A virtual private network (VPN) is a popular tool for hiding your digital footprint. It allows you to browse incognito through traffic data encryption and Internet Protocol (IP) masquerading. You can read more about this here.
For some users, the level of encryption and single instance of IP masquerading provided by any regular VPN is not enough. This is why double VPN is gaining ground.
So what is double VPN for and is it worth it?
We will answer all your questions.
What is double VPN?
Double VPN is a way to encrypt your online communications twice with the use of VPN servers in different locations. It is also known as multi-hop VPN, double-hop VPN, VPN chaining, VPN waterfall, and VPN nesting.
Additionally, your virtual location also changes twice, masking your real IP address.
That way, nosy third parties have to work hard to observe and track your browsing activity.
How does double VPN work?
This is what the outgoing traffic data stream would look like:
- The VPN client encrypts the data on the device twice.
- The twice encrypted data goes to the first VPN server.
- The first server removes the first level of encryption and replaces your IP address.
- Once encrypted, the data bounces back to the second server.
- The second server decrypts the remaining encrypted data and changes the IP address again.
- The decrypted data goes to the destination site, app, or online service.
Incoming data follows the same path. Each server creates an encryption layer, and full decryption occurs locally on the device. However, some VPN providers may use a different approach.
The easiest way to take advantage of a VPN-to-VPN connection is to use a provider that offers it. However, not all VPNs have this feature built in.
Fortunately, you can replicate the level of internet privacy and security that Double VPN offers (at least to some extent) in other ways.
That is how:
Run multiple VPNs at the same time
If the provider you like doesn’t have a double-hop VPN feature, combine it with another provider.
Start two VPN apps from different providers at the same time before connecting any other programs to the Internet.
To make sure your IP address actually changes twice, do a leak test after you turn on the first one and before you turn on the second.
However, this strategy may not always work. Unless the setup is perfect, the installation is likely to fail eventually, if not initially.
Combining a VPN and a proxy
Routing your VPN connection to a browser-based proxy server may be the solution.
Similarly, you can hide your IP twice with a free VPN browser extension. Despite its name, it typically does not encrypt online communications by itself. This is why security experts consider it more of a proxy than a VPN.
Using two VPNs with a virtual machine involved
Running a VPN on a virtual machine created on a platform protected by another VPN is a smart way to anonymize your online activity.
Configuring Onion over VPN
Accessing the Internet through the onion network while running a VPN is one of the safest ways to hide your identity while browsing the web.
Tor browser (The Onion Router) favors anonymity, while VPNs advocate privacy on the Internet. Using both at the same time allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds. If you know what you’re doing, Onion over VPN can be a more powerful version of Double VPN.
Advantages of double VPN
Why is the double VPN celebrated?
The main arguments for using multiple VPN connections at the same time are:
Double VPN will not make it harder to crack the encrypted version of your web traffic. But double encryption acts as a safety net. The second level can prevent the loss of traffic data in its readable form in case the first level goes down.
Dual IP Masquerade
Since there are two geographically separated VPN servers in the mix, your VPN provider can hide the first IP address intended to hide your physical location.
The OpenVPN tunneling protocol gives you the ability to switch between User Datagram Protocol or Transmission Control Protocol modes. If you know them, playing with both can help boost your confidence.
Disadvantages of double VPN
Despite the useful benefits of dual VPN, most providers have yet to adopt it. So what is double VPN bad for?
Limited server options
Most of the time, you cannot mix and match servers for double hop VPNs. The ones optimized for this may come in tandem by design.
Some VPN providers offer this feature to help mitigate the dangers present in high-risk jurisdictions. These providers carefully select the strategic locations of their specialized dual VPN servers.
Enabling dual VPN is a bad idea if you want the fastest connection speed. Having traffic data travel through two points of encryption and using multiple VPN connections at the same time can negatively affect your experience.
Higher energy consumption
Double VPN requires a lot of resources. It’s less of a problem for connected devices, but it can drain the battery of tablets and phones.
What is the difference between Double VPN and Onion Over VPN?
As mentioned, you can think of Onion over VPN as a form of double VPN.
To illustrate the difference between Double VPN and Onion over VPN, we will explain what your online outbound communications journey would look like with the latter:
- The VPN client encrypts the data.
- Tor Browser encrypts it a second time.
- The twice encrypted data goes to the VPN server.
- The server decrypts the first level of encryption.
- Data encrypted with Tor enters the Tor gateway node.
- The Tor exit node decrypts the data upon arrival.
- The site host receives the readable data and responds.
Incoming traffic flows along the same path in the reverse direction. Encryption starts at the onion network and decryption ends at the VPN client.
You could also do the opposite and VPN Onion. This is where outgoing internet traffic goes through Tor before the VPN. Some VPN providers (which don’t even offer multi-hop VPN) support it.
However, Onion over VPN is more popular. You can set it up more easily, do more with it, and get more privacy and security on the Internet.
With Onion over VPN, your ISP will not be able to tell that you are using Tor. If you use a reputable VPN provider, you can be sure that they will not store any logs of your online activity.
Double VPN services you can trust
Among the dozens of VPNs we have reviewed, the services that come with one or more forms of VPN chaining are:
NordVPN is perhaps the most popular service on our list of the best VPNs on the market.
Double VPN is available on this provider’s Windows, macOS (OpenVPN version), and Android apps. You can enable it with one click or by manually selecting your preconfigured server pair.
NordVPN also has native support for Onion over VPN. This eliminates the need for a special browser. This is great if you want to connect to the Onion network but are not technically savvy.
scribe of the wind
Windscribe offers a so-called Double Hop, which is, in fact, a double VPN.
It is only available for desktop app users and does not offer specialized servers. The provider recommends establishing two VPN connections at the same time to mask your physical location twice by combining their client software with their browser extension.
In this arrangement, you can only benefit from Windscribe’s second IP address when browsing the web, but not when using another application.
ProtonVPN can establish multiple VPN connections through its Secure Core feature.
When activated, it connects you to a server hosted in a privacy-friendly place. It then sends the traffic data to a jurisdiction whose Internet regulations are too restrictive or whose reputation for online surveillance is known.
The company specifically developed Secure Core to improve its defense against network-based attacks and reduce the risk of connecting to a compromised server.
Secure Core is built into ProtonVPN’s Windows and Android apps. You can set it up manually on devices running on macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android.
Trust.Zone has a selection of seven interesting multi VPN server pairs:
- United States-Slovakia
- France-United States
- Canada, United States of America
This provider makes it easy to choose a pair of servers for double VPN in its Windows, Android and iOS apps, Firefox add-on and Chrome extension.
Furthermore, advanced users can also play around with this VPN to VPN feature. They can use OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, and IKEv2 tunneling protocols, as well as a dedicated IP address.
Perfect Privacy not only supports dual VPN; it is actually capable of quadrupling the VPN.
Multi-Hop allows you to encrypt your online communications up to four times, effectively blinding your ISP.
Multi-Hop is just one of the many advanced privacy and security features you can get from Perfect Privacy.
Doublehop VPN is fascinating, but it can be difficult to use, especially when you use a service that doesn’t support it natively.
Unless you’re extremely paranoid about revealing your digital footprint and exposing your identity online, you probably don’t need it.
Still, it’s nice to have the double VPN in your pocket. Consider using a service that can chain multiple servers together as you wish. After all, you can never be too sure, right?
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS.
Can a VPN be traced?
A VPN is not an invisibility cloak that can completely hide your digital footprint. Without obfuscated VPN technology, you can’t even hide your traffic from ISPs and other snoopers. This is why you should not use it for illegal activities. An influential government or organization may be able to track you down if you find yourself in serious trouble. That said, a good VPN can increase privacy and security on the Internet, especially when connecting to an unsecured network.
What happens when you use 2 VPNs?
Running a VPN client alongside another on a single device at the same time can encrypt your online communications and hide your real IP address twice. Nevertheless, the two encrypted connections are more likely to work in parallel, not sequentially. As a result, neither VPN may work properly. The best way to double VPN this way is to use a virtual machine. You can encrypt traffic data at the operating system level with a VPN, and then set up another one on a virtual machine. This arrangement can prevent encrypted connections from multiple VPNs from colliding, allowing them to work together instead of against each other.
Is a double VPN more secure?
Each additional layer of cryptography can increase your privacy and security. If you visit a site that uses HTTPS, the secure version of the core protocol used by a site and a web browser to exchange data, Double VPN will triple the level of security you already have.
Is a double VPN worth it?
Most people might find it redundant. but if you are a activist who lives in an authoritarian country or Journalist those who investigate corrupt politicians or organizations with long weapons can give you more peace of mind. So what is double VPN and what are its drawbacks? Read this article from above.