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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 the ExpressVPN apps for:

  • 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), Mac OS X 10.13 (High Sierra), and Mac OS X 10.14 (Mojave)
  • Linux 1.4 and newer
  • Routers (all versions)

To learn about similar protection for Android, please visit this page.

Jump to…

How does Network Lock work?
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 does Network Lock work?

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

Network Lock 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 exposed to prying eyes. Read more about Network Lock.

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When is Network Lock active?

Network Lock becomes active as soon as you attempt to connect to a VPN server location, and it will remain active until you choose to disconnect.

This means that if your VPN connection drops for any reason, Network Lock will immediately engage and block any internet traffic to or from your device. The traffic will remain blocked until the VPN connection is restored.

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 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. When Network Lock is disabled, your internet traffic will not be blocked even if your VPN connection drops, so your traffic in those moments may no longer be encrypted and secured.

See instructions for:
For Windows app version 6.0 and newer
For Mac app version 6.1 and above
For Linux app version 1.4 and newer

For Windows app version 6.0 and above

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

Select options in the ExpressVPN for Windows app menu.

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

Disable the Windows network lock.

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


For Mac app version 6.1 and above

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

Open preferences on the ExpressVPN Mac app.

In the General tab, uncheck the box for Stop all internet traffic if the VPN disconnects unexpectedly, then exit the menu.

Network Lock disabled on the ExpressVPN Mac app.

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 device and restart ExpressVPN.

If you find that Network Lock is still enabled after you have disabled it or disabled after you have enabled it, 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 switch) and 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 Stop all internet traffic if the VPN disconnects unexpectedly and Allow access to devices on the local networkThe Network Lock settings for the ExpressVPN Mac app.
  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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