (Pun! Because we’re talking about browsers, and you’re the one exploring. OK, I’ll show myself out…)

    Note: Safari currently doesn’t support any VPN extensions, and Opera has its own privacy solution.

    Disable a VPN on Google Chrome

    • Click the puzzle piece icon (Extensions) on the right of the address bar;
    • Choose Manage Extensions at the drop-down menu;
    • Click the toggle switch off on the VPN extension tab.


    • Click the three dots at the top right corner of the browser;
    • Choose Settings;
    • Click Extensions at the menu on the left;
    • Click the VPN toggle switch off.

    Disable a VPN on Microsoft Edge

    • Click on the three dots at the top right corner;
    • Choose the Extensions option;
    • Toggle off the VPN switch, which is under the Installed extensions.

    Disable a VPN on Firefox

    • Click the burger icon at the top right corner of the browser;
    • Select Add-ons;
    • Click the VPN extension toggle switch off.

    How to disable a VPN on Linux

    There are several ways to set up a VPN on Linux, as well as differences within Linux distribution software. However, using a Network Manager on Ubuntu might be the most popular VPN setup option. If that’s how you set up your VPN, here’s how you can turn it off:

    • Tap the network icon on the top-right corner of the screen;
    • Locate a VPN connections option;
    • Find the active VPN connection and tap on it to disconnect.

    How to disable a VPN on your router

    The process of disabling a VPN on your router may vary depending on the router model. However, they should not be far off from these general instructions:

    • Find an IP address on the sticker that’s placed under your router. It usually looks something like;
    • Enter this IP address into the address bar of your browser;
    • Log in to your router’s admin page by entering the password that is also on the sticker under your router;
    • Locate the VPN settings in the admin panel;
    • Disable the VPN and restart your router.

    Alternatives to disabling your VPN 

    Since we don’t recommend surfing the web without a VPN connection, we have a couple of alternatives for those hesitating to turn off their online protection.

    Split tunneling — a healthy compromise

    If you’re balancing between security and speed, split tunneling lets you have both without turning off your VPN. Our split-tunneling feature, called Bypasser, allows for more in-depth VPN tinkering — you get to decide which apps pass through the encrypted VPN tunnel and which don’t.

    Aside from letting you enjoy a safe surf on the web, the Bypasser allows you to:

    • Save some internet speed by excluding data-heavy apps;
    • Access your wireless gadgets on your home network.
    How Split tunneling works

    The pause button

    Instead of disconnecting completely, certain VPNs provide the option to pause your connection temporarily. Surfshark has just that — the Pause VPN feature. Although, for now, it’s only available on smartphones. 

    It lets your internet traffic skip the VPN encryption and private tunneling for a limited time. When that time passes, you’re reconnected to a VPN, which prevents you from forgetting to turn it back on and going online without proper protection.

    Two screenshots of Surfshark’s app highlighting the Pause VPN button and the time for how long you want to pause the VPN

    I disabled my VPN, and my internet connection dropped

    Sometimes, manually disabling a VPN (not through its application) can cause your internet connection to drop. VPNs have a Kill Switch feature that shuts down your internet connection if your VPN connection drops. This is done to prevent data leaks when using the internet without VPN protection.

    Let’s say a snooper or an internet service provider (ISP) is trying to look at your data stream and see what you’re doing. They couldn’t do so with a VPN turned on because it encrypts the data traffic. 

    If the VPN service stops working, your connection is no longer encrypted, and the snoopers can see whatever you’re doing. To prevent that from happening, Kill Switch cuts the connection. But let’s get back to the matter.

    If you can’t connect to the internet after shutting down your VPN, return to its software and turn the Kill Switch feature off. Then, disable the VPN by repeating the steps you took before.

    Follow these steps to disable Kill Switch on the Surfshark app:

    • Hit Settings at the left corner of the app window;
    • Click on the VPN settings;
    • Hover over the enable/disable Kill Switch button;  
    • Click it. The button should turn gray if it’s turned off.

    Is turning the VPN off ever the best option?

    We should always be wary of what we do on the internet so we know when it’s safe to disable our VPNs and venture forth without protection. It’s clear as day that there are situations where a VPN should be turned off. Yet, sometimes, split tunneling may offer a better solution to your problem.

    If there’s no other option but to turn off your VPN, make sure that all websites or apps you use are reliable and secure. If you have any questions about the legitimacy of something you see online, never go there without proper protection.

    Protect your online privacy
    Choose a VPN with a split tunneling feature


    Does a VPN connect to all devices?

    Not really. You need a running VPN app and probably an account on each device. Or you could set up a VPN on your router and have the same effect. Luckily, Surfshark allows both options.

    Why would I turn off my VPN?

    While you should generally keep your VPN turned on, there are a few reasons why you might want to turn off or pause your VPN connection:

    1. To save some internet speed.
    2. To protect your device’s battery life.
    3. To use PayPal.
    4. To access local banking apps.
    5. To use the internet in a VPN-restricted area.

    How do I remove a VPN from my Wi-Fi?

    You’re essentially asking how to disable a VPN on your router. Many of them differ, but the quickest way is to reset your router. Remember — this will disable VPN connections on all devices on the network. If that fails, here’s what you can try as well:

    How can I tell if I’m connected to a VPN?

    The easiest way to figure out if you’re connected to a VPN is to use Surfshark’s IP checker. If your IP comes from a location that is different from your physical location, you probably have an active VPN connection.