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Split tunneling: what it does and why you need it

  • Choose which data you want to encrypt.
  • Use two different IP addresses at the same time.
  • Keep your original speed on traffic you don’t want to protect.
  • Find this free feature on your Surfshark app.
What is VPN split tunneling (Bypasser)?

What is VPN split tunneling (Bypasser)?

VPN split tunneling – called Bypasser on the Surfshark VPN app – is a VPN functionality. It allows users to choose what data will use the VPN connection (with encryption and routing via the VPN server) and which will be transmitted via the usual internet means.

Let’s say you’re using your Windows 10 computer and notice that YouTube is running slow with the VPN. So you select the split tunneling function on your VPN app and add YouTube to the list of addresses that will use split tunneling. Then, you’ll be able to watch YouTube as if you didn’t have a VPN, even though the VPN will still be working and protecting other services. 

How does VPN split tunneling work?

  1. When you use the internet the regular way, you just connect to a website or service.
  2. When you use a VPN, all your traffic is first encrypted by the VPN client, then sent to the VPN server, and only then transmitted to a website or service.
  3. When you use a VPN and split tunneling, you essentially have two connections: the VPN for most of your data and a regular connection that goes straight to a website or service you chose via the split tunneling feature.

What are the different types of VPN split tunneling?

There are three main types of VPN split tunneling:

Inverse split tunneling

This may be a little confusing, but a lot of internet literature describes inverse split tunneling as routing most of your traffic via VPN and only some via the regular internet. You’ll notice that this is how we’ve been describing split tunneling up to this point because that’s how the use of Surfshark’s Bypasser function is imagined to be used the most. What follows is that non-inverse or regular split tunneling would transmit most of your data via a regular connection, and only some specific stuff would go through the VPN.

URL-based split tunneling

This kind of split tunneling operates on website-by-website basis. So if you’ve designated only, say, to use split tunneling, your normal browsing will be protected by the VPN, while anything you do on will be transmitted over the usual public internet.

App-based split tunneling

This kind of split tunneling can be used to make certain apps not use the VPN connection. Say you are a PC user and don’t want Steam to go over the VPN connection - by adding it to the split tunneling list, you’ll make Steam connect normally

Why use split tunneling?

Secure sensitive data

Although sometimes you may want to turn the VPN off for certain things, there is information you always want to secure. That’s where split tunneling comes in. You can encrypt some data and leave other data unencrypted.

Use different IP addresses

A VPN changes your IP address to the VPN server’s IP. When you choose to bypass some apps from VPN use, those will use your own IP. This way you can use two IPs at once and access local content on specific apps while staying hidden on the others.

Access wireless home devices

Your wireless home devices (e.g., printers) use your real IP to connect to your other devices (e.g., phone). If a VPN changes your phone's IP, things could get tricky. Simply add the app connecting your phone and printer to Bypasser, and they will always be connected!

Exclude data-heavy apps

Using a VPN may slow your speed down. Usually, this drop won’t impact you much, yet there may be times when this interferes with what you want to do. Simply use Bypasser to choose which apps do not require encryption, and they will run at your normal speed.

Split tunneling for Windows, Android, and routers

When it comes to Surfshark, Bypasser, the split tunneling feature, is supported on Windows 7, 8, 10, and 11 and Android apps. So any device that can run Windows or Android apps should also be able to run Bypasser. 

Otherwise, you can get a router with split-tunneling support and pre-installed Surfshark!

How to use VPN split tunneling

Step 1

Sign up for Surfshark & create an account.

Step 2

Download our Windows VPN or Android VPN app (we’re adding Bypasser to others soon!)

Step 3

Go to your Surfshark app and click Bypasser.

Step 4

Add apps or websites you want to be excluded from our encryption.


Is VPN split tunneling secure?

VPN split tunneling is as secure as the VPN app that provides it. So in the case of Surfshark, very secure. 

How to set up split tunneling routes?

To set up split tunneling on the Surfshark app, do the following:

  1. Click on the cog wheel on the left-hand side menu to enter Settings
  2. Scroll down and click Bypasser
  3. Click on the Bypasser functionality you need;
  4. Add apps, websites, or IP addresses;
  5. Done!

Why allow split tunneling?

VPN split-tunneling can be useful if:

  1. You want only some websites or apps to connect via the VPN;
  2. You have some apps and websites that don’t work well with a VPN; 
  3. You want to use your real IP and location with some websites and services. 

Will the IP address be the same when on split tunneling and VPN?

When using VPN split tunneling, the apps and websites that connect via the VPN will see the VPN server’s IP, while those that connect to VPN regularly will see your real IP.

How do I turn off split tunneling?

To stop VPN split tunneling on Surfshark App:

  1. Open Settings by clicking the cog icon on the map;
  2. Scroll down and click Bypasser;
  3. Set the toggle on any enabled bypass setting to off.

How do you test split tunneling?

If you want to test split tunneling on Surfshark, do this:

  1. Disconnect from a VPN (if you’re connected);
  2. Open two IP checking sites on two tabs on your browser. For example, use this and this;
  3. You should see your real IP address on both; 
  4. Now, setup Bypasser on the Surfshark app to bypass one of the websites; 
  5. Connect to a VPN server;
  6. Refresh the IP checker website tabs;
  7. If the website you set to be bypassed shows your real IP and the other shows the VPN server’s IP, split tunneling is working.

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