What happens when you turn off your VPN?

vpn deactivated on laptop screen

If you are concerned about internet security, you should probably have a VPN. These are great for encrypting your online data and keeping you safe while browsing, but what happens if your VPN connection accidentally drops, or you turn it off for a while? Is the disruption somewhat unimportant, or does it put you at risk?

What happens when you disconnect your VPN?

VPNs require a stable internet connection in order to send your data to remote servers for encryption and IP masking. So, if a VPN has connection issues or your bandwidth is not enough for your data to reach the server, you can easily disconnect without even realizing it.

Of course, you can also intentionally disconnect from your VPN. The slow connection speeds that come with using a VPN can sometimes be frustrating, so you might turn it off every now and then just to watch a movie without storing or download a file without waiting too long. It’s easy to assume that just deactivating your VPN for a short time won’t do any harm, as you know you’ll be back and reconnecting soon. But this is not really the case.

The moment you are disconnected from your VPN while still using the internet, your IP address and all your online activities are instantly visible to your Internet Service Provider (ISP). So, even if you have been hiding your IP address and your activity for years with your VPN, this privacy element will be eliminated once you disconnect your VPN.

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Additionally, you become vulnerable to malicious online activity without your VPN, as now your data is more accessible to cybercriminals. This is a big problem if you use a VPN to access more dangerous websites.

Of course, it’s worth noting that a lot of legitimate websites use HTTPS, or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, a protocol that encrypts the communication between a website and its user, ensuring the integrity of their data. So deactivating your VPN won’t be entirely risky if you stick to sites that use HTTPS.

You will know if the site is using HTTPS by just checking the web address in the URL bar. If the address begins with “https”, you will know that the site is secure. However, not all sites use this protocol, and the Internet is full of malicious individuals who are ready to misuse your data if your security levels are not at all available.

So, if there is a chance your VPN will be disconnected at any moment, is there anything that can be done to prevent your sensitive data from becoming more vulnerable?

How to stay safe when your VPN disconnects

If you are using any of the major VPN providers, including ExpressVPN, NordVPN, SurfShark, or ProtonVPN, you will be able to access a feature known as a kill switch. Activating this feature ensures that if at any point your VPN fails, your internet connection will be immediately cut off.

This means that there is no chance of your real IP address being exposed or your data being decrypted by your ISP (along with any third parties or malicious users) after you disconnect your VPN.

No matter which VPN provider you use, if it supports the Kill Switch option, you will be able to activate it quickly and easily in the app settings. There is a good chance that the kill switch is already enabled depending on your device settings. Note that the option may not be literally called “key lock”. For example, in the Express VPN app, the Kill Switch option is called “Block All Non-VPN Traffic”.

You may have to go into your device settings and make some changes in order to activate the lock key option, but don’t worry, this will be a very straightforward process. Simply do an internet search to find out how to enable a kill switch using your VPN provider or contact them directly.

Losing your VPN connection doesn’t have to be risky

While using the internet after disconnecting from your VPN can put you at risk, making sure you have the correct measures in place will prevent any of your private data from being exposed by unauthorized parties. By activating the Kill Switch feature in your VPN, you can surf the web without worrying about the potential consequences of any sudden VPN failure.

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