What is the Network Lock kill switch?

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Network Lock is ExpressVPN’s kill switch and is designed to protect your internet privacy. Read on to find out what it does and how it works.

Have more questions about VPN? Contact the ExpressVPN Support Team for assistance.

Note: Network Lock is only available on:

  • Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10
  • Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite), Mac OS X 10.11 (El Capitan), Mac OS X 10.12 (Sierra), and Mac OS X 10.13 (High Sierra)
  • ExpressVPN app for Linux 1.4 and newer
  • ExpressVPN app for Routers (all versions)

Jump to…

What is a VPN kill switch?
When is Network Lock active?
How to disable Network Lock
Network Lock is still enabled/disabled
How to access your local network devices while Network Lock is enabled
How to access your printer with Network Lock enabled
How Network Lock prevents IPv4 and IPv6 leaks


What is a VPN kill switch?

A VPN encrypts and hides your network traffic from third parties. However, even the best VPN connections can fail, leaving your internet traffic exposed.

VPN kill switch solves this problem by automatically stopping all traffic from entering or leaving your device if you are disconnected from a VPN server location. This prevents your network traffic from being routed back through your internet service provider and exposed to prying eyes.

Network Lock is ExpressVPN’s kill switch for Windows, Mac, Linux, and the app for routers. In case the VPN unexpectedly disconnects, Network Lock stops your computer from accessing the internet. Once you are reconnected to the VPN server location, Network Lock restores your internet traffic automatically.

If you disable Network Lock, you will still be protected as long as you are connected to the VPN. But if the VPN connection fails, your traffic will be redirected through your internet service provider and may be exposed to third parties.

Note: Network Lock is enabled by default when you install ExpressVPN on Windows, Mac, Linux, and the app for routers. You cannot manipulate Network Lock while you are connected to a VPN location. To make changes to your Network Lock settings, please disconnect from the VPN first.

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When is Network Lock active?

Network Lock is active whenever you intend to be connected to a VPN server location.

As soon as you click Connect, Network Lock is active. Network Lock remains active if there is an unexpected disconnection, and while the app tries to reconnect. As soon as you click Cancel or Disconnect, Network Lock is inactive.

The following table is a summary of the scenarios when Network Lock is active or inactive.

table showing when Network Lock is active

* It may take a few seconds for the Network Lock to become active while the VPN is in the “Connecting…” state.

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How to disable Network Lock

Note: There is no way to disable network lock on the ExpressVPN app for routers.

Use the following instructions to disable Network Lock. After disabling, you will still be able to access the internet even when your connection is not encrypted and secured.

See instructions for:
For Windows app version 5.2 and newer
For Mac app version 6.1 and above
For Linux app version 1.4 and newer

For Windows app version 6.0

After disconnecting from the VPN, click the hamburger menu (≡), then click Options.

windows options

In the General tab, UNCHECK the box for Stop all internet traffic if the VPN disconnects unexpectedly. Click OK.

Disable the Windows network lock.

For Windows app version 5.0

After disconnecting from the VPN, click the three dots (…), then click Options.

access the options

In the General tab, UNCHECK the box for Enable Network Lock (Internet kill switch). Click OK.

windows-network-lock-new

Network Lock is now disabled.

To enable Network Lock again, return to the General tab in the app’s Options menu and check the box again.

Need help? Contact the ExpressVPN Support Team for immediate assistance.


For Mac app version 6.1 and above

After disconnecting from the VPN, click the Options Menu (≡) then click Preferences.

go-to-preferences

In the General tab, UNCHECK the box for Enable Network Lock (Internet kill switch), then exit the menu.

network lockdisabled

Network Lock is now disabled.

To enable Network Lock again, return to the General tab in the Preferences menu and check the box again.

Need help? Contact the ExpressVPN Support Team for immediate assistance.


For Linux app version 1.4 and above

First, make sure you are disconnected from the VPN. Type:

expressvpn disconnect

Then type:

expressvpn preferences set network_lock off

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Network Lock is still enabled/disabled

First, check that you are not connected to a VPN location and perform the steps highlighted above.

Second, reboot your machine and restart ExpressVPN.

If you find that Network Lock is still enabled after you have disabled it/disabled after you have enabled it, please follow the steps below.

For Windows (while running as administrator):

  1. Ctrl + Alt + Delete
  2. Select “Task Manager”
  3. Select “Services”
  4. Right-click “ExpressVpnService”
  5. Click “Stop”
  6. Right-click “ExpressVpnService”
  7. Click “Start”
  8. Relaunch ExpressVPN

For Mac:

  1. Use Spotlight Search to find “Activity Monitor”
  2. Select “ExpressVPN”
  3. Click the “Force Quit” icon.
  4. Relaunch ExpressVPN

Need help? Contact the ExpressVPN Support Team for immediate assistance.

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How to access your local network devices while Network Lock is enabled

It is possible to use Network Lock and maintain access to your local network devices.

To do so, see the instructions below for your OS.
For Windows app version 5.2 and newer
For Mac app version 6.1 and above
For Linux app version 1.4 and newer

For Windows app version 5.2 and newer

  1. Click on Options (…)
  2. In the General tab, look for the Network Lock section
  3. Check the box next to Enable Network Lock (Internet kill switchand Allow access to local network devices such as network shares or printerswindows-network-lock
  4. Click OK

For Mac app version 6.1 and newer

  1. Click on Options () then click Preferences
  2. In the General tab, look for the Network Lock section
  3. Check the box next to Enable Network Lock (Internet kill switchand Allow access to local network devices such as network shares or printersnetwork lock preferences
  4. Exit the menu

For Linux app version 1.4 and newer

By default, you will be able to access your local network devices while Network Lock is enabled.

If you would like to block access to local network devices while Network Lock is enabled, type:

expressvpn preferences set network_lock strict

To return to the default setting that allows for local network access, type:

expressvpn preferences set network_lock default

To turn off network lock, type:

expressvpn preferences set network_lock off

Need help? Contact the ExpressVPN Support Team for immediate assistance.

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