Almost everyone who regularly finds themselves on the internet will have heard of the term “IP address”. An IP address is the fingerprint of all your online actions. The number is unique to your internet connection and can be traced back to you. If someone knows your IP address, they also know your ISP and even your location. This can be dangerous: your online safety and privacy are at stake. That’s why a lot of people would rather hide their IP address.
You can hide your IP address by taking on another IP address that can’t be traced back to you. Below, we’ll give you ten reasons why a lot of people hide or change their IP address. More importantly, we’ll tell you how you can hide your own IP address. Luckily, it’s not that hard. With a hidden IP address you’ll be able to browse anonymously, safely and freely.
What is an IP address?
The IP in IP address stands for Internet Protocol. It’s the identifying number of any internet connection. When you get access to the internet through your internet service provider, they assign an IP address to your internet connection. This IP is connected to your location. This means your IP address is different when you use your home Wi-Fi compared to when you use the internet connection at work.
There are two types of IP addresses: IPv4 and IPv6. When IPv4 was created, the general idea was that the system of 32 bits per address would be enough to create a unique address for all internet connections in the world. However, the internet proved to be a bigger hit than anticipated. For this reason, IPv6 was created. With far more options to provide unique addresses, IPv6 should provide enough IP addresses for the entire world.
Where can I find my IP address?
Finding out your IP address isn’t too hard. Simply go to the settings of your device. Usually, you’ll find the number under your network properties or by clicking the logo of your internet connection and selecting properties there. The number behind “IPv4 address” or “IPv6 address” is your IP address.
If you have trouble finding your IP address on your computer, you can always take to the internet. There are plenty of websites that will show you your IP address. Simply google “What is my IP address” or something similar. Even VPN providers often have a section at the top of their page that shows your IP address. They do this to illustrate that anyone has access to it, so it might be a good idea to cloak it.
Reasons to hide your IP address
If your IP address is visible to just about anyone, your privacy and safety are at risk. This might sound like a big statement, but that’s definitely not unfounded. Here are ten reasons why you might want to hide your IP address:
Reason 1: Visit websites without revealing your identity
Websites gather a lot of information about you when you visit them. They build a profile on your behavior on their website and sometimes even have access to information you shed on other websites. They collect this info by connecting your online actions to your IP address. This is how your IP becomes your digital fingerprint.
With all the information the websites have obtained about you, they can show you content and even advertisments that are specifically tailored to you. A website trying to sell you new suede boots after you’ve been searching for fancy footware is no coincidence. Your location can be used in a similar way. A pop-up such as “Click here to find the cheapest iPhones in Italy!” could be used to draw your attention if you’re browsing the internet during your holiday in Rome. These messages are fake, but do illustrate how websites actively “spy” on you.
If you hide your IP address, websites will have a much harder time creating a profile on you. You never know what websites could do with the info they collect on you, which makes protecting yourself from onlookers all the more important. With a VPN, websites will only see a random IP address that continuously changes. Moreover, there’s no way for websites to track your online actions. You’ll be able to browse anonymously. We’ll tell you more about VPNs and other solutions later on in this article.
Reason 2: Access Netflix and other streaming services wherever you are
Ever tried accessing Netflix in a different country? You’ll find that the available content will differ from what you’re used to. Streaming services, like Netflix, often put geographical restrictions on their services. This means that some (or all) of their content is only visible in selected countries. For instance, the streaming services of most national television channels are only available for people in that particular country. This often means you can’t watch your favorite show or football match when you’re abroad. Streaming services know where you are by checking the location of your internet connection through your IP address. By hiding and changing your IP, you’ll be able to get around any geographical restrictions, giving you access to Netflix and other streaming services as if you were in another country.
Reason 3: Protect yourself against spies and hackers
Spies and (black hat) hackers would love to get their hands on your IP address. With your IP, hackers can easily find out your location and identity. Like websites, a hacker could be tracking your actions. If that hacker has bad intentions, they can use this information against you. There’s a lot of possible damage to be done here: think of crimes such as identity theft. When you hide your IP address, you take back control. Hackers won’t see your IP, but only a false IP that can’t be traced back to you. They won’t know who or where you are, which makes it a lot more difficult to do any harm. If you use a VPN to hide your IP address, you can even prevent hackers from seeing any of your online actions at all.
Reason 4: Use public Wi-Fi hotspots safely
Hackers with bad intentions are just as much of a problem in our direct surroundings. Public Wi-Fi networks are often targeted by hackers, because they generally aren’t very safe. By breaking into a public Wi-Fi network, a hacker can get access to many devices in one go. And hackers are all around us: a black hat criminal could be sitting two tables away from you at Starbucks, trying to break into your device while you’re sipping your Chai Latte. That’s why it’s important to hide your location and identity when you use public Wi-Fi hotspots. This way, you’ll have a different IP address from the Wi-Fi, keeping you safe. The best way to protect yourself would be to use a VPN. VPN software will hide both your IP address and all of your online actions by encrypting them.
Reason 5: Access geographically blocked websites and content
Although the web sometimes seems like a bottomless pit of information, there are restrictions to what you can access. In some countries, the government restricts access to certain websites. This type of censorship controls which websites and what kind of information residents of a country can see online. In a lot of ways these restrictions are similar to the geoblocks used by streaming services. By changing your IP address, you can pretend to surf the web from a different location in another country. If this country doesn’t block the content you’re trying to reach, you’ll have free access again. In short: changing your IP address increases your internet freedom.
Reason 6: Bypass online restrictions set up by your school or workplace
Schools and workplaces sometimes restrict the internet access of users of their network. For example, schools often block social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to prevent students getting distracted. A proxy allows the school to pick and choose which websites students do and don’t have access to. However, this is only the case when those students use the school’s network with the school’s IP address. If you change your IP address while using a restricted network, you can easily get around any restrictions.
Reason 7: Bypass eavesdropping and censorship from governments
As mentioned before, some governments censor the internet for their citizens (examples are China and Iran). However, aside from blocking online content, governments can also track everything you do online – and use what they find against you. This “spying” of citizens by governments happens more and more often. Alliances between countries, such as 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes, even make it easier for governments to share information about their citizens with each other. In other words, the online browsing activities of a German citizen could easily be in the hands of the American government.
To safely use the internet in countries where this kind of datacollection is an everyday fact, it’s best to change your IP address. When you access the internet with an IP that appears to be situated in a different country, your own government will not be able to link your online activities to your location or identity. If you use a VPN on top of this, your data will be encrypted as well.
Reason 8: Hide your internet activities from your ISP
Internet service providers, or ISPs, have access to an incredible amount of information about you and your browsing activities. All your online data goes through them – they own the connection you’re using, after all – and they can log and save everything they have on you. ISPs are often required to keep a record of your internet usage for a certain period of time. This record includes everything you do, even the websites you visit in incognito mode. Official forces such as the local police can ask ISPs to show them your browsing history. Even after the legal period of time has passed, your ISP could still be saving your data. By changing your IP address, your ISP won’t be able to link your online activities to you.
Reason 9: Prevent search engines from logging your searches
Reason 10: Complete internet freedom
The internet should be an open platform for everyone. Creativity, innovation, education, communication and the exchange of ideas are inseparable from the freedom the internet offers. If you want to enjoy this freedom in full, without the negative consequences of online trackers, you’re much better off hiding your IP address. This protects your online privacy and freedom of speech. In other words: changing your IP address is the key to real internet freedom.
How to hide your IP address
Evidently, there are plenty of reasons to hide your IP address. If you wanted to do that anyway, or we just convinced you to, you’re probably wondering: How do I hide my IP? We’ll show you.
There are several ways to hide your IP address, but the most complete and effective method is to protect your connection with a VPN. Below you’ll find more explanation on VPN services and what they do. We’ll suggest a few providers that you might want to give a shot. Furthermore, we’ll show you two other methods to hide your IP address: a proxy and the Tor browser.
Hide your IP address with a VPN
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, encrypts all your internet traffic and hides your IP address. This ensures you stay anonymous and safe online. Once you have subscribed to a VPN service, you can access the internet through their servers. You take on the IP address of the VPN server you choose, and this is the only IP others will be able to see. Your real, personal IP remains hidden.
A big advantage of a VPN is that, aside from hiding your real IP, it’ll encrypt all your data. This means nobody will be able to see what you do online. Therefore, a VPN is the best way to hide your IP address. It even creates the least lag on your internet speed. A VPN is the most complete protection you can get on the internet, but how do you know which VPN to choose? There are countless VPN providers out there, but not all of them are good and trustworthy. That’s why we constantly test and rate VPNs, showing you which ones are the very best. To make things even easier, we’ve chosen two great providers you might want to try out and shortly summarised them for you. Here they are:
ExpressVPN is one of the best VPN providers on the market. This VPN offers solid encryption and great customer service, which makes using it easy – even for new users. The ExpressVPN applications are user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing. You can use one ExpressVPN subscription on up to five devices at the same time and they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try their service out before you commit.
NordVPN is another solid VPN that really values our online privacy. This provider is known for their high levels of encryption and extra security measures. You can use one subscription on up to six devices at the same time. NordVPN is very affordable, easy to use, and comes with great customer support. Read all about this provider in our review of NordVPN.
Hide your IP address with a proxy
Aside from a VPN, there are other options to cloak your IP address. When you use a proxy server, you take on the IP address of the proxy. This means your actual IP address remains hidden – most of the time. Although this is a very easy (and often free) way to hide your IP address, it has a few drawbacks. First of all, it does not protect your data. Proxies don’t encrypt your online traffic, so websites can still see what you do online, even if they can’t figure out who you are exactly. Secondly, many proxies don’t completely cloak your IP address. If you want complete protection and anonymity online, it’s much wiser to use a VPN instead.
Hide your IP address with Tor
A third way to mask your online behavior and change your IP address is by browsing with Tor. The Tor browser uses a routing system that encrypts your online traffic. All information is encrypted on your computer and then travels through so-called nodes to its final destination. At every node or station, one layer of encryption is peeled off. No individual station knows the entire route of the information. This way, the data can’t be traced back to you and you can browse anonymously. Your IP is hidden, because you take on the IP of the ‘exit node’, the last node your data passes through before it arrives where it’s supposed to go. The Tor browser is a nice solution for browsing, but does not protect internet traffic outside of the browser. For a more complete protection of all your online activities, it’s better to use a VPN.
Your IP address is the identification number of your internet connection. With this number, websites, governments, hackers, and others can link your online activity to your location and identity. There are many reasons to hide your IP address. Most importantly, it increases your anonymity online, makes browsing the internet a lot safer, and ensures your internet freedom.
There are several ways to hide your IP. The use of a proxy or the Tor browser can be useful, but the protection that these options offer is not as complete as that of a VPN. With a VPN you can access the internet freely, safely, and anonymously. You can also combine the different solutions to create an even more secure safety net for yourself. An example would be to install the Tor browser and use a VPN at the same time. In this case, there might be other factors you need to take into account, such as the compatibility of the different solutions and the effect of the safety net on your internet speed. It’s probably best to experiment a bit with VPNs, the Tor browser and a combination of the two to figure out what works best for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if your IP address is exposed?
- Your IP address being exposed is not a problem, except for some very specific circumstances. It’s like your home address, if people don’t know where to find you, you won’t get any mail. Almost every site will log your IP address when you connect or interact with it. It’s no big deal.
Is it dangerous if someone has your IP address?
- That is because internet service providers and routers have firewalls. However, hackers who obtain your IP address can get ahold of some very valuable information about you, including your city, state, and ZIP code. With this location data, hackers can find out other personal information about you
Can anyone trace an IP address?
- Your IP address gives websites, and people that you have connected with online, more than just a number—more than your IP address. It also gives them the ability to trace that IP address back towards you if they wanted to. To be clear, they can trace it back to your geographical location.
Can the police track IP address?
- Yes, for most regular users if the police have co-operation from network providers. All IP addresses have an owner. Owners can be tracked. For most cases, the owner assigns an IP temporarily to you when you use their network.