How To Hide Your IP Address (And Why You Should)

Whether you want to browse the internet anonymously or access geo-restricted content, here’s how and why you should hide your IP address.
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Your IP address is your personal identifier on the internet. Although it doesn't reveal too much information, criminals can use it to pinpoint your location, get your private info, track your activity, or hack your device. In other words, your IP in the wrong hands can put a target on your back.

Practicing good cyber hygiene and a reliable VPN can help you avoid these threats. Keep reading to learn how to hide your IP address and stay anonymous online.

In this article
What is an IP address?
Why would you want to hide your IP
How to hide your IP address
How to change your IP address FAQ
Bottom line

What is an IP address?

IP stands for "Internet Protocol." It's a set of rules determining how data is sent over the internet or your local network. IP addresses make your devices accessible for communication and allow them to exchange data with other devices on a network.

Simply put, your IPs help the internet recognize your devices and differentiate them from other computers, phones, tablets, and routers. A practical example would include a website that "knows" it should load on your device once you “call” it by entering its address in your browser. It's using your IP address to determine that.

Why would you want to hide your IP

Unfortunately, criminals can do a lot with your IP, so keeping it safe is necessary nowadays. Here are the benefits of keeping your IP under wraps:

  • Hiding your location: Your IP address only shares your general location (state, city, or zip code). However, hackers can use this info to pinpoint your exact location.
  • Bypassing network restrictions: Schools and workplaces often have network restrictions to prevent streaming or checking social media accounts. Hiding your IP address can help you bypass these restrictions.
  • Accessing geo-blocked content: Your IP address determines anything from your Netflix catalog to the services you can access. For example, Google products could be blocked in your country. A VPN can help you bypass such geo-blocks and even online censorship.
  • Avoiding IP bans: Your IP can prevent you from accessing gaming servers and chat rooms. Masking your IP will help you bypass these bans.
  • Stopping ISP tracking: Your Internet Service Provider, or ISP, can track your online activity, including sites you visit and your search history. They can also sell your information or hand it over to the authorities. By hiding your IP address, you limit what your ISP can monitor and record.
  • Keeping your searches private: Search engines like Google archive your browsing history, the sites you visit, and much more. You can avoid this by masking your real IP.

How to hide your IP address

Several ways exist to boost your online security and cover your digital tracks. You can install a VPN, employ a proxy server, or use the Tor browser.

Install a reliable VPN

A VPN (virtual private network) will hide your real IP address, replacing it with a fake one. Modern VPNs offer thousands of shared IPs across their server networks. When you connect to a VPN server, you’ll get its IP; changing it is as simple as connecting to a different server.

Since your IP gives basic info about your location, if you pick a VPN server in the U.S., you’ll get a U.S. IP address. This will allow you to unblock Netflix U.S., Hulu, and similar services.

After testing dozens of VPNs, we recommend NordVPN, Surfshark, and ExpressVPN.

  • NordVPN is ideal if you want a high-speed VPN with a strict no-logs policy, 6,200+ servers in 97+ countries, strong AES-256 encryption and protocols, and extra features like Threat Protection.

    Get NordVPN | Read NordVPN Review
  • Surfshark offers unlimited simultaneous connections, a rare feature for VPN services. It’s affordable, has a no-logs policy, and offers solid AES-256 encryption.

    Get Surfshark | Read Surfshark Review
  • ExpressVPN is pricier but offers fast and secure service with a no-logs policy, servers in 105 countries, and AES-256 encryption. Additionally, it’s the only provider with a proprietary VPN router called Aircove.

    Get ExpressVPN | Read ExpressVPN Review

Use a proxy server

A proxy server acts as a “middleman” between you and the internet. It will hide your IP address but won’t encrypt any transmitted information like a VPN.

So, a proxy is a good fit if you want to unblock geo-restricted services or deal with IP bans. However, if you also need a security boost, you’ll have to go with a VPN. Encryption is integral to online security since keeping your data away from prying eyes is more important than ever.

Use Tor

Tor is free and open-source software used for anonymous communication and browsing. It directs internet traffic through a worldwide network of volunteer-operated servers called “nodes.” This process encrypts your data several times before it reaches its destination, making it incredibly difficult to trace the initial source. Tor is free, but it will severely affect your speed with multiple encryptions. We recommend using a VPN if you want better speeds or have a very slow internet connection.

How to change your IP address FAQ


Is it possible to change your IP address?

It’s not possible to change a public IP address (only your ISP can do that), but you can change a private IP address any time you want.


How to change my IP address?

If you’re wondering how to change your IP address, using a VPN or a proxy server is the easiest way. You can also use Tor, which will result in significantly lower speeds.


Does VPN change IP address?

A VPN replaces your real IP with a different IP address to make it appear like you’re connected to the internet from a different location. This can be helpful if you need to bypass internet censorship, geo-blocks, or firewall restrictions.


Can IP addresses be tracked?

An IP address is an essential component of using the internet. Unfortunately, it also contains more information about you than you’d like. An IP address can be traced to find out your general geographic location. Using a VPN can thwart any tracking. This is why some people opt to use a VPN at home.


What happens if a hacker knows my IP address?

Your IP address is your entry card to the internet. Unfortunately, it can reveal a lot about you, including your geographic location, browsing history, and more, so protecting your IP address is essential. In the wrong hands, hackers can pinpoint your location and target you for scams, deploy a DoS or DDoS attack, or reroute illegal content through your device.

Bottom line

Hiding your real IP address can help you ensure online privacy, access geo-blocked content, and deal with online censorship. It also protects you from hackers who can use it to steal your info and launch an attack against you.

The easiest way to mask your IP is to use a reliable VPN. These services will also encrypt your traffic for extra security. The best providers can include convenient features like malware protection, ad blocking, optimized torrenting, etc. Alternatively, you can use proxy servers and Tor. However, proxies don’t offer any security, and Tor can cause drastic speed drops.

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Author Details
Courtney Daybell brings over 15 years of experience in print journalism and holds a B.A. in Communications from Brigham Young University. Her focus has shifted to cyber security, where she specializes in topics such as identity theft protection, password managers, antivirus software, and more.