What is a kill switch?

Kill Switch VPN

The kill switch is an emergency stop feature. It works with almost all VPN software, automatically blocking all internet traffic if your VPN connection drops. In this way, your data will remain safe and anonymous.

An example of a reliable VPN with a good kill switch is ExpressVPN. Click the button below if you want to try this provider.

Want to know more about the kill switch, how it works exactly, and why it would be a good idea to opt for a VPN that offers this service? Read the article below to learn more.

If you are interested in a  VPN  or have read  some of our articles, you have probably come across the term “kill switch”. The kill switch is generally considered a big plus for VPNs that offer it. Still, many of our readers don’t seem to know exactly what the kill switch does or the benefits of using it. Therefore, you can learn more about the kill switch below.

What is a kill switch?

In the general sense of the word, a kill switch refers to a mechanism that causes the machine to shut down abruptly when something goes wrong. Furthermore, it can also be used to describe a similar emergency stop in software, rather than on the machine.

If a machine breaks down, stalls, or starts to run strangely, the kill switch can be used to stop it immediately. Most heavy machinery has a kill switch for your protection. As you can imagine, the kill switch is essential for any machine that uses drills or saws, elements that can put their users in danger if they get out of control. 

The kill switch is usually a red button on these machines, so they can easily be found. With this button, you can quickly avoid dangerous situations. Not only heavy machines, vehicles, and elevators also have emergency buttons that work as a kill switch. This function is always entered to ensure user safety.

Kill switch for software

As with machines, some software uses a kill switch. For example, think of software used by large companies to collect a lot of user data, or government software that contains all sorts of sensitive information. If the software ends up in the hands of unauthorized people, the kill switch can ensure that they do not have access to any sensitive data. 

Without the right authorization, the person trying to access the information will not succeed. Data will be invisible or inaccessible. The kill switch is also capable of completely deleting the software. This way, no confidential data will fall into the wrong hands.

Kill switches can also be used in other contexts. Smartphones often use them to discourage their theft. Because the kill switch can make the device completely unusable, thieves are much less likely to waste their time trying to steal it. Some Windows, Google and Apple smartphones also have a kill switch to ensure the security of installed applications. 

If an app on the phone is infected by malicious software, the kill switch can isolate and instantly stop the app. This prevents the infection from spreading, keeping the rest of the device safe. Also, malicious software can be removed immediately.

Why do VPNs have a kill switch?

Most people who use  VPNs seek to protect their privacy. They want to  remain anonymous while surfing the internet and a VPN can take care of that. If your VPN has any temporary issues, you will be left unprotected. Your data will be sent to the internet without VPN tunnel protection. Consequently, your IP address will be visible to the world. That’s where the kill switch comes into play.

VPN kill switch ensures you are never unprotected online. If your VPN goes down while browsing, the kill switch will block your internet connection right away. Until the VPN re-establishes the connection, you will not be able to browse, stream or download anything. Since your entire internet connection will be interrupted,  your real IP address will  remain protected and your privacy intact. 

No hacker will be able to access your data. In other words, the kill switch ensures that the VPN protects you, even when you are experiencing problems. The image below illustrates exactly how this works.

Why would my VPN connection drop?

Various reasons can cause the VPN connection to drop. These are the most frequent:

  • Bad internet connection : First, if you use an unstable internet connection, chances are your VPN has problems. The same can happen when using a Wi-Fi network with a weak signal, for example. Switching networks constantly also has a similar effect.
  • VPN Server Issues : Another issue could be the VPN server itself. If the server is experiencing an internal issue, this can completely break the VPN connection. Some problems can be caused by a weak signal from the server, interference with the physical server, or simply dropped connections. Also, when a particular server is used by many people at the same time, it ends up being overloaded. When this happens, problems also happen: the connection can become incredibly slow and drop.
  • Routing, firewall or antivirus settings: Another possible disruption factor is the configuration of programs on your device. Some programs have specific settings that, when enabled, do not allow the VPN to establish a connection. Firewall or antivirus programs may interpret external VPN connections as a risk. Consequently, these programs will attempt to block the VPN, making your tunnel secure over an erratic and unreliable connection. Even automatic updates for your device and router can cause this kind of problem.

Which VPNs offer a good kill switch?

Overall, people consider the kill switch to be an important addition to their VPN service. Due to its own functionality, an activated kill switch can interrupt your online browsing for a certain time. However, this is much better than the other alternative: being unprotected on the internet. The kill switch increases your online privacy and helps you keep track of your internet connection.

Many VPNs have a kill switch. Some providers require you to enable this feature by changing the settings, while other providers leave it on by default. However, some VPN providers are better than others. For this reason, we’ve singled out two of the best VPN providers that offer a kill switch below.

ExpressVPN

It’s been a while since  ExpressVPN  made our  list of the best VPNs right now. Its kill switch is called “Network Lock” and it is available for Windows, Mac, Linux and all routers (through its app). If your connection drops, Network Lock will notice and automatically block internet communication. Network Lock ensures that none of your personal information is sent until ExpressVPN re-establishes the connection to its servers. 

At this time, Network Lock will allow data traffic to be sent again. In addition to a good kill switch, ExpressVPN also has fast servers, is very intuitive and works with Netflix.

NordVPN

The NordVPN  is another very consistent and reliable provider. This VPN provider’s kill switch works with Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS. The option has been integrated into the software and is very easy to activate and deactivate. NordVPN recommends that users use the kill switch as much as possible. 

The company sees it as the last hurdle of defence. Additionally, NordVPN allows users to create a “kill switch list” where you can select the apps you want not blocked in case of VPN interruption. In this way, you will be able to access some programs even when the kill switch is activated and the VPN connection is interrupted. 

Overall, NordVPN has a vast server network and is relatively affordable. NordVPN works until if you are outside the US and want to watch US Netflix.

Final considerations

The kill switch, or emergency stop, is a very useful feature that helps protect the user. When we talk about a VPN kill switch, we’re talking about securing your information, even when your VPN software is down and your secure connection is interrupted. 

You will not be able to browse online unprotected and websites will not have access to your real IP address. If you’re looking for a VPN with a good kill switch, we recommend  ExpressVPN  or  NordVPN. These VPN providers are the best to keep you safe!