If you’re like me, someone who loves staying anonymous online or having access to geo-blocked sites, this tutorial on hiding your IP address is for you.
Here, I’m going to show you exactly how you can keep your IP address anonymous while you surf the web. If you want to learn the different ways you can hide your IP address, you’re welcome on board. But first, let’s get some basics out of the way.
What’s an IP Address?
Well, this will not concern you if you already know what an IP address is. If you already know, you can skip this part. But for other readers who may be interested to know, an IP address is a computer’s public ID on the internet. IP means Internet Protocol.
It is the code other computers connected to the internet can use to identify your computer. In other words, your IP address lets web servers know where to send any information you’ve requested. Okay, that’s pretty simple to grasps. Let’s go to some other things.
What are the benefits of hiding my IP address?
That’s an interesting question. One primary reason why most people love hiding their IP addresses is to have easy access to download illegal materials. Yes, that’s right. I know that’s not the reason why you want to hide your IP address.
There are several other benefits of hiding your IP address apart from the apparent illegal reason.
One reason is censorship and geographic restrictions. Sometimes you might be genuinely looking for important information, and the website will come up with the usually annoying reply,
Oops, sorry this information is restricted from your IP address.
That means the site has been set to block some IP addresses from specific geographical locations. Few private firms can restrict access to their content from certain IP addresses to curb copyright infringements
Or it could be that your country’s government has blocked those sites from showing contents to internet users in the region. Most of the time, it’s due to political reasons, like in the Middle East and China. But if you hide your IP address, you would be able to access that information as your IP address becomes anonymous.
Another reason for hiding your IP and the reason I love is to avoid misuse of personal information or when I want to browse privately. Yes, sometimes, I love the freedom that comes with browsing without any server spying on me to get my personal information.
Most servers do this to get precise information to send personalized ads to your IP address (or they can even sell your data). The servers can also track your location, even when you turn off your location services. But if you hide your IP address, you would browse and surf the net with no worries.
Now let’s go over to our main interest, which is to hide the IP address.
Guide on how to hide your IP Address
There are several ways to protect your IP address. You can either use a VPN software (of course you have to pay for this) or use other free methods I’m going to show you here:
1. Hiding your IP address through VPN
This is the most reliable and probably the easiest way for you to hide IP address anywhere. However, this method is not free. There are free VPNs as well, but for reliability and speed, you need a quality VPN provider on your side. In most cases, you have to buy the package for a certain amount of time or pay a subscription fee.
Virtual Private Network (VPN) will give you a virtual IP address so you could easily access those sites that are restricted to your computer’s real IP address. The VPN servers work by generating unique IP addresses and assigning your computer one of those addresses as an alternate IP address. The VPN IP can be used by your computer to surf the internet securely.
When the VPN service assigns your computer an IP address, your computer’s actual IP address will not be shown to the servers that see your computer. Instead, it’s the Virtual IP address that will be revealed. Quality VPN providers such as ExpressVPN have different locations for the IP addresses, which means that they could assign IP addresses from multiple locations, depending on your package.
One significant benefit of hiding your IP address through this medium is the fastest level of connection you will get. Other methods might be cheap or even free for you to use but could slow your connections to levels of frustration (everything free comes with a price indirectly).
But you are not likely going to have such issues through genuine VPN connections. Yes, I said ‘genuine’ connections, because there are some fake VPN services out there that may be far slower than what you have bargained. That’s why it’s essential to select the right VPN IP service provider.
Apart from the connection speed to enjoy, VPNs are also great for connecting to Torrent sites. Quality VPN providers offer dedicated P2P profiles and torrenting.
That will be an extra feature for you. But these dedicated VPN service providers are usually more expensive.
If you want to hide your IP address completely, a good VPN such as ExpressVPN will make sure of that. It will also offer security protocols and advanced encryption to make sure your computer’s original IP address will not be exposed.
That’s how much a reliable VPN can. And like I said, you need to spend some bucks to get such a VPN service. But if you don’t have enough cash to pay for a VPN service, you have other free options that can do an excellent job for you as well. Don’t worry; I will cover that aspect next.
2. Masking your IP Address through Tor Network
Okay, here is the part where it gets interesting for those who love freebies. You can make yourself stay completely undetected while you surf the net by using a free IP hiding network. Tor network uses a free client-based system, which is a collection of different volunteer servers.
When you connect via the Tor network, your computer’s traffic passes through several different servers before it finally reaches its destination. When the traffic finally reaches the server, it would be complicated to track where the traffic is coming from. This leaves your IP completely untraceable because it has passed through several servers.
Tor offers multiple layers of protection to make sure your computer’s IP address is entirely off the radar. However, it has the same problem as like with a proxy server or free browser extension. Your computer’s traffic has to go through several connected servers before it makes its way to the destination.
That makes the network slower than when you’re not connected to Tor. The good thing is this method of hiding IP address is completely free. You are not paying a single cent to surf the net securely, download videos, or browse web pages you like. Yes, your IP address will remain hidden when you’re doing all that, free.
3. Browsing through Proxy servers
Like the VPN and Tor, a proxy server also lets you hide your computer’s IP address to access geographically blocked content. That’s the primary reason for having a proxy server. It’s a very useful mean, especially when you want to access a website that does not accept your computer location. It’s also simple to use. Let me show you how it works.
Let’s say you want to watch a live streaming match that’s only available to U.S. residents, but unfortunately, you are in London. When you use a proxy connection, your computer sends a streaming request to the server in the U.S. to view the video.
The US proxy server will intercept the request from your computer and send the information using a U.S. IP address. When the proxy server gets access to the video, it then sends the data back to your computer. In simple words, the proxy server works as an interceptor between your computer and the other server; your computer is receiving the information.
It’s an affordable (in fact, free) and effective way of bypassing the restrictions placed by some foreign servers on their contents. But there’s one problem I usually have with proxies like all other free methods of hiding IP, and it’s a general problem.
That is, if you get frustrated with slow networks easily, a proxy server may not be right for you. And if you need to speed up your connections, a proxy can be your number one enemy to achieve that.
Most times, the connection is usually sluggish because of the numerous interceptions between your computer and the server and to the host computer. If you’re not using a proxy, the connection would be a two-way thing. But for a proxy, it’s now a three-way thing. That’s why connections are slower when using proxy servers.
Another problem is the issue of security. If you’re anxious about your information being vulnerable, you should also be careful about proxy servers. This is because proxy servers do not offer encrypted protection to your personal information, unlike VPNs. In the case of proxies, they give out precisely what they receive without any form of encrypted security.
Also, if you want to torrent, a proxy may be a bad idea. It would not be able to hide all your activities and personal information from the ISPs. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t usually buy the idea of using proxies. The security issue is too much a risk to take for all the benefits of hiding my IP address.
4. Using Public Wi-Fi
I deliberately left this one as the last one because I was hoping you would have chosen your best option by now. For me, this is the worst method to use when you wish to hide your real IP address. Actually, public servers are not meant to protect the IP address. They are offered where it’s difficult to get internet service in a particular location.
Generally, your Internet Service provider (ISP) is responsible for assigning an IP address to your system. That means when you use another ISP; the IP address automatically reflects one from the new ISP.
It is a good option if you want to hide your activities from other internet servers and users. But the problem with this method is the high level of security risk involved. If you’re using a Public Wi-fi, your computer would be vulnerable to malware, hackers, and a host of other internet security threats.
Also, the method will not prevent geographical blocks, since you’re connecting from the same location. It’s only useful if you want to use a different IP address, other than yours, to access a website’s content. Notably, it’s not a long-term solution to conceal your IP through public Wi-Fi. It’s more of a quick-fix.
Which method of hiding Ip address should I pick?
Given that money would be a problem for you to get a dedicated VPN server, and if you can bear the slow connection speed when using Tor to hide your IP address, it’s probably the best for you. On the other side, a proxy will also make your connections slow, even when you’re paying for such a proxy (yes, there are paid proxies, too).
So proxy is not a recommendation for everyday use, you can use it when in extreme need, but make sure you don’t waste money on paid proxies, go only with free ones as paying, in this case, won’t make much difference. In my opinion, a reputable VPN provider is the most effective and surest way to hide your IP address without compromising the speed. But if you cannot afford the cost, you can always use a free service like the Tor network.
How to Check Your IP Address
So now you know exactly where to go when you want to hide your IP address. But how do you know it is working? How can you verify that you are browsing without being detected by other servers?
It’s imperative to check your IP address always to make sure you don’t make mistakes that would blow your cover. Okay, here is how it’s done.
Step 1: If you are using a VPN or proxy server, disconnect it and go over to Google.
Step 2: Go to Google and type the words “My IP” and press enter.
If you have not successfully hidden your IP, Google will bring out your computer’s IP address like this:
Step 3: Now, you know your real IP. Connect back to the VPN, Tor, or Proxy network and repeat step 2.
If you are using any of the methods, you’re not going to see your computer’s IP address, but the assigned proxy IP that’s connected to your computer.
As I mentioned earlier, there are several reasons why it’s essential to hide your IP address when going online from your mobile or computer. I’ve explained those reasons and showed you the various ways of hiding IP addresses; I hope you’ve enjoyed the provided information.
I prefer using a VPN, more specifically ExpressVPN, because it keeps me wholly secured alongside providing fast internet connection. But sometimes I go over to Tor when I want to remain anonymous to surf the net and browse web pages. And it’s free.
There are proxy servers too, but public Wi-Fi is a no-no for me. If you want to hide your IP address free of charge, you can always use the Tor network. Overall, your choice depends on what you want, the level of protection you need, and your financial strength to get a dedicated VPN server.
Images via Pixabay and Wikipedia.