VPN kill switch | What is a kill switch and why use one?

While I have already spoken about VPN kill switches in several of my previous articles, I have never dedicated an entire article to this subject before. But, that is all about to change; in this article, I will be explaining what a kill switch is, how to activate one and why you would want to use one because everyone should know what an internet kill switch is. In fact, this functionality is essential to protecting your online privacy whenever using a VPN. You will soon understand why.

What is a VPN kill switch?

A VPN provider may sometimes call its kill switch: network lock, app kill, EverSecure or Vigilant – to distinguish it from the competition. And kill switches are one feature that most VPN providers have now incorporated into their software. In effect, a kill switch protects your privacy in the event of unexpected disruption to your VPN connection – something which can occur even with the best VPN providers. The kill switch was invented in order to prevent your real IP address from becoming visible in these types of situations.

Let’s take a look at what happens when you lose your VPN connection. First of all, your operating system will attempt to automatically reestablish your internet connection, however, your OS will use your default network adapter to restore your connection instead of your VPN. As a result, once your connection has been reestablished, you will no longer be protected.

Kill switch, how does it work?

Although Windows users are most at risk, this sort of problem can happen with Macs or even iOS or Android devices. As a result, if your VPN offers a kill switch, you should activate it. The kill switch will block your internet connection until the connection to your VPN has been reestablished. In this way, you will be certain that none of your data is ever transmitted while you are not protected.

Whenever the connection to your VPN is interrupted, the kill switch will prevent your operating system from reconnecting to the internet without going through your VPN. And, since you will be unable to connect to the internet (until the connection to your VPN has been reestablished), your confidentiality is assured. Your device will be unable to transmit any data in the clear and your real IP address will remain invisible!

Furthermore, some VPN providers such as NordVPN or TorGuard offer a selective kill switch – essentially an advanced kill switch that will allow you to select the applications to block in the event that you lose your VPN connection. In so doing, you will still be able to connect to the internet, but all of your sensitive data and activities will remain protected.

How to activate a kill switch?

Now that you have a better idea of how a kill switch works, let’s take a look at some other considerations. Some VPN providers – such as CyberGhost – make the decision to automatically activate the kill switch feature within their software and do not even give users the option of deactivating it. However, most providers include a checkbox to enable or disable the kill switch among their software’s various options and you will need to go through the program’s options in order to make sure that the kill switch is activated.

kill switch

If your VPN does not provide a kill switch, it will of course not be possible to activate it…and you may want to consider switching VPN providers, especially if you download torrents! Because this is where a VPN kill switch really comes in handy.

The kill switch, torrent combo

You may still be asking yourself why you should be using a VPN kill switch. Allow me to give you an example – from among my favorites – because it will really help you grasp how useful a kill switch can be. To begin with, imagine that you download torrents on a routine basis: movies, TV shows, music…you will surely be aware of the fact that you need to go through a VPN in order to download these torrents anonymously.

Now, let’s say that you are in the middle of downloading some torrents and that for whatever reason, you lose the connection to your VPN. You are away from your computer and are completely unaware that this has happened. Your operating system reestablishes your internet connection – as it should – and your torrent software continues its download – without any protection! As a result, authorities or the police will be able to see your real IP address. And you will have just exposed yourself to potential legal repercussions…

After reading this example I’m sure that you now fully understand how useful a VPN kill switch can be. I’m also sure that you don’t want this type of thing to happen to you. Indeed, some countries do not kid around with online piracy and you may get into a lot of trouble if you are caught. As a result, you will need to activate your VPN’s kill switch to get around the HADOPI law.

The best VPN with kill switch capability

While not all VPNs are equipped with a kill switch, the best VPN providers always are. And, if you do not know which VPN to choose, don’t worry. I have tested hundreds of VPNs and I share all of my experience with visitors to bestvpn.me. So, if you are looking for the best VPN with kill switch capability, take a look at my classification below.

Please be aware that all of these VPNs are equipped with a kill switch, but that not all of them allow P2P file sharing on their network. Therefore, if you are looking to download torrents, I recommend that you first verify that the VPN you are interested in is torrent-friendly.

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