Being an essential feature, a kill switch is an important factor to consider when buying a VPN subscription. It adds another layer of security to your connection, shutting down your traffic if your connection becomes unstable. Therefore, a VPN kill switch ensures that your sensitive information never leaks online, no matter the circumstances.
Still, not every VPN comes with a kill switch. On top of that, there are different types of kill switch mechanisms, so you'll need to pay attention when researching online. Of course, we're here to help and give you some recommendations regarding the best VPNs with a kill switch you'll find on today's market.
By the end of this guide, you'll know which VPN with a kill switch you should buy. Also, you'll get to learn more about this feature, how it works, and what to expect realistically. With that said, keep on reading to learn more.
Why Do I Need a VPN with a Kill Switch?
In simple terms, you need a VPN that offers a kill switch if you want to be 100% sure your data never surfaces on the Web.
As such, a VPN kill switch is typically the last line of defense. The first line of defense is your VPN tunnel, which should be strong enough to encrypt and contain your data. That's why it's imperative to pick a VPN with a capable set of features and a proven track-recording of using powerful VPN protocols (such as OpenVPN and WireGuard, for example).
Still, just like when using any other type of software, problems may happen. For example, you can get disconnected from your VPN. Or, your computer might restart without you knowing and then fail to re-connect to your VPN. Unless a kill switch stops your Web traffic entirely, your data might leak on the Web.
Best VPNs with a Kill Switch
After performing extensive tests and ensuring no leaks happen, we've established that these are the 5 best VPNs that come with a kill switch built-in:
- ExpressVPN - Best VPN Kill Switch Overall
- NordVPN - Best Customizable VPN Kill Switch
- CyberGhost VPN - Best VPN with Always-On Protection
- Surfshark - Best User-Friendly VPN with a Kill Switch
- Ivacy - Best Budget-Friendly VPN Kill Switch
1. ExpressVPN - Best VPN Kill Switch Overall
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ExpressVPN's kill switch is called 'Network Lock.' It works as intended - we were never able to surf the Web when our connection dropped.
The thing we liked the most is that ExpressVPN's kill switch isn't annoying. Usually, VPNs won't let you browse the Web if the kill switch is ON and you manually disconnect from the VPN. But ExpressVPN's 'Network Lock' can tell the difference between a manual disconnect and a dropped connection.
ExpressVPN's kill switch is available on Windows, macOS, Android, Linux, and routers. It's only missing from the iOS app. Aside from that, ExpressVPN had the smallest number of dropped connections out of all the VPNs we tested.
With that said, ExpressVPN is very secure. It uses powerful encryption, doesn't keep any logs, and offers complete leak protection (DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC). This VPN also has fast speeds, thanks to its proprietary Lightway protocol.
You can also reach their support reps 24/7 over live chat. Finally, when you buy a subscription, you're covered by a no-questions-asked 30-day refund policy.
To read more about ExpressVPN, follow this link.
- Fully automated kill switch.
- High-end security and privacy.
- Great for streaming and torrenting.
- Helpful customer support.
- There's no kill switch on iOS.
2. NordVPN - Best Customizable VPN Kill Switch
Most VPNs only offer a kill switch that shuts down your Web access when the VPN goes down. NordVPN offers that, but also something extra. This VPN has an app-level kill switch too. So, you can decide which apps won't have Internet access if your VPN connection drops.
For example, you can add your torrent client to NordVPN's app-level kill switch. That way, if the VPN goes down, only your torrent client won't have Internet access. You'll still be able to go online with your browser or Steam.
NordVPN's kill switch is available on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS.
What's more, NordVPN offers great security: end-to-end encryption, a no-logs policy, and excellent leak protection. Their NordLynx protocol (built around WireGuard technology) is also very secure and fast. And like ExpressVPN, this provider also has 24/7 live chat support and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
To learn more about NordVPN, please read our full review.
- Customizable kill switch.
- Allows some fine-tuning.
- High-end privacy and encryption.
- Plenty of value overall.
- Not the fastest option.
3. CyberGhost VPN - Best VPN with Always-On Protection
CyberGhost VPN's "always-on" kill switch means exactly what you think it means - this feature is always on. You can't disable it. If you try, the app will tell you that, in order to protect your privacy, the setting can't be turned off.
That can be less pleasant, sure. But we think it's a great way to avoid accidental traffic leaks. For example, you don't need to worry that your ISP will see your online browsing because you forgot to enable the kill switch, and the VPN connection dropped.
CyberGhost VPN's kill switch runs on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.
This VPN also has other great features: strong encryption, private dedicated IPs, a no-logs policy, and pretty fast speeds, thanks to the WireGuard protocol. This provider also has decent leak protection, but it doesn't block IPv6 traffic to avoid leaks. You have to do that on your device instead.
You also get 24/7 live chat support and a 45-day money-back guarantee if you get a long-term subscription (the refund period is 14 days for the monthly plan).
If you're interested in reading more about CyberGhost VPN, please check out our review.
- Fully-automated kill switch.
- 100% leak-free VPN tunnel.
- No data logging.
- Helpful customer support.
- There's no kill switch on Linux.
4. Surfshark - Best User-Friendly VPN Kill Switch
Surfshark comes with a fully-automated (system-level) kill switch. Once you enable it, the VPN will detect when something happens with your connection. So, your Web access will be blocked until you reconnect to one of this VPN's servers.
It's interesting to note that Surfshark's kill switch follows this VPN's usability principles. Almost everything about this VPN is automated and suitable for complete beginners, and that applies to its kill switch as well.
Surfshark lets you use the kill switch on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.
This VPN also has another cool perk - unlimited parallel connections. Besides that, Surfshark offers powerful encryption, a no-logs policy, and good leak protection. It's a shame that, like CyberGhost VPN, Surfshark doesn't automatically block IPv6 traffic to prevent leaks. Instead, you have to disable IPv6 on your device manually.
Other highlights include 24/7 support through live chat and a no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee.
If you want to read more about Surfshark, check out our hands-on review.
- Always-on kill switch protection.
- No data logging (audited).
- Very fast and stable performance.
- Great for beginners.
- No kill switch on Linux.
5. Ivacy - Best Budget-Friendly VPN with a Kill Switch
Ivacy's kill switch is reliable, and it comes with a pretty hefty discount. In other words, this is one of the most budget-friendly VPNs out there (offering plenty of value overall), especially if you're after a long-term subscription.
The only drawback is that Ivacy's kill switch isn't available on all platforms. Right now, you can only use it on Windows and Android.
Ivacy offers decent security - it doesn't keep any logs, uses strong encryption, and has great leak protection. This provider also has a unique feature called 'Secure Downloading' that ensures the files you download don't contain malware.
Besides that, Ivacy has a 30-day money-back guarantee and 24/7 live chat support.
To find out more about Ivacy, please read our review.
- Simple and easy to use.
- Always-on kill switch protection.
- Great option for media streaming.
- Plenty of value overall.
- Limited kill switch availability.
What Is a VPN Kill Switch?
A kill switch is a security- and privacy-focused feature that ensures the safety of your sensitive data. Its primary goal is to prevent data leaks.
When you establish a VPN tunnel (which happens once you connect to a VPN server), your data becomes encrypted, obfuscated, and hidden from anyone else. Among other data types, your IP address and location are hidden. However, your connection to the VPN server can become unstable if that server is overcrowded. Also, technical issues can cause your connection to drop.
When that happens, if there's no kill switch active, your Web connection will return to its default parameters. Since the VPN tunnel won't be active anymore, your IP address and location will once again become visible, causing your sensitive data to leak on the Web.
However, if your VPN offers a kill switch, it will shut down your Web connection. Since your device won't reach the Internet, your privacy will remain intact.
How Does a VPN Kill Switch Work?
Since there are different types of VPN kill switches, they work in different ways. However, they all do the same thing - shut down your Web access.
Even though they do the same thing, different kill switch mechanisms exist. So, here's more information on different types of kill switches, as well as how they work precisely:
- System-Level Kill Switch: Most often, VPNs use a system-level kill switch. You enable it by visiting your VPN's settings (if it's not enabled by default). If you lose your VPN connectivity, a system-level kill switch will activate and prevent your device from reaching the Web. That means that any Web-connected app you have installed will stop working.
- Application-Level Kill Switch: More advanced VPNs allow you to select which applications are affected by its kill switch. This can be used if you like to download torrents, for example. That way, you can ensure that your torrent client is cut off from the Internet, which will prevent your actual IP address from leaking. However, all other Web-connected apps will continue to work.
- Invisible (Built-In) Kill Switch: In essence, this is a system-level kill switch that you can't control. A good example would be NordVPN's app for Linux and iOS. If you visit those apps' settings, you won't get to see a feature that lets you enable Nord's kill switch. That's because it comes with an invisible kill switch that acts automatically, preventing your data from reaching the Web if your VPN tunnel becomes unstable.
How to Use a VPN with a Kill Switch?
In general, it's very easy to set up a VPN kill switch. In most cases, it comes enabled by default. However, you can also enable it manually, like this:
- Sign up for a VPN that has a kill switch (we highly recommend ExpressVPN).
- Download and install the provider's app (here's how to set up ExpressVPN).
- Run the app and visit its settings (ExpressVPN: Hamburger Button > Preferences > General).
- Enable your VPN's kill switch (in ExpressVPN, it's called 'Network Lock.')
- Connect to a VPN server and keep on using your device like you would usually do.
How Do I Know If My VPN Has a Built-In Kill Switch?
If your VPN has a built-in kill switch, you can most often find it by visiting your VPN's settings panel. This is where you can enable or disable that feature.
There are other ways to check that as well. For example, have you noticed that your Web connection behaves strangely when you disconnect from your VPN? If there's a kill switch active, your access to the Web should be blocked. Some VPNs block it permanently (until you reconnect) or a couple of minutes only (until they connect you to the previously used server).
Finally, you can also check if your VPN has a built-in kill switch by downloading a torrent file. Of course, you should do that by using a legal torrent file. Connect to your VPN, start downloading the torrent, and then disconnect from your VPN. Check what happens with your torrent? If it no longer downloads, that means a kill switch has activated.
Are Kill Switches Activated by Default?
In most cases, VPNs come with an already active kill switch. However, you should always check your VPN's settings and see if this feature is enabled.
VPNs that come with a system-level kill switch typically enable their kill switch as soon as you install and open them for the first time. However, many VPNs allow you to customize this feature, especially those that come with an application-level kill switch. In that case, you need to determine which applications will lose their access if your VPN connection drops.
Can I Use a VPN That Doesn't Have a Kill Switch?
Yes, you can use a VPN that has no kill switch - but know that you'll risk having your data exposed that way.
It all depends on what you plan to do using a VPN. For example, if you want to download torrents, having a kill switch is mandatory. Using one is the only way to prevent your IP address from being exposed, which is bound to happen sooner rather than later.
If you're not overly concerned about your privacy, you can get away without a kill switch. For example, if you plan to unblock media streaming platforms. If your VPN disconnects while you're streaming a movie, you'll most likely see a proxy-related error message. Simply reconnect to your VPN, and you'll continue where you left off, without any consequences.
Which VPN Services Come Without a Kill Switch?
Most of today's VPN services have a kill switch, which has become one of the standard features. However, not all VPNs offer a kill switch across all of their apps.
If a VPN says that it features a kill switch, it doesn't mean that you'll get it across all of its supported devices. A good example of that is Ivacy. This is a capable VPN that has a kill switch but only on Windows and Android.
We also have IPVanish, which comes with a kill switch on Windows, macOS, and Android (which means Linux and iOS/iPadOS users are left out).
Do All VPNs Have a Kill Switch?
Not all VPNs offer a kill switch - but most of them do. A kill switch has become one of the standard features in today's VPN services.
Still, even though most VPNs have a kill switch, they don't always include that feature in all of their apps. Before you subscribe to any VPN, make sure to contact its customer support and ask whether you'll get its kill switch based on the platforms and devices you use.
Does ExpressVPN Have a Kill Switch?
Yes, ExpressVPN has a kill switch (called 'Network Lock' in this case). It's available on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and routers.
Does NordVPN Have a Kill Switch?
Yes, NordVPN offers a very capable kill switch available on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS/iPadOS.
On Windows, NordVPN offers both a system- and application-level kill switch. On macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux, this VPN comes with a system-level kill switch that activates in case your VPN connection drops.
Does CyberGhost VPN Have a Kill Switch?
Yes, CyberGhost VPN has an automated kill switch on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. It protects your data while trying to reconnect if your connection drops.
Does Surfshark Have a Kill Switch?
Yes, Surfshark offers a kill switch. You'll find it available on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. It acts as a fully automated system-level kill switch.
Does IPVanish Have a Kill Switch?
Does Windscribe VPN Have a Kill Switch?
No, Windscribe doesn't have a kill switch. However, it comes with its own firewall that prevents your data from leaking on the Web.
In general, Windscribe's firewall acts just like a kill switch. That means it protects you against data by disconnecting you from the Web if your connection drops. Still, the problem is that Windscibe's firewall is available on Windows and Mac only.
So, if you plan to use this VPN on your Android or iOS device, know that you won't be protected in case something unexpected happens.
Who Should Use a Kill Switch?
Anyone who doesn't want to deal with a traffic leak. VPN connections can drop - even if you're using a top VPN. If you're worried about your ISP or anyone else catching a glimpse of your Web traffic for even a second, you should keep the kill switch on.
If you'd like some specific examples of people who should use a kill switch, here's a quick list:
- People who download torrents
- People in restrictive countries (like China)
Why Do VPN Connections Drop?
Here are the most common reasons VPN disconnections occur:
- You're using OpenVPN over UDP instead of TCP. UDP is less stable.
- You switched VPN protocols while connected to a server. Most providers don't let you do that. If you do it, your connection will drop because the VPN app has to reconnect to the server via the new protocol.
- The firewall or antivirus is interfering with the VPN connection. Make sure to whitelist it.
- Your Wi-Fi network is too congested (too many devices connected to it).
- You're using a server that's overcrowded (near 100% load).
Can I Use a Free VPN with a Kill Switch?
In theory, yes. You can find a free VPN that offers a kill switch. However, be aware that you'll face rigorous other limitations.
It's not a secret that free VPNs come with limited bandwidth and speed. Also, their level of encryption is typically lower than what you'll get with a premium VPN. That's why free VPNs can leak your data despite offering a kill switch.
What's the Best Free VPN With a Kill Switch?
As per our findings, the best free VPN that offers a kill switch is ProtonVPN. That's a premium VPN that offers a very "relaxed" free tier as well.
ProtonVPN doesn't impose bandwidth limitations, but it does limit the speed of your connection. You can count on using its kill switch on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS.
What's the Best Android VPN With a Kill Switch?
The best Android VPN with a kill switch is ExpressVPN. That's the most capable VPN you'll find today, which can protect your data under any circumstance.
Aside from having a kill switch, ExpressVPN uses high-end encryption and protocols. It's great for protecting your privacy, media streaming, torrenting, and more.
This is where we conclude our guide to the best VPNs that offer a kill switch. If we missed explaining anything, make sure to post your comment below. Thank you for reading!