What is a Double VPN, and Why Should You Use One?

Updated: 3 September 2021
Updated: 3 September 2021

Miklos Zoltan

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In this article, you will learn everything there is to know about double VPNs.

Quick Summary
A double VPN offers ultimate security than that of a standard VPN. It also offers better privacy by completely masking your IP address. Hence, a double VPN gives you comprehensive security and anonymity when you are browsing the internet.

Currently the best VPN with a double VPN feature is: NordVPN.

Without further ado, let us get a deeper insight into what a double VPN is, how it works, how to set it up, its use cases, and its pros and cons.

What is a Double VPN?

Double VPN

A double VPN offers advanced privacy and security. It encrypts your internet traffic twice, and your IP address is masked behind two servers. Unlike a standard VPN that routes data through a single VPN server, a double VPN tunnels your internet traffic through two VPN servers.

How does a double VPN work?

Here is a step-by-step outline of how the double VPN works.

  1. The VPN app in your device encrypts the outgoing internet traffic. (first encryption)
  2. The encrypted outgoing traffic is transmitted to the first VPN server.
  3. The first VPN server again encrypts the outgoing traffic (second encryption). The first server also masks your actual IP address.
  4. The re-encrypted data is then transmitted to the second VPN server.
  5. The second VPN server decrypts your traffic and sends it to its destination. The destination will see the IP address of the second server.

For incoming internet traffic, the process is reversed. The two VPN servers will encrypt the traffic twice. The re-encrypted data from the internet will then be decrypted entirely by the end-user device.

Double VPN variations

Nowadays, some providers implement variations that rely on the double VPN technique. The most popular variation is known as multi-hop. Multi-hop VPNs use more than one server. Multi-hop VPN uses the cascading or the nested chain approaches.

A primary server is used in the cascading approach with two or more servers of the same VPN provider. In the nested chain approach, two or more servers of different providers are used. In both approaches, your internet traffic is re-encrypted, and the IP changed at every hop.

Double VPN Use Cases

A double VPN is helpful in cases where complete anonymity and impeccable security on needed. Use cases include:

When to avoid using a double VPN?

Despite offering maximum privacy and security, there are some cases where a double VPN is not necessary. These include:

  • When using the Tor over VPN – your speed will be very slow.
  • When you need high speeds – such as for video streaming and gaming.
  • For everyday private browsing (unless you are doing sensitive tasks).

Benefits and Disadvantages of Using a Double VPN

Here you will learn about the advantages vs. the disadvantages of using a double VPN.

Benefits of double VPN

  • Double encryption: This means your internet traffic has an extra layer of protection. This makes it twice harder for cyber attackers to decrypt and gain access to your online activities.
  • Enhanced security: A double VPN implements dual protocols such as the OpenVPN TCP and UDP protocols. This protocol cocktail increases your VPN security.
  • Enhanced IP masking: Anyone tracking your IP address will only get the second server’s IP address. Your actual IP address will be perfectly hidden even from the second server. This provides better anonymity protection.
  • Complete geo-location privacy. The double VPN routes your internet traffic through different servers in different geographical areas. This prevents prying eyes such as hackers, your ISP and even government agencies from knowing your whereabouts.

Disadvantages of double VPN

The major drawback to double VPN is the huge encryption overhead. The results of this encryption overhead include:

  • Slower connection speeds: Multiple protocols and re-encryption will have a significant impact on your overall internet speed.
    Hence you won’t be able to undertake speed intensive tasks. Additionally, you cannot use Tor over VPN due to the slow speeds.
  • Heavy power consumption on mobile devices: Devices that rely on battery power, such as smartphones, will experience faster battery drains. You maul also notice overheating.
  • Limited server choices: Most VPNs that offer the double VPN functionality offer limited double VPN servers.

How to Set Up a Double VPN?

You can set up a double VPN using two methods. The first one involves subscribing to a VPN provider that offers double VPN functionality, such as NordVPN or ExpressVPN.

Here is how to use the double VPN functionality on NordVPN.

  1. Launch the NordVPN app.
  2. Click on Specialty servers in the app.
  3. Next, click on Double VPN.

You can manually select the servers by clicking the three dots. The dots are visible when you hover your mouse on the double VPN section.

The second method involves using two different VPN providers. You will have to install one VPN on your router and the other VPN on your device. The VPN on your router will encrypt the Wi-Fi connection from the router. Once you connect your device, launch the other VPN in your device and connect to another server.

This method will give you a double VPN which is either cascaded (same VPN provider) or nested (different VPN provider). If you don’t have a compatible router, you can install the VPN on a PC and share the VPN connection like a hotspot.

Wrap Up

A double VPN involves the use of two VPN servers simultaneously. This allows your traffic to be re-encrypted and your geo-location hidden behind two IP addresses. It is also possible to simultaneously use multiple VPN servers in a multi-hop VPN connectivity.

Double VPN offers more privacy and security compared to a regular VPN. This is through the re-encryption process. However, one major setback of using double VPN is a significant decrease in the connection speeds. This will affect your overall browsing experience.

Additional VPN Guides:

Guides on Specific VPN Use-Cases:


How does a double VPN work?

Double VPN works by using two VPN servers to encrypt traffic. This technique offers better protection and ultimate privacy. Your traffic will bounce through the two servers, which will mask your IP address. Hence, you get to be anonymous when surfing the internet via the VPN.

Is a double VPN safe?

Yes. A double VPN is entirely safe, and you can use it to achieve maximum privacy. Your IP address is hidden between two servers, and your traffic is re-encrypted. Also, if you opt to use different VPNs with a no-log policy, your online activities will be very safe.

Can authorities track a double VPN?

If the authoties have a court order, they may know that you are using a VPN. They will get the VPNs info from your ISP. However, if you are using a no-log VPN provider, they will have nothing. The VPN cannot give what it doesn’t have. In this case, your online activities.

It’s very important to note, however, that while using a VPN, you will compromise your security by logging into online accounts associated with your identity.

How do I get a double VPN?

To get a double VPN, identify VPN providers that offer the double VPN functionality. Download their VPN applications and get connected. The most popular ones include NordVPN and SurfShark. Alternatively, you can set up a double VPN, as explained in this article.

Is a double VPN better than the standard VPN?

Double VPN offers better privacy and security than a standard VPN. However, due to double encryption, it is a bit slow. A standard VPN provides enough protection and a relatively fast VPN speed compared to a double VPN.

Written by: Justin Oyaro

Connect with the author:

Tech and Cybersecurity Expert Justin is a cybersecurity expert with over 5 years of experience that stretches across various technological realms. He is a valued expert in cybersecurity, Cord-cutting, Cryptocurrency, Smartphones, How-tos and other related fields. Justin has written authoritative content for multiple Cybersecurity websites and blogs on matters regarding privacy and security. He also does pen test on tech products such as smartphone applications and websites. When he is not writing, Justin spends most of his time on the latest tech trends and Android Studio. Justin is also a degree holder in Information Systems Technology and Master of Computer Applications (M.C.A.), University of Adelaide.

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