When searching the Internet for the best VPN service, you might come across tools that offer double VPN functionality. It is a feature that few VPN providers incorporate into their products to allow users to enhance their level of protection.
In this article, we are taking a closer look at double VPN connectivity to understand how it works, how it affects your IP address, and what are its exact advantages and disadvantages. Then, we are showing you how you can set up a VPN chain to boost your online privacy and security.
Let us see what topics we have planned for today (click below to jump):
- What is double VPN?
- How it works
- How it affects your IP address
- Can you set up multiple VPN connections at once?
- Advantages of double VPN
- Disadvantages of double VPN
- Other considerations about double VPN
- How to set up a VPN chain
- In conclusion
What is double VPN?
The role of a VPN service is to create a secure tunnel in which it safely transfers your data. When you connect to a VPN server, the service assigns a new IP address and encrypts your traffic to make sure that your online identity remains confidential.
If a virtual private network client supports double VPN, it means that it allows you to connect to two different servers at once.
Another way to achieve the same goal is to set up two distinct VPN services, connect to one server in one service, and then connect to another server from the second VPN client. But it is more difficult to accomplish because most VPN services are incompatible.
In addition to double VPN, you will stumble upon terms referring to similar functionality but with slightly different conditions, such as multihop, cascading, chaining, and nested chain. We will discuss them below.
How it works
When you normally connect to a VPN server, it encrypts and reroutes your data packets through its secure tunnel. What double VPN connectivity does is transfer your data via two VPN servers. Therefore, it applies encryption twice: one for each server.
Contrary to what some people may think, a double VPN does not double the encryption size mathematically. So, if your VPN service encrypts your data using 256-bit AES, then double VPN does not use 512-bit AES.
Depending on your VPN configuration, it could connect to one VPN server through 256-bit AES and then to another server using the same encryption: 256-bit AES. And two or more layers of VPN encryption are better than one as far as security is concerned.
How it affects your IP address
The main goal of a VPN service is to mask your IP address and spoof your location. With a regular VPN connection, the client borrows the IP address from the VPN server you are connected to.
Then, it broadcasts this new IP address to all the websites you are visiting, making them think you are in a different location. Your true IP address remains hidden.
However, when you use a double VPN connectivity, it hides your IP address twice. At the first VPN connection, the service drops your true IP in favor of a fake address. At the second connection, it also hides your fake IP address by assigning a new false IP.
The benefit of a double VPN configuration is that, even if someone sees through your false IP address, it will give them a false lead to another fake IP address. As such, it makes it more challenging for an interested party to detect and steal your online identity.
Can you set up multiple VPN connections at once?
It is possible to set up more than two VPN connections, depending on the set of features of your VPN provider. But, in most cases, you can find VPN services that support two or more VPN connections.
If you can pass through data traffic through more than two VPN servers, this is called a multihop VPN connection. This way, it encrypts your data multiple times, depending on how many VPN servers you use.
Advantages of double VPN
There are several benefits to using double VPN connectivity. Here are some of the most important ones:
- It increases your online privacy and security. A cyber-criminal would have a tough time hacking into all these layer of encryption to find out who you are. Also, the websites you visit will not be able to find out who you really are, so you are preserving a certain level of anonymity on the web
- Your data traffic is encrypted twice in double VPN connections and more times in multihop configurations. Encryption leads to better security for the entire computer
- Only the first VPN server you connect to knows your true IP address and location. The succeeding VPN servers will not be aware of this information. Even if someone sees through the first fake IP address, it will take them to another fake IP
- If you use the OpenVPN protocol to transfer your data traffic, you can use TCP for one VPN connection and then switch to UDP in the second connection (or the other way around). TCP is slower but bypasses more firewalls, while UDP is faster but less reliable. You can experiment with these two protocols to see which brings you optimal Internet speed
Disadvantages of double VPN
We can not overlook the disadvantages of using double VPN since this is impossible in certain scenarios. Here are the downsides of this configuration:
- A multihop VPN slows down your Internet speed more than a regular VPN connection. The more hops you make, the slower the connection will be
- This slowdown could be disastrous on unsteady Internet connections, like public Wi-Fi found in restaurants, hotels, pubs, airports
- If you are living or traveling to a country with poor Internet speed in general, you probably will not be able to use a double VPN due to the slowdown
- There are few VPN providers that support double or multihop VPN connectivity, and some of them might charge extra because of this
- If you set up a double VPN configuration by connecting to servers from different VPN providers, you must find two compatible VPN services, which is difficult. Also, you will end up paying for two monthly subscription plans instead of one, which is clearly more expensive
Other considerations about double VPN
If you wish to resort to a double or multihop VPN configuration, it means that you want to maximize your online privacy and security. But it is not enough to find a VPN service that offers this feature since there are other aspects that you should take into account.
For instance, you should never use a free VPN service, no matter how tempting it might sound. Most free virtual private network tools have weak security features, few servers, or just do not work properly. Some of them are even built to work against you. They monitor and connect data from your VPN traffic to sell it to others.
The jurisdiction of the VPN provider is important. If the company is based in a country governed by data retention laws, then it is obligated by law to keep details about your VPN traffic. If the company is located in a country part of the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes or 14 Eyes mass surveillance groups, you also risk compromising your online identity.
However, the jurisdiction is strongly tied to the company’s logging policy, which it should be honest about. Many VPN providers boldly claim a zero-logging policy, but that is impossible.
All of them collect minimal, anonymous data about application usage for future improvements, which is safe for you. But they should not collect anything that could be used to track you down, such as your true IP address and location, or the websites you visit.
Other security features that you should look out for in a VPN service are the kill switch that cuts off Internet access in case of emergency, IP leak and DNS leak protection that make sure your IP address and DNS requests are not revealed, the OpenVPN protocol that brings the best balance between security and speed, multiple device connections allowed at once, along with obfuscated servers for people who must hide the fact that they are using VPN.
How to set up a VPN chain
VPN chaining is a method used for improving your Internet privacy by using two or more VPN servers. There are several ways in which you can set up a VPN chain to take advantage of enhanced VPN protection. And here are the most common ones.
Use a VPN service that supports double VPN
As we previously mentioned, there are several virtual private network services that feature support for double VPN connectivity. But it is not usually possible to choose the pair of VPN servers. Instead, you can connect to a two-server configuration that comes bundled with the virtual private network client.
A good example for this is NordVPN, which has a special category called “Double VPN.” It has servers from various countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Canada.
To access this category, you must first select the OpenVPN TCP protocol. What’s more, NordVPN can connect you to the fastest server combination when it comes to double VPN.
It has a safe jurisdiction and logging policy, kill switch, OpenVPN support, IP leak protection, and obfuscation mode. Up to 6 devices can be connected at once. If you are interested in this virtual private network service, you can get a subscription plan for NordVPN here.
Another good example is Surfshark, which supports a double VPN connection with its “Multihop” feature. Although the name of the feature suggests that it is possible to use multiple VPN connections at once, you can not actually use more than two servers.
There are servers available in many countries, including Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It comes with a safe company jurisdiction and logging policy, private DNS and leak protection, kill switch, obfuscation mode, and OpenVPN support.
Any number of devices can be connected simultaneously. If you decide to opt for this virtual private network service, you can get a subscription plan for Surfshark here.
Switch to a cascading VPN service
Another solution for setting up a VPN chain is to use a virtual private network solution that supports multiple hops and gives you the possibility to choose the exact route of your complete configuration.
A memorable example for this type is Perfect Privacy VPN. It has a feature named “Cascading,” which allows you to set the number of hops from two, three or four (maximum). Afterward, you can explore the list of available servers and pick the ones you wish to include in your multihop route.
All you have to do is wait for the tool to connect to one server before you pick the next. Furthermore, it reveals the current available bandwidth on each server. The VPN service has a safe jurisdiction and logging policy, a kill switch, DNS leak protection, OpenVPN support, and obfuscated servers.
Also, it supports unlimited device connections to the same account. If you think that VPN cascading mode is a better fit for you, then you can get a subscription plan for Perfect Privacy VPN here.
Opt for two different VPN providers
If your VPN service does not support double or multihop VPN connectivity, then you can try connecting to a regular VPN server and then setting up a new connection using a different VPN provider. It is called nested chain, and it is a form of VPN cascading. It is tricky because most VPN clients do not work well together.
But, if you want to get foolproof results, you can use one of the VPN services in manual configuration mode and the other in native client mode.
For instance, if you have a Windows system, you should download the OpenVPN manual configuration mode of your premium VPN service. Then, load it in the OpenVPN GUI client for Windows and connect to the VPN server.
Once you do this, you can fire up the native client of your secondary VPN service and connect to a VPN server using its graphical interface. There are fewer risks of VPN compatibility issues this way.
Another solution is to use the native client mode of one VPN and the browser extension of another VPN. Start by connecting to a VPN server using the native client of your first VPN.
Then, continue by installing the browser extension of your second VPN. The downside of this mode is that the double VPN configuration will apply only to your web browser, not your entire system.
As a side note, we did not mention using the native client and browser addon of the same VPN provider because you can not usually operate them independently. If you switch to a new VPN server in your browser extension, the desktop client will automatically switch to the same server (and vice versa).
We recommend that you use ExpressVPN for the OpenVPN manual configuration mode. It is easy to install and set up. What’s more, the VPN service passes the security test thanks to safe jurisdiction and logging policy, as well as DNS leak protection. If you are interested, you can get a subscription plan for ExpressVPN here.
Install your VPN at router level and use the VPN client
It is easier to set up a VPN chain by installing your VPN at the router level and then by switching to a new VPN server in the desktop client.
Besides, you will be able to share the VPN connection with all members of your household (not the double VPN). All they have to do is join your wireless network.
To do this, you need a router that supports VPN in client mode. Otherwise, the router should allow you to replace the original firmware with an open-source third party like DD-WRT, Tomato and OpenWRT (which support VPN in client mode).
You also need a VPN service (only one), which supports OpenVPN manual configuration mode and at least two simultaneous connections.
Next, you must obtain the OpenVPN manual configuration file of your premium VPN service and apply it to your router. The only problem is that you must get the file for every VPN server you wish to use. Then, you need to access the router admin page every time you wish to change the VPN server.
To finalize the VPN chain setup, install the desktop client of the same VPN service on your computer and connect to any VPN server as you normally do. Your connection is already secured by the VPN router, so now you are simply selecting the second VPN server for your double VPN connectivity.
We think the best VPN service for this job is ExpressVPN, the highest-ranked tool on our website. It has OpenVPN manual config files that are compatible with router setup. In fact, some pre-flashed routers come with ExpressVPN support.
It allows up to 5 simultaneous device connections. Also, the service has a safe jurisdiction and logging policy, exclusive DNS, DNS, and IPv6 leak protection, kill switch, and obfuscated servers for China users. To use this VPN, you can get a subscription plan for ExpressVPN here.
Set up a virtual machine with VPN
This is probably the trickiest solution from this list because you must familiarize yourself with virtual machines if you have not used this technology before. It assumes that you have an active VPN subscription (just one) that supports at least two simultaneous connections.
The idea is to set up a virtual machine like VirtualBox (free to use) on your computer. Next, you must download and install an operating system on the virtual machine. The beauty is that you can run any OS, even one that is not compatible with your computer. For instance, if you run Windows, then you can set up a macOS virtual machine.
Once the virtual OS is installed, it will use the Internet connection of the host computer. In the following stage, you can download and install a VPN service on the virtual machine.
Switch back to the host machine and connect to a standard VPN server in your VPN. Now, launch your virtual machine, fire up the VPN client there as well, then connect to a VPN server.
The Internet connection of your virtual machine was already secured by the VPN launched on your host computer. But the new VPN connection created inside of the virtual operating system resulted in a double VPN configuration. Just keep in mind to browse the Internet using the virtual machine, not the host.
As we said, you need only one VPN service in this scenario. And, if you do not know which one to use, then we suggest going with ExpressVPN since it was the best VPN service in our tests. It comes in a lightweight file that can be swiftly unpacked to set up the VPN on your virtual machine.
Plus, it supports up to 5 simultaneous connections. The company behind ExpressVPN adopts a safe jurisdiction and no-logging policy. The service also features an emergency kill switch, obfuscation mode, private DNS, along with IPv6 and DNS leak protection. To use this service, you can get started with an ExpressVPN subscription plan here.
Use a VPN service with Tor
The last solution on our list for setting up a VPN chain involves the Tor anonymous network. It is also called “Onion over VPN.” By design, Tor already uses a multihop configuration to direct your data packets securely. So, you can use just Tor if you want multiple rounds of encryption.
If you also need your VPN service, then you can connect to a VPN server and then join the Tor network for maximized security. But this method only secures your web browsing, not the rest of your system.
If you need a helping hand with picking the right VPN service, we suggest ExpressVPN. It encourages users to join Tor and features a safe jurisdiction and logging policy.
Besides, the tool supports the OpenVPN protocol and obfuscated servers, a private DNS and DNS leak protection, as well as a kill switch and IPv6 leak protection. To use this service, you can start by getting an ExpressVPN subscription plan here.
But, if you wish to enhance the protection of your entire device, then you should consider installing Tails. It is a security-based operating system that routes all inbound and outbound connections through Tor. Also, it allows you to install your VPN service and connect to a VPN server.
If you are concerned about your online privacy and security, you should know that a trustworthy VPN service is enough. It should have a kill switch, IP and DNS leak protection, OpenVPN and obfuscated servers, as well as safe jurisdiction and logging policy.
However, if you require more peace of mind for your online activities, then a double or VPN could be a solution. As long as you have a speedy and stable Internet connection, it comes with more advantages than disadvantages.
If the VPN service allows you to connect to two or more VPN servers at once, then it is a called a multihop VPN. And, if you can choose which VPN service you can connect to, then you are dealing with cascading VPN.
Even if the VPN service does not have support for this technology, there are various workarounds you can try for setting up a VPN chain, like using two different VPN providers or joining the Tor anonymous network.
You can also install the VPN on your router and then use the native client. Or you can install a virtual machine and use the native client there.
By applying multiple rounds of encryption, the double or multihop VPN configuration keeps your true IP address and location safe from hackers. It is truly an unmissable feature for people who fear government repercussions, such as journalists, political activists, or whistleblowers.