What is Double VPN? Is it better and more safe?
A virtual private network encrypts Internet traffic to ensure security and protect privacy online. It makes it difficult for unauthorized parties to intercept or access information within the VPN. The tool enables users to prevent hackers from stealing information submitted over the Internet, restricts Internet service providers from logging activities, and curbs governments from tracking online activities.
Today, VPN use has grown in popularity, considering the increasingly trespassing treatment of our online privacy and security. Simultaneously, businesses are advancing VPN features and capabilities to enhance security, which has led to the invention of double VPNs.
If you are not sure what a double VPN is or its uses, do not worry, as this page includes everything important. We will break down all there is to know about a double VPN, how it works, its benefits, and its disadvantages. We will also explain the difference between double VPN, obfuscation, and the onion router.
What is a Double VPN?
A Double VPN works like a standard VPN. The key difference is that double VPNs route information via not one but two VPN servers. Unlike standard VPNs, a double VPN hides your IP address twice instead of just once. In other words, a double VPN adds a second layer of encryption since Internet traffic passes through two VPN servers.
Double VPNs are also known as multi-hop, double-hop, chained, nested, or cascading VPNs. Moreover, there are some minor differences in these categorizations as well. For example, unlike in a double VPN, where you set up only two servers, multi-hop allows multiple VPN connections simultaneously.
In the same breath, just like a double VPN, a multi-hop VPN sends traffic hopping through several servers before it reaches the public Internet. Each server adds a new layer of encryption and a different IP address.
How a Double VPN Works
Double and Chained VPNs have a relatively simple working principle. To put it in simple words, here’s how the connection process goes when you use a double VPN:
- Your device encrypts data and redirects it to a remote VPN server.
- The first server does what a standard VPN connection does. It swaps out your IP address for its own and decrypts the data.
- Instead of forwarding the Internet traffic right away to the destination, it sends the re-encrypted information to a second VPN server.
- The second server also operates like any other standard VPN server. It converts the encrypted information back to its original form and replaces the source IP address (assigned by the first VPN server) with its own.
- At this point, your information gets to the destination privately and securely (it can be a web server, website, or cloud infrastructure).
- Responses or data from the destination reverses this process by encrypting data on the server and decrypting it on the second and first VPN servers, respectively.
Is Double VPN Safe?
A double VPN is very safe. It is a highly secure and private connection, just like in a standard VPN. If anything else, going with a double VPN connection directly increases your security compared to the one you’d get by a conventional VPN connection by adding a second VPN server.
Suppose hackers steal the key to one VPN server. The data still remains encrypted for the second server, making it impossible for the intruder to steal or read confidential information. Other than that, the second VPN server in a double VPN setup never sees the sender’s IP address and therefore has no clue about the source.
The server perceives that the data is coming from the first VPN server. The ISP is also in the dark about the ultimate destination of Internet traffic. From the ISP’s point of view, the destination for your requests or information is the second VPN server, with absolutely no visibility beyond that stage. In this sense, a double VPN adds protection from VPN correlation attacks that can possibly link traffic to a VPN user.
5 Double VPN Benefits
The list of reasons why a double VPN can be advantageous is quite lengthy. That said, here are the five biggest benefits of Double VPNs:
1. Better Protection from Hackers and Enforcement
Using a nested VPN encrypts user data twice, making it twice as hard for hackers to steal and convert it back to a readable format. The technology protects users and businesses from sophisticated attacks, such as traffic correlation attacks where cyber-attackers process Internet traffic to reveal details for the sender, message content, and destination.
Even if a hacker accesses the VPN server physically, they can’t decipher user identities due to the double VPN’s cascade connection. To succeed in intercepting and converting Internet traffic to a readable format in a double VPN, the attacker would need to gain physical access to all servers simultaneously, which is impossible for VPNs in different geographical locations.
2. Increased Anonymity and Privacy
A double VPN provides complete privacy by changing the actual IP address. Even the internet service provider (ISP) cannot see the sender’s destination. The VPN server can see data coming from your computer or smartphone, but it cannot see past the second server to know the website you are visiting.
Conversely, the second VPN server can see the destination site, but cannot determine the source’s details, that is, your device. Using a double VPN makes it difficult for third parties to trace traffic back to an end user. The ability to hop online requests between servers in different geographical locations enables you to avoid austere government censorship.
3. Avoid Censorship
A double VPN is also suitable if you are in a location that only authorizes connections to domestic websites and IP addresses or if you generally experience heavy geo-blocking restrictions. You first connect to a server in that country and then select a server overseas where the traffic will exit.
By doing so, you can avoid censorship in even the most authoritarian regions of the world. Equally as important, you’ll further minimize the chance of anyone tracking your activities back to your real IP.
4. Make Your Real Location Impossible to Discover
This benefit is in line with the previous one, in the sense that you can completely throw off anyone who’s trying to find your real location. By setting one VPN connection to one country and the other to a completely different country, you’ll send anyone who’s observing your connection on a wild goose chase.
For instance, if you are in Asia connecting to a VPN server in Europe through a second server in the US, anyone snooping in your country will think you are visiting websites in the US. Anyone snooping in Europe will believe you are in the US.
5. Unlock Extra Room For Customizing Connections
Lastly, using a double VPN, especially if you use two VPNs on top of one another, you have a lot of room for customization. For example, you can mix up a unique combination of protocols and enhance specific aspects of the service. This benefit is especially advantageous for more advanced users who want to precisely tailor every detail of their VPN service.
How to Use Double VPNs
Here’s how to set up and use a Double VPN:
- Using a Double VPN solution from a single provider
- Having a VPN on top of another
- Setting a double VPN using a virtual machine
Method 1 – A Double VPN Solution from a Vendor
You can get a double VPN solution from one of the best VPN providers like NordVPN. It offers a fully encrypted cascade across two VPN servers. The majority of VPN solutions vendors do not offer double VPNs.
You should ensure that the double VPN vendor provides no-logs policies in such situations, meaning that their VPNs keep no identifiable logs and customer records. It is even better to acquire a double VPN from remote-based companies that avoid government intervention and surveillance.
You must also be certain that the solution offers the full functionalities of a double VPN. Some vendors will simply forward your traffic, in this case, your IP address, messages, and destination sites, without encryption. For that reason, you remain vulnerable to a wide range of cyberattacks.
Method 2 – A VPN on Top of Another
You can set up a double VPN by using two VPNs on top of one another. For instance, you can have one VPN on your laptop or smartphone and a second one on your router. Using two different VPNs at the same time offers maximum security. However, with this type of VPN-to-VPN connection, the Internet speeds will be greatly reduced in this case.
Method 3 – Setting a Double VPN Using a Virtual Machine
You can optionally create a double VPN by installing a virtual machine on your device. Follow the steps below to set up the double-hop VPN:
- Use a virtualization tool like Virtual Box or Hyper-V to install a second operating system on a virtual machine.
- Install a VPN solution on both the host computer and the virtual machine
- Launch the two VPNs
- Any traffic sent from the virtual machine will travel through the two VPN servers, one in the virtual machine and the other in the host
Double VPN Disadvantages
A double VPN has some disadvantages. Chaining two VPN servers and double encryption are the basic tenets of double-hop VPNs. We can draw attention to the drawbacks of this solution.
- Low Speed – a double VPN is slower because of the extra server where internet traffic must pass through. The speed drawback comes from the extra distance data needs to travel to the two VPN servers before getting to its destination. Network congestion, when many users access the VPN simultaneously, also causes slowdowns.
- Resource-Intensive – a double VPN solution is resource-intensive since your setup must encrypt and decrypt all the data twice. The setup can result in decreased processing speeds for low-powered devices.
Who Needs a Double VPN
For an average user, a chain VPN is not worth the performance tradeoffs. A standard VPN with strong encryption and other security controls like malware protection and ad blocker provides adequate security and privacy.
Chained VPNs are suitable for:
- Political activists
- Individuals living under intense Internet surveillance
Before connecting to a double VPN, ensure that the connection is fast enough. The device should also have enough resources to cater to the additional computing overhead for encryption and decryption processes and the considerable distance between the two VPN servers.
If your Internet connection is not stable, it makes double VPNs poorly suited for any online activity that requires low latency and speed, such as downloading large files, playing games, or streaming video.
Onion Over VPN vs. Double VPN
The onion router (TOR) is a web browser that anonymizes your web traffic to protect your identity online. In an onion network, user traffic is encrypted several times as it passes through multiple servers or onion routers.
Each onion router receives an encryption key and “peels” a layer of encryption before forwarding the Internet traffic to the next router. Only your computer or smartphone can decrypt the message since it can access all the keys. Intermediary servers cannot determine the message contents, source, or destination.
Governments and ISPs can quickly discover when users access the TOR network. In that event, you can enhance information security and privacy by connecting an Onion over a VPN server. This setup ensures that all traffic passes through a VPN and then on an onion network, leveraging the two technologies’ capabilities.
By its very definition, Onion over VPN may appear to be the same as a double VPN. However, there are some differences between the two systems. A double VPN privacy solution sends Internet traffic through two VPN servers, encrypting it twice.
The Onion over VPN sends the Internet traffic through a single VPN server and the onion network, which consists of volunteer-operated servers. In this sense, get a unique security and privacy mix.
Double VPN vs. Obfuscated
Double VPNs’ straightforward working principle involves sending traffic through two VPN servers, encrypting it twice. In contrast, an obfuscated server uses unique algorithms to hide the fact that you are using a VPN or TOR to bypass Internet restrictions and makes it appear like a regular Internet activity.
To put it differently, obfuscation masks privacy protection software usage and serves to imply that no tools like VPN are in use. The technology is a handy solution for overcoming excessive third-party snooping. Coupling obfuscation and VPNs also helps bypass VPN blockers in censored regions where privacy tools have an absolute ban.
Ultimately, double VPNs will continue to become more popular and available from more vendors. The tool offers enhanced privacy and security for users who are hyper-conscious of online privacy and security. However, there is a chance that a nested VPN will result in speed issues as the system encrypts data twice and routes Internet traffic via two VPN servers in different locations.
VPN with Double VPN feature
If you want to utilize a double VPN feature by using just one service that can route your connection through two servers, you should pick carefully. The reason for this is that only a handful of VPN services possess a double VPN feature. Moreover, even when looking at the services that have it, some VPNs are less desirable than others.
So, choosing a service with a double VPN involves considering a lot of aspects. But, to save you from doing this tedious work, we’ve done the legwork to bring you the best information, With that in mind, here are the three top VPN services with a double VPN feature:
VPN with Double VPN feature
NordVPN is a VPN that offers DoubleVPN, Onion Over VPN and traffic obfuscation features. It has more than 5,200+ servers in 59 countries and has a strict and audited no-logs policy. This provider is popular as it can unblock streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and more. It has pretty fast speeds and fully supports torrenting and P2P traffic.
It uses an industry-standard AES-256 key bit encryption and supports its in-house WireGuard-based NordLynx protocol, as well as OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols. It has no IP leaks and protects from DNS leaks. As an extra, it also has a ThreatProtection feature that can block online ads and malicious websites.
For those who always want to protect themselves online, it has two kill switches – one for Internet connection and another for the apps. It allows up to 6 simultaneous connections and has apps for all platforms – Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, and routers. NordVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee on all its plans and accepts cryptocurrency.
- Thousands of lightning-fast and well-optimized servers
- Unblocks all the major streaming sites
- Fully supports Torrenting and P2P
- Strict no-logs policy and RAM-disk servers
- Ad blocker and malware protection features
- Robust security features and military-grade encryption to protect you from DDoS attacks and other online threats
- 24/7 live chat support
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Only 6 simultaneous connections
- No free trial
Surfshark is one of the most trusted VPN services and enjoys huge popularity in the VPN community. In the context of this page, it also has a double VPN feature, which in Surfshark’s case is called MultiHop. This feature is available on Windows, Android, Mac, iOS, and Linux. And speaking of device support, Surfshark allows you to connect an unlimited number of devices per subscription plan.
Surfshark’s MultiHop feature is far from the only advanced tool you can count on when using this VPN. Its apps include a CleanWeb protection feature, a capable Bypasser, as well as two interesting modes—NoBorders Mode and Camouflage Mode.
This VPN offers over 3,200 servers in 100 countries. All of its servers are RAM-based and come with private DNS. Additionally, the entire network supports the industry-leading WireGuard protocol. At least a single 1 Gbps port is available on every server, with many servers also having 10 Gbps ports. So, you can count on solid speeds even when using MuliHop.
- A very affordable VPN provider
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Ad-blocking feature
- Unblocks streaming platforms
- A fast and light WireGuard protocol
- Allows split-tunneling and has a multi-hop VPN feature
- No-log policy and robust security features
- GPS spoofing on Android devices
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- No free version
- Does not allow P2P seeding
ProtonVPN offers over 1,800 servers in 66 countries. While this isn’t quite up to par with our two previous picks, it still makes for a very good server network. Moreover, all of ProtonVPN’s software is independently audited, and its apps are entirely open source.
Like the previous two VPNs, ProtonVPN supports a double VPN feature. In this case, ProtonVPN’s take on the double VPN feature is called Secure Core. When you route your network through Secure Core, your traffic will first be sent through its dedicated Secure Core servers before reaching the server in the country you chose to connect to.
The service uses strong encryption and supports the WireGuard protocol. Its apps support a kill switch and an always-on feature. Additionally, ProtonVPN comes with Tor over VPN built-in.
ProtonVPN is based in Switzerland, which is great to hear from a privacy perspective. And, when you couple it with ProtonVPN’s strict no-logs policy, you can rest assured that your data will never be seen by anyone.
- Free version available
- Strict no log policy
- Unblocks most streaming services
- Above average speeds
- Additional privacy tools available
- Great app designs
- Small server selection
- Above average Premium plan price
Double VPN FAQs
Do multiple VPNs work slower than a single VPN?
Yes, using multiple VPNs will result in slower connection speeds than if you were using just one VPN. Whenever you use a VPN, your connection speed is likely to worsen, and your ping will increase. So, naturally, routing your connection through two VPN servers will result in even slower speeds.
Which VPN providers have a double VPN feature?
The best VPN service with a double VPN feature is NordVPN, with Surfshark being a close second. We also recommend ProtonVPN as a good alternative to these two. Of course, there are other VPNs with a double VPN feature, but many of them are poor choices and offer subpar performance.
How much does a double VPN cost?
If you find a VPN that offers a double VPN as a part of its regular service, then the subscription price is just the one you would pay in any case. On the other hand, if you want to use two VPNs simultaneously, you’ll have to pay for two separate VPN subscriptions.
Is it possible to use more than two VPNs at once?
Yes, you can use more than one or even more than two VPNs at once. While this is good to hear, the less favorable part of this answer is that you should know that setting this up is a challenging task. So, if you’re not very experienced in customizing your VPN clients, it’s best to avoid going down this road.
Keep in mind that you won’t be able to use two VPNs simultaneously on your device just by connecting to a VPN server in the app. There would be incompatibility-induced problems and most likely, errors. Moreover, even if you manage to get it working this way, you’ll just route your network through one VPN, as one service will overpower the other.
Is it possible to be tracked down while using multiple VPNs?
While there’s always a small possibility of being tracked down when using a VPN, this window is even more minimized when you connect to two services. It will still be possible for someone with enough time and resources to track you down, but this is highly unlikely to happen.