How to hide your IP address while browsing the Internet

Vlad Constantinescu
by Vlad Constantinescu
VPN Expert & Privacy Advocate
Vlad might have a degree in Animal Husbandry and Livestock Management, but he's currently rocking anything software related, ranging from testing programs to writing in-depth reviews about them. He spent 3-4 years as a software...
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  • Changing, hiding, or spoofing your IP address can be a great way to fight against privacy violations while you're browsing the Internet.
  • However, there are multiple ways you can change your IP address; for instance, you could use a VPN. Our guide will help you discover and understand all of them better.
  • Visit the VPN Troubleshooting section page for more easy-to-follow VPN guides.
  • Check out our Privacy Hub to discover more ways you can protect your online privacy.
Hide your IP address
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There are countless reasons why someone would consider changing their IP address while navigating the Internet.

One obvious one is to avoid being detected by various malevolent agents.

Another good reason is that your online whereabouts should remain your own private business, and not available for anyone with an itch to see.

The bottom line is that nowadays it makes a lot of sense to cloak your digital identity from just about anyone, and the best way you can do that is by hiding your IP address.

Seasoned privacy veterans may already have a batch of tools and methods to achieve this, but less tech-savvy users need privacy too.

For that reason, we’ll carefully explain to you how IP addresses work, why you may want to change yours, and how to achieve this quickly and without effort.

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What is an IP address?

To put it simply, an IP address is but a number that’s used to identify your device (e.g. computer, smartphone) on a network.

All Internet-enabled devices have two sets of IP addresses: a public address, and a private one.

The private one is used to identify your device on your local network, while the public one is available for a wider clientele.

Picture these IP addresses as parts of your physical home address:

  • Private IP address – the name of the recipient, which is ideally only known in the local network (neighborhood) and used for identification purposes
  • Public IP address – the actual address part which is used to pinpoint the recipient on the map

If you want to learn more about IP addresses and the way they work, you should take a look at our comprehensive guide.

Why should you change your IP address?

Changing your IP address may turn out to be a wise decision nowadays, what with all the privacy violations and cyber-attacks on the rise.

Mainly, you should change your IP address if you care about your privacy and security.

Privacy because not sharing your real IP address with anyone online gives you the upper hand.

Trust us, if done right, your IP spoofing could make even your ISP scratch their head when asked about your online whereabouts.

Now come security: if you play a game, or join an IRC chatroom, or do something that might expose your IP address, this piece of info could be easily exploited by a skillful hacker.

Thus, changing your IP address will basically redirect the attacks toward another machine.

How do I hide my IP address while browsing?

VPN

  • Purchase a VPN subscription plan (we recommend PIA)
  • Download the VPN client to your PC
  • Install the VPN and launch it
  • Log into your account
  • Connect to just about any server
  • Enjoy private, secure online browsing

A VPN is often deemed as the best way to spoof your IP address.

It requires minimum technical knowledge; after you deploy the VPN client and log into your account, all you have to do is select a server.

The VPN will route your connection through a secure tunnel and encrypt your traffic to protect you against traffic monitoring.

Additionally, a VPN does more than simply changing your IP address. It also unblocks geo-restricted content, changes your virtual location, and even blocks ads, malware, and trackers.

Private Internet Access (PIA) is one of the most popular and effective VPNs on the market.

It has a huge network of servers (over 22,000 and growing), so even if one server is full or doesn’t work as intended, you can easily switch.

Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access

Looking for a VPN that can hide your IP easily? PIA is exactly what you need.

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Proxy servers

Proxy servers are quite effective when it comes to changing your IP address, away from prying eyes.

Their operation mode is quite similar to that of VPNs. Meaning that using a proxy will route your traffic through the server you chose.

However, there are a few key differences. Most important, proxy servers work as gateways, which makes them ideal for browsing.

More often than not, a proxy server will only encrypt and hide the traffic for the apps you configure it with (e.g. your web browser, your torrenting client). Unless you configure a system-wide proxy, that is.

By comparison, VPNs encrypt all of your network traffic, regardless of your online activity (e.g. playing online games, browsing the Internet, streaming videos).

On the bright side, there are a lot of free proxy servers online, so if you need to change your IP quickly and without paying a dime, they’re a good alternative.

On the other hand, since they’re free, there’s a good chance that these proxy servers are already overcrowded and might slow your connection speed down to a pulp.

Tor

Tor is a popular way to anonymize your Internet browsing by changing your IP address.

Probably the best part about Tor is that it’s completely free and doesn’t require any rocket science degree to operate.

You just deploy the Tor Project kit on your computer, connect to the Tor network, and use the bundled browser to access the Internet.

However, note that Tor has gained some notoriety for letting users access forbidden content, which is why it’s probably (still) under surveillance.

Our suggestion is go ahead and try it, but make sure to steer away from any shady-looking website that hosts questionable content.

Psiphon

use Psiphon

Psiphon is not exactly popular among those who seek to change their IP address, and we keep wondering why.

You can download it and use it completely free, there’s no hidden fee associated with this service.

To some degree, its functionality resembles that of a VPN, but in reality, Psiphon has a slightly different operating mode.

Meaning that it combines various technologies, such as SSH, proxy servers, and VPNs to hide your real identity and bypass geoblocking.

On the other hand, Psiphon is subject to the same limitation as free proxy servers: overcrowded servers, which usually translates into slow connection speeds.

Furthermore, it also has a narrow network of servers, but that could be easily overlooked, considering it’s a free service.

Conclusion

All things considered, if you’re in need to change your IP address in a quick, effective manner, feel free to try any of our suggested methods.

Both paid and free alternatives we’ve depicted above work great at IP spoofing.

However, it’s worth mentioning that only a premium VPN service such as PIA will provide you with the maximum level of privacy and security you’re looking for.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • If you want to hide your IP address on LAN (Local Area Network), our comprehensive guide will teach you how to do it with ease.

  • If you want to discover the best tools for hiding your IP address, you should definitely check out our top picks.

  • In theory, a VPN IP address can be traced, but there are a few things you could do to help prevent this from happening.

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