Double VPN

What Is a Double VPN?

Double VPN is a VPN security feature that transfers your online traffic through two servers instead of one. This means that your data gets encrypted twice, making it even more complicated to decrypt. 

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Additionally, Double VPN, or the so-called server chaining technology, ensures a higher level of security to your IP address.

How Does a Double VPN Work?

Even though Double VPN, also known as multi-hop, is a complex technology, it has been built in a simple yet reliable way. Here’s a quick explanation of how it works:

  1. Your online traffic is encrypted locally on your device and transferred to the first remote VPN server.
  2. The first remote server encrypts your traffic again and transfers it to the second remote server.
  3. The second remote server decrypts the twice-encrypted traffic and sends it to the final inquiry destination completely anonymously.

So, while some robust VPNs, such as Surfshark, apply dual encryption with a Double VPN feature, it isn’t necessary. Providers, like Private Internet Access, use a VPN and proxy for a Double VPN configuration, skipping the re-encryption.

Pros and Cons of Using a Double VPN

Even though Double VPN is known for noticeably enhancing online privacy, it’s not an indispensable security feature, such as an advanced tunneling protocol. Additionally, many VPNs still hesitate to implement this feature, raising questions about its weaknesses. 

So, learning about both sides – positive and negative – is essential while getting to know technology. Here are a few Double VPN pros and cons:

Double VPN Pros

These are the reasons to use a Double VPN in your daily browsing life:

  • Improved online privacy. Using two different VPN servers to route your traffic with a Double VPN makes it much more difficult to trace your original location or IP address for the Internet Service Provider (ISP) and any potential online snoopers.
  • Enhanced security. The most noticeable advantage of a Double VPN is having two IP addresses and dual encryption, which ensure your online traffic becomes virtually untraceable. 
  • Unlocked geo-restricted content. Chaining VPN servers can make it more complicated to identify your original IP address, resulting in higher chances of bypassing geo-blocks around various websites and applications.
  • Protection on public Wi-Fi. When using public Wi-Fi, your ISP, third parties, and even hackers can easily access your data. To minimize the risk of online privacy exposure, you can use a Double VPN when connected to an unprotected public hotspot.

Double VPN Cons

You have learned that a Double VPN can enhance online anonymity and security. However, there are a few drawbacks too:

  • Slower connection speeds. All VPNs, even with one-layer encryption, impact your baseline connection speed. This means dual encryption makes it even slower, potentially resulting in a lagging network connection while streaming or torrenting.
  • Limited server selection. Most VPN providers limit their Double VPN server fleet to the US and Europe. Therefore, you wouldn’t be able to unblock Netflix Japan or other content outside the mentioned continents.
  • Isn’t compatible with Tor over VPN. While you can enable both features simultaneously, your connection speed will be so slow that browsing will be nearly impossible. 
  • Battery drainage. Even though this doesn’t apply to plugged-in devices, those who use Double VPN on the move should be aware of an increased device power consumption.

How to Set Up a Double VPN?

Setting up a Double VPN may differ among VPN providers. Nevertheless, using market-leading VPNs ensures the setup and further usage is effortless. Usually, it takes just a few clicks.

  1. Select a VPN provider that has a Double VPN feature. We selected Surfshark.
  2. Download and install the VPN app onto your device.
  3. Launch the Surfshark application and tap on MultiHop (or Double VPN in other VPNs) under the search bar.
  4. Select the location of your choice or set up a custom MultiHop location by clicking Create Connection.
  5. Connect to a chosen or a custom server combination.

When Should You Use Double VPN?

A Double VPN is necessary when the highest level of online security is needed. These are some potential situations when you should use a Double VPN instead of a regular VPN connection:

  • You’re looking for a way to avoid government surveillance. If you live or travel in a highly censored country, such as China, Iraq, or others, your online activities are constantly monitored by the government. This means that extra precautions are needed. Using a Double VPN, you can make your online traffic unreachable to the ISP and other governmental institutions.
  • You’re working with sensitive information. If you work with highly sensitive data online, it is better to use a Double VPN to minimize the risk of exposure to snoopers.
  • You’re planning to use public Wi-Fi. A Double VPN connection offers higher protection against hacking, snooping, and online identity exposure when accessing unsecured public Wi-Fi.
  • You work with media. Reporters and journalists working in dangerous zones can benefit from a Double VPN feature, ensuring their communications, geographical location, and other sensitive data are secured.
  • You’re an activist or a whistleblower. If you’re aiming for a better tomorrow, using a Double VPN is crucial, as it will help you bypass online surveillance.

Is a Double VPN Safer Than a Regular VPN Connection?

Yes, a Double VPN is safer than a regular VPN connection because it masks your identity using two IP addresses instead of one. Moreover, some VPNs offer Double VPN with dual encryption, making your data nearly untraceable.

Furthermore, a Double VPN splits your essential data between two servers, whereas a regular VPN connection holds your IP address and traffic destination on a single server. Additionally, if one VPN server fails, your identity remains protected due to a second functioning server.

Nevertheless, when weighing the impact of a Double VPN on connection speed, there are scenarios where opting for a regular VPN connection is more advisable. For example, if you want to use a VPN for torrenting, a Double VPN might make your network speed unbearable.

Difference Between Double VPN and VPN Over VPN

In a nutshell, the main difference between a Double VPN and a VPN over VPN is that the former uses two servers from the same provider, whereas the latter method uses one server from one VPN provider and the other from another VPN provider.

However, more characteristics distinguish one VPN technology from another:

  • Encryption. In a Double VPN, each server applies its encryption layer individually. Meanwhile, a VPN over VPN relies on the encryption of both VPN providers, creating a cumulative effect.
  • Traffic layering. A Double VPN consistently flows your traffic through two VPN servers, unlike a VPN over VPN, which integrates one VPN connection within another, creating a layered approach.
  • Server selection. Not all VPN servers support a Double VPN feature; on the contrary, a VPN over VPN allows you to select servers from different providers, resulting in a more flexible server selection.
  • Ease of use. A Double VPN can be a built-in feature, while a VPN over VPN requires manual configuration and technical knowledge.

The Bottom Line

A Double VPN offers unmatched online privacy by chaining two VPN servers to encrypt and route your traffic. Though it causes slower speeds, a Double VPN prevents snooping, helps to unblock geo-restricted content, and evades state-level monitoring.

For most VPN users, a trusted single VPN is enough to improve the browsing experience. But network users, like journalists, activists in high-risk regions, or those handling sensitive data, should use a Double VPN feature for maximum security.

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Michael Simon

Michael is a Tech Content Editor at Techopedia, who is passionate about delivering high-quality tech content online and ensuring the accuracy of our guides. With over a decade of experience in editorial and marketing, he has worked with leading publishers and a range of SaaS firms, gaining expertise in the tech sector. Outside of work, Michael's interests include current affairs and behavioral economics.