Your IP address is your identity online and can be used for tracking your activities. Learn how to hide your IP footprint and enjoy all the benefits that come with keeping your IP footprint hidden.
- VPN Choice: NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and SurfShark
- Private Proxy: HighProxies, Myprivateproxy, and InstantProxies
- Rotating Choice: Smartproxy, Luminati and Stormproxies
- Others: Public Wifi, Mobile Connection, Tor Browser, Web Proxy…
Have you ever had thought that the incognito mode in your browser could keep your browsing activities private?
If you have, then you need to know that you are wrong. Incognito mode is only meant for cookies and site data, browsing history, and information you enter into forms. Your activities are still visible to the website you visit, your Internet Service Provider (ISP), and the Wi-Fi network you connect to. This is because your IP address can still be seen and used against you. If you want to truly enjoy freedom on the Internet, you need to hide your real IP address.
Hiding an IP address is easy and comes with a good number of advantages, especially now that surveillance on the Internet is at its peak. There are a good number of ways you can hide the real IP address of your device. We will be discussing these methods. But before that, let take a look at what an IP address is and the benefits of hiding your IP address.
What is an IP Address?
A good number of people have heard the term IP address and how websites they visit and their ISP use it for tracking their online activities. However, not most of them know what an IP address. An IP address is an identification number assigned to a computer on the Internet for the purpose of communication (connection) and identification.
It is available as either a 32-bit number as in the case of IPv4 IP addresses or a 64-bit number, as in the case of the new IPV6 IP addresses. IPv4 addresses are the most popular and have already been exhausted – they are being recycled and reassigned to devices dynamically. IPv6 IP addresses are the new kids in the block, but the world is not moving to them at the expected rate.
IP addresses are assigned to every device on the Internet, including web servers, mobile phones, routers, IoT devices, modems, and even self-driving cars, among others. ISPs are saddled with the responsibility of assigning IP addresses to devices that make use of their network.
For some devices, the IP addresses assigned to them are permanent or remain fairly permanent for a long period of time. For others, such as in the case of mobile devices, the IPs are shared, and a single device can have its IP address changed 3 times in a day.
Why Should You Hide Your IP Address?
There are a good number of reasons why you should hide your device IP address – and benefits to enjoy from doing that. Let take a look at the major ones.
Accessing the Internet Anonymously
Our activities on the Internet are increasingly being tracked by either the government, the websites we visit, our ISP, or media companies trying to build a profile of us for marketing purposes. This does not go down well with a good number of privacy concerned individuals.
If you are one of them, then you can hide your real IP address and fool anyone trying to track your activities online. By hiding your IP address, you will become anonymous on the Internet, preventing targeted attacks and surveillance.
Circumvent IP Bans and Restrictions
With your IP address, websites on the Internet can detect your location and restrict you from accessing certain content on the Internet. Take, for instance, if you are not in the UK, you won’t be able to access the BBC iPlayer service. If you are able to spoof your real IP address with a UK IP address, the service will become accessible to you. Also, if your IP is suffering from a ban on a website, hiding it by replacing it with another IP will get them to allow you access to the site.
Automating Actions on the Internet
Bot traffic is on the increase on the Internet. Internet marketers are increasingly automating their actions, such as web scraping, crawling, and things in-between such as price monitoring, SEO audits, and a lot more.
Websites do not like automated access and tend to place a limit to the number of requests allowed from a single IP address for a specified period of time. To circumvent the restriction, you have to hide your IP Address and get as many IP addresses as required to exceed the request limits allowed for your project.
Methods for Hiding IP Address
If you have made up your mind to hide your IP address online, then the below methods are the best options available to you. Each of them hasits peculiarities, advantages, and disadvantages. You will have to choose the best for your use case based on your specific requirements.
Use a VPN Service
A VPN is a virtual private network that allows you to make use of its network in other to spoof your real IP address by replacing it with a different one owned by the VPN service provider. Most VPN services do not only hide your IP address but also encrypt your Internet traffic to make them unreadable to your ISP and any other eavesdropper.
They do so by creating a secure and encrypted connection tunnel that forwards packets from your computer to websites on the Internet and vice versa. For you to make use of a VPN service, you have to install its software on your device.
Interestingly, most VPN services nowadays have support for most of the popular Operating Systems on both mobile and desktop. When you haveVPN software installed on your device, all your web requests are captured and forced through the secure tunnel established by the software.
Most of the VPN services even have support for a kill switch that will deny you access to the Internet if the VPN is switched off or your subscription expires – this is to prevent your IP address from accidentally being revealed. VPN providers have VPN servers in many locations around the world, which they use for routing your traffic through.
VPN is best suitable for individuals or businesses that want to keep their IP addresses hidden for privacy reasons. They can also be used for circumventing IP restrictions and bans. They are, however, slow because of the encryption process and are not suitable for use alongside web bots.
The best of VPN services is paid – avoid making use of free VPN services such as Hola VPN if your privacy is important to you.
Set Up Proxies on Your Device
Another method you can use to hide your IP address online is to configure proxies on your device. Proxy servers, simply known as proxies, act as middle server between clients’ computers and websites’ servers on the Internet. Proxy servers act just like VPN servers – your Internet traffic is routed through them, and they then route the traffic to the website it is intended for.
Unlike VPN service, encryption is not compulsorily done to your traffic – proxy servers only change your IP address. However, some proxy service providers make use of TLS/SSL encryption to encrypt your traffic packets.
Unlike in the case of a VPN service that requires you to install their software before you can make use of their VPN servers, proxy servers do not require you to install any software. All that is required from you is to configure your computer or the specific application you want to use proxies on using the proxy IP address and port, as well as username and password for authentication.
Even though there is a global proxy setting on most devices, proxy settings are usually application-specific. This is because most software disregards the global proxy settings. For such software, you will have to configure proxies from the interface they provide – and if they don’t, you will have to settle for a VPN software
While proxies can be used for personal usage to ensure a private identity online, they are best suited for the business environment. They are the tools used by Internet marketers for their automation tasks such as web scraping and crawling. Many Internet marketing software has support for using proxies. Proxies are generally faster when compared to VPNs.
Private proxy is the best choice to hide your IP with fast speed!
Browse the Internet Using the Tor Browser
The Onion Router codenamed TOR is an anonymous network that was developed to enable anonymous communication over the Internet. The network is possible because of a volunteer network of relay servers distributed worldwide. Unlike in the case of a VPN or proxy that the network is routed through a single server, Tor relays the traffic through a good number of nodes before it gets to the website it was originally sent to. You can volunteer your computer as a relay node – this is not compulsory, though. For you to make use of Tor, you have to access the Internet using the Tor browser. Visit the Tor Project website to learn more about the Tor browser.
Unlike VPNs and proxies that are paid, Tor is completely free to use. One thing you will come to hate about Tor is that it is extremely slow when compared to the other options available to you. Another thing is that you will be in a bad company. It is popularly believed that the Tor network is used mostly by scammers, online fraudsters, and those that deal in illegal businesses such as hard drugs, weapons, and cracked software.
Some websites can detect Tor through traffic and restrict access. The Tor browser can be used for accessing the dark web, which comprises of websites that normal browsers can’t be used for accessing them. Again, before using Tor, remember that it is a hub for criminal activities. However, be assured, it is foolproof.
Connect to a Public Wi-Fi
Another option available to you is to access the Internet via public Wi-Fi. Most public Wi-Fi does not act like transparent proxies that will reveal your IP address. If you connect to a Wi-Fi, the Wi-Fi appears to be a proxy and the front through which you access the Internet. Websites you visit do not get to see your real IP addresses. However, before you go this route, make sure you test it out on an IP checker tool such as WhatIsMyIPAddress and make sure that your real IP address is not revealed but that of the Wi-Fi.
However, you need to know that insecure networks can pose some level of risk to your device and data. Some of the public Wi-Fi can also be very slow.
FAQs about Hiding an IP Address
Is Hiding an IP Address Illegal?
Hiding your IP address is not illegal, and so is the use of proxies, VPN services, public Wi-Fi, and Tor. However, what you do after hiding it could make it illegal. Also, hiding your IP address by spoofing it using someone else’s IP address could land you in trouble if you use it for any bad activity.
Which is Better – Proxies or VPN Services?
Both proxies and VPNs have their unique strengths and weaknesses, and as such, we cannot say one is better than the other. Instead, we can only say that each has the tasks they are best suited for. VPN services are best suited for surfing the Internet anonymously – meant for privacy concerned individuals. Proxies, on the other hand, are best suited for online marketing tasks such as web scraping and other forms of automation online.
How Do You Hide an IP Address for Free?
Using Tor is completely free. Public Wi-Fis are also free to use. However, while Tor is very slow, public Wi-Fi can expose you to severe security and privacy breach. There are also some proxies and VPN services that comes with no price tag on them. However, I will always advise against using free proxies and VPN. So, the two options available to you are Tor and public Wi-Fi, but you have to consider their shortcomings before making a decision on which to use to hide your IP for free.
As a way of concluding this article, it is important I stress here that this article has been written specifically for privacy-concerned individuals and Internet marketers. If you intend to use it for fraudulent activities, then you have to know that you are on your own – we do not support such on this blog.