How to Hide Your IP Address
Your Internet Protocol address, or IP, is a unique series of numbers and decimals that divulges detailed information about your specific device and geographical location. Your IP address can also be seen by anyone on the internet, leaving you vulnerable to cybercrimes.
Luckily, there are ways around this. The most effective way to protect your privacy, and hide your IP address is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which will allocate a different IP address, tracing back to another physical location.
Best Ways to Hide Your IP Address
If you value your privacy and aren’t too fond of online censorship, hiding your IP address is the alternative. The reality is, if you don’t, internet providers, government agencies, hackers, and advertisers can see your every move.
There are a number of ways that you can hide your IP address, some are paid, and some are free. In saying that, some options are far safer than others. Keep reading to find out your options.
1. Using a VPN – Best Method For Hiding Your IP
Your computer’s IP Address will show up as a location (the one your server is physically located in). A VPN works by taking your online connection and rerouting it through a different server that could be located halfway around the world. When websites are looking to see where you are, they will see the IP Address of the new server, instead of your own.
Premium VPNs are subscription-based services that you pay each month in order to access hundreds, and sometimes thousands of servers worldwide. For the best VPN to hide your IP address, we suggest ExpressVPN. This is because there are more than 3,000 servers to choose from in 160 locations around the world. Unlike other VPN services that are known to slow your connection by as much as 60-70%, there is a 99.9% uptime guarantee. It comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can test it out for a whole month risk-free.
Once you’ve signed up for your VPN service, hiding your IP Address is unbelievably simple.
How to Hide Your IP Address Using a VPN:
- Download your VPN app onto your device. You can find Windows and Mac apps on the VPN service provider website, while the iOS and Android apps are found on the app store of your phone or tablet.
- After installing your chosen VPN, run it and sign in.
- Choose your server location and click connect.
- As soon as you’re connected to the new server, you can confirm your new IP address by Googling, “what’s my IP?” It should now be different than before.
To make sure your IP Address is completely hidden and cannot be discovered by third parties, you’ll need to make sure your VPN offers the following security features:
Private DNS servers – Premium VPNs use their own servers, instead of ones operated by your ISP, which means you won’t expose your IP address to any third parties.
Kill switch – This tool cuts off your device from the internet should your VPN connection fail for any reason, which instantly stops any data from being sent to your IP address.
Leak protection – Sometimes VPNs do leak and consequently uncover your true IP address, so look for a VPN with leak protection in the form of DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 protection.
No logs policy – Be sure that your chosen VPN service provider doesn’t keep any logs like your connection details or browsing history on record, which could be used to identify you.
*Some of the best VPNs, like ExpressVPN, use shared IP addresses, which means that your online movements cannot be tracked to one single user, adding an extra layer of anonymity.
2. Using a Tor – Good Option For Anonymity
The Onion Router (Tor) is a decentralized network that is operated by thousands of volunteers around the world. It encrypts your traffic by routing it through various volunteer nodes, which are similar to proxy servers. Your IP address, therefore, is shown as the one from the last sequence of the process, or the exit node.
Every time you visit a website, that sequence changes, making it virtually impossible to see the original IP address. You should know that using Tor will slow down your connection, which means it isn’t suitable for streaming or torrenting. Another downside is that it can be used to access the darknet and even illicit sites, so it is frequently associated with criminal activity.
Some websites won’t allow you to access their content using Tor nodes, and it’s safe to say ISPs don’t appreciate their customers using Tor either.
3. Using a Proxy Server – An Okay Free Option
Using a proxy server is another option to hide your IP address. It acts like a middleman, just like a VPN does, but it’s definitely the less secure version and not one we recommend. While using a proxy to hide your IP address from websites works, they don’t come with the security protocols and encryption standards of a premium VPN.
Another issue is that proxies don’t typically include DNS traffic, and if your proxy connection fails for any reason, your real IP will be exposed.
As proxies don’t have the security protocols and authentication of VPNs, they are also more susceptible to man in the middle attacks. This means that a hacker can pose as a proxy server and steal your online data very quickly.
4. Using Public Wifi – The Least Secure Option
This is one of the easiest ways to hide your IP address, but be warned – it is also one of the most dangerous.
Your ISP is the one that provides you with your IP address. Technically, if you were to connect through a different network, you would be assigned a completely different IP address.
If you head out to your nearest café and connect to public wifi, you will have shared access, meaning that any online activity will not be traced back to you.
It should be noted that hackers love lurking around public wifi hotspots, as it leaves the door open for malware and other digital security dangers. We only recommend using public wifi in conjunction with a VPN as it is the safest option.
Why Hide Your IP Address?
Your true IP address is revealed to every website that you visit, which can very easily be used to figure out your physical location.
Here are some of the main reasons as to why you want to hide your IP address:
- Bypass content filters, bans, and blacklisting
- Prevent web tracking
- Hide your true geographical location
- Avoiding a digital footprint
- Save money on plane tickets
- Bypassing Netflix’s restrictions based on your location
- Avoiding ad targeting
- Get around firewalls at school or work
One of the biggest reasons to hide your IP address is if you partake in activities that can lead to fines or prosecution, like streaming and torrenting. Even if a particular website doesn’t have any malicious intent, they are sharing your online activity and giving away your location.
When you hide your IP address, you are protecting your anonymity from various third parties, your ISP, and the government, who are known to track users.
Finding Your IP Address
The easiest way to go about finding your IP address is to type “What is my IP” into the Google search bar. It should look something like this: 9126.96.36.199
If you need any other information, you can visit other sites like IPLocation, which will provide you with details like the name of your ISP, your location, and maps.
The IP address mentioned above is an IPv4 address. However, there is a new protocol that is replacing IPv4 addresses. These are called IPv6 addresses. They are longer and might look something like this: 2002:0db8:75a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7234
IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses, while IPv6, on the other hand, uses 128-bit addresses. The latter was designed to avoid running out of possible addresses in the future.
The important thing to remember is that your IP address is unique to you whenever you’re online, making it easier to locate and monitor your actions.
Privacy is hard to come by today, especially on the internet. Your IP address is shown to every website you visit, and this allows tracking from third parties, your ISP, and anyone else that wants to see what you have been up to online.
It is possible to mask your IP address, and while some options are free, they come with a whole host of risks. The best choice for hiding your IP address is to use a VPN. This effective online tool will not only camouflage your true location but also come with the protocols to keep you safe online.
Alternatives like proxies and Tor might be free to use but often come with invitations for malicious codes and malware that do much more harm than good in the long run.