Hiding your IP address has several benefits, such as stopping your online activities from being tracked and unblocking content. Here’s how to do it.
Your IP address may be just a sequence of numbers, but it tells the world more about you than you might think. The numbers are not random: they are somewhat like car registration plates and can be used to delete information such as your physical location, with surprising accuracy. Gather all information that the website receives from your web browser, and advertisers (and anyone who wants) can even identify who you are.
If you care about your privacy – and you should – then this is bad, and that is a good enough reason to hide your IP address. But there are other reasons you might want to obscure it, such as accessing websites or videos that use your IP address to detect your extensive location and then blocking content because it is not licensed for your region, or because of GDPR rules (which is why some US sites refuse to allow people to search from EU to see their page).
Hide your IP address using VPN
Protecting your online privacy is increasingly difficult. And depending on where you live in the world, this can be very dangerous. Maybe you don’t live in one of these countries and you prefer to save your own activities online. Fortunately there are several ways to cover your real IP address by replacing it with another one. Rather like a private car registration.
Without doubt, the easiest way to hide your IP address is to use VPN. These Virtual Private Networks route your internet connection through one of their servers and display a completely different IP address to observers (such as websites and other online services).
Alternate IP addresses can be from anywhere in the world (assuming the service you use has servers all over the world), which also means that VPNs are often used to avoid regional restrictions on services like Netflix.
Again, depending on where you live, VPN may or may not be valid.
VPN also encrypts data that travels to and from the server that you visit, thus providing an additional layer of security for everything you do.
The Opera web browser has a built-in VPN (well, more than just a proxy), but there are a number of VPN services that do a better job of keeping your data private.
The two we recommend are NordVPN which at the time of this writing offers a 70% discount from the usual monthly price, and ExpressVPN which is more expensive, but offers premium services that you can read about in our reviews.
Use a proxy server
Proxy servers are somewhat like VPNs, because they route your internet connection through an online server so that your real IP address is closed when you browse online.
Just like with VPNs, Proxies are often used to work around geographic content blocks, and are also popular in parts of the world where the internet is more regulated.
Although proxy servers are a valid way to hide your IP address, they have a greater risk attached to them than some of the more well-known VPN sites. In the past there have been examples of proxies themselves that track people’s activities, and because information on a proxy is not encrypted because on a VPN there is also the potential to collect your data.
One name that is synonymous with online privacy is the Tor browser. Over the years this has been a login application for people who don’t want their online activities monitored or tracked by governments, companies or hackers.
Tor is a free, open source, downloadable browser that uses a voluntary server to reflect your connection throughout the world and makes it very difficult for anyone to know what you have done.
The Tor emblem is an onion, which represents a layer of encryption that further protects user data, while bringing tears to the eyes of intelligence agencies around the world.
But there is one drawback, and this is the fact that using the Tor browser is not the fastest experience in life. Applying these layers of encryption, and changing your data route around the world, is very detrimental to performance. If you are still interested, read our guide that explains how to use Tor.
Android users will be happy to note that there are also versions of Tor available for phones and tablets that use the attractive Orbot name.
Once again it’s free, and uses the same level of dishonesty to hide your location. Tor hasn’t created an application for Apple devices, but here’s how to browse anonymously on the iPhone and iPad.