5 Best Ways to Hide Your IP Address
Your IP address is like a unique public identification that lets servers on the internet know where to send back the information you requested. Many websites record your IP address and use it to personalize ads to encourage you to spend more money. This is a significant concern for some individuals, and there are ways to conceal your IP address.
Why Would You Need to Keep Your IP Address Private?
People have various reasons for hiding their IP addresses, with one of the most common being to download illegal content without being traced. However, there are many other reasons why one might want to keep their IP address hidden.
Your IP address is a sequence of numbers that identifies you online and also reveals your physical location. Consequently, hiding your IP address provides anonymity, which has numerous benefits. For example, concealing your IP address makes it more difficult for advertisers to track you online.
When you visit a website, the server you connect to registers your IP address and links it to additional data it collects about you, such as your browsing habits, what you click on, and how long you spend on a page. This information is then sold to advertising companies, who use it to tailor ads directly to you. This is why online ads sometimes appear oddly personal – they are personalized to suit your interests. Moreover, your IP address can be utilized to track your physical location even when your location services are turned off.
Hiding your IP address is also an effective way to evade government surveillance. Whether you’re attempting to avoid active spying or attempting to circumvent internet censorship in countries like China, which restrict access to certain online content, concealing your real IP will help you bypass these restrictions and gain access to blocked websites.
Concealing your IP address is an effective way to bypass less severe restrictions, such as those imposed by streaming services. Some streaming services restrict certain portions of their library based on your location. By using a different IP address, you can easily access Netflix and other streaming services, making the most of your subscriptions. Additionally, some free websites may limit access to their content based on your location.
Another reason for hiding your IP address is if you’re engaging in software piracy, such as torrenting. Agencies that combat this type of online behavior track you using your IP address and impose fines. The only way to avoid being caught and penalized is by hiding your IP address. You may also consider changing your IP address for other reasons.
Can Your IP Address Reveal Your Physical Location?
Your IP address discloses more information about your physical location than you might imagine.
For instance, I did a basic IP lookup and discovered my location, down to the area of the city in which I reside. Anyone with your IP address can do this, and while it won’t reveal your exact home address or name to everyone, anyone with access to your ISP’s customer data can locate you quite easily.
Furthermore, spying and the sale of user data aren’t restricted to websites. Under US law, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Comcast, Verizon, and others are allowed to collect information about you without your permission and sell it to advertising companies, just like website owners do. While they all claim they don’t sell customer data, it is undeniably valuable to advertising firms, and nothing legally prohibits them from doing so. This is a significant issue because half of the people on the internet in the US only have one ISP option, so for many, it’s either accept being spied on or go without internet.
What is the Best Way to Hide Your IP Address?
If you want to keep your online activities private and secure, you need to hide your IP address. There are two main ways to do this: using a proxy server or using a virtual private network (VPN). Another option is using Tor, but it’s slower and less necessary for most people.
A proxy server acts as an intermediary server that sends and receives traffic on your behalf. This means that the servers you visit on the internet only see the IP address of the proxy server and not your actual IP address. However, many proxy services are unreliable and may spy on you or insert ads into your browser.
On the other hand, VPNs are a more reliable and secure solution. When you connect your device to a VPN, it creates a secure connection that allows your device to behave as if it’s on the same local network as the VPN. This enables you to access local network resources securely, even if you’re on the other side of the world. Additionally, VPNs allow you to use the internet as if you were physically located at the VPN’s location. This can be useful when you’re using public Wi-Fi or trying to access geo-blocked websites.
When you browse the internet using a VPN, your device connects to the website through the encrypted VPN connection. The VPN server then forwards your request to the website and sends the response back to your device through the secure connection. If you’re using a VPN based in the US to access Netflix, for instance, Netflix will see your connection as coming from within the US.
In all cases, hiding your IP address involves rerouting your connection to a different location and assuming the IP address of that location. For example, if you’re in the US and want to use a Canadian IP, you can use a program or app to connect to a VPN server located in Toronto or Vancouver. However, the way your connection is rerouted and secured can vary significantly depending on the solution you choose.
Use a VPN to mask your IP address
To conceal your IP address, the optimal method is to use a virtual private network (VPN). This useful program redirects your connection via a distinct kind of server, substituting your IP with the server’s for your session’s duration. Moreover, it provides additional security and privacy by encrypting your connection.
VPNs are the answer for any motive for hiding your IP address. They can surpass any kind of obstruction, be it by governments or Netflix, keep your torrenting under wraps, and help you steer clear of advertisers. They can function on nearly any system, be it iPhone or Android, Windows or Mac, for hiding your VPN address.
Nevertheless, VPNs come with one major drawback – the cost. Most free VPNs are unreliable, so you would need to invest at least $50 annually, and more if you use a top-tier solution like ExpressVPN. Therefore, they may not be suitable for everyone.
The Onion Router, or Tor, is an alternative to VPNs for those looking to hide their IP address. Tor works by routing your connection through a network of volunteer-operated nodes, making it difficult for anyone to trace your internet activity back to your original IP address. One of the benefits of Tor is that it is entirely free to use.
However, there are a few drawbacks to using Tor. The first is that it is much slower than a VPN because it requires bouncing your connection around multiple nodes to maintain anonymity. Secondly, while Tor is secure, it’s not as secure as a VPN because it doesn’t offer the same level of encryption. Therefore, you should avoid torrenting or sending sensitive information over Tor. Lastly, Tor is unable to bypass geo-restrictions imposed by websites such as Netflix.
There is a new type of tool called decentralized VPNs that combines the best of Tor and VPNs. They are touted as the future of the internet, but it is unclear whether they are as safe as VPNs or whether they fix the shortcomings of Tor. However, they are great for streaming Netflix at little cost.
As we are discussing an alternative to VPNs and Tor, Shadowsocks which was developed by a Chinese dissident to bypass censorship in China, comes to light. Shadowsocks reroutes your connection through a server without strong encryption, making it a good option for avoiding censorship but not for torrenting.
To use Shadowsocks, you need a server to route your connection through, which can be set up easily using a program called Outline. Outline offers server setup for $5 per month, but you can also try to arrange a server through a friend in a country without censorship.
It’s important to note that while Shadowsocks may work well for avoiding censorship, it doesn’t provide the same level of security and privacy as VPNs or Tor. It’s also not a good choice for activities like torrenting that require a higher level of encryption.
Next, let’s talk about proxies, which we must mention as a VPN alternative, even though they aren’t very effective in hiding your IP address. Although proxies reroute your connection, they do not use encryption, which means they are not very secure. While they may work for unblocking websites such as YouTube at school, they are not a safe choice for other activities.
In conclusion, when it comes to hiding your IP address, VPNs are the most reliable option. Tor can be tricky to use if you’re not familiar with it, and Shadowsocks is a specialized tool. VPNs offer a broader range of features and better security. Take a look at our list of the best VPNs to find one that suits your needs.