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Does ExpressVPN Have a Kill Switch? (PC and Mobile Setup)

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ExpressVPN has a kill switch on its mobile and PC apps named “Network Lock” or “Network Protection,” depending on what device you activate it on.

Furthermore, ExpressVPN is one of the few VPNs with a toggle-able kill switch for iOS.

So, I’ll discuss how to enable the VPN kill switch on all devices and what events trigger the kill switch.

How to Activate ExpressVPN's Kill Switch?

ExpressVPN’s kill switch works on its mobile and PC apps and routers. 

Follow the guides below to enable it on your device type.

How to Enable the ExpressVPN Kill Switch on PC?

ExpressVPN calls its kill switch “Network Lock” on its Windows, Mac, and Linux apps. Here’s how to get Network Lock up and running:

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  1. Download the ExpressVPN PC app. I’ll get its Windows app for this demonstration.
  2. Launch the app and log in with your account credentials.
  3. Click the menu icon (three horizontal dashes), then “Options.”
expressvpn network lock
  1. Under “General,” go to “Network Lock” and checkmark “Stop all internet traffic if the VPN disconnects unexpectedly.”
  2. Optional: If you wirelessly send files to your printer and other connected devices, you can leave the “Allow access to devices…” option unchecked.
  3. Connect to the ExpressVPN “Smart Location” or “Recent Location” to activate the kill switch.
  1. Optional: Click the three dots icon near the “Selected Location” to open the locations tab and choose another server location to activate the kill switch protection.
  2. You’re now protected by the ExpressVPN PC Kill switch.

How to Enable the ExpressVPN Kill Switch on Mobile?

ExpressVPN has its kill switch settings on iOS and Android mobile apps too. 

However, it dubs the feature “Network Protection” on these devices. 

Here’s how to setup Network Protection:

  1. Get an ExpressVPN plan with these discount deals.
  2. Download the ExpressVPN app for your mobile device. I recommend going via your official app stores. I’ll use my iOS device for this demonstration.
  3. Tap the app to launch it. Then, log in with your username and password.
  4. Tap “Options” in the bottom ribbon.
  1. Tap “Settings.”
  1. Tap “Network Protection.”
  1. Toggle “Block internet when VPN connection is interrupted.” This enables the kill switch.
  1. Optional: Leave “Allow access to devices on local network” untoggled if you wirelessly send files from your smartphone to printers and other units. Otherwise, toggle it.
  2. Tap “VPN” in the bottom ribbon.
  1. Tap the “Smart Location” to get the fastest server or the power button to get the selected location.
  2. Optional: Otherwise, click the three dots icon near “Selected Location” to open the VPN locations. Tap anyone to connect.
  3. Your ExpressVPN kill switch is active on your mobile device.

How to Enable the ExpressVPN Kill Switch on Routers?

The ExpressVPN kill switch (Network Lock) for routers is automatically enabled whenever you connect your router to the VPN.

Furthermore, the Network Lock on routers can’t be disabled. Thus, you ALWAYS get this extra layer of protection when you set up your ExpressVPN on your router.

How to Test That the ExpressVPN Kill Switch Works?

Want to be sure the Network Lock and Network Protection aren’t just marketing gimmicks? Same here.

Here’s how I tested that the ExpressVPN kill switch works as advertised:

  1. Set up the kill switch on your devices as described above. I’ll use my Windows PC for this demonstration.
  2. Connect to an ExpressVPN server. I’ll use its France – Marseille server.
expressvpn connected to france server location
  1. Open your browser and go to a choice page refresher tool. I’ll use www.pagerefresher.com.
  2. Enter an IP address fetching tool in the API. I recommend www.ip-api.com.
online auto page refresher
  1. Set the page refresh frequency. This denotes after how long the API will automatically scan for your IP address. I recommend 5-10 seconds.
  2. Click “Start/Stop” to run the tool the first time. Ensure that it reveals your ExpressVPN IP address. This shows that it’s working.
page refresher test expressvpn
  1. Fake a VPN connection drop. You can find different ways to do so below. I’ll switch between my 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi networks for this example.
  1. If the kill switch works, your IP API should return an error code during the connection drop. Otherwise, it’ll leak your true IP address.
ip api demo expressvpn

As you can see, ExpressVPN passed the test with flying colors.

What Events Trigger the ExpressVPN Kill Switch?

ExpressVPN’s kill switch will activate once the VPN server gets disconnected unexpectedly. That means it won’t work if you manually tap the disconnect button.

So, here’s a comprehensive list of all the times the ExpressVPN Network Lock/Network Protection will work:

Switching VPN Servers

Not all VPN kill switches protect you when switching servers, as evidenced by the PrivateVPN kill switch. But ExpressVPN is in a league of its own, keeping my connection secure when changing servers mid-session.

I tested this by changing from the France – Marseilles server to a Switzerland server.

At first, it blocked my connection, and I got an error code on the IP fetching tool.

expressvpn connected to switzerland server location

But when the VPN server connection was fully established, the IP fetcher brought up the new VPN server IP rather than my true IP address.

Switching Wi-Fi/Other Networks

Different scenarios may result in switching Wi-Fi networks while connected to an ExpressVPN server:

  • Your device randomly disconnects and rejoins the same Wi-Fi network
  • Your device smartly disconnects from a weak Wi-Fi network to join a stronger available network
  • Your device connects, disconnects, and reconnects to free Wi-Fi networks as you move through areas
  • You’re switching Wi-Fi networks manually
  • You’re changing from Wi-Fi to a cellular network, or vice versa

No matter the cause, ExpressVPN’s Network Lock ensures your device doesn’t transmit any data to the internet outside the VPN’s encryption tunnel.

Router or Firewall Conflicts

Routers can suddenly reset, causing a VPN server connection to drop. 

Likewise, you may have a new network/router firewall that prevents your VPN traffic from passing through. Some are even so aggressive as to disconnect the VPN.

expressvpn router or firewall conflicts

If any of these happen, ExpressVPN will quickly let you know your internet activities aren’t secure by activating Network Lock.

In these cases, it’s best to:

  • Fix the router’s connectivity issues
  • Set your device to auto-join the router network
  • Add your device/VPN to the firewall’s exception list

When Should You Turn Your ExpressVPN Kill Switch On/Off?

ExpressVPN has the Network Lock and Network Protection kill switches ON by default because the service providers know you should ALWAYS have it enabled.

Likewise, the top-shelf VPN provider ensured it doesn’t interfere with local wireless file sharing by offering an extra toggle-able option to keep LAN connections out of the kill switch.

expressvpn network lock tweet

However, if you must turn the ExpressVPN kill switch off, only do so when:

Otherwise, you’re doing your online privacy more harm than good.

ExpressVPN Kill Switch Not Working? Try These Fixes

Rarely, your ExpressVPN kill switch doesn’t work after following the robust guides above. But if your test fails, or you observed that your IP/DNS details leaked after a server connection drop, try these fixes:

Update the VPN App

System bugs sometimes interfere with some of the working parameters of your VPN. Hence, it’s best to update the VPN app as ExpressVPN must have patched such vulnerabilities keeping the kill switch from working.

Relaunch the VPN App

Relaunching the VPN app works best to repair the kill switch when:

  • The VPN app has been active for too long
  • The VPN app wasn’t shut down correctly
  • The system was shut down while the VPN app was working

And sometimes, this technique works even outside the above cases. 

So, it doesn’t hurt to try.

Check Your Settings

Ensure your kill switch is enabled before you judge it doesn’t work.

expressvpn update affecting network lock tweet
A rare case of an update upsetting the ExpressVPN kill switch

You might have mistakenly toggled it off, or an update might have overridden your settings. That’s unlikely, but you never can tell with apps sometimes.

Consider the Kill Switch Trigger

Remember that the ExpressVPN kill switch won’t work if you manually disconnect from a server. It’ll only work when the VPN connection drops due to no direct fault of yours.

Likewise, the kill switch will ONLY work after you’ve connected to an ExpressVPN server. So, simply having the settings enabled and keeping the ExpressVPN app open doesn’t mean it’ll work.

Speak With Customer Support

ExpressVPN has a 24/7 live chat customer support that will help you with this issue if nothing else works. They’ll be in the best place to simulate your exact situation and find a more tailored solution to ensure your kill switch always works from then on.

Interesting Reads:

Extra Privacy at the Same Cost

The ExpressVPN kill switch doesn’t cost extra, as it’s bundled with the basic VPN package. So, you don’t have to constantly look over your shoulders while downloading torrents, playing games securely, streaming content, or accessing sensitive online accounts over public Wi-Fi networks.

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