5 Ways to Hide Your IP Address That Really Work

how to hide your ip address

Now… we’re not going to ask why you want to hide your IP address or why you want to know how to hide an IP address. Although most people have a legitimate reason for doing so, not everybody does. We’re big privacy advocates–we leave you to do your business!

When you know what you are doing and which tools to use, hiding your IP address is very simple. That is exactly what we are going to teach you how to do here.

Below are 5 simple methods for hiding your IP address that are guaranteed to work.

What Is an IP Address?

An IP address is a string of numbers unique to your network. They are separated by dots and are used to identify each and every computer or device that is using the Internet Protocol (hence the name IP address) to communicate over a network.

Simply put, it enables a system to be identified and recognized by other systems.

It is not just other systems that can see your IP address, though. Your ISP, government agencies, innocent third-parties, and even hackers can all come across it when it is exposed and there are many ways this can happen.

When the right person gets ahold of your IP address, what they can find out about you is virtually limitless depending on how extensively you use the internet. Your identification, location, what you do on the internet, banking information, and even browsing habits can all be exposed.

Therefore, it makes sense to hide your IP address when using the internet.

How to Check Your Current IP Address

This guide wouldn’t be much use if you had no way of checking if your IP address has changed. Luckily, this can easily be done by performing a quick Google search.

Open Google and type in “What is my IP” and make note of the information that comes up.

Here’s an example of the result you will be shown. You will need to know what your public or unmasked IP address is later so you can check to see if you have done everything right and that it has changed.

But First—Why Should I Hide My IP Address?

Just because somebody wants to hide their IP address doesn’t mean that they are up to no good. In fact, an increasing number of people are turning to IP-hiding tools simply to protect their privacy while they are online or to access geo-blocked content, among other innocent activities such as–

  • Hiding their location from prying eyes,
  • Accessing region-locked content on Netflix or BBC iPlayer,
  • Protecting from attacks,
  • Accessing censored content in countries such as China, and
  • Stopping the collection of data by third-party advertisers.

The thing is, when your IP address is not hidden from prying eyes, there is the potential for your privacy and data to be infringed by a motivated hacker or agency that has an end goal.

By masking or hiding your IP address, particularly when you mask it often with an IP that is always changing, you eliminate the chance of being identified and having your internet activities monitored by third parties.

5 Quick and Simple Ways to Hide Your IP Address

These are 5 methods that anybody can use. Each one is different and has its own pros and cons.

1. Use a VPN service—the best way

The easiest, best, and most consistently reliable way to change an IP address is to subscribe to a good VPN service.

A VPN service not only hides your IP address but also encrypts your traffic and sending it through a secure tunnel. When your traffic ‘leaves’ the tunnel on the other side, it gets decrypted.

To do this, you use your VPN client to connect to one of the VPN’s servers, often located in another country, with its own IP address. This will mask your own IP address by assigning the VPN’s IP to you.

This spoofs your location and anybody watching your traffic will not be able to see what you are doing, and anybody looking at your IP will see the VPN’s IP.

Setting up a VPN client takes but a matter of minutes. In fact, it is choosing one that is often the hardest part.

Luckily, we have you covered with our VPN top list—we have spent lots of time comprehensively reviewing over 100 different providers so that you don’t have to. Many of the best VPNs offer 7 to 30-day money-back guarantees and free trials, too!

Curious? Here is our guide on how to set up & use a VPN.

2. Use public Wi-Fi—there’s risk here

Your IP address doesn’t travel with you, it is unique to your home network.

When you connect to public Wi-Fi, therefore, you are assigned a new, public IP that cannot be traced back to you or your browsing habits. If you spend a lot of time using Wi-Fi in coffee shops and other public places, this is worth knowing.

Image courtesy of Amvia

Be careful, though—public Wi-Fi networks are inherently insecure, and we absolutely do not recommend using them for anything that is private or sensitive.

In fact, we recommend using a VPN whenever you are connected to a public network. Still, this is one of the methods you can use to temporarily have a different IP address.

3. Use the Tor Network—you can even go to the dark web

TOR—The Onion Router—is a free internet browsing client that, when used properly, connects you to a network of servers that anonymizes your web traffic.

So long as Tor is used in line with best usage practices, you can remain anonymous most of the time without having to worry about being spied on or having your information compromised.

Tor is sometimes referred to as the “dark web” (as a misnomer) because it is probably the default go-to browser for illicit activities, but let’s not forget all the people fighting oppression from government censorship. And you can also use the regular “surface web” with it, too.

Image courtesy of Tor

Some people may want to avoid using it because it comes off a bit intimidating.

Using Tor is perfectly legal, and many privacy-conscious users opt for the browser to keep their information out of the hands of marketers. In fact, Tor was launched under U.S. military supervision and still receives government grants today.

For more information about Tor, check out the links below:

4. Use a proxy—relatively slow

Most people are probably familiar with proxies from their days at high school when they were a popular choice for getting around website blocks to access sites such as YouTube.

Although they are not so widely used today, they are still decent tools that can act as an intermediary between your internet traffic and its destination by changing their appearance as they travel through the proxy server.

When visiting a website through a proxy, the proxy server intercepts your traffic and handles your connection to whichever site you are visiting by mirroring your behavior.

So, if you want to visit, say, an American news site in China (something that would probably be blocked by the Chinese government), the proxy server would manipulate your traffic and access the website for you, mirroring all the information from the page back to you.

While proxies are useful, the way they operate—as we just said, by mirroring traffic—makes them quite slow and, in some cases, virtually unusable.

You may think this sounds quite similar to what a VPN does, but proxies lack many of the features that make up a good VPN—

  • Speed
  • Security and encryption
  • Access to certain geo-blocked content such as Netflix
  • Free choice of servers

They don’t even come close to a VPN and we always recommend using one for virtually any situation where you want to hide an IP address, among other things.

5. Tether your computer to your phone’s hotspot—a bandaid solution

This is something you could do as a last resort or if you need to change your IP quickly but only temporarily, particularly if you think you may have been compromised.

Your phone’s IP address will be different from the IP address for your home network. Most smartphones now allow other devices to be “tethered” to them. This creates a mobile hotspot on your phone that allows nearby devices to share the data connection on your phone.

Note: If you do this, though, make sure that you are using your phone’s mobile data and aren’t connected to your Wi-Fi network!

Tethering your laptop or computer to your mobile data is only really useful in an emergency situation. It is definitely not a long-term solution.

Not only are mobile data networks unencrypted (your mobile data provider can see everything you are doing!) but it is very easy to rack up expensive bills if you don’t have an unlimited plan. Data-intensive processes can very quickly eat through gigabytes of mobile data.

Hiding IP Addresses is Simple

All the above solutions will hide an IP address when implemented properly. Remember to always, always double check that your IP address has changed when you try out one of the above solutions just in case. You don’t want to compromise yourself.

Our top recommendation is using a VPN. It is by far the simplest, easiest, and most reliable way to not only change your IP address but encrypt all your internet traffic so that it cannot be collected, spied on, or intercepted by third-parties.

That is, of course, if you use a good VPN.

A good VPN will always do all these things without logging any of your data or usage information (this is known as a “zero-logging policy”). Best of all, they are available at budget-friendly price points.

If you are interested in checking out some great VPNs, these are our top three picks—

  1. ExpressVPNthe best all-around VPN service
  2. NordVPNover 5,000 different servers worldwide
  3. Private Internet Accessvery cheap and has won court cases

All of these can either be tried out for free with a dedicated free trial or by taking advantage of their money-back guarantees.

What is a Proxy?

One of the most common ways of circumventing a network is by using a proxy server. A proxy server is an intermediate node between the user and a site.

It’s like a vegetable strainer. Proxy servers allow water to pass through but make sure your broccoli doesn’t fall into the sink.

In addition to bypassing locks, some proxy servers ensure visitor’s anonymity. Your personal information remains safe since your real IP address won’t be logged by the website.

Using a proxy is like wearing a mask. Websites can’t know that you visited them. Instead of your IP, the site sees the proxy’s IP.

If you’re concerned about anonymity using a proxy is one of the finest methods to keep your privacy.

Or, maybe you’re someone who finds themselves IP banned from a site. Simply connect to a proxy server and you’ll be able to visit the site once again.

How Does a Proxy Work?: The Nuts and Bolts

Every computer has a unique IP address, which is akin to a name tag. The IP address enables websites to identify you. It tells them your country and region, your internet service provider, and some information about the personal computer you’re using.

Proxy servers are also assigned unique IP addresses. When you connect to a proxy you’re taking on the identity of the proxy’s unique IP address. While your unique IP remains hidden.

To connect to a proxy you need to configure a few settings in your browser. These settings dictate how you send requests to a site.

Once connected, every time you access a web page your computer will first contact the proxy server. And the proxy server will contact the website. That’s the middleman handoff that proxies take care of.

After connecting to the proxy all subsequent network connections will be made to the IP address of the proxy server.

Types of Proxy Servers: Shapes and Sizes

Here are the major types of proxy servers:

  • HTTP Proxies are designed to work with web pages. Websites will see that you’re accessing their site through a proxy. The data of the transmitted traffic is sent to the server. HTTP proxies are only used for browsing the web.
  • SOCKS Connection is intended for any applications that are running on an external server. For example, you can configure ICQ, IRC or an email client to run through a proxy server. Keep in mind that you need to set up a separate connection for each.
  • CGI stands apart. These proxy servers do not require a browser configuration. And they allow you to open a website, or other resources, directly through the CGI site. That means your anonymity is guaranteed to be safe. This method is also one of the easiest to get running. You don’t need technical knowledge.

It may seem like it would be much faster to use free proxy servers. You can find many lists of free proxy servers through a simple Google search. Although, not everything is a simple as it might seem.

There is no guarantee that a free proxy server will maintain your anonymity. Nor can you determine just how anonymous the server makes you. Even still, free proxy servers rarely offer high speed and a stable connection.

The worst part? Free proxy servers typically don’t remain hidden from a competent system admin. So what happens? Those free proxy servers end up on a blacklist.

All these issues clearly lead to numerous inconveniences. If you want to use a proxy frequently, and with reliability, you’re better off with a paid proxy server.

Such servers are typically inexpensive. And the number of blacklists a paid proxy server is likely to be on should be minimal.
Keep one thing in mind when using a proxy server: network anonymity and an anonymizer are not the same things. It’s much more difficult to maintain your security when connected to a network that confuses addresses.

And no proxy server will make you completely anonymous. They simply complicate the process of uncovering your identity. Still, hackers are less likely to jump through multiple anonymous networks to attack you when there are plenty of unsecured connections to go after.

Benefits of Using a Proxy

Why do people use proxy servers? What benefits do you get when using them?

Let’s break it down:

  • Proxy servers are supported by the majority of web browsers.
  • Convenient traffic accounting and filtering (when integrated with antivirus software).
  • The ability to work with minimal rights on any operating system.
  • Significant increase in security since other protocols cannot access your network.

For the reasons mentioned proxy servers prevail in enterprises.

And this is despite the growth of relatively inexpensive hardware routers with the NAT function. But that’s because routers are not able to provide adequate control over your internet connection. Nor are they great at content filtering.

Hence, why so many people have turned to proxy servers.

After all, good proxy servers enable you to access any resource no matter where you are. Meaning you can stream Netflix outside the home. Which is great for travelers.

Or, if you have a corporate network using a proxy makes controlling traffic much easier. This is especially true if you’re extra-cautious about data leakage. Because when you connect to a proxy server you don’t reveal personal information nor are you transmitting data directly from your device.

But, remember, a proxy server will not protect from any criminal activities. Or any organization interested in monitoring online interactions, e.g. the government.

Risks of Using a Proxy

Many anonymous proxy servers are designed to track the activity of their users. So while they claim to be protecting you, they’re still collecting information about you.

Therefore, it’s best to avoid questionable proxies, especially free servers.

Remember, when you connect through your ISP to a website, or server, only that node can track your activities.

With a provider, your anonymity is guaranteed… to a point.

If a proxy provider works with government agencies your activity monitored in the interest of national security.

Then again it’s not just governments that spy on the data users transmit. Third-party organizations do as well, for their own purposes: often for advertising.

The main function of proxy servers is to filter information. To act as a buffer.

But an organization that provides anonymous proxy services can capture any user information that’s transmitted. This information can be linked to your account for further identity tracking.

Also, previously captured viewing patterns may allow snoopers to paint a picture of your online activity.

What’s the lesson?

Use a proxy with caution. Choose only proven service providers that provide the best security at an affordable price.

Proxy vs. VPN

Here is the difference between a proxy server and a VPN:

  • VPNs works on the top of the main Internet connection. All programs on the device are connected to the Internet via a virtual private network.
    A proxy can be configured individually for a specific application. The proxy does not affect the connection between other programs.
  • The VPN connection is more secure because of different methods of encryptions. On top, there are additional IP and DNS protections in place.
    The proxy connection is usually protected with encryption of HTTPS traffic.

When using a premium VPN service you don’t have to worry about information leakage. All network traffic is securely encrypted and your real IP address is hidden. You can find out which VPNs you can use from our list of the best VPNs.

Hence why VPN services are often more expensive than proxy servers.

But wait? What’s the difference between a VPN and VPS?

A Virtual Private Server (VPS) is a place to host your website. It gives you root-level access to the server while maintaining hardware sharing. Meanwhile, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a way to securely and anonymously surf the Internet.

VPNs and proxies serve a similar purpose. But they use different implementation mechanisms.

If you just want to access information that has geographic limitations then a proxy is what you need.

If you need full access to confidentiality and traffic encryption on top of what a proxy can offer, then the best solution will be using a VPN.

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