Using a virtual private network (VPN) is a great and relatively easy way to hide your online activity from third parties and secure communication streams. This is particularly useful if you’re running a remote team and need an effective way to keep attackers from snooping around your business.
That said, there may be times when you need to disable your VPN, due to a slow connection or when you want to access different types of restricted content. Disabling a VPN is typically fairly easy, but the following is a guide if you’re having trouble.
- It’s safe to disable your VPN for short periods, so long as you remember to turn it back on
- Some VPN providers make turning the service off and on easier than others
- The process is slightly different depending on which device the VPN is installed on
How To Disable a VPN
Disabling your VPN is a straightforward action that can be performed either through your device settings or directly in the VPN software that you are using. However, you may find that switching off your VPN causes you to lose internet access. This probably means you have the killswitch option enabled.
VPN providers add this feature to prevent situations where the VPN is suddenly disconnected, for whatever reason, without the user’s knowledge. If that is the case, go back to your VPN software and make sure the kill switch is turned off. Now you can disable your VPN and still have internet access.
While each VPN provider displays these options in a slightly different way, it’s usually pretty intuitive and does not require any special instructions, just make sure you don’t mix up the kill switch with the Disconnect button, which is a common mistake.
Finding your device’s VPN off switch can be a little tricky because each device displays it in a different place. So, we’ll show you exactly how to do it in each device category: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, or a Router.
Disable a VPN on Windows
Disabling your VPN on the Windows operating system is a simple, three-step process. Different versions of Windows may display those options in a slightly different way, but in essence, they all work pretty much the same way:
- Visit Settings > Network & Internet
- In the left-side menu, select VPN
- Select the VPN connection that you wish to disable
- Click Disconnect
Disable a VPN on MacOS
- Select the Apple icon from the top left corner of your Mac home screen.
- Select System Preferences and Network >VPN
- Click Disconnect
Disable a VPN on iOS (iPhone or iPad)
- Visit your device Settings > General >VPN
- Change the VPN status to Not Connected
Disable a VPN on Android
- Go to the device Settings > Network & Internet > VPN
- Change the VPN status to Off
Disable a VPN on Your Router
If you’re using a VPN router that protects all the devices on your Wi-Fi network simultaneously, disabling it on all devices at once becomes easier, though not necessary in most cases.
Again, different router manufacturers and their dedicated apps display these options differently, but ultimately they all work the same way.
Simply go to the settings of your router app and switch off the VPN from there, or reset your router altogether. Just remember that this will disable the VPN on all devices within the network range, so make sure you switch it back on when you’re done.
Disabling your VPN connection is not a complex task and is probably harmless when done temporarily. Just ensure you do it for the right reasons and only when necessary. Most importantly, if you don’t want to expose your IP address to third parties, remember to switch it back on when you’re done.
Frequently Asked Questions About Disabling your VPN
Is it safe to disable your VPN?
The short answer is that disabling your VPN to perform specific tasks quickly is probably harmless, given that you turn it back on when done. The problem is that people often forget to turn the VPN back on, and that’s where the troubles start.
If your VPN does not offer the ability to set a time to restore service, we recommend setting a reminder on your phone or leaving yourself a note to make sure you don’t forget to perform this quick yet crucial task.
What happens if you disconnect from your VPN?
When a VPN is disabled, you’ll revert to your standard internet service. You lost the protection and anonymity of routing your connection through a third-party encrypted server. While this will leave your network and data more vulnerable, it can also boost your speed.
Why would I want to disconnect from my VPN?
There are several reasons why you might want to disconnect from your VPN. For example, you may need faster internet speeds or want to optimize your device’s battery life. Additionally, you may want to reduce the attack surface of your device or reduce excessive latency. Other reasons include VPN server overloading, reaching the device limit for your VPN, VPN traffic being blocked by your ISP, software conflicts, and internet service provider limitations.
What if I still can’t figure out how to disable my VPN?
Check with your VPN provider — typically, your provider will have a guide for how to use its service. You can also attempt to connect with the customer support department or find help in the support forums typically hosted on each provider’s website.