How to Hide Your IP Address (and Why You Might Want To)
Your IP address is like your public ID on the internet. Any time you do anything on the internet, your IP address lets servers know where to send back information you’ve requested. Many sites log these addresses, effectively spying on you, usually to deliver you more personalized ads to get you to spend more money. For some people, this is a significant issue, and there are ways to hide your IP address.
Why Would You Need To Hide Your IP Address?
One of the big reasons that people hide their IP addresses is so that they can download illegal material without being tracked. But there are a lot of other reasons you might want to hide it.
One reason is geographic restrictions and censorship. Some content is blocked by the government in certain areas, such as in China and the Middle East. If you can hide your real IP address and make it look like you’re browsing from another region, you can get around these restrictions and view blocked websites. Private companies also often geo-lock their content, making it unavailable in certain countries. For example, this happens a lot on YouTube, where some countries, like Germany, block copyrighted content outright, rather than using YouTube’s monetization model.
The other reason to hide your IP address is simply for more privacy and to prevent misuse of your personal information. Whenever you access a website, the server you connect to logs your IP address and attaches it to all the other data the site can learn about you: your browsing habits, what you click on, how long you spend looking at a particular page. They then sell this data to advertising companies who use it to tailor ads straight to you. This is why ads on the internet sometimes feel oddly personal: it’s because they are. Your IP address can also be used to track your location, even when your location services are turned off.
Here I’ve done a basic IP lookup, which returned my location down to the area of the city in which I live. Anyone with your IP address can do this, and while it won’t give out your actual home address or name to everyone, anyone with access to your ISPs customer data can find you fairly easily.
The spying and selling of user data aren’t limited to websites either. Under US law, your Internet Service Provider (Comcast, Verizon, etc. ) has the right to collect information about you without your permission, just like any website owner does. While they all claim they don’t sell customer data, it is certainly worth a lot of money to ad companies, and there is nothing legally stopping them. This is a major problem, as half of the people on the internet in the US only have one choice of ISP, so for many, it’s either be spied on or go without internet.
So How Do I Hide My IP Address?
The two primary ways to hide your IP address are using a proxy server or using a virtual private network (VPN). (There’s also Tor, which is great for extreme anonymization, but it’s very slow and for most people isn’t necessary. )
A proxy server is an intermediary server through which your traffic gets routed. The internet servers you visit see only the IP address of that proxy server and not your IP address. When those servers send information back to you, it goes to the proxy server, which then routes it to you. The problem with proxy servers is that many of the services out there are pretty shady, spying on you or inserting ads into your browser.
VPN is a much better solution. When you connect your computer (or another device, such as a smartphone or tablet) to a VPN, the computer acts as if it’s on the same local network as the VPN. All your network traffic is sent over a secure connection to the VPN. Because your computer behaves as if it’s on the network, this allows you to securely access local network resources even when you’re on the other side of the world. You’ll also be able to use the Internet as if you were present at the VPN’s location, which has some benefits if you’re using public Wi-Fi or want to access geo-blocked websites.
When you browse the web while connected to a VPN, your computer contacts the website through the encrypted VPN connection. The VPN forwards the request for you and forwards the response from the website back through the secure connection. If you’re using a USA-based VPN to access Netflix, Netflix will see your connection as coming from within the USA.
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Okay, How Do I Get a VPN?
Now that you’ve decided that you need a VPN, it’s time to figure out how to get one. There are lots of options, including setting up your own VPN, which is very complicated, or you can even setup your own home VPN—though that doesn’t work if you’re actually at home.
Your best, and easiest option, is to simply get yourself a VPN service from a solid VPN provider. You can find services that range in price from completely free for limited use, like Tunnelbear, to blazing fast and works on all your devices for a small monthly fee like ExpressVPN. We’ve talked before about how to choose the best VPN service for your needs, and that article gives you a lot more information on the topic.
Installing a VPN is as simple as heading to the signup page, downloading the client app onto your device—Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, and Android are all supported by most of the best VPN providers—installing the app, and then logging in. Press the connect button, and you’re magically connected to a VPN on a server somewhere else in the world.
RELATED: How to Choose the Best VPN Service for Your Needs
Image Credits: Elaine333/Shutterstock
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Can Someone Find Me? – What Is My IP Address
You probably don’t think too much about your IP address, but maybe it’s time you did.
Most people (and maybe you) know their IP address is a digital address of some sort that helps the Internet deliver content to your computer.
And perhaps you know that 99% of the time, no one else knows or cares to know what your IP address is.
But there’s more you need to know.
See, your IP address is something like a beacon on the Internet.
Your IP address is like a beacon on the Internet
Your IP address gives websites, and people that you have connected with online, more than just a number—more than your IP address.
It also gives them the ability to trace that IP address back towards you if they wanted to.
To be clear, they can trace it back to your geographical location.
Okay. It’s likely that 99% of the time no one (and no websites) are running your IP address through an IP lookup site to see where you’re located.
But you’ll never know if it does happen one percent of time, five percent, or more.
Here’s the point:
Anyone can find out where you are.
Even though a website, or even a person (maybe some acquaintance you once sent an email too) can’t find your home address from your IP address, they most definitely could get a clear picture of where you are.
• Even if you don’t tell them what city you’re in, they could use your IP address to get an idea of where you’re connecting from.
• Even if you only contacted them once, they can analyze your IP address anytime after that…it doesn’t need to be in real time.
• Even if you didn’t make a transaction of any kind with the site, they could still capture, analyze and trace your IP address back to your network.
It’s perfectly legal, yet most people aren’t even aware of this.
Is this all hype, or fact?
You could be thinking this is just an exaggeration to scare you.
Well, here’s a true story that illustrates firsthand what we’re talking about.
Recently an office manager (we’ll call him John) decided to see what would happen if he analyzed his own IP address on He shared his story with us.
I know all about, but hadn’t explored the geolocation aspect of it—the map that drops a pinpoint on where the Internet says I am. I wanted to see how precise that might be. So, on the map on the homepage, I clicked on ‘Show me more about my IP. ’ And on the next screen, I clicked ‘Update my Location. ’ What I saw—and realized—sent a chill down my spine.
As I zoomed in as close as it would go, the map become a Google Earth image. And I the image I saw on my laptop screen was a satellite view of the kitchen window of my condo! And my street name was visible on the map too. Not my address, but the map was definitely where I lived. I was a little startled, and then it hit me—anyone who knew my home IP address had the ability to see the same map. I could imagine someone knocking at my door who tracked me (or my wife! ) just by knowing my IP address.
Here’s the bottom line…
It radically changed how John looked at his IP address. It also changed the way he used the Internet at home and when traveling.
When privacy hits close to home.
Here’s why the geolocation aspect of your IP address is important.
Most people use the Internet from just a few locations, primarily at home.
You shop mostly from home
You send emails to friends mostly from home
You game or join chatrooms and forums from home
With a simple device (that someone can find on Amazon) a stranger or criminal can peer inside your home through the front door peephole!
That means the majority of your online activity is probably coming from your home IP address—the IP address that could be traced back very close to you. Maybe even your kitchen window.
I can guess what you might be thinking:
“Who wants to know where I am anyway? ”
The true answer is, “who knows? ” That’s not meant to be cute.
There’s just no way of knowing who is running your IP address through any type of IP lookup service. It could be your bank, your real estate agent, or a tech-savvy teenager who’s also a hacker.
However, one thing is clear…
It is possible to be traced by someone—a stalker, an investigator or even a criminal—via your IP address. And that clever stranger might just wind up right at your door.
Also, if a person (hopefully not you! ) were going online and doing something illegal (according to the laws in place wherever you are in the world), a law enforcement or government agency might seek legal permission to contact your Internet Service Provider for information.
With a subpoena in hand, investigators would ask the ISP to provide the online account holder’s name and address.
The ISP would have no choice but to provide it for them.
Thankfully, for just about everyone that’s an extreme case.
But don’t feel too safe quite yet.
You must admit, it’s unsettling news to know that anyone who has captured your IP address in the past can come close to zeroing in on your front door, depending on where you live.
Here’s some good news:
You can stop IP trackers cold, if you know how.
Hide your real IP address. Hide your real location.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could somehow pull the “old switcheroo” and go online with a different IP address—an IP address that, when anybody tried to trace it, would send them off to some other location, miles from where you actually are?
Guess what? You can.
Here are a few ways you can do that:
Use the Internet away from home. Go to the library or the local coffee bar. You’ll have a different IP address. The drawback: It still close to home and public networks aren’t always safe from other eavesdroppers.
Use the Tor network. Tor is an entirely different kind of network that is free and available to all. The drawback: It doesn’t offer great security and there are some very odd characters in some corners of Tor.
Use a proxy. They’re a touch old-fashioned and tricky to use, but a proxy hides your actual IP address. The drawback: Many websites block proxy access.
Here’s the best way to hide your public IP address.
Go online and sign up for a Virtual Private
Network (VPN) account.
A VPN is a service that redirects your Internet requests through a secure “tunnel” that is hacker proof. But more importantly, a VPN service assigns your live connection a different IP address, then reroutes your Internet request to the world.
Here’s why using a Virtual Private Network is a good thing:
No person or website you connect with knows your actual IP address…which your VPN masks for you when you are online.
You can use your VPN at home, at hotels and airports, and especially at free Wi-Fi hot spots with unsecured networks.
Is it hard to find a good VPN?
Nope. We’ll help you out.
Click below and you can sign up with a top VPN provider right now. It’s fast, safe and easy.
And once you do, you can stop worrying about strange people potentially showing up at your front door.
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Can Websites See Your Physical Location? – HowToGeek
Websites you access can determine your physical geographical location in a few ways. Your IP address reveals your general area—unless you use a VPN. Websites can also ask for a more precise location.
What Your IP Address Tells Websites
Your internet service provider gives you a public IP address. All the devices on your home network share that IP address, and your address is unique on the internet.
When you connect to a website, that website then sees your IP address. Your computer connects to the website’s IP address, and the website sends data back to your IP address. Packets are transmitted through network routers, and the IP address on those packets tells the routers where they need to go.
However, websites can’t trace that unique IP address to your physical home or business address. Instead, websites can tie your IP address to your internet service provider, city, region, and even possibly your ZIP code. This is why you see ads for local businesses in your area online, for example.
For instance, if you go to a website like this IP Location Finder, you’ll see that the website can use your IP address to determine the name of your internet service provider, along with your local city, region, and country.
But that’s all the information websites can get. They don’t know your physical address within that city or region.
While this usually works well, it isn’t perfect. Websites may sometimes think your home IP address is in a different city from the one you live in, for example.
Websites Can Ask for Your Precise Location
Websites can sometimes see your precise physical location, but they have to ask you first. When a website asks for your location, modern web browsers show a permission prompt.
For example, a weather website may want to show you the weather down to your precise location, or a retail store’s website might want to show you all its nearby stores and their precise distance from your location. A mapping website could use your physical location to provide navigation directions and so on.
When a website wants this access, you’ll see a prompt in your browser asking for it. If you give the website permanent access to your location, it can always see your location without having to ask again whenever you load the website in your browser.
To check which websites can see your location, you’ll need to check your browser’s settings. For example, in Chrome, click Menu > Settings > Site Settings > Location. You’ll see a list of websites that are allowed to see your location under the “Allow” heading.
You’ll also see a placemark indicator in Chrome’s address bar when a website has accessed your location. Other browsers work similarly, providing a visual indication that this has occurred on the current page.
How Your Devices Can Find Your Precise Location
If you use a phone or tablet with a built-in GPS radio, your precise location is determined using GPS, and then provided to the website. That’s how it works with location services in apps on iPhone, iPad, Android, and even some Windows 10 tablets.
But what if you’re just using a computer? Well, your device can use Wi-Fi-based location services. By scanning for a list of nearby Wi-Fi networks and their relative signal strengths, your precise location can be estimated and then provided to the website if you choose to allow it. This same feature is used on mobile platforms when there isn’t a solid GPS signal.
And what if you’re using a computer without a Wi-Fi radio—in other words, just a PC plugged into an Ethernet cable? In this scenario, you won’t be able to give a precise physical location to a website. If you try, you’ll just end up providing a more general location based on your IP address—likely just the city or area you live in.
Big Data and Cross-referencing Location Information
By the way, it’s technically possible for websites and advertising networks to cross-reference data. They might be able to tie your IP address to a physical address, for example.
For instance, let’s say that you have multiple devices on your network, and they all share a single IP address—the usual situation. Now, let’s say one device on the network goes to a particular website, which we’ll call “ExampleCorp, ” and gives it access to your precise location. ExampleCorp now knows the current physical address associated with the IP address.
Now, let’s say that you head to the ExampleCorp on another device and deny it access to your precise location. ExampleCorp’s website may not act like it has your precise location. However, ExampleCorp knows your IP address, and it knows that the IP address was tied to a specific location.
We don’t know how many companies are tying this data together in this fashion. However, some websites and advertising tracking networks likely are. It’s certainly possible with the technology they have.
VPNs and Hiding Your Location
If you really want to hide your physical location from a website, you can use a VPN (virtual private network) Or, for additional privacy at the cost of speed, use Tor.
When you access a website through a VPN, you connect directly to the VPN server, and the VPN server connects to the website on your behalf. It functions as a middleman, passing traffic back and forth.
So, when you access a website through a VPN, the website will see that VPN’s IP address, but it won’t know your IP address. This is how VPNs allow you to bypass geographical restrictions on the web. If a website or streaming service is only available in the U. K. and you’re in the U. S., you can connect to a U. -based VPN and access the website. After all, the website thinks you’re connecting from the VPN’s address in the U. K.
Update: Note that, if you’re connected to a VPN and give a website permission to see your physical location in your web browser, that website may be able to see your real location. Your web browser will still be able to determine your location from nearby Wi-Fi access points (if it has a Wi-Fi radio) or GPS (if your browser is running on a device with built-in GPS hardware) and report it to the website. This is only the case if you give the website access to see your location—if not, the website will have to go by your IP address, which will appear to be the VPN’s IP address.
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Frequently Asked Questions about how to stop websites from tracking your ip
Is it illegal for websites to track your IP?
Even if you didn’t make a transaction of any kind with the site, they could still capture, analyze and trace your IP address back to your network. It’s perfectly legal, yet most people aren’t even aware of this.
Can websites track your IP address?
When you connect to a website, that website then sees your IP address. … However, websites can’t trace that unique IP address to your physical home or business address. Instead, websites can tie your IP address to your internet service provider, city, region, and even possibly your ZIP code.Dec 1, 2020
Can you hide your IP address?
Use a VPN. A virtual private network, or VPN, works much like a proxy server — it’s the middleman between your device and a final web server. Once again, your IP address is masked by the IP of the VPN server you’re connected to. … You can also hide your IP adress on mobile devices with a VPN service for Android or iPhone …Aug 26, 2021