Here are multiple methods to hide your IP address, including free and paid solutions. It’s not difficult to hide your IP with a bit of know-how, whether it’s via a VPN, a proxy, or something else.
An IP address consists of a string of numbers and decimals which are used to identify your device and its current location. Any device which is connected to the internet has an IP address.
Unfortunately, your IP address can be used to track you, as it’s unique and visible to everyone online. As it is used to identify your location, your IP also determines whether you’re allowed to access any region-locked content.
It makes sense to hide your IP address from anyone interested in keeping tabs on your online movements. This could be your ISP, hackers, advertisers and tech giants, or even the government. We’ll look at ways to change your IP address, as well as hide your IP address.
What’s my IP address?
It’s a good idea to find out your IP address if you’re aiming to hide it. To do so, you just have to Google "what’s my IP?” We also have a free tool which can be used to check your IP address easily. Your IP should look like this:
This is an IPv4 address. The IPv4 system has been around for years and is the most common type of internet address. However, we’re running out of IPv4 addresses, so an IPv6 address is sometimes used instead. An IPv6 is a longer 128-bit address that looks like this:
Your IP address will probably change every so often, but you will be the only one assigned with your current address. It’s used to help devices communicate on the internet, but it can be hidden from the sites that you visit.
8 ways to hide your IP address
1. Use a VPN to hide your IP address
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is one of the easiest ways to hide your IP address. It works by encrypting the data sent to and from your device, masking your online movements in the process.
You’ll just need to connect to a VPN server, and it will route and encrypt your data so apps and services will only be able to see the server’s IP address rather than your own.
The majority of VPNs are premium services that charge a monthly subscription. Many have thousands of servers to choose from across multiple locations, and you’ll be able to get an IP address from lots of countries worldwide.
Here’s how to hide your IP address with a VPN:
- It’s best to start by checking your IP address. Enter "what’s my IP?” into Google.
- You’ll need to sign up with a VPN. (ExpressVPN is our top recommendation for hiding your IP.)
- Download the VPN app to your device/s.
- Install the VPN app, and open it when ready.
- Sign in using your account credentials.
- You’ll now have to select a server. Your new IP address will match the server location you’ve chosen.
- Once selected, connect to the server. You should receive a pop-up notification on desktop devices.
- Now that you’re connected to the VPN, it’s time to see if your IP address has been hidden. Google "what’s my IP?” Your IP should be different to the address shown in step one.
Typically, providers like ExpressVPN use a shared IP address. This means that if you connect to a server, you’ll share the VPN IP address with other users. Of course, this makes each individual user harder to track.
If you’d prefer, some providers offer a static IP address. For an added fee, you’ll be able to use the same IP every time you connect to the VPN. For example, NordVPN has dedicated IP addresses in the following locations:
- United States (Buffalo, Los Angeles, Dallas), Germany (Frankfurt), United Kingdom (London), France (Paris), and the Netherlands (Amsterdam).
However, if you’re aiming to hide your online movements, a shared IP is the best solution.
It’s also worth ensuring that the VPN has the following features:
- Private DNS servers: If you’re using a VPN to hide your activities from your ISP, it’s a good idea to pick a provider that operates its own DNS servers. Otherwise, you’ll be using DNS servers run by your Internet Service Provider or Google, allowing them to see your real IP address in the process.
- Leak protection: DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks can occur while using a VPN, exposing your real IP address. You’ll need a provider that offers watertight leak protection.
- Kill-switch: A kill-switch protects your data in case the VPN connection drops. It will cut your connection to the internet, ensuring you can’t access any websites or services if you’re not connected to a VPN server. Sometimes the kill-switch is off by default, so make sure to double-check.
- No logs: The VPN will be able to see the sites and services you visit, but what does it do with that data? Some providers offer a no-logs policy, ensuring all information is wiped from their servers. Ideally, the VPN will have been audited by a respected third party like PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
It’s also a good idea to look for a provider with speedy servers that offer numerous additional privacy features. For example, Double VPN uses two servers rather than one, encrypting your data twice for more protection.
2. Use a proxy to hide your IP address
A proxy is another viable way to hide your IP address. Proxy servers act as an intermediary between your computer and the internet. Websites will only see the IP address of the proxy server, rather than your real IP address.
There are a few issues with using proxy servers. The proxy owner will be able to see all of your traffic and will know your real IP address.
Some proxies aren’t encrypted, so they can be used to bypass website blocks, but your website requests will still go to a third-party DNS server that can see your real IP address. (This is why a VPN with leak protection is a more versatile solution than a proxy in many cases.)
Both Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and the Tor network are specific examples of encrypted proxies.
3. Use Tor to hide your IP address for free
On the subject of encrypted proxies, the Tor network is a great way to access the internet anonymously. Short for The Onion Router, it works by routing your connection through at least three random volunteer-owned nodes.
Websites will only be able to see the last server in the circuit, which is known as the exit node. The sequence will change each time, making it almost impossible to identify the real IP address of the user.
However, there are some downsides to consider while using the Tor network. Due to the nature of the strong encryption provided by the nodes, it’s not a speedy solution. In other words, we wouldn’t recommend Tor for streaming, or any task that is particularly intensive. Some websites will even block connections from known Tor nodes, forcing the user to look at alternative methods.
4. Connect to a different network to change your IP address
A simple solution is to switch to a different network if you have the ability to do so. For example, a mobile network will give your device a different IP address to your home network, so you’ll be able to check if you’ve been blocked, or stop any tracking. A free alternative would be to connect to a public Wi-Fi hotspot or an open network, although this could be a risk due to a lack of encryption and authentication.
5. Ask your ISP to change your IP address
An IP is assigned directly by your ISP, so you might be able to get in contact with your provider directly to change your IP address. It’s likely that you’ll need your account information at the ready when you’re getting started.
Results will vary depending on your ISP, but it’s unlikely that you’ll be assigned a different static IP address. Instead, your IP address will continue to change every so often, because IP addresses are constantly being recycled by ISPs to meet demand. These are known as dynamic IP addresses.
You might be able to request a static IP which always stays the same, but you may have to pay an additional fee.
6. Unplug your modem to change your IP address
Possibly the most simple method, unplugging your modem might cause you to be assigned a new IP address. This method isn’t foolproof, and it can take time for your ISP to rotate and recycle your old IP.
As a rule of thumb, the longer you leave it unplugged, the more likely this method will work. However, it’s not ideal if you need to hide your IP address quickly.
7. Use a NAT firewall to hide your private IP address
Most wireless routers use a NAT firewall that allows multiple devices on the same network to use the same public IP address. However, each device will have a unique private IP address.
NAT translates IP addresses on a local network into one public IP address which is used by your router when connecting to and receiving data from the internet. This is easier than using a different public IP address for each device.
Your NAT firewall won’t hide your public IP address, but it will work with your private address.
Every device connected to a NAT-enabled router will share a public IP address.
8. Renew your IP address to change your private IP address
Renewing your private IP address is the final method to make the list. Once again, your private IP isn’t as important as your public IP address, but there will be times when it’ll need to be changed.
You can renew your IP address to change your private IP address by entering a few simple commands into Windows Command Prompt or the Mac Terminal.
How to renew your IP address on Windows:
- Open Command Prompt and right click it to Run as administrator
- Enter ipconfig /release
- Enter ipconfig /renew
You should now have a different local IP address.
How to renew your IP on macOS:
- Click the Apple menu and open System Preferences
- Select Network
- Highlight the network that you’re connected to in the left pane
- Click Advanced…
- Select the TCP/IP tab
- Click Renew DHCP Lease
Your Mac will now have a different private IP address.
Can you hide your IP address from your ISP?
No, but it depends on what you’re trying to hide. Consider; your ISP provides you with internet service, giving you an IP address. You won’t be able to connect to the internet without this IP address.
A VPN, proxy, or Tor doesn’t actually replace your real IP address. Instead, it masks your IP address, so services that you connect to can only see the VPN/proxy IP. Regardless, your real IP is still being used to connect to the internet, even if the proxy or VPN server is an intermediary.
On the other hand, you will be able to hide the websites and services you visit from your ISP with the use of a VPN, as it encrypts all of your traffic. Encryption is what is used to keep your data safe, ensuring that your ISP can only see that you’re connected to a VPN server, rather than any websites or apps you use.
The website won’t be able to see your real IP address, and your ISP won’t be able to see which websites you visit. However, the VPN will know your real IP address, as well as the websites and apps you use. It’s important to choose an audited provider that keeps no logs of user activity. Only then can you be sure of surfing the web anonymously.
Hiding your IP address FAQs
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