How to hide IP address: theory and practice

Last updated: May 26 2020 By Dean Chester

In this article, there is all the necessary information on the “hide IP address” topic. But if you don’t need theory, go to the “3 steps for hiding IP” section.

Do you know that about 98% of Internet users, who are surfing the net at the moment, don’t know their IP address and don’t even know what it looks like?

Still, nowadays it’s vital to know it.

After reading this short article, you’ll know how to easily hide your IP and what benefits you can get from that.

You’ll find the following information:


What’s  IP address?

IP address

What does your friend need to send you by email?  That’s right! It’s your email address. The same thing relates to remote computers. They need your IP address to get connected to your computer on the network.

Structure of IP address
Structure of IP address

Besides, you have a particular address to get your mail, while your device has an Internet address for getting information on the network. This address allows your devices to communicate with other devices over the Internet.

Well, what is my IP address? Put simply, it is a numerical label assigned to each device.

Cool fact…

Each website has its own IP address, but it’s assigned with its own name: Amazon.com, Youtube.com, etc (in fact, it's not always easy to access YouTube).

Without an IP address, they will fail to share their information with you, and you will not get connected to them.

Isn’t it easy? In fact, IP addresses (Internet protocol) are system identificators.

IPv4 is known as a common type of IP address. This type of address is limited and almost depleted. Still, there is IPv6 that supports the maximum number of IP addresses that will never run out.

Here are a few examples of IP addresses:

  • 176.32.103.205 - amazon.com
  • 172.217.23.174 - youtube.com

Your IP address looks the same way. In fact, the Internet is a network of IP addresses connected to each other, but this connection is not active. It gets active once it’s required only.

Structure of the Internet
The Internet consists of IP addresses

IP addresses are given to your provider in the form of lists, and these lists are extended, but they aren’t moved to another place. That’s why there are databases of IPs for each one to be able to define a physical location by an IP address. These databases are constantly updated for more up-to-date information.

You can learn more about IP addresses in Wikipedia.


Why do you need to hide your IP?

do you need to hide your IP

Using the database, any user can match an IP with a quite exact location (country, city) and the Internet Service Provider (ISP). It’s publicly available information.

There are different services that help to do it more clearly. For this, you just need to define your IP and then you will get your geo-location in a few seconds.

Information taken from your IP address
What information you can know from an IP

The authorities have access to more detailed information. Having the information about your IP, they can legally send requests to your ISP. In most countries, ISPs collect and keep logs about user activities for 3 years and more. What’s more, they keep the information on when and what IP address was assigned to a particular user (your real address and name).

It’s useful for criminal investigations, but there’s the other side of the story: no privacy at all.

Google, Facebook, and many other companies also collect information about all users of the Internet. They even do it not only on their sites but also on millions of other sites that use their extensions.

In fact, it’s difficult to find a site or an app that doesn’t collect information about users. For example, to stream HBO, the site is to know information about its users.

An IP address is one of the parameters. It’s claimed that it’s done for showing you quality ads. But no one can guarantee that this information won’t leak to criminals, as it has already taken place earlier.

Why is an open IP address sometimes bad?

  • control of users’ activities by the authorities, especially in countries with censorship and potential legal punishment for visiting banned sites;
  • you’ll probably become a famous person, and someone would interfere with your private life, even if years go by;
  • you work in a big company, and your boss watch what the staff do;
  • if there’s a data leak (because of hacking), your data may be compromised.

Masking of an IP address copes with those problems and helps to solve a few more tasks.

Some Internet users prefer being invisible on the network in order to bypass geo-blocking or gain access to restricted websites, others – to hide their online activity from prying eyes.

Your IP addresses don’t reveal your name, address, bank credentials, or other sensitive information about you, but it allows you to define your geo-location and what websites you visit. Many careful users aren’t satisfied with the fact and prefer using different tools for privacy on the Internet.

Fortunately, today it’s dead easy to mask your IP, especially if you know what tools to use. Here are just a few of them:

Obviously, that’s far from the full list of solutions that can be used to increase your Internet privacy. Those who want to go beyond hiding their IPs from excessively interested parties should also look into securing their online communication.

Note that while this topic falls slightly outside the scope of our today’s guide, I just have to mention it briefly. You may regard it as a heads-up for your quest for privacy!

Though there have been countless claims to the contrary, email as a way of communicating is far from dying, so protecting it is a good idea. One way to do it is via PGP encryption.

PGP, or Pretty Good Privacy, is software used to encrypt emails and therefore, protect them from falling to the wrong hands. Not to get into technicalities, you can ensure that only the people you intend your message for can read it by using this software. Of course, it requires all interlocutors to have it installed to encipher and decipher messages but it’s not a huge price to pay for one’s privacy.

Well, I shall digress no longer. We have a lot of ground to cover! Ready to learn more about the ways to hide your IP? Then let’s get started!


How to hide your IP address?

How to hide your IP address?

I’ll tell you about three ways of masking an IP. Just because they are real. But in fact, the most simple and reliable way is the first one. Moreover, you can combine it with other tools that will increase their opportunities.

1. VPN software

VPN software

VPN software

In fact, VPN is the best tool for convenient changing IP addresses. VPN technology was primarily developed for the employees who worked remotely and had to connect to the company network in a private way.

I turned out that this technology has other useful opportunities. In particular, it’s reliable masking of an IP address.

Today this technology is available for all Internet users around the world thanks to VPN providers that offer affordable VPN services.

Thanks to VPN technology, all websites to which your browser or any other app of your device is connected will define not your IP, but the IP of your VPN provider’s server.

How a VPN tunnel works
How a VPN tunnel works

And all your traffic is encrypted in a reliable way.

It means that your provider and all users who are between you and a VPN server won’t be able to know what sites you are connected to and what information you transfer and receive.

Today private users and companies prefer VPN to other tools for IP masking. It’s clear why. The truth deserves trust.

Also, companies of any size use business software that needs additional protection against hackers these days.

A VPN provider has a lot of advantages that play an important part in today’s insecurity of the Internet. Read the Surfshark review to learn more.

The main advantages of VPN:

  • Masks your IP;
  • Encrypts your traffic;
  • Allows you to bypass geo-blocking;
  • Allows secure torrenting.

How to use VPN?

It takes a few minutes to set up a VPN client. Besides, many VPN services have a user-friendly interface that makes Internet security dead simple and convenient.

Visit our page dedicated to the best VPN services and you’ll find everything you need to know about them.


2. Proxy

proxy

Proxy servers are efficient for unblocking access to geo-restricted sites, though they are slower and less secure than VPNs (read NordVPN review). Proxies don’t encrypt your Internet activity. They take your traffic and transfer it in an unencrypted way. Thus, the website you are going to connect to, ‘’sees’’ only the traffic intercepted by a proxy server.

How proxy works
How proxy works

One of the advantages of using this tool is that you don’t have to set up additional software.Pros and cons of proxy

As you probably know, some streaming services, like Netflix and BBC, restrict access for other countries. Still, with a proxy server, you will easily bypass this restriction. Just connect to a proxy server in the UK or USA, and the content will be available for you. Nice! But…

Here’s the catch…

Proxy servers aren’t so available and secure. For example, you configure a proxy in your browser. Still, your traffic won’t be encrypted. It means that your personal information will be still available for an ISP, the government, and other third parties. That’s why it’s not recommended to use proxy servers for torrenting and visiting blocked sites.

Amazon Prime and other providers of streaming services are aware of this way of unblocking geo-restrictions that’s why they monitor the lists of proxies and include them in blacklists.

Besides, it’s very difficult to find a working proxy on the Internet. This technology is used by millions of bots for hidden scanning of the Internet for different purposes. They are so overloaded that’s why it’s almost impossible to use free proxies. Paid proxies lag behind the functionality of VPN services. That’s why it’s a waste of money.

3. TOR

TOR

Onion Router

The Onion Router, or Tor, was developed for the US Navy in the 90s for secret data transfer.  As well as VPN software, Tor is now available for any user on the Internet. Despite the fact that it’s often connected with a black network and cybercrimes, it has its own advantages. In fact, Tor technology provides anonymity for servers and websites you visit.

How can Tor mask your IP?

Tor helps you to connect anonymously to the network of servers operated by volunteers (more than 4500). Instead of a direct connection, a user applies this network by means of several connections to virtual tunnels. It allows you to get a new IP address.

How TOR works

But it works only for the sites opened in a Tor browser. The other apps and browsers won’t be protected.

Besides, with Tor, you can get access to some websites that aren’t available in common browsers. At the same time, it uses the apps which aren’t protected and can compromise your personal information. Tor can’t protect your personal information from the authorities and your ISP. Besides, if you use a Tor browser for BitTorrent and other torrent clients, your IP will be easily revealed.

Thus, it'll be rather problematic to surf the Internet with the restrictions of the UAE ISPs, for example.

Still, the main disadvantage of Onion router for Internet users around the world is its speed. With Tor, your traffic goes through several nodes and the speed of your internet connection is getting far slower. That’s why it’s very inconvenient to surf the internet.

Pros and cons of Tor

You can find further information about Tor on its official site.


3 Steps for hiding IP

3 Steps for hiding IP

It is summarized step-by-step guidance for the most effective method of IP address hiding - VPN usage. You need 3-5 minutes to efficiently hide your IP.

We recommend newbies using cheap and highly effective VPN service Surfshark.

It allows hiding IP for free within 7 days. After a free trial, it will cost you only $1.99 per month. It is one of the cheapest VPN services.

Surfshark offers incredible technology features for IP masking.

Well, 3 simple steps:

1. Go to surfshark.com and find the “Apps” section in the menu.

3 steps for hiding  IP: step one

For the first time, we recommend using the VPN on a mobile device. Surfshark for Android and iOS is completely free within 7 days and does not require a bank card for registration.

But you can also start with choosing a VPN for Windows and Mac, after pre-selecting a tariff plan and registering an account by clicking the “Get Started” link.

2. Download and install the app.

3 steps for hiding  IP: step two

Surfshark supports all possible devices whether it is Mac or Android, which are compatible with Virtual Private Network.

The installation of the app does not require any additional app settings. You only need to allow the app to get access to the VPN capacities of your device. For this, you only need to reply in the affirmative in the appeared window while installing.

It is an ordinary practice and similar for all VPN services.

After downloading, the window of the VPN app should appear:

3 steps for hiding  IP: registration in Surfshark

If you use a mobile app and want to use a trial version, click “START FREE TRIAL” and register a new account or log in to your account.

3. Connect to the VPN.

3 steps for hiding  IP: step three

You may use any liked virtual location in any of 62 available countries.

Starting with this moment your IP is hidden. And not only for a browser but also for all apps on your device.

Tip: Surfshark has a Kill Switch function. Its activation allows you to safeguard yourself even in case of a connection failure with a VPN server while reconnecting to another VPN location. Kill Switch blocks all of the device’s traffic until you connect to the VPN. It is immensely important while using a VPN for torrenting.

You can use the VPN as much as you want and benefit from the unrestricted number of devices simultaneously. This will not influence your free trial or the price of a paid subscription.


How to hide IP for free?

How to hide IP for free?

There are three ways to hide an IP:

  1. Use Tor
  2. Use an anonymizer
  3. Use a free VPN

The first variant has a significant drawback - TOR requires installing its own browser. It means that the traffic of other apps won’t be protected.

TOR browser not always supports the latest updates of ordinary browsers and incorrectly reflects some websites, video content, and some modern technologies.

Besides, Darknet (the net inside Tor) is used by malefactors. Major IP addresses of Tor-servers are blacklisted.

The second variant is suitable for several news resources. Point being, one site is opened inside of another. However, this technology often fails to function properly. Especially if a site contains complex scripts.

The third variant is more universal. As a matter of fact, a free VPN does not differ from a paid one a lot. Both of them use the same technology. The main difference is that a free VPN in every way slow down speeds and traffic volume as it is beneficial to it. Hence, there are big problems while using a free VPN for hiding an IP address - low speed and limited choice of virtual IPs.

Read more about the usage of a free VPN in the regularly updated review.

What’s the conclusion? All three options have significant disadvantages. There is no good and convenient way to hide IP for free.


ConclusionConclusion

I hope that this article was helpful to you. Today hiding your IP is one of the main Internet safety measures. Nowadays there are lots of ways to mask your IP. However, VPN is considered to be the safest one. Such VPNs as NordVPN, CyberGhost VPN, and others (read the full list of the best VPNs) will help you keep your anonymity and security on the network.


CoolTechZone - Chief Editor
Dean Chester
Cybersecurity and online privacy expert and researcher. He's been published on OpenVPN, EC-Council Blog, DevSecOps, AT-T Business, SAP Community, etc. Dean has been testing VPNs for 8 years.

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8 user reviews for How to hide IP address: theory and practice

Good guide!

Hi Dean, thanks for the article! You explain everything in a rather comprehensive way. However, one moment is still undisclosed for me. Do I understand right that when I use a VPN, the sites I open detect a fake IP address which cannot be identified? Or can this fake IP still be detected? I ask this question because if someone can identify a VPN’s IP, I cannot count on 100% anonymity and my activity won’t be hidden from interested parties such as ISP, for instance.

Dean Chester's picture
LMAO, it’s a difficult

LMAO, it’s a difficult question. If a VPN doesn’t have IP leaks, the opened sites can see fake IP ONLY. It’s a different matter how they view such fake. The thing is that it’s possible to guess whether an IP address belongs to the ISP, catering the users, or to the data center. If it belongs to the data center, it’s highly likely we deal with VPN or proxy. However, we cannot trust this information 100% and trustworthy sites won’t give consideration to this information only. IP addresses can migrate, databases aren’t 100% accurate, etc. That’s why in “paranodes” cases sites can check your local time with the time zone of IP address. One can prevent it by changing the time on the device manually. Your real IP address will not be detected. As for your internet provider, it cannot decode a VPN channel. It cannot show your IP address to the sites you visit because it doesn’t know what sites you open.

IP problem

Dean, good job. I like your straightforward approach and the way you r writing. But let me clarify smth for myself. From your review, I couldn’t find out how can I know what’s my IP address? And how can I make sure that a vpn spoofed it well? I mean, where can I check it out? I hope I explained it right. I turned on a build-in proxy yesterday and attempted to watch Netflix but I was saluted by “Incognito mode error”. I suppose this means that Netflix revealed my real IP as well as the fact that I used a proxy to hide it.

Dean Chester's picture
Rick, try using special

Rick, try using special online services for IP checking. For example, myip.com.

now we're talking

Man I’m tired of my internet provider snooping around. Will be trying a vpn now to spoof my ip thanks to this article!

Excellent article

Dean, good stuff! Thanks for the guide!

Tor over VPN

Dean, can I use Tor over vpn for stronger protection?

Dean Chester's picture
Yes, many VPN services

Yes, many VPN services support Tor. If you want my opinion regarding safety, I recommend trusted services that don’t keep logs.