4 Easy Ways to Hide Your IP Address & Stay Anonymous
Keeping your IP address out of reach is important in today’s world – especially if you have a low tolerance for spam, targeted ads, geoblocks or otherwise uncalled for intrusions to your privacy. In this article, I will get you acquainted with four quick and simple methods that will hide your IP away from prying eyes and ensure your anonymity is preserved on the Internet.
What Is an IP address?
Think of your IP address as your ID in the digital space – a valuable and instrumental part of your existence on the Internet. Your IP is the means by which you are able to exchange communication with all other devices on the Web. And much like IDs, you are given an IP address, usually provided by your ISP. This is due to the finite number of addresses available – 4,294,967,296 under IPv4, to be exact.
Just like you don’t hand out your ID to anyone who asks for it, you don’t want to show you IP address. Today, more and more users find themselves in a situation where they would prefer, if not need, to resort to hiding their addresses for one reason or another.
Why Hide Your IP Address?
There are a few major reasons to spoofing your IP address. The top three are:
- Privacy. By far the biggest motivator, and often out of necessity, is keeping your anonymity on the Internet intact. People often like throwing the “nothing to hide” argument out there, but it really isn’t about that. The unfortunate reality is that plenty of people out there can, and will, use your IP address for their own purposes – ranging from annoying targeted ads to more sinister activities. Much like catching the flu, hits on digital privacy can happen to anyone. By hiding your IP you make it much harder for interested parties to track your geographical location.
- Access to geoblocked content. Although some would say copyright laws are archaic, it still doesn’t change the fact that certain content is blocked due to geographical restrictions. By hiding your own IP address and selecting one that lets you circumvent this obstacle, you can enjoy premium platforms – such as the American version of Netflix or the BBC iPlayer – regardless of your current location.
- Preventing a digital footprint. In simple terms, a digital footprint is the collection of your data as you conduct any kind of activity on the Internet. It can be either passive or active – the latter is when you knowingly release information, be it via websites or social media. Hiding your IP mainly helps with the passive digital footprint, making data collection close to impossible (assuming your method is effective enough).
Method #1 – Public Wi-Fi
Using public Wi-Fi is probably the easiest way to hide your IP address. Since you are using the Wi-Fi network’s IP address, which is usually shared by hundreds of users each day, you’re basically hiding in plain sight.
Of course, this method won’t be of much help if you are trying to bypass geographical restrictions, not to mention that your privacy is at risk. (It’s so easy to hack a public and unsecured network, even an 11-year old can do it.)
Method #2 – Proxy Servers
Proxies are another way of masking your IP address by providing a gateway for your device in order to connect to otherwise restricted or filtered content. The main characteristics that give proxies merit are the accessibility and anonymity they offer if you can trust them.
In reality, using proxies often comes at a great risk. There is always a chance that your proxy server is run on a compromised machine, and even if that isn’t the case, you really can’t be sure if your data isn’t being intercepted in some way. I didn’t even mention the sluggish Internet speed most proxy users suffer from. If you’re looking to download/watch high-bandwidth content, you are probably out of luck.
Method #3 – Tor Browser
While you can use Tor (and very effectively, if I might add) to access virtually all corners of the Web while keeping your IP hidden, navigating through relays, encryption mechanisms and onion relays are anything but easy. Since you are probably looking for simple solutions, I would recommend the Tor Browser.
A Firefox version specifically designed to make your Tor experience as user-friendly as possible, the Tor Browser works wonders when it comes to efficiently covering your tracks on the Internet. With that said, expect your surfing to go a bit slower than usual, as using Tor does take its toll on your connection speed.
Method #4 – VPN the Best Way to Hide Your IP
If you want a straightforward, reliable, and capable means of hiding your IP address, a solid VPN service is the best choice. Opting for a reputable VPN provider will give you the trifecta of advantages you are looking for: complete privacy, anonymity, and access, all while benefitting from a high-speed, secure, and private connection.
While you can use a free VPN, you’re better off paying for a service. Free VPNs tend to collect your data and do not offer the same bandwidth or geoblocked content as others. As a rule of thumb, try to stay away from free VPNs, as you might end up in the predicament you were trying to avoid in the first place.
Using a VPN is also the most effective way of unblocking a variety of popular platforms such as Netflix, ESPN, BBC iPlayer and many others, due to the huge variety of available locations. Additionally, VPNs help immensely with circumventing even greater obstacles, such as the Great Firewall of China. Simply put, a VPN will successfully hide your IP address and protect you online. You can even check if your IP address is hidden with our IP Leak test.
If you’re looking for a sturdy and reliable VPN, our top VPNs have reviews from thousands of users and can easily block your IP address.