Why Hide My IP Address?
Anonymity, when using the Internet, is taken for granted in today's world. It isn’t easy to stay off the grid. When a person surfs the web, their device has a public IP address. Their locational information, such as their country of origin, state, region, and even their city can be determined from an IP address.
The IP can also be used to track things such as what sites you may have visited while surfing the web, ads you've clicked, and more. As an Internet user, you may not want to have such information readily available for anyone in the world to see. If this is the case, you’ll likely want to hide your IP address.
You might ask why you should bother trying to hide your real IP address while browsing the Internet if you’re not up to anything illegal. Many people associate hiding their IP address with hacking or other illicit online activities, but the truth is that there are a multitude of completely legitimate reasons why you would want to hide your IP address.
Your IP address is your online identity—it identifies your device, your network, your location, and your activity. It’s completely reasonable to want to keep that information to yourself. Hiding your IP address is an essential first step towards regaining control over your own privacy, which is something every Internet user should want to do.
Reasons To Hide Your IP Address
As we said above, there are a number of legitimate reasons for hiding your IP address. For example:
- You may be connecting to the Internet using public WiFi or free WiFi networks, like at a library, restaurant, or Internet café. If you are, you’re vulnerable to having your online activity tracked by someone else on the same network.
- You may not want to take a chance on your private information being exposed, so you’d rather choose to surf anonymously.
- You may not want your browsing habits observed by companies or online advertisers.
- You could be visiting a school or working for a company that restricts or filters web content for users on the WiFi. Hiding your IP address can help evade these annoying restrictions.
- You may want to access content that is available only to people in certain areas or countries.
- Quite simply, you just may not like the idea of having your every move monitored and tracked.
As you can see, there are many reasons why you would want to hide your IP. They have nothing to do with illegal activity and everything to do with protecting your privacy.
Ways To Hide Your IP Address
Here are the three best ways to hide your IP address. Each has trade-offs for security, cost, speed, and privacy.
1. Use a VPN
A VPN, or virtual private network, serves as the middle man between your network and your device. It encrypts your connection and therefore your Internet traffic. It’s also useful for hiding your IP address, as it substitutes your actual IP address with a “virtual” IP address provided by the VPN. When you connect to the Internet, whether through a browser or an app, nobody will be able to see your public IP address except your VPN provider.
Because a VPN server can’t shield your IP address from the provider, it’s crucial that you choose a trusted VPN service that doesn’t log your activities. In a sense, choosing a low-quality VPN service defeats the entire purpose of a VPN.
2. Use a Proxy
A proxy server is kind of like a VPN: it can mask your IP address and change the location of your IP address. However, proxies aren’t as robust as VPNs when it comes to hiding your IP address. They hide your IP address by substituting it with a false IP address before your web traffic gets to its final destination.
But proxies don’t encrypt your traffic like a VPN does, and they also don’t hide your IP address when it’s on its way to the proxy server. Furthermore, most proxies don’t try to hide the fact that you’re using a proxy. A proxy is best suited for situations where you can’t use a VPN and need a quick added layer of privacy. Consider them as a step below a VPN.
3. Use Tor
Tor is a free-to-use network that disguises your identity online through three layers of encryption. The onion router project was originally established to make sure users had complete anonymity online, and Tor attempts to do that by preventing ad tracking and making sure that users don’t leave any online fingerprints behind when using their Tor browser.
Tor works by decrypting your connection more on each level, ending with a note that’s fully decrypted and fully anonymous when it reaches the final destination. Even if a hacker intercepts your traffic, it would be nearly impossible to parse your original IP address.
However, with Tor, you compromise speed for privacy. Tor's multiple layers of encryption cause connection delays. This may be worth it for some that absolutely need privacy, but if you're just a normal Internet user shopping on Amazon or streaming Netflix, a VPN will suit your needs well.
It’s important to note that while these methods may hide your IP address and allow you to surf the web with more anonymity, there is not a way to be completely anonymous when connecting to the Internet. Your Internet service provider can still record any IP address they assign to you.
Plus, without consistently covering your tracks, you may accidentally slip up and send an email without being connected to your VPN allowing the recipient to trace the email back to you.
Some VPNs and proxies keep log files of your activity and will know the IP address you're using to connect to their service. If you were to participate in some sort of illegal activity, these services could link those actions back to your computer. We urge you to proceed with caution.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hiding IP Addresses
Q: Is it illegal to hide my IP address?
A: Not at all. Unless you're using your computer with its IP address for other illegal activities, which is its own issue, simply hiding your IP address is well within your legal rights as a technology user. You can hide or change your IP address using any of the methods listed above to protect your personal privacy.
Q: Can I hide my IP address without a VPN?
A: Yes! One of the more popular methods of hiding an IP address without a VPN is via a proxy. A proxy doesn't do the job quite as well as a VPN, as it doesn't encrypt the web traffic across servers, but it will give you the privacy you need without having to go through a VPN.
Q: What does hiding my IP address do?
A: In short, it protects your privacy. Hiding your IP address prevents data tracking, protects you against hackers, and keep your Internet history and searches private to you. You'll be off the radar in a sense and safe from anyone who wants to take your information for any purpose.