Should You Use Two VPNs at the Same Time?

VPN enthusiasts are continuously exploring ways to elevate their privacy and security levels. One of the most popular solutions is to use multiple VPN services simultaneously. But is doubling up on VPNs a practical strategy? At first glance, the answer is straightforward: yes, you can operate various VPNs side by side. However, the complexity lies in the execution, making it more appropriate for those with a solid technical background.

The idea of layering VPNs might seem appealing, but the reality is that the advantages are minimal. While installing numerous VPN applications on a single device is feasible, attempting to use them in tandem often leads to technical snags. Fortunately, for those who aren’t as versed in tech, there are simpler yet equally effective alternatives available.

What Happens When Several VPNs Are Active?

Initiating multiple VPN connections simultaneously extends beyond merely installing and activating two VPN services. Attempting this often leads to a routing issue, where the VPNs conflict, competing for dominance. Typically, only one prevails, leaving the other ineffective.

A VPN establishes its connection by creating several routing entries, essentially instructing your internet traffic to prioritize its tunnel. When a second VPN attempts to establish a similar set of rules, it encounters pre-existing routing entries, sparking a conflict.

Implementing Dual VPNs Correctly

Venturing into dual VPN usage introduces complexity. It’s a process that requires manual adjustments in the VPN configuration files, particularly for OpenVPN setups.

Instal a virtual machine

Using two VPNs at once can be efficiently achieved by operating one on your main system and another within a virtual environment. Start by installing a virtual machine (VM) software on your computer, then integrate OpenVPN into this VM. Through this setup, your online activities first pass through the VPN on your host system before routing through the VPN in the VM, establishing dual layers of security.

This double-tunneling method does have a downside: it can significantly reduce your internet speed due to the additional encryption and longer routing path. Each added layer of VPN encryption will further decrease speed.

Do it through your router

The same principle applies to VPN routers, which can manage multiple VPN connections simultaneously. For this, each connection must be configured with unique DNS settings, typically under an “Accept DNS Configuration=Exclusive” setting.

However, it’s important to note that not all VPN services support such configurations. Using multiple VPNs might also contravene the service terms, risking account termination.

A Simpler Alternative: The Double VPN

Double VPN is a feature some VPN providers offer, such as NordVPN’s “Double VPN” or Surfshark’s “MultiHop“, to enhance online privacy. This service routes your internet traffic through two VPN servers, encrypting it twice and using only one VPN provider.

Internet traffic being routed through two VPN servers

This setup achieves the advanced security that double encryption offers, but it eliminates the need for multiple VPNs.

Advantages of the Double VPN

The double VPN significantly enhances your online privacy and makes it nearly impossible for anyone to monitor your internet activities. This feature is convenient for privacy-sensitive tasks like P2P, as it encrypts your data twice and routes it through two different servers. It establishes a strong defense against any form of surveillance or data interception.

Even if one server’s connection drops momentarily, you still have a second layer of security protecting you, and your real IP address and location are concealed. This adds an extra security barrier, making it nearly impossible for external parties to breach.

Disadvantages

The drawback of the double VPN feature mirrors the concerns we’ve touched upon with using two VPNs. As your traffic navigates through two VPN servers, it undergoes double encryption, which can noticeably slow down your internet connection.

When Should You Use a Double VPN?

While a double VPN may not be needed for every type of online activity, it can help protect your identity when transferring sensitive data.

For example, journalists working in countries with strict censorship laws and government watchdogs may need to mask their IP addresses behind two encrypted servers.

Final Thoughts

Wrapping up, the subject of multiple VPNs and the double VPN feature underscores the balance between enhanced security and practical usability. While layering VPNs offers heightened privacy, it comes with complexities and potential speed reductions, making it less suited for everyday use.

The double VPN, offered by some providers, presents a more user-friendly alternative. It provides robust protection without the need for technical expertise. Ultimately, the choice between these options should be guided by your specific privacy needs, technical comfort level, and the nature of your online activities.