In the following article, we want to easily discuss how to change your IP address. These days, privacy can be hard to come by on the Internet. It seems that everywhere we go, in some shape or form, we're all tracked by websites, advertisers, or bad actors. One of the most common methods used to track is through our public IP address.
What is an IP address?
Essentially, your IP address provides the location of your device that you are using to connect to the Internet. When you select and connect to a network, an Internet Service Provider (ISP) assigns an IP address to each Internet-connected device. The IP address system is governed by the TCP/IP, or the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. The IP address system is governed by the TCP/IP, or the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol.
Every device in your house can track you, if the device has an IP address connection. Does your IP address change will depend on if your IP address is a static or dynamic IP address. Here are some IP address terms you should know:
- Public vs Private IP Address. Your ISP assigns public IPs for connection to the Internet outside of your home local area connection. Your device is also assigned an IP when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, such as at a coffee shop. Private IPs communicate locally within your home network.
- Static vs Dynamic IP Address. IP addresses are either static or dynamic. A static IP is an address that is manually assigned and never changes. A dynamic IP, on the other hand, is an address assigned by the network that changes every so often (depending on the lease time).
- Lease Time. This is how long it takes for your dynamic IP address to expire. After the "lease" expires, a new IP address conclusively assigned.
- IPv4 vs IPv6. IP addresses are either Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4) or Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6). Most devices use IPv4 to communicate on the Internet. This is the familiar number sequence that looks like 184.108.40.206.
Reasons to Change Your IP Address
The number one reason to change or hide your IP address is to increase privacy as you use the Internet. You may be someone who handles sensitive information. Furthermore, you may just want some freedom from your Internet Service Provider constantly tracking you.
Here are some other reasons you might want to change your IP address:
Bypass government restrictions
For specific countries and regions, certain websites and content on the Internet require specific access (Netflix, for example). Your ticket to “enter” is having the correctly located IP address. By changing your IP address to one that is located in the right locale, you can access the content you want to access.
Changing or hiding your real IP address is a great way to protect yourself from nefarious actors, especially while connected to unsecured networks such as public Wi-Fi at a coffee shop or airport. Also, when data breaches occur, hiding your IP address is a way that you can add an additional layer of security to protect your private data.
Ways to Change Your IP Address
There are multiple ways you can change your IP address. But the method you choose depends on your ultimate goal. For example, do you simply need a new IP address because of connectivity issues? Or are you looking for anonymity?
The following methods are ways that you can change your public-facing IP address, ranging from easy and cheap (less anonymity), to difficult and more expensive (more anonymity).
Manually or Automatically
You can change your IP address by yourself by adjusting your device’s settings or simply unplugging your router.
One way to get a newly assigned IP address automatically is to simply unplug your router. When it is plugged back in, the router assigns a new IP address. Just note that it may take a few minutes to a few hours to get a new IP address depending on your IP lease time. For example, if your lease time is 8 hours, you would have to wait 8 hours to plug your router back in to be assigned a new IP address.
Also, even if you do wait the 8 hours, your ISP could end up assigning the same IP address to you again if it hasn’t been assigned to someone else.
To manually change your IP address, you will need to adjust the settings of your operating system and manually enter a new number.
A word of caution – this can be a complicated process and could result in your ISP banning you from connecting to the Internet.
Whether you change your IP address automatically or manually, it will not change the fact that your ISP can still track your Internet traffic. In other words, changing your IP address yourself does little to increase your Internet privacy.
Using a proxy is an easy and (usually) free way to conceal your IP address. With a proxy, your traffic essentially moves through a “middle man” server so that websites you visit see the proxy server’s IP address instead of your actual IP address, keeping your IP address private. Many people use proxies because of their ease of use and low cost. They also do not require any software changes to your device.
A word of caution – proxy servers usually aren’t encrypted. This means that if someone really wants to view your traffic, they can.
Tor is a privacy-focused web browser that:
- Hides your IP address
- Encrypts your traffic
- Prevents tracking and targeted ads
- Automatically clears cookies
A word of caution – while Tor encrypts your traffic, they still keep logs of your actual IP address per their terms of service.
Now we are to the cream of the crop when it comes to hiding your IP address for privacy reasons, the Virtual Private Networks (VPN). When you connect to a VPN, the VPN replaces your IP address with another IP address in a location of your choosing while encrypting all of your traffic. There are some free VPNs, but to get the most privacy and security usually requires a paid subscription.
VPNs are great for privacy, but also for accessing censored content or regionally-blocked streaming services such as Netflix. This is because VPNs hide your actual local network connection.
VPNs, unlike other IP concealing methods, are not required to log Internet traffic in the US. However, some VPNs still do.
A word of caution – when choosing a VPN, make sure to check to see if they keep IP address logs or not.
Using private networks such as a proxy or VPN adds more privacy and security as you use the Internet. However, if someone with the means wants to find you via your Internet connection, they will find a way.