As an internet user, knowing how to hide my IP address is extremely important. “But why do I have to change my IP address?” you may ask. After all, you aren’t doing anything illegal. There’s no real reason for you to stay anonymous online.
Unfortunately, while your intention may be good, not everyone else’s is.
The modern world is dominated by the internet. You use the internet at almost every step of your daily life. When you wake up in the morning, you usually check your mail or social media. On the way to school or work, you check the map for traffic. Throughout the day, you’re probably checking your email or using search engines to look something up. At the end of the day, you return home and spend the rest of the evening playing a game or watching a TV show online.
You probably use the internet for other things too, such as shopping and paying bills. This means a lot of your personal information is present on the internet. This information can easily be misused if it falls into the wrong hands. Without your knowledge, your privacy is being stripped away on a daily basis.
In short, the answer to your question “Why should I hide my IP address” is simply that, “By using a VPN to keep my IP address hidden, I can regain my anonymity and privacy online.”
How do IP Addresses Work?
Before you commit to changing your IP, you may have some questions like “What are they? How does it help if I hide my IP address?”
When you connect to the internet, your device is given a unique number to identify it.
This number is called the IP address. Every other computer and server connected to the internet also has a similar address.
Since this address is unique to every device, it is easy to track an individual computer or phone.
A particular address can be traced to a location. Most websites with geo-restricted content do this.
For example, websites with US Television check your location and restrict those outside the US.
These websites will only look at your general location, such as the country or city.
However, it can also be used to narrow your location down to a neighbourhood or a single building.
This can have dangerous repercussions.
That’s why you should hide your IP and stay invisible online.
By hiding your IP address with a VPN, you’ll not only become anonymous online, but you’ll also be able to bypass all the geo-restrictions you could be faced with.
On this infographic on the left, you see the different steps needed to hide your IP Address.
As you can see, there is nothing difficult, it will only take you a few seconds.
Dangers of being Exposed Online
You may still be wondering, “Why should I change my IP address?” Well, simply put, “By changing it, I become anonymous and ensure scammers can’t get any of my personal info.”
Many things can happen if you don’t stay safe and anonymous online.
And scams are a common threat. Imagine someone gets their hands on some of your personal information. They can use that information to trick you into revealing other information.
For example, someone could find out you use a particular bank. They could then pretend to be the bank and ask you for your account information. If you don’t recognise the scam, your money will be stolen. However, if you change your IP address, scammers won’t be able to find information on you.
Sensitive or personal information that you should keep private include website passwords, medical records, online banking credentials and private emails and conversations.
Another possibility is censorship. In some countries, governments restrict freedom of speech. We can think of China where the use of VPN is widespread for this reason. They will punish anyone who tries to discuss topics they have forbidden. You need to avoid government surveillance and stay anonymous while discussing them.
If you mask your IP address, the government won’t be able to track you down. If you are a journalist or investigative reporter, staying anonymous and untraceable on the internet is very important. In some countries, it’s almost necessary to hide from the authorities.
Advantages of Staying Hidden Online
If you hide your IP address, you don’t just avoid dangers. Hiding your identity on the internet can have some advantages.
You can unblock content that is geo-restricted.
Unblocking US television is a simple example. However, there are a lot of other cases too. For instance, if I was living in China, it would be necessary to use a VPN to change my IP address.
It would be the only way to bypass the “Great Firewall of China”. This ‘Firewall’ usually blocks many international websites in China. We saw this in our article about the use of Google in China or the one about using Netflix in China. Similarly, some US news websites are blocked in the EU. If you use a VPN, you will be able to access them.
You can avoid directed advertisements.
Some companies like Google keep track of the websites you visit. They build a ‘profile’ of your interests and use it to show you directed advertisements. This can be annoying.
If you use a VPN and change your IP address, your identity will be hidden from advertisers. They will no longer know who you are. They won’t be able to learn about your preferences.
How to change my IP Address with a VPN?
A VPN is a type of software that allows you to change your IP address.
The normal process to connect to the internet works like this: the information travels from your device to a website. It passes through multiple servers which are owned by various ISP (Internet Service Provider) companies. Each of these servers has addresses of their own.
To track you, a website follows the same route in reverse using IP addresses to reach your device. But if you change your address to a different one, they cannot follow you to your device.
The process when using a VPN is different.
First, you open the VPN program and select a server.
You are connected directly to that server without passing through any other servers in between. The server you selected is owned by the VPN’s provider. All your information passes through this server first before going through the internet as normal.
When someone tries to track you, they can only follow you as far as the VPN server you are connected to.
This lets you change or mask your IP address. The real one cannot be tracked. The IP address seen by websites is one of the VPN servers.
There will be many people connecting through the same VPN server. Therefore, it’s impossible to track one person’s personal traffic. By connecting through a VPN server you become anonymous, almost like hiding in a crowd.
What are some good VPNs?
The choice of VPN matters a lot. When you use one, all your network traffic passes through them.
Therefore, you are trusting them with your information. However, there are some highly reputable and trustworthy VPNs that you can use.
For hiding your IP address, three VPNs we recommend are ExpressVPN, Cyberghost and NordVPN. Each of these VPNs have special features that provide you with a lot of security. Using these will allow you to hide from websites or individuals tracing you.
1. Using ExpressVPN to Hide My IP Address
You might be asking “Should I use ExpressVPN to hide my IP address?”
They are generally considered the #1 VPN available. This is thanks to their extremely high connection speeds.
Sometimes, if the VPN server has a lot of traffic, your internet connection might slow down. This is not the case here. In addition to high speeds, they have 160 server locations in 94 countries worldwide. This can be super useful if your goal is to watch Geo-restricted content like MotoGP.
There are other features that are useful for helping you browse anonymously.
For instance, ExpressVPN has a ‘Kill Switch’ feature. If you get disconnected from the VPN server, the Kill Switch disables your internet immediately. If it did not, then your internet would automatically connect as normal and give you away. The Kill Switch is a super important feature for people who care about hiding their IP address.
Another feature it has is Split Tunnelling. This allows you to specify only a part of your network traffic to pass through the VPN. For example, you might want to hide your browsing habits only. For playing online games, you want to use your usual internet connection. Using split tunnelling, you can ensure this easily. This lets you pick who to hide your IP address from.
Other security features are also present.
ExpressVPN uses AES-256 Encryption. Encryption is the process of hiding your information by using a special code. By encrypting your network traffic, they ensure a third party cannot read your information. AES-256 encryption is the most secure standard available, and it is even used by governments worldwide.
While ExpressVPN is relatively more expensive, you can get all the above features with a 49% discount. This brings the monthly fee to only $6.67.
Getting the 12-month subscription also gives you 3 months as a bonus. If you only need it for a short while, you can try it out and get a 30-day money-back guarantee.
2. Using CyberGhost
“What about CyberGhost? Is it a good choice for masking my IP address?”
CyberGhost is also one of the most popular VPNs.
Compared to ExpressVPN, it is a budget option. The 3-year plan only costs you $2.75 a month. However, it still has many useful features for maintaining your privacy online. They have both a desktop program and a mobile app version. Thus, Cyberghost allows you to hide your IP address and protect yourself while browsing on the move.
They also use the AES-256 encryption standard, so your information will be secure. This is particularly necessary if you use a public Wi-Fi. It is extremely easy for hackers to access public Wi-Fi networks to steal information. By encrypting your data, you ensure hackers cannot actually read any data they steal. This is one of the biggest steps in maintaining your privacy online.
With 3600 servers worldwide, you can access and unblock any kind of geo-restricted content. In fact, this VPN specializes in unblocking Netflix, BBC, etc. If you change your IP address to an US or UK address, you will be able to watch those.
There are also a few more useful features in Cyberghost. The VPN will automatically block ads, saving you money when on a mobile connection. Similarly, they will block malware and trackers. They also have ‘NoSpy’ servers. These are servers fully owned and managed by CyberGhost.
3. Using NordVPN
Last, but not the least, is NordVPN. ExpressVPN is the premium option for staying anonymous on the internet. CyberGhost is the budget option for maintaining your privacy. But NordVPN is the security specialist.
They have over 5000 servers worldwide in 60 different countries.
Similar to ExpressVPN, they offer very high speed connections. Your browsing speed will be fast as ever, while being more secure.
You can maintain your privacy and anonymity while streaming or downloading at high speeds. They are also not very expensive. You can hide your IP address for only $3 a month, with their 3-year subscription. This is a 75% discount offer.
You can also get your money back anytime within the first 30 days.
However, what NordVPN really is known for are their security features. They use military grade encryption to protect your sensitive data. Since the data is encrypted, third parties can’t access it. They do not keep any logs, so your data is hidden from government authorities too.
Another feature they have is ‘Cybersec’. While it doesn’t hide IP addresses, it acts as an adblocker and virus scanner combined. It protects you from suspicious or dangerous websites where your personal data might be stolen. It also prevents irritating advertisements from showing up.
NordVPN’s final unique feature is the ‘DoubleVPN’.
As you know, a VPN makes a secure, encrypted connection to a server owned by the VPN providers. With DoubleVPN, a second connection encrypted connection is made. It basically applies two layers of encryption. This increases your security several times over.
This is particularly important for people like investigative journalists in authoritarian countries. They need to take every step they can to stay hidden from the authorities. DoubleVPN helps them maintain their anonymity better.
Hopefully, you should now understand the significance of staying hidden online. Always keep in mind, “I should hide my IP address and safeguard my personal info and online privacy.”
In the modern world, knowledge is power. Therefore, you need to know how to change and hide your IP address and prevent others from gaining power over you. Our recommended VPNs are a great place to start!
Patricia is a tech-savvy writer, specializing in VPN, CloudComputing and CyberSecurity. She is a single mom and a full-time freelance writer who massively contributes to our blog.