How do I hide my IP address? We have received numerous such questions from our readers who want to know how to hide the IP address. Therefore, we thought it would be a great time now to write this post. The methods shown in this tutorial includes free as well as paid solutions. You can use the one that fits your requirements best.
What exactly is an IP address?
IP stands for Internet Protocol. It is this protocol that determines how the data exchanges happen between your Internet connection and the World Wide Web. In even simpler words, IP helps you connect your devices to the Internet.
Just like your house address is unique, the IP address is unique to your Internet connection. When you try to access a website, it is your IP address that tells the website which device the information needs to be sent to.
Since the IP address is unique to the internet connection, it is also an identifier of its network and eventually you. Your ISP has your personal information, such as your SSN, house address, email address, etc. With your IP address, it can find out which websites you have visited and what kind of content you have browsed.
Why do I need to hide my IP address?
There are a variety of reasons why you would want to hide your IP address. Here are some of the most common reasons why users want to hide IP address.
1- Connect to the internet privately and anonymously
Privacy breaches have become more common in these times than ever before. We don’t really know who might be keeping an eye on our online activities. We don’t even know whether our ISP is keeping our personal information safe or sharing it with the government or selling it off to the highest bidder. Hiding your IP address sounds like a sensible action.
2- Hide your geographic location
Your IP address is tied to your internet connection, which is provided by your ISP. When you buy internet services, you must provide your personal information such as SSN, home address, email address, etc.
The IP address assigned to you is unique and can be used to fetch your personal information as well as your location.
When I hide my IP address, I also hide my location.
3- Unblock Geo-restricted and IP-restricted content
Certain websites and streaming content are restricted to specific regions. They can be accessed by any IP address originating within those regions. Any IP outside the region is restricted from gaining access to it.
Hiding your IP address and acquiring an IP address of the region from where you wish to access websites and other content is a great way to circumvent such restrictions.
That’s where the need to hide your IP address arises. So, here come the many ways to do that.
How to Hide IP Address
I am listing four ways (three are free) you can hide your original IP address and browse the internet with a fake one. The first method is the most secure and recommended for most users. However, you can make your selection based on the nature of your requirements.
1. Use a VPN Service – fastest and most reliable
I have absolutely no doubt that using a VPN is the best way to hide my IP address. The top VPN service providers offer top-grade security protocols that make your internet connection completely invulnerable to cyber threats and hacking attempts.
The VPN services also offer IP leak protection and make sure that your original IP address is never released when you are connected to the internet.
The way a Virtual Private Network works is rather simple. It masks your IP address and assigns you a completely new IP address from its server you are connected to. This allows total online anonymity to you.
Any internet traffic that originates from your VPN connected device is first encrypted by the VPN app. The traffic is then routed through the VPN server you have chosen to connect to. When your traffic hits the VPN server, it takes the identity of the server and your IP address is concealed. When the traffic returns to your device, it again goes through the same server. The encryption makes sure that even your ISP does not get the whiff of your online activities.
Whether you want to stream privately, unblock geo-restricted websites and content, secure your torrent activities, or keep your online activities hidden from surveillance, VPN is the perfect way to go.
I have used a range of VPN applications. ExpressVPN is the one that clearly stands out from the crowd. It is known to be the fastest VPN. Though, that’s not the only reason why I recommend it. ExpressVPN has a huge network of 3000+ servers in 160 locations and 90+ countries.
Each server is a unique IP address. This means ExpressVPN has more than 3000 unique options to hide my IP. You can read my Expressvpn review for more details about its features.
2. Hide IP With a Proxy server – slow and unreliable
You can think of a proxy server as a mini-VPN or probably the heavily stripped-down version of a VPN.
Just like a VPN, they channel your online traffic through their server allowing you to hide your IP address. The good thing is that most proxy servers such as hide.me are free. A lot of them are web-based. You don’t need to download any app on your device. Simply visit the proxy website and enter the URL you want to access.
As far as tunneling your traffic is concerned, the proxy’s way of working is very different from a VPN. While VPN is capable of redirecting all your outbound internet traffic through its server, proxy service only hides specific activities. Let me give you an example that should make things clearer:
A VPN client installed on your device takes control of your internet traffic completely using the robust encryption protocols. On the other hand, with a proxy, you must tell which specific online activity you want rerouted through the proxy server. Let’s say, there is a website on which you do not want your original IP footprints. You go to the proxy service, choose the server, and give them the website URL. The proxy service reroutes your request through its server and loads up the website in your browser. Your ISP would only know you visited a proxy site (which is completely legal). It would not know which site you actually visited through the proxy.
A proxy could be an incredible tool to access the geo-restricted website or unblock region-restricted content even. However, top streaming platforms like Netflix are spending a lot of money on tracking down and blocking Proxy and VPN servers. While the paid VPN providers can afford to incorporate new servers, the same can’t be said for the free proxy services.
Proxy services have some other serious drawbacks too. On the security front, they are not the most reliable. IP leaks, IP exposures are not uncommon. They don’t even use the same top-grade encryption protocols. And, we don’t know how safe is your personal information with them.
As I said, proxy usually only hides my IP from the specific websites visited through them. It does not encrypt your entire internet traffic. Therefore, you are still exposed to threats and vulnerable to online monitoring and surveillance. Also, while most VPN services maintain a no-log policy, the proxy services may record and log your activities.
Slow connectivity is also a challenge we couldn’t overlook. Since the Proxy servers are free and easily accessible, their servers are usually overloaded causing significant speed drops and lags. They may unblock censored or geo-restricted content; you may still experience buffering. Of course, a great deal depends on the time of the day and the server you have connected to.
If you are looking for complete anonymity and security with decent connection speeds, VPN is the only viable option.
3. TOR Connectivity – secure but slow and risky
TOR is another IP address hider tool you could use to remain anonymous on the web. TOR stands for The Onion Router. Just like the onion has many layers, TOR offers multi-layered security through a chain of servers operated by volunteers and cyber activists.
When you connect to a TOR client, your online traffic is channeled through multiple servers. It masks your IP address and lets you browse the web anonymously.
TOR’s security is unquestionable. However, it has some serious shortcomings.
TOR is a parallel network where your online traffic is guided through multiple layers of servers. Every time your online traffic goes through an additional server, it loses speed. And, when it has to go through multiple servers, there could be a considerable speed loss. Therefore, you experience slow loading, streaming, buffering.
Ease of access and promise of anonymity have made TOR a haven for criminals. A lot of illegal transactions are carried out through the TOR network including drug deals, sale of weapons, and more.
While connecting to TOR is not illegal in most countries, you may attract troubles if you get caught up in illegitimate transactions, even inadvertently.
Again, considering speed, privacy, and security, a VPN is a clear choice if you are thinking about how to hide my IP address.
4. Use the Public Wi-Fi connection – not the most secure
Using the public Wi-Fi connection is another option to browse the web anonymously without having to expose your IP address. Plenty of retail outlets, public places like airports, and food joints and coffee shops offer free Wi-Fi. Since you are using someone else’s internet connection, your IP address is not revealed.
This, however, does not mean that public Wi-Fi services are safe. In fact, there are considerable risks involved. You could end up exposing your device to a hacker using the same network and capable of stealing your personal information within minutes.
The following two methods don’t really hide your IP. They are mainly added here in case you just want to change your IP without anonymity.
5. Use your mobile Hotspot – barely anonymous and slow
All mobile phones come with the Hotspot feature that lets you use them as the Wi-Fi network. For the hotspot to work, you must be connected to the data network by your mobile service provider.
Setting up the Hotspot network on your mobile is easy. But, the process may vary across devices. If you are not sure how to go about it, Google it.
Just like regular Wi-Fi, Hotspot lets you connect all your devices including computers, other mobile phones, tablet, etc.
This is a great option if you don’t want to connect to your broadband Wi-Fi network for some specific online activities. Hotspot does not really hide my IP address. Instead, it lets me use the IP address of my mobile network.
However, do remember that this does not offer any real anonymity. Your online activities can still be traced back to you via the IP address of your mobile network. Your mobile service provider has plenty of your personal information.
Just like your broadband, Wi-Fi connection, the mobile data network is also not encrypted. Therefore, your devices are just as vulnerable. And, mobile networks are much slower than broadband connections.
6. Change the IP address of your connection
This is another tricky and complicated method to assign your internet connection a new IP address. The process is different for wired and wireless connections. Furthermore, the methods vary across devices as well.
The IP change process is technical and often you must wait for hours before you get a new one. You will need to keep your modem turned OFF for quite a while. And, if you happen to turn it back on before the process is complete, it will snap back to the old IP address and you will have to start the process over.
I am not getting into the technical details of the process here. It is neither very practical nor recommended. However, if you still want to do it, you may lookup for the modem and device-specific instructions on Google (or any other search engine of your choice).
How about the free VPN services?
Let me start with a time-worn phrase, “if it is free, you are the product”. Or probably, “there are no free meals”!
However cliched these sayings may sound, they still hold weight in the provider-consumer landscape.
Yes, it is true that there are plenty of free VPN services out there. I have tried many of them personally. Honestly, they seem very promising. Some of them even have professional designs lending them the appearance of credibility. But, when it comes to security and privacy, their true nature is revealed.
You may hide your IP address with a free VPN, but don’t forget that there is always some price to pay.
It takes a lot of money and manpower to establish and maintain VPN servers. If a VPN is free, it must still be racking dollars from somewhere. Many free VPN clients are ad-based. Every now and then, an annoying ad pops up when you try to use the free VPN app. So, that’s one way they make money. Nothing wrong with that as long as the ads pops are not malicious. However, sometimes they are.
Some free VPNs have tried to quietly slip in malware and adware, which were promptly flagged by our anti-virus. However, some have swiftly snuck past the antivirus protection too. Security matters a lot to me and that one risk I will never take that comes with many free VPNs.
But, that’s not it. Many free VPNs have been reported to have sold the personal information of their subscribers to the bidders. Unlike many paid VPN services that offer zero-log policy, most free VPNs will keep an account of your personal information as well as your online activities. That’s a breach of trust and privacy. You can read more about how free VPNs make money.
Even though free VPNs may appear to be a good option to hide IP, they are usually not. When it’s about security and privacy, I am not rolling any dices. Therefore, my money is always on the paid, renowned and trustworthy VPN services like ExpressVPN.
This pretty much sums up the ways to hide your IP and the reasons why you would like to hide your IP address.
If you are looking for all-round protection and a nearly foolproof way to hide your IP address, there is no other better way than VPN. It wins on both the security and speed fronts. Most VPN providers offer multiple simultaneous connections. This means you could secure all your devices all at the same time.
We have tried to cover possibly all the relevant information in this article that could be of help to the non-technical, laypersons like me. If you have any feedback or suggestions, please feel free to let us know via the comments section below.