What is Double VPN?

Julie Cole
Julie Cole | Contributing Writer
Last updated: September 24, 2021
what is double vpn

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Double VPN, also known as a multi-hop VPN or VPN server chaining, is a procedure of stringing together two or more VPN servers. This hi-tech solution allows for better hiding of your online activities. However, not a lot of VPN companies offer this feature, so I’ll be listing those that do later in the article.

How Double VPN works?

It would not be shocking to suppose that some individuals think that Double VPN means that the usual encryption level, which is AES 256-bit, would be converted into AES-512. However, that’s not the case.

How Double VPN:

  1. Your VPN encrypts the traffic and sends it to a VPN server
  2. The primary server hides your IP address and encrypts the traffic once more
  3. The primary server sends the traffic to another VPN server
  4. The second server decrypts the traffic and sends it to its destination
  5. The process runs backward until the decrypted traffic gets back to you

Regular VPN connection:

  1. Your VPN encrypts the traffic and sends it to a VPN server
  2. The VPN server hides your IP address and decrypts your traffic
  3. The primary server sends the traffic to its destination
  4. The process runs backward until the decrypted traffic gets back to you

As you can see, double VPN adds an extra “hop” to your traffic, hiding the IP two times and encrypting the traffic two times. This process can be repeated multiple times, creating triple or quadruple VPNs, but such VPN server chaining has limited benefits.

However, not all VPN providers that advertise multi-hop support encrypt your data twice. Some services decrypt the traffic at each server, meaning that both of them can see your data, doubling the chance that it might be seen by third-parties instead. The only benefit of using an extra VPN server is hiding your IP because it will see the first server’s IP instead of yours.

Advantages & disadvantages of using Double VPN

While Double VPN might seem like a great feature that one should use every day for extra protection, there are also some serious cons to consider. That’s why if you’re using a VPN that doesn’t have this feature, don’t rush into canceling your subscription without first reading the section below.

The advantages of Double VPN

The main advantage of using a Double VPN is added security. This is particularly pertinent to all the political activists, bloggers, and journalists living and working in countries with dictatorial regimes and soaring levels of Internet surveillance and censorship.

Here are some examples when using Double VPN has benefits:

  • Double encryption. Your data becomes twice as hard to read for third-parties.
  • Double IP address. The first server hides your real IP from the second server while the latter hides the second one from the destination website.
  • Hiding from the ISP. Even if your ISP is aware that you are using a VPN, the ultimate browsing destination will stay unknown.
  • Two servers to compromise. If a third-party found a way to access one server, your data would still be beyond the reach of the second server.
  • One server doesn’t have all the data. When using Double VPN, one server knows what you’re sending from your device but has no information about the destination. Similarly, the second server knows which website your data should reach but has no idea who’s behind the first server and what your real IP is.
  • Unknown location. Both VPN servers might be in different countries, maybe even continents. Therefore, your government might think that you’re checking something in the US while, in reality, your destination is Australia. And those in Australia might think that you’re actually in the US.
  • Mixing TCP and UDP. When there are two different protocols, that means even more security enhancement.

Double VPN disadvantages

On the whole, Double VPN might not be essential if you only need safe access to torrenting or geo-blocked streaming platforms. There’s also not much point in it if you just want to compare prices of the same product in different countries. But in case you do need to use Double VPN, make sure you’re aware of the following cons:

  • Reduced speed. This is the main reason why Double VPN is not so popular. A regular VPN will give you a noticeable drop-off but adding another server can put your bandwidth to a halt. That usually means watching lower quality videos and downloading large files for hours instead of minutes.
  • Tor over VPN compatibility. Double VPN isn’t compatible with the Tor over VPN feature. Of course, you can open the Tor browser after you successfully connect using multi-hop, but this will turn your connection into a stuttering dial-up.
  • Battery drain. Double VPN is not a problem for modern desktops. However, if you’re on the go and turn on this feature on your laptop or smartphone, expect decreased performance and higher battery drain.
  • Lack of choice. You can’t connect any two VPN servers that you want. There will be just a few options configured to work this way. So if you want your Double VPN destination to be in Brazil, you might have a problem finding such a provider.

Obviously, the biggest problem with using Double VPN is speed. Of course, this strongly relies on your individual ISP-given connection speed: people with better connections might not even notice the default encryption effects, while those users with slower, more limited bandwidths might struggle streaming anything. Finally, the distance between you and the VPN servers will also have a significant impact.

Is Double VPN safe?

In general, a Double VPN is much safer and more private than a regular VPN connection. For starters, it gives double-encryption, which is much harder to crack. Furthermore, your ISP has no idea what websites you are visiting. Also, neither of the two VPN servers knows everything about you and your connection. While one has your real IP, the other knows where your traffic is going.

That being said, a lot depends on your chosen VPN provider. If it doesn’t have a no-logs policy, there’s no point in sharing your data with two servers instead of one. Also, if the regular connection is slow, you might simply not be able to use Double VPN, especially if the hops happen far from your location.

When do you use Double VPN?

It’s totally OK to live a life without ever needing to use Double VPN. That being said, here are some situations where you wish you had this security-enhancing feature available:

  • Political activism or journalism. If you’re into one of the two, you might want to use Double VPN to protect yourself, your comrades, and your sources. You will be able to access information without third-parties snooping on you and communicate without getting blocked.
  • Government surveillance. If you live in China or any other country that restricts internet freedom, you know that many websites and services are banned. The government is also monitoring what happens on the web, so making yourself hard to track is more than welcome.
  • Using public wifi. Public wifi hotspots are one of the least secure ways to go online. That’s because anyone can connect, and that includes hackers. When you use a Double VPN, you encrypt your traffic two times, making it virtually impossible to decipher.

VPNs that have Double VPN

There aren’t many providers that offer a Double VPN feature. What’s more, not all services are highly rated, so you don’t want to use a VPN that has security and privacy issues to increase your online safety.

VPNs that offer Double VPN:

  1. NordVPN. This provider is responsible for popularizing the Double VPN name. It’s our #1 ranked service that offers excellent security and privacy. The feature is available on all major platforms.
  2. Surfshark VPN. Another great service with a multi-hop feature. It offers unlimited simultaneous connections and has a strict no-logs policy. What’s more, the company behind Surfshark VPN is located in the privacy-friendly British Virgin Islands.
  3. Perfect Privacy. This VPN also has unlimited simultaneous connections and a Stealth VPN feature. Throw in Double VPN to the mix, and you get a great option for protecting yourself online.

VPN over VPN: multiple VPNs at the same time

You can use multiple VPNs at the same to create your own version of Double VPN. In fact, this might be even a better idea, at least from a security standpoint.

Imagine that you’re using two services – one in the US and another in the UK. Now, if the new US President secretly orders to log all traffic, they won’t have the full picture because only the UK-based VPN knows your destination. However, if you use two servers of the same US VPN, all your traffic, including the IP address, is right there for the NSA to grab.

How to use two VPNs simultaneously

Using two VPN services simultaneously doesn’t have to be tricky. Sometimes, all you have to do is launch the first and then the second one. The former then will know your IP, and the latter will have your destination address.

Sadly, VPN apps weren’t made for using them together. That means the two connections can conflict, especially if you use the same tunneling protocol. Therefore, if one is running on OpenVPN, the other should be set on IKEv2/IPSec or WireGuard, if possible.

Another issue with using two VPNs at the same time is virtual network cards. To avoid problems, I suggest installing one service on your device and the other on your wifi router. If you don’t have one, running a Virtual Machine should do the trick.

If you’re not into doing some extra network settings configuration, you may also try combining your VPN client with a browser extension. Of course, in most cases, this won’t work outside your Chrome, but sometimes that will be enough. One thing to remember: choose a browser extension (proxy) that encrypts traffic.

Conclusion

Employing a Double VPN will, without a doubt, make it extremely unlikely that anyone can get to your data. However, the catch is that it can really slow down the connection. This makes such a connection a resort of complete necessity. Besides, before subscribing to a provider that offers Double VPN, it would be best to make sure that the connection is sufficiently fast by default, so it does not hold you back to the point that it becomes annoying.

Top VPN providers
NordVPN
9.6 / 10
30-day money-back guarantee
Military grade encryption
Friendly support
Surfshark VPN
9.4 / 10
Strong encryption
Excellent performance
Unlimited simultaneous connections

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8 comments
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  1. Jinnah

    What if i will use two diff VPN at the same time ?


    1. avatar
      Ethan Payne

      Hi, Jinnah. Unfortunately, if the two different VPN services are not integrated they will interfere with each other and you won’t get the benefits of a double VPN. 


  2. brillianttechie

    The fact that it slows down the internet connection has refrained me from opting for double VPN. Let me know if anyone has had luck in overcoming this issue


  3. Patrick C

    It does sound interesting for online protection. But concerning streaming and downloading files with that it’s clearly not the best with the poor speeds. Thanks for article though !


  4. laurelhealy

    Hmmmm. I’m glad these kinds of services are available to people in places where content is heavily monitored. I don’t really need it, but those stories of people in countries like China are just terrifying. I can’t imagine the pressure of having someone always watching your every move and restricting everything you look at.


  5. Nate

    Double VPN is the real deal in internet security except for its extremely poor, super slow connection to video streaming sites


  6. Boudica

    A double VPN makes perfect sense in the cases you described, like for someone living in China or Saudi Arabia. They need as much security as they can get. But for the rest of us it doesn’t seem that useful. I’m good with just a kill switch.


    1. avatar
      Julie Cole Author

      Yeah, it’s something you should only use if you really need it. The protection is great, but the slowdowns are not ideal. Kill switch, as you said, works fine as well. Thanks for commenting!

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