Updated · Mar 22, 2023
How to Hide Your IP Address - Made Easy for Beginners
Updated · Jan 27, 2023
Imagine you want to mail a letter to a friend. You’ll need to find out where she lives to reach her.
On the internet it’s the same way - you still need to somehow locate the other person’s device to communicate with them.
The Internet Protocol (IP) address makes this possible.
Each device on a network has a unique IP address. It tells others of its virtual location, paving the way for a seamless exchange of information.
Now, you might be thinking:
“All this looks harmless. Why, then, would I worry about things like how to hide my IP address.”
Well, in the perfect world you wouldn’t need to — just like you wouldn’t worry about a burglary in that ideal world.
Still, you do lock your house to deny bad guys an entry.
Concealing your IP address is the internet’s equivalent of that.
Otherwise, others can discover your city, state, and ZIP code from just your IP address. Creepy, isn’t it? (Yup, those innocuous digits in your IP address tell all this!)
Furthermore, if they know your IP address, hackers can gain access to your computer, which is never good.
Sounds scary — right?
As I said, it is a good idea to mask your IP address.
4 Additional Reasons To Conceal Your IP Address
If you’re still not convinced, here are a few more compelling reasons.
1. Negate any bans of IP addresses
Have you ever been on a vacation in another country and found you can’t watch your favorite Netflix series?
It sucks! (I know.)
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
You can use a DIY “how to hide IP address” solution and enjoy your favorite video streaming just like home.
In a similar fashion - at home, you can get a foreign IP address to watch content that’s off-limits in your home country.
2. Get past censorship
Has your government declared certain parts of the internet out of bounds? As a student are you unable to access certain sites because your college has blocked them?
In either situation, hiding an IP address can help you view the censored content.
3. Keep your search-engine history private
Whether you like it or not, search engines like Google and Bing keep track of all queries you make.
If you want to keep your search-engine history private, masking your IP address is the way to go.
4. Hide your internet activity from your ISP
Did you know your ISP provider keeps track of your browsing history?
Not only that, it can even sell this information and make money!
You can hide your IP with VPN software if you don’t want your ISP to know and record what you do online.
5 Ways To Hide Your IP Address
There are different ways to keep your IP under wraps, each with its own unique benefits and disadvantages.
1. Use a VPN service!
This is by far the best and the easiest way to browse the net anonymously. But how does a VPN service help you hide your IP address online?
Well, here’s an example to understand this better.
Imagine you want to purchase a few bottles of beer, but are not old enough to legally buy alcohol.
So you hand over the money to an older friend, who in turn gets the beer for you.
The shop owner doesn’t know your secret. He thinks your friend is the buyer — not you.
Like your friend, a VPN service can secretly lend you a helping hand.
For instance, if you want to access a geo-restricted site, you must first find out how to hide your IP address.
The VPN service (aka your best buddy) is here to help.
You hand over your request to the VPN service in secret (that is, in an encrypted form).
It contacts the site on your behalf and gains access. It then forwards the access details to you (again, in secret), and voila — you can now access the restricted content as much as you like.
The website thinks (just like the store owner) it is dealing with someone else and not you.
Since all communication between you and your VPN server is encrypted, it is the most secure and easiest way to hide your IP address.
But remember, this is only the case when you use a premium VPN solution.
Free VPN solutions are either malicious or very limited in features.
The outright harmful ones make money off you by collecting your data and selling it to the highest bidder. This, of course, negates the whole purpose of using a VPN. Worse, they may even piggyback on your connection for malicious purposes.
The genuine free VPN solutions, on the other hand, only offer a small amount of bandwidth. They’ll ask you to upgrade to a paid plan, once you go over the limit.
In summary, opting for VPN software as a free IP address hider can be limiting at best. Most paid solutions, however, remain a solid choice.
- The traffic between your device and VPN server is encrypted. This in turn helps safeguard your data and privacy.
- Most top-of-the-line VPNs don’t keep logs. Thus, they can’t provide the government any information about your browsing history.
- You can access geo-restricted sites through a VPN (provided your provider has servers in at least one whitelisted country).
- With VPN, you can safely use public Wi-Fi.
- Setting up and using a VPN is a cinch.
- A VPN service can slow down your internet browsing speed, as it encrypts your traffic.
- A good VPN service can cost anything between $3/month and $12/month.
Examples of a reliable VPN service include, among others, ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Perfect Privacy. Furthermore, you can set up a VPN service directly on your router, thus masking the addresses of all your devices.
2. Opt for a web proxy server
This is an intermediary server, which redirects your web traffic and prevents the websites you visit from knowing your real IP address.
For example, let’s say you want to open Google’s homepage.
When you don’t use a proxy, the request goes to your ISP provider. The latter connects you to Google.com — and it also reveals your IP address.
When you use a proxy server, your request is rerouted.
Like earlier, the request first goes to your ISP. From there, however, it’s sent to the proxy. The latter assigns your device a ghost IP and then directs you to the destination.
Google.com thinks the request is from the middleman, not you.
In other words, just like with a VPN service, a proxy server also fits the “friend” metaphor from before.
He buys beer on your behalf and doesn’t share your identity with the store owner.
That said, he’s not the most reliable buddy.
While he doesn’t reveal your name to the shop owner (the sites you visit), it can share everything with someone else.
Anyone with access to your data can find out what you’re doing online. This is because the man-in-the-middle server neither encrypts your data nor does it wipe out any recognizable markers apart from your original IP address.
- A proxy server is an effective way how you can succeed to hide a device’s IP address. This way, for instance, you can use a US-based proxy to access US Netflix content from other countries.
- It is also a suitable option for other low-risk tasks like bypassing content filters.
- You can use it to hide your IP address.
- The data can leak while it passes through a proxy, as it is not encrypted.
- Most intermediary servers keep logs. This means others can track your online activity.
- Web-based proxy servers only hide your IP address when it comes to browser-generated traffic.
- Most free intermediary servers display ads, which can be irritating
3. Take Advantage of the Tor Browser
Tor stands for The Onion Router. It’s a free piece of software that provides anonymity and privacy every time you browse the net.
It protects you by routing your data through a series of voluntarily-run servers (called nodes) and wrapping it in multiple layers of encryption.
It uses three types of nodes — entry (guard) node, middle node, and exit node.
If you’re looking for a solution to hide your IP address for free, Tor is a great option.
Here’s an example to help you better understand how it works.
Let’s say you want to visit Amazon.com.
When you use Tor, your request is encrypted and then forwarded to an entry node randomly picked by the network — instead of directly going to Amazon.com.
Next, it bounces off some middle nodes, before reaching the exit node. Here your request is decrypted and then finally sent to Amazon.com.
The information from the website is routed back to you in the same way — that is, through a series of relays and cloaked in secrecy.
Many consider Tor network the best IP hiding solution — and understandably so. There are thousands of nodes located all over the world, which makes it extremely difficult for someone to locate the client’s IP address.
Installing Tor and using it is easy. It is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux. Just pick the browser bundle that’s compatible with your OS and install it.
Tor is good at making your IP address untraceable, but it’s not perfect.
But before we look at its drawbacks, let’s first check out its benefits.
- It’s free and easy to set up and use.
- It’s compatible with all major operating systems.
- It makes it extremely difficult to track your real IP address.
- It gives you access to .onion sites. These sites can only be accessed using the Tor browser. Many major sites run a .onion version so journalists and whistleblowers can submit information without compromising their identity. Thanks to Tor, people in heavily-censored countries can communicate freely. This is one reason why it’s become a popular way how you can choose to hide your IP address.
- Because it is open-source software, anyone can inspect its code. This reduces the chances of it having malicious backdoors.
- It doesn’t provide end-to-end encryption. So anyone monitoring your connection can read all that is transmitted in plain text, such as your usernames and passwords.
- It can slow down the internet speed considerably. Sites that load lightning fast on a normal browser can load painstakingly slow on Tor.
- Tor can help you efficiently resolve the “how to hide the IP address” problem — but using it can potentially land you on some government agency’s watch list. Tor is also a doorway to the dark web — the internet’s underbelly, where bad guys hang out and do dirty things. Still, as long as you don’t actually do anything shady, you’ll be okay.
- You may have difficulty in logging into sites that check location like Gmail, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
4. Change your IP address in Windows
Another way how you can decide to hide your IP address is to turn off your router and reconnect it after some time.
When you sever your connection and reconnect again, the ISP provider may assign you a new IP address.
This solution only works with dynamically-assigned IPs — which is what you’re likely to be using. They’re widely popular because they are cost-effective for both ISP providers and their customers (i.e. you.)
With that said, it is entirely possible that your IP address is dedicated - in which case this method would be entirely useless to you. In this case, no amount of turning your router on and off will change your IP address.
While this is an effective way of hiding an IP address, it’s hardly practical. Even assuming that your IP is dynamically-assigned.
After all, you wouldn’t like to go offline for an hour or even longer every time you want to change your IP.
With that said, it’s free and maybe it fits your use case. If that’s true, then here’s what you can do.
If you’re connected through a modem, you may release your IP address manually and obtain a new one using the in-built ipconfig utility.
Here are the steps to follow on Windows 10.
- Press the Windows key and X key simultaneously.
- Click Command Prompt (Admin).
- Type ipconfig /release and press Enter to release your current IP address.
- Type ipconfig /renew and press Enter to get a new IP.
- Close the Command Prompt window.
- Shutting down the router and starting it again after some time is an effective way to change your IP address. (provided you have a dynamically-assigned IP address)
- It is not a practical solution, as you may have to keep your router shutdown for a long time, even overnight, to get a new IP.
- It doesn’t provide you access to geo-restricted content.
- It doesn’t help you bypass content filters.
5. Connect to a public Wi-Fi
An IP address is not something you can take with you. So when you connect to public Wi-Fi, you are actually using a different IP number.
That said, this is neither an effective method to hide your IP address for free, nor is it overly safe.
- When you use public Wi-Fi, you only change your IP address — you don’t really hide it.
- Using an open hotspot network leaves you vulnerable to hackers.
- Your laptop is at a greater risk of virus & malware attacks when you are using public Wi-Fi.
It’s always better if you can keep the information about your IP address to yourself.
It tells more about you than you think — and others can exploit this information.
Concealing your IP address also gives you access to geo-restricted content. What’s more, it helps keep your online activity under wraps.
There are many ways how one can choose to hide the IP address. Those include VPN services, proxies, and, of course - the infamous Tor network.
Each has its own pros and cons. That said, a VPN service provides by far the most comprehensive digital protection. It is also ridiculously easy to install and use.
Consider using one if you want to stay safe and anonymous online. As an added benefit - this will also allow you to enjoy the freedom to access your favorite content from anywhere.
Alright, so that’s that. If you liked this article, show it to anyone who’d like to know how to hide their IP address.
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Christo knows very well how tech has revolutionized the way we live, communicate, and create value. TechJury is his way to help users find detailed, unbiased information about all aspects of technology, the glorious opportunities it presents, the threats it poses, and the ways to stay safe in the modern world.
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