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

Justin Oyaro

By Justin Oyaro . 10 June 2024

Cybersecurity Expert

Miklos Zoltan

Fact-Checked this


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: ExpressVPN.

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

Summary: In this article, I explore the concept of double VPNs, highlighting how they enhance privacy and security compared to standard VPNs by encrypting internet traffic twice and masking your IP address behind two servers.

I explain how double VPNs operate, their different variations, and their use cases, along with scenarios where they might not be necessary. Additionally, I outline the benefits and drawbacks of using double VPNs, recommend ExpressVPN as the best service for double VPNs, and provide a step-by-step guide for setting one up.

While double VPNs offer superior privacy and security, they can significantly reduce connection speeds, potentially impacting your browsing experience.

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 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 cascading or 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 changes 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 and 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 access 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.

Best Double VPN service

ExpressVPN is excellent because it has multiple servers with double VPN technology. It also offers split tunneling and obfuscated servers and a fast connection speed.

You can check out our list of recommended VPN services if you need more options.

How to Set Up a Double VPN?

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

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

  1. Launch the ExpressVPN 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 on your device and connect to another server.

This method will give you a double VPN, 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 hotspo with VPN tethering.

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.

A 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 a double or multi-hop VPN is a significant decrease in the connection speeds. This will affect your overall browsing experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some people found answers to these questions helpful

How does a double VPN work?

A double VPN works by using two VPN servers to encrypt traffic. 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. This technique offers better protection and ultimate privacy.

Is a double VPN safe?

Yes. A double VPN is 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, your online activities will be very safe if you opt to use different VPNs with a no-log policy.

Can authorities track a double VPN?

If the authorities have a court order, they may know you are using a VPN. They will get the VPN info from your ISP. However, they will have nothing if you use a no-log VPN provider. 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 ExpressVPN and SurfShark. Alternatively, as explained in this article, you can set up a double VPN.

Is a double VPN better than the standard VPN?

A 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 speed compared to a double VPN.

1 Comment

  • David

    April 29, 2023 1:22 am

    Justin: You need to lightly edit this piece. There are some spots that lack clarity, are somewhat ambiguous. And this comes from someone who even knows a little about what you are getting at. No offence intended — just review for the sense of it and decide.

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