Want to hide your IP address? Wondering where to start? This article covers everything you need to know about IP addresses, and most importantly, how to mask your location when you want to. Keep reading to find out more!
What is an IP Address?
An IP address, or Internet Protocol, is a unique code to your device and location. It’s an identifier, and your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and websites can determine almost exactly where you are.
For the most part, your IP address is used by most websites and services for good reason. For example, if you visit Amazon, your IP ensures that you’re sent to the correct version of the site and given accurate shipping information. Unfortunately, however, IP addresses are used by websites to restrict certain content. For example, Netflix will use your IP to determine which version of the platform you receive. This can be very frustrating, especially when there are Netflix exclusives only available in other countries.
The good news is that your IP address does not reveal any of your personal details. So your name, specific home address, and other sensitive information remain anonymous.
How to Find Your IP Address
Finding your IP address is easy, and it’s the perfect way to check if it has been changed after connecting to a VPN or other IP masking tool. Head over to Google and type in ‘what is my IP address,’ and Google will tell you. It will be in a series of numbers, either in the IPv4 or IPv6 format. An example of an IPv4 IP address would be 192.0. 2.146, whereas an IPv6 is much longer, like 2001:db8:3333:4444:5555:6666:7777:8888.
Once you have followed the instructions n this guide and changed your IP address, head back to Google and search for ‘what is my IP address’ again. This time, you should see a different result.
Why Hide Your IP Address?
There are many reasons why you might want to change your IP address. One of the most common is for streaming. We’ve all seen the error messages of ‘this content isn’t available in your location’ and faced the frustration of being locked out of great content. Hiding your IP address and changing it to another location is a quick and easy way to say goodbye to geographical restrictions. We’re talking about unlimited content and no more error messages, sounds good, right?
Security is another reason to hide your IP address. Regardless of your browsing activity, nobody likes the idea of being watched. However, your Internet Service Provider and Government Agencies can access your history by using your IP address. This includes the domain names you visit, your search engine queries, and more. Therefore, the only way to enjoy completely private browsing is to mask your IP address. This makes it impossible to identify you and protects your privacy.
With so many online threats, it’s a good idea to encrypt your internet traffic and hide your IP address and actual location. There are hackers, phishing scams, and viruses out there, to name a few. You can avoid such threats and improve your user experience by hiding your IP.
Ways to Hide Your IP Address
There are a few simple ways to change your IP address, all of which are user-friendly and accessible for beginners. You don’t need to get too caught up in the complicated terminology or make any manual changes yourself; these tools and methods hide your IP effortlessly. Here is how to hide your IP address quickly and easily.
1. Use a VPN
A VPN is a security tool used for many different purposes. It encrypts your internet traffic and routes it through a different server. This helps to overcome geographical restrictions and defeats hackers and online threats. VPN services are popular, and there are many on the market to choose from. The highest-rated and most affordable include NordVPN, Surfshark, and Hotspot Shield.
Using VPNs is easy. Once you have chosen a VPN service, you have to install it onto your selected device. Most leading VPNs are compatible with all popular devices, such as IOS, Android, macOS, Windows, and Linux. You can even install a VPN on your home router, allowing for an unlimited number of device connections. Any desktop or mobile device connected to your router will be connected by the VPN and saves you from having to install it individually.
The VPN service will have a selection of servers, usually in the thousands. These will also be located across the world, giving you the chance to choose from thousands of different IP addresses. Select one of the servers and click connect – it’s that simple. You now have a new IP and are entirely undetectable.
Not every VPN can help hide your IP, and even those that do may not be very reliable. To find a VPN service that can hide your IP address without any risk, look out for these features:
- Dedicated IP addresses – Not all VPNs provide a dedicated IP, but we strongly recommend that you use one that does.
- A Network Kill Switch – A kill switch works by cutting your internet connection if there’s a drop in the VPN connection. This means that your actual IP address isn’t revealed because your internet connection is unavailable the second the VPN is. This protects you from any unwanted leaks or lapses in security.
- Leak protection – Even VPNs can have data leaks from time to time, so you need to find one that actively tries to avoid them. A VPN with leak protection will cover you for IPv6 and DNS leaks. Thus, further reinforcing the security of your masked IP address.
- No-logging policy – A no logs policy means that the VPN service does not log or save any of your identifying information. This includes your IP address. Such policies mean that the VPN couldn’t find your actual IP address, even if it wanted to.
2. Use a Proxy Site
There are websites known as ‘proxies’ that can give you quick access to a proxy server. It’s like a step in-between visiting your destination website. First, you head to the proxy website and enter your chosen URL into the in-built browser. Your IP address will then be re-routed through the proxy server.
The good thing about this option is that it’s completely free. It’s a simple option and one of the cheapest ways to hide your IP and location. The downside is that proxy servers and websites don’t come with much security. So yes, you can hide your IP address, but you can’t encrypt your browsing activity or internet connection. In fact, these proxy sites are known for advertisements and pop-ups. You may even find that it interrupts your activity and slows down your web browser. Although this is frustrating, it’s not necessarily unsafe, and it’s important to remember that the service is completely free. Ads and pop-ups are how the service is funded, so it is a small price to pay for hiding your IP address for free.
3. Use TOR
TOR is a web browser, just like Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. Although TOR is associated with the dark web, you can use the app to browse standard websites too. TOR comes with more privacy and security than the regular web browser and is designed for those with privacy in mind.
Using TOR will allow you to browse your chosen websites on any device and hide your IP address. There are no additional third-party applications or subscriptions to think about, so it’s one of the most affordable options too. The downside is that TOR is slower than many other browsers, and your ISP probably isn’t a big fan of the application. Because of its association with the dark web, Internet Service Providers would rather their users avoid it.
4. Connect to a Different Network
If you want to hide your IP address, you can connect to a different network. This could be at a friend’s or family member’s house, or even on a public wifi connection or open network. Your IP address will change every time you connect to an alternative network, as each Internet Service Provider and location will produce something. Although it’s not a very good option for the long-term, it’s a great temporary fix and is usually free.
It’s worth noting that open or unsecured networks tend to have very little security, so even though you will be using a different IP address, you could be putting your device at risk or other personal information and data. For this reason, we don’t recommend using this method unless as an absolute last resort.
5. Talk to Your ISP
Your Internet Service Provider assigns you an IP address, so that’s who you should talk to if you want to change your IP address. Remember that this is different from hiding your IP address, as it will be permanent. If you then get a ban on this newer IP, it’s unlikely that your ISP will keep changing it on request. On the other hand, it’s also likely that your new IP address will be very similar to your last, so nothing too dramatic will change.
There could be a lengthy process or even a cost involved in requesting a new IP address from your ISP, so it’s not always the first choice.
Dedicated IP Address vs. Shared IP Address
You will hear about two different types of IP addresses, especially if you’re using a VPN. This is a dedicated IP or a shared IP. So let’s take a look at the difference between the two.
A dedicated IP address is precisely that: an IP address all to yourself. It’s not shared with any other users. This is a great thing to have, especially if you plan on streaming or gaming online. In addition, a dedicated IP address means you’re much less likely to have your IP banned or blocked. If an IP address is blacklisted by a particular game, like Fortnite, for example, it means that it can never reaccess the game. Using a dedicated IP can avoid this.
Dedicated IPs are also significantly faster, as the server doesn’t need to use as much resource hosting hundreds of people on the same IP address. So you will be able to work, download or stream faster, and you won’t run into as many CAPTCHA messages or verification prompts.
On the flip side, a shared IP address is one that you share with other VPN others. You are all assigned the same IP address and share the same resources. One user’s activity can significantly impact yours; if they get the IP banned, you’ll be banned too. These are relatively common with budget VPNs but should probably be avoided where possible. Although usually more expensive, there are still affordable options out there that will provide you with a dedicated IP.
Can I Hide My IP Address from My ISP?
In short, no, you cannot hide your IP address from your ISP. Although there are many ways to hide your IP from websites, games, and streaming services, your Internet Service Provider will always know your IP address. VPN apps and proxy sites don’t change your IP address, they just hide it, and your real IP address will always be visible to your ISP.
The good news, though, is that such apps will hide your browsing habits. The websites you visit and all of the content you stream will be hidden from your ISP, as a VPN service adds an extra layer of encryption. So despite not hiding your IP from your internet company, you can at least hide your internet activity.
Is it Illegal to Hide My IP Address?
There are also some countries where VPNs aren’t allowed, such as China and the UAE. This means that the options for hiding your IP address are more limited, and VPNs cannot be used for this purpose.
Which is The Best Way to Hide My IP Address?
If you’re wondering how to hide your IP address and want to know which is the best way, we recommend a VPN. Yes, all of the other options on this page are still valid, but you should decide to go down the VPN route if you can choose.
Why? Firstly, because a VPN will not only hide your IP address but will protect your privacy, encrypt your traffic, and make the entire network safer for you to use. They are user-friendly, quick to install, and can give you an IP address from almost any country globally, including The United States, The UK, Canada, Australia, and many more.
What Information Do IP Addresses Reveal?
The first thing that an IP address reveals is which Internet Service Provider you use. The second thing is your approximate location. In some cases, IP location can be pretty precise, including down to street level.
There have been instances of law enforcement using IP addresses to catch cybercriminals. However, it’s worth noting that illegal online activity is still unlawful whether or not you’re hiding your IP address or connecting to another server.