VPN kill switch feature

VPN software come with lots of different features. On this page we will zoom into the kill switch feature. The kill switch feature is a feature that prevents your device from making unprotected connections. It monitors your connection to the remote VPN server. If the connection accidentally drops, the kill switch will block your internet access, or even your local network access. When the connection with the VPN server is restored the traffic can resume.

First check if your VPN vendor supports your operating system and check which methods you can use. For the latest information visit the websites of the vendors. Here is an overview based on September 2021:

Surfshark logo
NordVPN logo
ExpressVPN logo

Windows & MacOS

Yes

Yes

Yes

Linux

Yes


Yes

Yes

Android & iOS

Yes


Yes

Yes

Some VPN vendors support VPN services on your home router. Because this is so specific you should check out the site of the vendors for more information. In general you need a router where you can setup a VPN tunnel.

 

Most of the time the kill switch feature is not enabled by default, so if you want to use it, you have to manually enable it. In general you have two types of kill switch methods:

  • System wide
  • Application/website specific

System wide kill switch

As the name states, this will block al (internet) traffic from all your applications. In the table below you see which operation systems support a system wide kill switch

System wide kill switch

Surfshark logo
NordVPN logo
ExpressVPN logo

Windows & MacOS


Yes

Yes

Yes

Linux

No

Yes

Yes

Android & iOS

Yes

Yes

Yes

Application and website specific kill switch methods

With this method you can block specific applications or website, but all the other applications will still work when the VPN connection with the VPN server is lost.

Application specific kill switch

Surfshark logo
NordVPN logo
ExpressVPN logo

Windows & MacOS

No

Yes

No

Linux

No

Yes

No

Android & iOS

No

Yes

No

There are some other features which can be used in conjunction with the kill switch method. The first one is automatic connect and the second is Split tunnel.

 

Automatic connect

Automatic connect is another feature that lets you connect automatically. This works beautifully in conjunction with the kill switch. This enables you to automatically connect, even if you switch between networks and you don’t have to do any manual connecting every time. In general you can select the following automatic connect options:

  • Only on cellular networks
  • Only on Wi-Fi networks and ethernet
  • Always
 
Split tunnel
Split tunnel is a technique where you specify how traffic should be routed. If you don’t want all your traffic to be routed over the VPN server this is definitely something you should look into. Some VPN vendors give you the ability to use whitelisting based on URL’s. Please note that sites quite often use other websites and resources to load functionality into the site, so it might be a good idea to check if this will give the results you are looking for.