How to hide IP address online and why? Your IP address is your virtual fingerprint. Everything you do online can be traced back to your IP address. Whether that is the websites you visit, movies you watch, files you download, or apps you use. Eavesdropping on your online activities is easier than you think. For example, your ISP can monitor everything you do online. Hence, should you hide your IP address and if so, how?
What is an IP Address Anyway?
When we talk about hiding IP addresses, we mean your public IP address issued to your ISP (Internet Service Provider). You can check your public IP address by visiting WhatIsMyIP.network. Your private IP addresses, on the other hand, are those issued by your router to the devices connected to it. You shouldn’t worry that much about local IP addresses as you’re the only one who can actually see them. For a detailed explanation about the difference between public and private IP addresses, read this guide.
Why to Hide IP Address – Top 5 Reasons?
As previously mentioned, every activity you take online is traced back to your public IP address. Here are the top 5 reasons as to why you should mask your IP address.
Avoid Targeted Ads
Google and Facebook, for example, can use your IP address to track which websites and apps you use. They then tailor the ads they throw at you based on that. Hiding your IP address prevents such sites from sending your advertisement based on your browsing history.
Bypass Regional Restrictions
Geoblocked websites use your IP address to determine whether you are eligible to watch a certain channel or not. For instance, American Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO, and Amazon Prime are all only available in the USA. If you use a non-American IP address, you cannot watch these channels abroad.
Download Torrents Anonymously
Your ISP and copyright infringement groups use your IP address to determine whether you are downloading torrents or watching pirated streams. That is why so many people get caught. The end result would be getting an infringement notice in your email inbox. See, whenever you download a torrent file, your IP address is added to a torrent swarm. Everybody who is downloading/sharing the same file, can see all other IP address in that swarm, including yours. If you download torrents without hiding your IP address, you are fully exposed.
Avoid Blackout Restrictions
Bypassing blackouts mainly concerns citizens of the USA and Canada. Sports streaming channels such as MLB.tv, ESPN, NBC Sports, NHL.TV, NBA League Pass, and NFL Game Pass all have blackout restrictions in both these countries. In other words, when ever the game you want to watch is broadcasted by cable television, you will not be able to watch it online. Hiding your IP address tricks these channels into thinking you live in a state where the game is not blacked out.
Protect Your Privacy Online
Perhaps this is the most important reason of all as to why you must hide your IP address. If you do not want government agencies such as the NSA snooping around on what you are doing online, you need to cloak your IP address.
How to Hide IP Address?
There are several methods you can use to hide your identity online. Here are the most popular.
- Smart DNS
While Smart DNS, proxies, and Tor all allow you to mask your online location to some extent, they all have their flaws. That’s why I will mainly focus on VPN. A virtual private network, aka VPN, basically is a private secure server. Connecting to that server encrypts all of your traffic and hides your IP address along the way. Keep in mind that being able to connect to a VPN server will set you back a couple of dollars a month. The benefits you get, however, more than make up for it. Think of it as an extra feature you pay for to get a premium Internet experience.
- Setting up VPN practically takes a couple of minutes. First, you sign up with a reliable VPN provider.
- Then, you download and install a VPN application on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, or Android device.
- Finally, open the VPN app and connect to a VPN server.
- The VPN servers you get to use are scattered all over the world.
- Now you can download torrents anonymously, bypass blackouts, access geo-restricted websites and streaming channels.
- Most crucially, you get to browse the web safe in the knowledge nobody is watching you.
In terms of VPN providers you can sign up with, there are many. Based on personal experience, ExpressVPN is the best of the lot. They don’t keep any logs of your browsing activity, offer 24/7 support, and have a genuine 30-day refund guarantee.
Hide IP Address Online – Conclusion
While there are some free VPNs you could use, they are extremely limited in terms of servers and speed. They also impose a data cap. Once you have downloaded a certain amount of MBs, you will have to pay. Some of these free VPN services, such as Hola, even compromise your online privacy and security. To stay on the safe side, only use reputable VPN providers such as ExpressVPN.