If you keep track of VPN trends, you might have come across a new concept called “double VPN.” As the term suggests, it means adding a second layer of VPN privacy to a regular VPN service. There are many ways to achieve it, and a handful of VPN providers have already introduced this new feature.
The question is whether having double VPN can offer any real benefits to the user or whether it’s just hype? More importantly, how does one set up such an unusual connection? Here we cover all the different ways to do it.
Note: this tutorial assumes you know how to use a commercial VPN service. If you are new to VPN, learn about the basics of VPN here.
What Exactly Is a Double VPN?
The task of a VPN is to add a secure, encrypted tunnel between your device and a destination server. A double VPN, on the other hand, uses at least two such encrypted tunnels which are placed back to back between the device and the destination server. When more than two VPN servers are involved, we can use terms such as “VPN chains,” “VPN cascades,” or a “multihop VPN.”
The double VPN arrangement can be of the following types, which have been covered below with illustrated examples:
- a VPN provider offering two or more “hopping” servers
- two VPN providers having separate VPN servers
- a regular VPN server along with a proxy/extension
- a regular VPN server along with a VPN installed on a virtual machine
- a regular VPN server along with an onion router such as “Tor.”
1. Find a VPN Provider with Double VPN Feature
A few commercial VPN providers have introduced a double VPN feature which uses two servers together, and the traffic is routed between the source and destination in a round-robin format. For example, nordVPN offers a dedicated “double VPN” category on its app.
Once connected, the second VPN server becomes your default IP address, and the first one remains hidden one layer deep.
However, if you use a different VPN provider which doesn’t have this feature, you can still use Double VPN. We will demonstrate this capability using ExpressVPN, which does not have any double VPN feature at the moment.
2. Use Two Different VPN Providers
For privacy reasons, it is better to hide both VPN servers from the respective VPN providers. If you have purchased two VPN services, you can use them sequentially. First, use your regular VPN provider and ensure the new IP address reflects the change.
Following this, download another VPN provider’s app. Make sure the earlier VPN’s IP address is showing in the second app. Connect to the new VPN.
Start surfing with the new VPN provider, which will not have any information about your real IP address. The only disadvantage is that the surfing speed may be very slow, so it’s not a method we recommend. Plus, it’s more expensive to use two commercial VPNs.
3. Use VPN with a Browser Proxy/Extension
One of the efficient ways to use double VPN is to use a regular VPN with a browser proxy or VPN extension. For example, after starting a remote protocol on your regular VPN, you can download a Chrome extension called uVPN which is free to use and is reliable in terms of connectivity.
The new IP address will be of the Chrome extension, but your real IP address is hidden behind the regular VPN solution.
4. Use VPN on a Virtual Machine
If you want to greatly increase your anonymity, the best way to do it is by using VPN on a virtual machine. We have a detailed tutorial on how to create a virtual machine on Windows 10.
The process is time-consuming, but using VPN on a virtual machine completely isolates your online activity from the real system, which is hidden behind another VPN server.
You can use the same VPN provider in both the real and the virtual machines.
5. Use VPN with Onion Routing
If you don’t want to deal with speed issues while using double VPN, it’s best to use your regular VPN with an onion routing service such as Tor network. After enabling the VPN server, download the Tor software for your operating system. Click “Connect” to start with a double VPN feature.
Normally, ISPs can track when you are entering or exiting a Tor node. But with this double VPN arrangement, they cannot see your activity on Tor network. This is also relatively faster than the other methods.
Pros and Cons of Double VPN
Since the encryption happens twice in double VPN, the level of privacy and anonymity is definitely better. Basically, the second VPN server is not aware of your real IP address, which makes it impossible for websites, trackers, and surveillance agents to trace you.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of double VPN is that you can protect your online activity from the VPN provider itself. By mixing VPN servers, you can keep your data confidential whether or not there is a “no logs” policy. Double VPN should only be used for extra-secure online surfing. It is recommended to use a Tor or proxy along with a regular VPN, as it gives more stable, consistent performance than the other methods listed here.
To get started, you will need to sign up for a VPN service first. Here are things you should look for when choosing a VPN provider. Also, check out the fixes for when your VPN is not connecting.