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How to Disable a VPN in 2023?

Hey there! If you‘re wondering how to temporarily disable your VPN connection in 2023, you‘ve come to the right place.

I know you use a VPN to stay secure and access restricted content. But there are times when keeping it active causes problems. Don‘t worry, I‘ll walk you through when and how to safely turn off your VPN across devices.

Stick with me and you‘ll learn:

  • Common reasons for disabling a VPN
  • Dangers of unprotected internet use
  • Simple step-by-step directions to disconnect your VPN
  • Alternative of split tunneling to disable selectively

Let‘s get started!

Why Would You Need to Disable Your VPN?

I get it – VPNs are great. They encrypt your traffic, mask your IP, let you bypass geo-blocks and more.

But once in a while, you may need to disconnect. Here are the top reasons why:

Troubleshooting Connectivity Issues

Sometimes sites and apps won‘t load properly over a VPN. This could be due to server congestion or network incompatibility.

Disabling the VPN connection helps isolate whether it is the source of problems. You can test access without the VPN first.

Using Local Network Resources

Printers, scanners, NAS devices and other resources on your home or office network can‘t be directly reached over a VPN.

The VPN redirects your traffic through a separate virtual network. So you‘ll have to disconnect to print documents or scan files on local devices.

Traveling to Countries That Ban VPNs

Authoritarian nations like China, Russia, Iran, Turkey and others legally prohibit VPN use. To comply, travelers disable their VPN before entering such countries.

According to research, over 10 countries including Iraq, Belarus, Uganda and Kazakhstan permit VPN bans. Disconnecting is essential to avoid penalties there.

Accessing Geo-Restricted Content From Your Region

Frustratingly, your VPN IP address can actually prevent you from streaming content limited to your own country.

For example, BBC iPlayer blocks all non-UK IP addresses including VPN ones. So UK residents often have to disconnect their VPN to watch shows on iPlayer.

Fixing Speed and Latency Issues

Though minimal, routing your traffic through a distant VPN server causes a slight lag. This can disrupt gaming, VoIP calls and video streaming.

Temporarily disabling the VPN relieves this issue while keeping the connection active for other browsing.

According to data, gaming latency drops by 20-50 ms on average after disconnecting the VPN as the physical path is shorter.

Using Public Wi-Fi Securely

It may sound counterintuitive, but hear me out. Public Wi-Fi is risky without a VPN encrypting your browsing.

However, some Wi-Fi portals at cafes and hotels don‘t function with a VPN active. You have to connect to their network first and then start your VPN.

Quickly disabling the VPN lets you access the portal to get online before re-enabling protection.

Updating Network Adapters and Drivers

Certain firmware and driver upgrades for your network adapter require an unencrypted direct internet connection.

So cybersecurity experts recommend temporarily disconnecting your VPN to download and initialize new network drivers safely.

Using Captive Portals

Captive portals are splash pages that require interaction before providing internet access. You see them at airports, hotels etc.

Connecting to these portals fails with a VPN enabled. Unlike public Wi-Fi, captive portals block all traffic until the portal is used as intended.

Briefly turning off the VPN lets you connect to the portal first. You can then re-activate the VPN safely.

Potential Dangers of Disabling Your VPN

Now you know when you have to disable your VPN. But it doesn‘t come without risks:

Government and ISP Surveillance

Without an encrypted tunnel, your internet service provider can monitor and log all your activity easily. No more privacy from your ISP!

Governments also run widespread dragnet surveillance programs to track citizens‘ online footprint. Disabling the VPN exposes you to state monitoring systems like the NSA‘s PRISM.

Hacking and Malware Threats

Public Wi-Fi, malicious websites and even ads can distribute malware or steal data from unprotected devices.

Your real IP address also becomes visible, allowing easier targeting of attacks when the VPN is off.

Loss of Access to Geo-Blocked Content

VPNs allow you to bypass regional restrictions and view blocked content worldwide.

According to research, 78% of Netflix libraries are geo-restricted. Without a VPN, your choices shrink based on just your location.

Targeted Advertising and Price Discrimination

Your browsing history, location and other personal information is readily available to trackers when the VPN is disabled.

This means you could be subjected to customized and targeted ads based on your actual interests rather than your VPN identity.

E-commerce sites can also adjust pricing dynamically based on your location, past purchases, brand loyalty and other metrics once your real identity is revealed.

ISP Bandwidth Throttling

VPN tunnels are often exempt from the bandwidth throttling practices used by some ISPs to limit certain types of traffic like video streaming or torrents.

Without the VPN, you may experience slowdowns and lags when engaging in bandwidth-heavy activities as the ISP imposes limits and prioritizes other traffic.

So weigh the benefits against potential risks when deciding to disable your VPN even briefly.

Next, let‘s go over how to actually disconnect a VPN across Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices.

How to Disable a VPN on Windows

Windows offers a couple different ways to turn off an active VPN connection:

Through the VPN Software

Most VPN providers have custom apps for Windows. You can disconnect through them:

  • Click the upward arrow icon in the bottom right system tray to expand it
  • Right-click on the VPN app icon
  • Select Disconnect or Exit to terminate the VPN connection

This is the most direct way as it interacts with the app managing the connection.

Via Network Settings

Alternatively, Windows has inbuilt network management tools you can use:

  • Open Settings and go to Network & Internet > VPN
  • Click on the connected VPN name
  • Select Disconnect to terminate the VPN

Through Network Connections

Finally, you have the old school Network Connections dashboard:

  • Hit the Windows key and type "View Network Connections"
  • Right-click on the VPN connection name
  • Choose Disable to disconnect it

This legacy interface has been around for decades but still works!

How to Disable a VPN on Mac

MacOS gives you two approaches to disconnect an active VPN:

Through the VPN App

  • Go to Finder > Applications to open your apps
  • Launch the VPN app you want to disable
  • Look for a Disconnect button within the app GUI and click it

Easy enough! Most VPN apps prominently show the Disconnect option.

Via Network Preferences

Alternatively, you can use System Preferences:

  • Click the Apple menu and select System Preferences
  • Click on Network
  • Select the connected VPN in the left sidebar
  • Click on the Disconnect button below to terminate the connection

This way uses macOS‘ own tools instead of the VPN app.

How to Disable a VPN on iPhone and iPad

iOS offers a couple ways to disconnect a VPN as well:

Through the VPN App

  • Tap your Home button to go to your home screen
  • Find and launch the VPN app you want to disable
  • Look for a Disconnect or Power button within the app and tap it

This quickly cuts the connection through the app managing the VPN.

Via Settings

To use iOS‘ tools instead:

  • Open Settings and tap on General
  • Choose VPN
  • Tap on the ‘i‘ icon next to the VPN name
  • Toggle off the Status switch on the next screen

You can disable any active VPN connection through Settings.

How to Disable a VPN on Android

As with other platforms, Android has built-in options as well as the VPN app interface:

Through the VPN App

  • Open your Apps menu and tap on the VPN app
  • Look for a Disconnect or Power toggle and tap it to cut the connection

The process is largely similar across VPN apps, just locate the connect/disconnect control.

Via Settings

To disable through Android Settings:

  • Launch Settings and go to Network & Internet > Advanced > VPN
  • Tap the gear icon next to the connected VPN name
  • Toggle off the VPN connection on the next screen

This uses Android‘s management instead of the VPN app‘s interface.

Alternative to Disabling VPN – Split Tunneling

There is an alternative to fully disconnecting your VPN as well – split tunneling. This lets you decide which apps use the VPN and which don‘t.

So for instance, you can route your browser outside the VPN tunnel while keeping your torrent client protected inside the VPN tunnel.

Benefits of split tunneling:

  • Access geo-restricted content like BBC iPlayer even with VPN on
  • Reduce latency for gaming and video streaming by excluding them from VPN
  • Use local network resources like printers without fully disconnecting

The downside is that it requires more complex setup. Most VPN services have instructions on enabling split tunneling for their platform apps.

While not always a substitute, split tunneling allows smart management of which apps use the VPN tunnel. Prevent full disconnections when possible.

Closing Thoughts

I hope this guide gave you clarity on when you need to disable your trusted VPN and exactly how to do it on your Windows PC, Mac, iPhone or Android device.

While sometimes necessary, limiting VPN disconnection durations is crucial to stay secure. Use split tunneling to selectively route traffic outside the VPN when you can.

But don‘t worry, I‘ll be here to walk you through anything related to virtual private networks! Stay safe out there!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.