Whether you are a privacy enthusiast or a true VPN newbie, one thing you may already have heard about is a double VPN, but perhaps the whole concept behind this remains a bit confusing or even totally unknown.
It is actually quite easy to understand, however, so let us explain: a double VPN is a feature that currently only a few companies provide and is aimed at providing extra protection. This means going further than is typical with most VPN services when it comes to privacy, namely in shielding your connections with stronger, double encryptions.
The result of such a method is that even if someone had master hacking skills, the will and – most of all – the patience to crack a military-grade encryption, they would have to go through the whole process again to finally find your real location and accurate data. And, honestly, this is entirely impossible.
How it Works
One thing we need to make clear is that just because it’s called ‘double encryption’ doesn’t mean that the encryption level itself is doubled – in other words, the top-tier AES 256-bit encryption doesn’t just become AES 512-bit. Double VPNs apply the same level to every connection, only twice instead.
To explain, once a VPN is activated your connection is then routed via an encrypted tunnel through one of the company’s servers in the country that you have selected – commonly using an AES-256 encryption connection once. The magic of a double VPN happens by redirecting the traffic from that first server to another secondary one in a different country or city, which in turn re-applies the encryption. Think of this as wearing an extra pair of socks when your feet get cold, for instance.
This alone ensures an unlimited level of anonymity, because the data that the second servers receives was changed on the first server, and has therefore been scrambled and encrypted one time already.
Pros and Cons
The biggest advantage provided by a double VPN is this greater level of security, which is vital for journalists, political activists and other people working and living in authoritarian regimes where internet usage is heavily monitored and censored.
For instance, let’s say a website can see your real location even with a VPN turned on, which can happen due to DNS, IP and various other kinds of leaks. With a double VPN it would be impossible for that website to pinpoint your true location since, even if a leak did happen, the few seconds of that exposed traffic would look like it belonged to the first VPN server. And the same happens to intrusive ISPs, too; they cannot look past the first server you connect to, let alone the second one.
On the other hand, there are some disadvantages, too. One of them is that this is not something people usually look for when purchasing a VPN merely for accessing geographically blocked websites or services, which makes it a feature only a handful of providers like NordVPN or Doublehop.me offer. Because of this the feature is also typically restricted to the exclusive most complete and expensive plans – though in the case of NordVPN it doesn’t charge any extra for it. However, the biggest problem is the major speed decrease.
It is no secret that the heavier the encryption the slower the connection speed becomes, so if you want to stream or watch a show online then a double VPN might not be much help at all. This strongly depends on each user’s own ISP provided speed: those with great speeds may not even feel the effects of the default encryption, while those customers with slower, more restricted bandwidths may struggle to stream anything even without a double VPN connection.
But a double encryption will severely impact any kind of connection, which may turn a simple Google search in an infuriating process. Fortunately, high-grade providers usually offer this as a complement to their default connections, so it’s possible to switch between a simple and a double VPN as and when the need arises.
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