what is double vpn

What Is Double VPN? Here’s How It Differs

Last updated on October 14, 2021

With more people online than ever before, it has never been more important to double down on your cybersecurity. Many people have found protection by using a VPN, or virtual private network, to protect themselves from the vast amount of potential threats that are out there.

However, some people think the protective features of a VPN aren’t enough; double VPNs are now necessary.

But is this true? Does everyone really need a double VPN, and what does “double” mean exactly?

Let’s take a look at what a double VPN is, how it differs and whether this option is viable for you.

What Is Double VPN?

Originally, double VPNs were just two virtual networks linked together. This allows you to utilize two VPN servers rather than just one. However, before we dive into how this network functions, you should know the basics of how regular VPNs work.

A single VPN creates an encrypted tunnel linking you and the server that disguises your identification. Your traffic is first encrypted in real-time by the VPN and then routes through the tunnel to the server. The intention is to make it more difficult for outside forces to track your online activities and steal your personal data. The encryption hides your IP address and redirects your network so that the VPN server becomes the source of your data.

What is a double VPN then? Just as it sounds, it is a feature that adds another secure tunnel and VPN server into the equation. This means double the encryption and doubles the security for your IP address.

However, one thing to note right off the bat is that you often don’t get much choice between the servers you use and have to pick between available pairs, unlike a single VPN connection.

How Does Double VPN Work?

Contrary to popular belief, a double VPN doesn’t just double the number of bits in your AES encryption. Rather, the double VPN re-routes traffic and encrypts twice. Here’s how:

  • First, the connection is created between your computer and the VPN, like a single
  • Then, the second encrypted tunnel is created between the first and second server

How does this compare to single VPN’s? Well, here’s a breakdown of how a regular connection functions first:

  1. Once you download your chosen VPN, the application encrypts your internet activity and sends it to its server
  2. The server then decrypts your activity and makes your IP address masked
  3. Then, it sends the unencrypted activity to the end target
  4. On the reverse, you then get a response from your chosen destination

When you add the double feature, this is what happens:

  1. The VPN application encrypts your traffic and sends it to the first server
  2. That first server encrypts your traffic again and hides your IP address
  3. The first server then sends your now doubly encrypted traffic and sends it to your chosen target
  4. On the reverse, you then receive your response from the target

This process results in your destination site or service seeing your second VPN server’s IP address rather than your first IP address or your first server’s address.

Something to look out for is that some providers will claim to offer what they say is double VPN when the reality is they do not use double encryption. This means the pseudo-double VPN servers will decrypt your data, making it easier to intercept traffic on one of the two servers by hacking.

What Are The Pros of Using Double VPN?

Generally speaking, using a double VPN feature will give you extra security and more privacy. The idea behind double versus single is to hide your IP address better, making it ideal for someone who lives in a country with high government surveillance and censorship, or who has a highly sensitive occupation.

Here are some of the ways that using this feature will amp up your security and privacy online:

  1. Double-encryption. As we’ve discussed, all of your activity online is protected with an extra layer of encryption. This makes your data twice as difficult to hack and makes you more protected against more sophisticated cyberattacks.
  2. IP protection. Since you have not just one server but two, it goes the extra mile to protect your IP address. The second server hides your first server, which hides your current IP address. This means that even your second server won’t know your IP address, so it will not be traceable back to your IP if your second server is compromised.
  3. Keeping your location hidden. VPN servers act as your proxies on the web. The double VPN servers are not usually in the same country to keep your traffic better hidden. Additionally, the majority of VPN services do not log your activity and store it. Even if they do, they don’t pass that information along to third parties. Regardless, this means that any records of your history are permanently hidden. Using multi-hop will put more layers between your virtual location and your real one.
  4. Complete privacy from your ISP. Although your internet service provider will know that you have turned on a VPN service, they cannot see your final destination.
  5. Mixing protocols. Your online activity security will be enhanced by mixing UDP and TCP protocols.

What are the Cons of Using Double VPN?

This feature was not intended to be used by the masses. That’s why many providers still do not have one and are not planning to make it an option.

If you are weighing whether you should use the double feature, consider some cons:

  1. There are fewer choices of servers. Industry-leading virtual private networks let you choose to browse from at least 50 countries. However, if you turn on the double feature, the list of countries available for your access is far less. Although there are fewer options, popular browsing countries such as the United States and the Netherlands will be available.
  2. Slow speeds. Most would say that this is the biggest deal-breaker when it comes to using the double VPN feature. When you use a regular single private network, it is safe to assume that its use will reduce the speed of your web activities. So, when you add another server to the equation and double the encryption process, it can lower your Mbps even further. So, if you need to stream high-quality videos, are constantly on video calls, or need to download larger files, it is in your best interest to turn the double VPN off. Before you opt to subscribe to this feature, ensure that your default connection is already fast enough.
  3. Power sucker. If you use a mobile device, know that using a double virtual private network feature will drain your battery faster than normal. This won’t be a problem if you are using devices directly connected to a power source, but it is a factor to consider for the user on the go.
  4. More expensive. Since the only services that offer double VPNs are the top, highest-level packages, they tend to be the most expensive.
  5. No TOR use. Unfortunately, you are unable to use both of these features at the same time. If you do, your speed will decrease by monumental amounts.

The biggest downsides to using a double VPN feature are the decreased speed and the fact that there is poorer server selection than with a single VPN. However, if you start out with a faster speed, to begin with, your speed after using the feature may be just fine. Plus, if you find you generally only browse from one or two countries, these cons may not be an issue for you.

What is Safer: Double VPN or Regular VPN connection?

It is important to note that even if the provider does not use double encryption, double VPN does provide more safety than regular VPN connections. This is because your IP address is hidden behind two servers rather than one.

In addition, your data is split between the two devices, making it virtually impossible for hackers to trace you. If you just connect to one VPN server, that server has both your IP and your destination. However, when you use two servers, one has your IP address but does not know where your traffic is headed. The other knows where your traffic destination is but does not know your IP address.

Your double VPN servers should also never log. Otherwise, there is no point in using two logging servers when you could just use one. It is advisable to use a RAM-only server for your private network because they cannot log your traffic at all.

Do I Need A Double VPN, or Am I Okay With A Regular VPN Connection?

Since it has been established that a double VPN is without a doubt more protective than a regular connection, it definitely cannot hurt if you are looking to take extra measures to protect your data. Many think this feature is going to be the next big thing in cybersecurity, while others may say it is a little bit excessive. For naysayers, it is important to look at the types of situations and professions that would benefit from the extra level of encryption.

  1. Journalists and activists. For all the folks whose job it is to write about ultra-sensitive topics, or are activists who can be vulnerable to cyber-attacks by opposing groups, this extra layer of protection may be a necessity for you. It is important to protect yourself, your colleagues, and your work with a sophisticated level of security. Using a double VPN gives you high levels of security, privacy as well as access to blocked web resources.
  2. Ensuring public WiFi is secure for use. Yes, this is also a perk of a regular VPN. However, using a double VPN just amplifies this. It is a known fact that hackers love using public WiFi to intercept data because of the large number of people who use it and the weak protection. If you find yourself someone who needs to work on public WiFi from time to time, encrypting your traffic twice may not be such a bad idea.
  3. Avoid surveillance. Your traffic is your business. You don’t want your government or any third party to be privy to your online activity. Especially if you find yourself on blocked sites or downloading content that may not be legal in your country.

How Do I Use A Double VPN?

Are you thinking of upping your internet security but you’re not sure how to proceed? Know that there are many ways you can set up a double or chain VPN connection. Here are a few options:

  1. Router Setup and Device Connection. This is a relatively simple way to set up a double VPN connection. First, configure the VPN service on your router, then install the client onto your computer or mobile device.
  2. Double hop VPNs. This is generally a feature offered by a few VPN providers, making double encryption easily accessible. This way, you will be immediately linked to a second server when you connect to your VPN server. These connections generally will not allow you to choose which VPN servers.
  3. Host and Virtual Machine. This is a bit more of a complex setup if you are unfamiliar with virtual machines. A virtual machine can be a free tool where you connect a virtual operating system to your current operating system. Then you configure the VPN to the virtual machine. Finally, you’ll need to run the private network on your primary operating system, then run the next one on your virtual machine.
  4. Self-Configuring Multi-hop Chains. This setup can cascade your VPN, but the provider will allow you to configure it within the VPN client. This way, you can choose the servers you want in the cascade. Know that you can choose the number of hops within your cascade, but most providers offer up to four. Keep in mind that this feature is usually on the pricier side.
  5. VPN connection with a browser extension. Some services offer secure browser extensions with the VPN client. This way, you connect to the server through the client, then connect to another one via the browser extension.
  6. VPN chain with several providers. This method is when you set up a VPN chain with a few providers and use a server from each of them.

Can You Make Your Own Double VPN Setup?

The short answer is yes; you can use a VPN on another VPN. The choice is yours to either use one on your router or one on your device. You can also use it on your device and run the second on the same device.

However, if you plan to make your own double VPN for maximum security, it is recommended that you use two different VPN providers. One of the setups will know your real IP address, and the other will know where your traffic is headed.

How Does a Double VPN Compare to an Onion (TOR)?

In your search to find the best cybersecurity tactics to suit your needs, you may have come across what is known as Onion routing. And, if we’re being honest, we can’t really answer the question “What is a double VPN?” without explaining this other term.

So, let’s break this concept down.

What is an Onion (TOR)?

An onion router is useful for those who do not have a VPN yet but don’t want anyone to know that you are making requests to certain sites. That’s because this browser can make your web traffic anonymous to protect your identity online.

The name “onion router” comes from the onion network encrypting users’ traffic several times through multiple servers. Each time it does this, the router peels a layer of encryption before sending the traffic onto the next router. Only your unique device can decrypt all the messages since it has access to all the keys.

Unfortunately, governments and internet service providers can discover when someone accesses the onion (TOR) network. This is where connecting an onion over a VPN server will amp up your security and privacy — before your traffic passes through the onion network, it is encrypted through the VPN server.

The VPN and TOR work together for enhanced privacy from third-party voyeurs that just a regular TOR cannot guarantee. The bonus of this is that none of the onion router servers will know your personal IP address, and since TOR is completely decentralized, using a VPN over it can be crucial to protecting your data.

What is the Difference Between Double VPN and Onion over VPN?

Although a double VPN and an onion may appear the same since it uses two setups to encrypt your data and enhance your security, there are key differences:

  • A double VPN sends traffic through two servers which encrypts your traffic twice.
  • On the other hand, the Onion over VPN method sends the activity through a single VPN and then to the onion router network. There, the traffic goes through a maze of encryption through a volunteer-operated server.

At the end of the day, neither onion over VPNs nor double VPNs are better — they both serve different objectives. However, you will have to choose whether you use one or the other.

What to Look for When Choosing a Provider

When shopping around for a double VPN, be aware that each double VPN offers different levels of privacy protection, so it is important to pick one that will give you the most bang for your buck.

Here are several aspects of the best double VPNs to purchase.

No Logs Policy

Since VPN providers are lawful companies, they are required to keep records of the actions of their clients, which can be antithetical to the “no log” policy many are looking for. So, for providers to offer a double VPN feature, they must create a system that is illegible to outside parties to keep in line with a “no logs” policy.

No Government Institution Affiliations

You also want to ensure that your chosen provider does not have any affiliations with government institutions that could surveil your activity and intercept your data.

If you do your research, you may find that some companies base themselves in very remote areas to avoid institutional interference and watching, making your data more secure.

Kill Switch

Another essential feature you need when deciding on your future provider is ensuring that it has a reliable kill switch. You want to have this feature just in case your VPN connection drops off, which could risk exposing your IP address.

Duel Double VPN/TOR Use

Remember the Onion over VPN connection? Well, you can choose a provider that gives you the option to have the TOR over VPN and the double VPN features, so you can have the option for which you need to use at any given moment.

This just increases the value of your purchase and gives you an alternative option for your cybersecurity without having to switch providers.

Remember, it is important that you do not use your TOR over VPN at the same time as your double VPN feature if you don’t want to slow down your connection even further.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a reliable way to maintain a high level of cybersecurity and privacy from external threats, investing in a double VPN connection may be a great option for you.

Unfortunately, since the connection slows down your connection even further than a regular VPN, it is not yet a very prevalent feature. However, if you have highly sensitive work or web activity, using this double encryption tactic will be more worth your while.

Although your options are few and far between, the providers that do offer this standout feature are popular companies that have positive reputations for protecting their customers’ security. So, we think you’re in good hands if you decide to go ahead and invest in a double VPN.

If you’re ready to take the plunge and stock up on a double VPN, be sure to compare several provider options to ensure you choose the product with all the features you need.