VPN kill switch: ExpressVPN Network Lock VPN kill switch: Put your trust in Network Lock

Network Lock is the ExpressVPN kill switch. It keeps your data safe even if your VPN connection drops, blocking all internet traffic until protection is restored.

Even when the power flickers, you change Wi-Fi networks, or your computer goes to sleep, your network remains secure. It’s standard on the ExpressVPN apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, and routers.

Network Lock halts all internet traffic whenever your VPN connection drops. Lamp shining on a secure computer.

What is a VPN kill switch?

A VPN protects your privacy and lets you browse securely. But what if your VPN connection gets interrupted? Your browser and other apps won’t warn you that you are connecting without protection. That’s where a VPN kill switch comes in.

If your VPN drops, the kill switch disables all internet traffic. This protects your IP address and other sensitive information from being exposed. Once your VPN connection is restored, your secure internet access resumes.

Why do I need
a VPN kill switch?

If you need a VPN, you need a kill switch. A kill switch guarantees that your device won’t leak your IP address or location or send any of your data unencrypted. This protects your identity and communications from being observed or intercepted.

Closed padlock on computer screen. Network Lock keeps your data secure.

Network Lock, the ExpressVPN kill switch, keeps your internet traffic from ever moving outside the encrypted VPN tunnel, so your information is always safe.

Types of VPN kill switches

There are two types of VPN kill switches, with each operating on a different level: application level and system level.

Application-level VPN kill switch

Only affects selected applications. For example, if you set the kill switch to stop browser traffic, other applications will still connect. This provides you with flexibility, but at the cost of security. Applications that are connected to the VPN but not under the VPN kill switch only have partial protection.

System-level VPN kill switches

More airtight, these will stop all network traffic, ensuring that nothing gets through until the VPN is restored. Because they block all connectivity, system-level VPN kill switches prevent your computer from sending unencrypted data. To ensure that you are protected, Network Lock is a system-level VPN kill switch.

Network Lock: How it works

If your VPN connection is ever interrupted, Network Lock will immediately stop traffic from entering or leaving your device. Here is the process that the VPN kill switch goes through:

VPN monitoring: magnifying glass inspects bit stream coming from a closed lock
Monitoring VPN integrity

Network Lock monitors your connection to the VPN server, scanning for changes in IP address. This occurs constantly, allowing Network Lock to respond immediately if it detects a shutdown.

VPN kill switch blocking: hand blocking a bit stream coming out from an opened lock
Blocking network traffic

Once it detects a VPN shutdown, Network Lock immediately blocks all network traffic to and from your device. By blocking all traffic, Network Lock removes any possibility of IP leaks.

VPN kill switch: bit stream is allowed to flow from a lock, with a play sign signifying permission
Reconnecting network traffic

Once the VPN connection is restored, Network Lock will automatically unblock all network traffic. This happens automatically, so you get back online without skipping a beat.

When is the VPN kill switch activated?

Network Lock is enabled by default. Whenever you connect to the VPN, Network Lock becomes active, and it stays active until you choose to disconnect. It keeps your connection secure when:

When you switch between VPN servers

There is a small time window between disconnecting from your old server and connecting to your new one. If your apps send data during that window, your IP could be revealed.

When you set up a new firewall

If you do not add an exception to your VPN, your firewall will block it. This could leave your network unprotected.

When your bandwidth gets throttled

When networks operate beyond capacity, internet service providers have to throttle the bandwidth of each user. This leads to unreliable connections and could destabilize your VPN.

When public Wi-Fi is unstable

When your Wi-Fi signal is weak, your device will constantly switch between cellular and Wi-Fi connections. This can interfere with the connection between you and your VPN server.

Is Network Lock automatic?

Indeed it is! Network Lock is enabled by default. As long as you do not disable it, your internet traffic will automatically be blocked if the VPN drops or your network is disrupted. When the VPN connection is back up, you’ll be unblocked and back in action in just moments.

Windows and Mac users can turn off Network Lock in a few clicks. For Linux, it only takes a couple of commands. (Turning off Network Lock is not recommended, and it cannot be disabled on the ExpressVPN app for routers.)

ExpressVPN apps
with Network Lock

Router with a lock icon in a speech bubble on it.

App for routers

When you secure your router with ExpressVPN, Network Lock ensures that every device connected to that router stays protected, unless you exclude that device with split tunneling. Devices that are set “No VPN” or “MediaStreamer” will not be affected by Network Lock.

Preferences menu showing Network Lock settings for Mac.

Apps for Mac and Windows

Network Lock keeps your laptops and desktops secure no matter where you are. The ExpressVPN kill switch safeguards your privacy even when your internet connection is in flux. And the default setting keeps Network Lock from interfering with local devices, like printers.

Network Lock for Linux. Lines of code on Linux.

App for Linux

Breathe easy when your Linux computers are using ExpressVPN, no matter where you are. Network Lock works seamlessly with the ExpressVPN browser extensions, and you’ll get on-screen notifications whenever Network Lock engages—same as with the apps for Mac and Windows.

Network Lock for Android.

Network protection
for Android and iOS

On Android, ExpressVPN supports full leakproofing through the Android system settings, although this will disrupt split tunneling and access to local devices. To block internet access when your VPN connection drops while preserving access to local devices and split tunneling, keep the setting under Network Protection in its default position, toggled on.

On iOS, you can also greatly reduce the risk of data leaks by keeping the setting under Network Protection toggled on. This default position will block internet access whenever the VPN connection is interrupted, but it may disrupt features like media casting and Personal Hotspots.

Frequently asked questions


Get the best VPN kill switch and protect yourself

If you need a VPN with a kill switch that never lets you down, go with ExpressVPN.

Try it now, totally risk-free. If you’re not satisfied with Network Lock, contact Support and get a full refund within 30 days. It’s that simple.