How to Safely Turn Off a VPN on Any Device

While VPNs offer strong security and privacy functions that keep your data and location safe, there are legitimate reasons to turn them off. Let’s explore why you might want to turn off their VPN and how to do so safely.

If you are currently enjoying the privacy features provided by a virtual private network (VPN), you have probably wondered what would happen if you decided to turn it off. Turning off your VPN isn’t always recommended, but there are some good reasons to do so.

Accessing the web from your native internet protocol (IP) address can be handy for troubleshooting connectivity issues, or if you wish to access local services like online banks. If you want to use a local area network (LAN) or access certain corporate networks, you will have to turn off your VPN.

It’s not complicated to turn off a VPN. Some VPNs include features that allow you to temporarily turn off the service while setting timers for it to come back online on its own. In most other cases, turning your VPN on and off is as simple as flipping a switch.

If you’re planning to turn off your VPN, it’s important to know about the security repercussions involved — even if you are doing so temporarily.

In this article
What happens when you disable your VPN?
How to temporarily turn off your VPN client on any device
How to disable a VPN on macOS
How to disconnect from a VPN on Windows
How to turn off a VPN on your iPhone
How to disable a VPN on your Android phone
How to remove a VPN from your device
Mac
Windows
iPhone
Android
How to turn off a VPN FAQs
Bottom line

What happens when you disable your VPN?

Using a VPN is great for protecting your privacy in a number of ways. It encrypts all internet data coming in and going out of your network. It also redirects your IP address to remote servers around the world, blocking all third parties — including your internet service provider (ISP) as well as government — allowing you to browse anonymously.

Turning off your VPN can create security risks for your device or network because all of these features cease to function the moment you turn the service off. This may not be a big problem if you are in a low-risk environment such as your at-home network.

But turning off your VPN when connected to a public Wi-Fi network, for instance, opens your device up to other users on that network who could easily access your data and personal information — especially when it is an open network with no password protection.

When should you turn off your VPN?

With all that in mind, why would anyone want to turn off their VPN? Despite the inherent security risk, there are legitimate reasons to do so, such as:

  • Troubleshooting a faulty or slow internet connection.
  • Accessing local services such as online banks that do not allow signing in from a foreign country.
  • Accessing corporate networks that do not allow VPN usage.
  • Accessing LAN resources.
  • Using certain services (such as Paypal) that do not allow the use of any proxy or anonymizing programs.
  • Protecting device battery life.

An additional reason you might consider disabling your VPN is to access certain streaming services that currently block VPNs. These services include Netflix, Hulu, HBO, HBO Now, Amazon Prime Video, Youtube TV, and Google Play.

However, disabling your VPN to stream is unnecessary and still leaves you open to privacy concerns. Choosing the correct VPN will bypass these blocks and allow you to watch Netflix (and other streaming services) with your VPN. Some VPNs that bypass blocking include NordVPN, Surfshark, and ExpressVPN — among a few others.

How to temporarily turn off your VPN client on any device

Disabling your VPN temporarily greatly differs from permanently removing it. When disabling your VPN temporarily, you are essentially flipping an on/off switch that can always be undone. Whereas removing a VPN means you are uninstalling the program and would need to go through the installation and setup process again to access the VPN’s capabilities.

Most VPNs will provide you with a program or app that helps you manage your connection. Disabling your VPN is as simple as accessing your VPN settings and disconnecting by clicking the on/off switch.

Depending on your VPN provider, this switch might be labeled “Disconnect”, “On/Off”, “Turn On/Off”, “Stop”, or a default “I/O” power button.

VPN providers want to make this process accessible and easy, so turning your VPN on and off through the third-party application will be similar while using Mac, Windows, iPhone, or Android.

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Do you want to disable your VPN but are worried you might forget to turn it back on again? NordVPN comes with a feature that allows you to pause your VPN connection for a set time — up to one hour — after which the service will restore itself automatically.

How to disable a VPN on macOS

When setting up your VPN on a Mac operating system (OS), it will have you create a profile that can be accessed via the Network Settings. This allows you to easily disable your VPN through the following steps:

  1. Select the Apple menu icon located at the top left of your desktop.
  2. Select System Preferences.
  3. Select Network.
  4. Select the VPN service you want to disable.
  5. Select Disconnect.

How to disconnect from a VPN on Windows

Windows VPNs will create a configuration within the Network Settings. To disable your VPN in Windows, do the following:

  1. Click your Start menu. Its default location will be on the bottom left of your screen unless you have moved your taskbar.
  2. Click your settings button. This will usually be in the shape of a cog.
  3. Click Network & Internet.
  4. Click VPN found in the left menu.
  5. Select the VPN you wish to disable.
  6. Click Disconnect.

How to turn off a VPN on your iPhone

Accessing your VPN’s settings on an iPhone can be done through the iPhone General Settings menu.

  1. Find your Settings button on your iPhone home page and select it.
  2. Select General.
  3. Select VPN & Device Management.
  4. Select the VPN you wish to disable.
  5. Tap the toggle so it reads “Off/Not Connected.”

How to disable a VPN on your Android phone

Disabling a VPN on an Android phone can vary between models since interface options change depending on the manufacturer. The process is still very similar across the board, so we are listing as comprehensive a guide as possible that should apply to most Android interfaces.

  1. Access your phone’s settings menu.
  2. Look for and select a menu option labeled, Connections, Network & Internet, or Connection & Sharing.
  3. Look for a button labeled VPN. If VPN is not listed, look for More Connections. In either case, select that button.
  4. If you previously selected VPN, select your VPN and tap the toggle switch to disable the VPN.
  5. If you selected More Connections in step three, you should now be presented a list of your VPN(s). Select the VPN you wish to disable, then either tap the toggle button or select Disconnect to disable your VPN.

How to remove a VPN from your device

Disabling a VPN on your device is useful because it always allows you to turn the service back on whenever you need it again. Completely removing a VPN from a device consists of uninstalling the program along with all of its functionality. There is no option to turn it back on as you will have to reinstall and set up the VPN from scratch if you choose to remove it.

Before removing your VPN, you will want to follow the above steps to first disable the program, as well as exiting the app. After doing so, follow the steps below to uninstall a VPN from each type of device.

Mac

With all Mac devices, you will want to uninstall your VPN application first.

  1. Go to your Applications folder.
  2. Right click on your VPN app and select Move to Bin. You can also delete your app by dragging the icon to the bin.
  3. Empty your trash folder.

After uninstalling the VPN software from your Mac, you may still need to manually delete the VPN connections created upon the initial install.

  1. Go to System Preferences.
  2. Click the Profiles icon.
  3. Click the minus sign next to the VPN that you are removing.
  4. Type in your admin password in the prompt window.
  5. The VPN connection will now be removed from your networks.

Windows

Fully uninstalling a VPN on Windows takes additional steps in order to wipe out any trace of the VPN files. Old VPN files may cause compatibility problems if you were to eventually install a new VPN.

First, uninstall your VPN app:

  1. Click your Settings button in your start menu, and select Apps.
  2. Select Apps & Features in the side menu on the left.
  3. Find your VPN program in the list, click on it, and click uninstall.

Now that the VPN app is uninstalled, you want to also remove the VPN connection from your list of network connections.

  1. Click your Settings button in your start menu and select Network & Internet.
  2. Under Advanced Network Settings select Change adapter options.
  3. Right-click your VPN connection and select Delete.

The final series of steps to cleanly uninstall a VPN from Windows involves deleting old Test Anything Protocol (TAP) drivers. These are generally safe; however, they have been known to create compatibility issues when installing new VPNs onto the Windows platform.

  1. Navigate to your Control Panel, click System and Security, then click System, and finally click Device Manager.
  2. Scroll down to and double click Network Adapters to open a drop down list.
  3. Right-click the TAP drivers and click Uninstall, selecting to delete the drivers as well when prompted.

iPhone

Delete your VPN app by doing the following:

  1. Find the app on your home screen and touch and hold the app icon.
  2. Tap Remove App.
  3. Tap Delete App, then tap Delete to confirm.

Finish the uninstall by deleting your connection profile.

  1. Navigate to your settings menu on your iOS device.
  2. Select General.
  3. Select Profile.
  4. Your individual VPN profiles will be displayed. Select the one you wish to delete.
  5. Select Delete Profile and confirm by selecting Delete again.

Android

Start by deleting the VPN app as you normally would any other app with the following:

  1. Find the app on your homescreen and long press the icon.
  2. Select Remove, Uninstall, or Delete, depending on your device interface.
  3. Confirm your choice, and the app is now uninstalled.

As with iOS, you will also want to delete any VPN connections that may be left on your device.

  1. Access your phone’s Settings menu.
  2. Look for a menu option labeled Connections, Network & Internet, or Connections & Sharing, and select that.
  3. Look for a button labeled VPN and select it. If this is not listed then search for a button labeled More Connections and select it.
  4. If you selected VPN in step three, select your VPN and tap on Forget VPN. Confirm this action by tapping Forget.
  5. If you selected More Connections from step three, select VPN from the menu provided.
  6. Select Set and Manage Virtual Private Networks.
  7. Find your VPN connection, tap and hold, followed by tapping Delete Network.

How to turn off a VPN FAQs


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What happens if I turn off my VPN?

Disabling your VPN is rarely recommended as it will open your device up to certain security risks. Your IP will no longer be masked and your data will no longer be encrypted. This means third parties can not only pinpoint your location via your IP but also access sensitive data that could lead to serious security breaches.


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Why can’t I turn off my VPN?

VPNs come with software or apps to make managing connections easy. To disable your VPN, always try using your VPN software first. If your VPN is still connected after using the software provided by your VPN, follow our guides above to learn how to disconnect manually through your device’s connections or network settings.


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Should my VPN always be on?

While there are some legitimate reasons to disable a VPN, keeping it on all the time keeps your device and personal data protected from possible security risks. If you are experiencing internet connection issues or need to access services that do not allow VPNs, you can always temporarily disable your VPN.

Bottom line

VPNs offer strong privacy and security functions with little user intervention necessary. While we recommend leaving your VPN active all the time, there are some cases that warrant turning it off temporarily. Just remember turning off your VPN comes with security risks, so be sure to turn it back on as soon as possible.

If you ever want to double-check if your VPN is working, you can always compare your VPN-disabled IP address with your VPN-enabled IP address. If the IP addresses are different, your VPN is working! If the IP addresses are the same, however, check to make sure your VPN is enabled as this indicates your VPN is not working.

Author Details
Juliana is a professional copywriter and brand strategist with 12 years of experience writing in the technology field. She has led content teams in multiple B2B technology marketing firms as well as managed technology and science channels for a global news start-up, but writing and creating brand stories is where her true passion lies.