What is the Network Lock Kill Switch?

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

Note: Network Lock is only available on Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite), Mac OS X 10.11 (El Capitan), and Mac OS X 10.12 (Sierra).

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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 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 and Mac. 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 your Windows PC or Mac. 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

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How to disable Network Lock

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.

Note: You must disconnect from the VPN to carry out the below changes.

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 Enable Network Lock (Internet kill switch). Click OK.

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.

uncheck-box

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.

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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.force-quit
  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

  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-on
  4. Exit the menu

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

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How Network Lock prevents IPv4 and IPv6 leaks

One of the benefits of using Network Lock is that it protects you from DNS leaks.

Until recently, all websites used the Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) standard to define their IP addresses. Given the rapid consumption of available IPs, Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) was developed to provide more available IP addresses.

Problem: When you connect to a VPN and try to access an IP address, your operating system may sometimes send IP requests through your internet service provider’s DNS server (the “phonebook” that translates a URL to an IP address) instead of sending it through the VPN tunnel. This allows them to see what websites you are requesting and compromises your online anonymity.

Solution: Network Lock solves this problem by forcing all IPv4 traffic to go through the VPN tunnel and by blocking IPv6 traffic at the firewall level. With Network Lock enabled, it becomes impossible for any of your device traffic to leave the VPN tunnel, meaning none of your IPv4 or IPv6 requests will be seen by your internet service provider (or anyone else).

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