How to disable VPN and why it might be a mistake

Anton P. | June 15, 2022

You can disable VPN through VPN or network settings for all online traffic or select apps. Temporarily disconnecting while using a home network should not lead to severe security repercussions.

However, choosing to disable VPN connections on public Wi-Fi is not in favor of your data. Snoopers could exploit the opportunity to capture personal information exchanged. So, learn how to disable VPN software temporarily and why it might be better to keep it active.

disable vpn

When users might wish to disable VPN

The reasons to disable VPN connections vary depending on users’ needs and situations beyond their control. Here are some scenarios when people decide to turn off a VPN:

  • You wish to access local services like online banks with your usual IP address.
  • You want to troubleshoot or check specific connectivity issues.
  • When corporate networks do not allow the use of a VPN at work.
  • In cases when users wish to access local area network (LAN) resources.

These situations appear reasonable on paper. However, do not decide to disable VPN connections lightly. Its purpose is to protect your data on any network and website. Turning it off means reopening certain security holes, like the lack of encryption on free Wi-Fi and HTTP websites.

Potential dangers after you disable VPN apps

Exposed to free Wi-Fi dangers

It is safest to assume that no public Wi-Fi is secure. After you disable VPN connections, you are left to fend for yourself on such networks.

Let’s see just how precarious a connection to public Wi-Fi can be:

  • Packet sniffing can reveal what data you exchange. After you disable VPN, attackers might oversee all data you submit while connected to public Wi-Fi. They do this by intercepting the packets traversing from routers to devices.
  • Rogue hotspots mimic reliable network names. You might connect to a network according to its SSID (Service Set Identifier). For instance, if you are at Starbucks, you will choose networks with this name. However, attackers can create fake networks nearby. In some cases, they might provide stronger signals than the official hotspots. Sadly, attackers can see everything you do online if you connect and disable VPN encryption.
  • Terms and conditions can allow networks to monitor more than expected. Before using a public network, you might need to agree to specific terms and conditions. Sadly, many users might consent to them without reading, exposing more information about their actions. If you do not disable VPN connections, such networks won’t capture as many details about you.
  • Man-in-the-middle attacks are possible. MITM attacks mean that hackers position themselves between users and networks. Then, they can potentially see what requests you make, like visited websites or even provided credentials. Since an active VPN client encrypts internet traffic, attackers should only see gibberish instead of readable information.

ISPs collect and sell information about online activities

Choosing to disable VPN connections also means that Internet Service Providers can see what you do online. Usually, active VPNs encrypt data, meaning that ISPs can no longer capture insights about online activities.

However, it is up for grabs if your data does not traverse through encrypted VPN tunnels.

In most cases, ISPs can monitor internet traffic for reasonable purposes, like detecting unlawful activities. However, some countries allow ISPs to sell/share their clients’ browsing habits.

Thus, ISPs can further monetize their client communities despite receiving regular payments for internet services. If you keep a VPN active, ISPs should not turn your data into a commodity exchanged between interested parties.

You reveal your general location to online entities

An IP address is a popular identifier used in several ways:

  • To link all of your activities to one unique identifier.
  • To provide web entities with information about your whereabouts.

The purpose of a Virtual Private Network is to conceal accurate location details about users. You can pick a specific VPN location (country or city) you wish your new IP address to pinpoint.

Then, your activities blend in with other connected users that share the same IP address. Additionally, online entities won’t know your true whereabouts, which can assist in beating price discrimination or geo-blocks.

After you disable a VPN connection, your actual IP address and location become visible again.

How to disable VPN on different operating systems?

You can disable VPN connections through their apps. For instance, Atlas VPN adds its icon to your menu bar with several options, including disconnection. On smartphones, you can notice a sticky notification, letting you disconnect in seconds.

However, there is also a way to disable VPN services through device/network settings fully.

Disable VPN on Windows

  1. Open Settings and pick Network & Internet.

  1. Click on the VPN section.

  1. Find the VPN connection and disconnect.

Disable VPN on macOS

  1. Click on the Apple icon at the left top corner.
  2. Select System Preferences and open Network.

  1. Select the VPN application you wish to disable on the left side.

  1. Click Disconnect.

Disable VPN on Android

  1. Open Settings and select VPN.

  1. Toggle the setting to disable VPN connections.

Disable VPN on iOS

  1. Open Settings and choose General.
  2. Open the VPN & Device Management section.

  1. Toggle the button to either enable or turn off VPN.

Avoid disabling VPN unnecessarily

After temporarily disabling VPN connection, you might forget to turn it back on. Therefore, try to activate it immediately after accessing local settings or troubleshooting connectivity issues.

Also, try our split tunneling feature on Android to temporarily disable VPN on select applications. For instance, you can access your local bank app without a VPN while other activities remain safe.

However, always keeping a VPN connection will have a positive impact on your online activities:

  • More data security on public Wi-Fi.
  • Protection at home networks from tracking, snooping, and internet speed throttling.
  • Uninterrupted access to the safer internet or resources unavailable in your region.
  • More anonymity as your traffic blends in with other connected users’ activities.
  • A more private experience, avoiding IP-based tracking and limiting the insights online entities get to collect about you.
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Anton P.

Anton P.

Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.

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