Your IP (Internet Protocol) address is necessary for you to surf the web (find out your IP address here). At the same time, it acts as a cyber fingerprint of your online activities. This leads to websites storing your information for marketing purposes or even selling it to third-party actors. And that’s why we’ll tell you how to hide IP addresses (including yours.)
What is an IP address?
An IP – Internet Protocol – address is the internet equivalent of a street address. All devices have one, including your smartphone, computer, and so on. IP addresses can be looked up online to get an approximate geographical location of the device.
Interested in more details? Read our article on what can someone do with your IP.
Here are 3 ways to hide your IP address
All in all, there are different methods to hide your IP address. The table below shows a round-up of what each method does. As you can see, each has its pros and cons, but my best recommendation is to always use a VPN.
Allows quick server switching
The three methods below will help you hide your real IP address and reclaim your privacy once and for all!
1. Use a VPN
If you want to know how to mask your IP address, a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service is probably the best way. It works by making a secure tunnel via the VPN server between you and the websites you access. These websites will see the location of the VPN server rather than your real location.
Your internet traffic (read: everything you do online) is then encrypted and sent through this VPN tunnel to the website or service you connect to. So, if someone (like your internet service provider) were to spy on your internet connection, they’d see nothing but gibberish.
Therefore, the easiest and most reliable way to hide your IP is with a VPN. Click here to learn how to set up a VPN on any device.
2. Use a proxy
Another common way to hide your IP is by using proxy servers. They work as middlemen between your device and a website or service on the internet. So, once you connect to a proxy server, all incoming and outgoing data passes through it. Whatever site or service you’re accessing sees a different IP address – that of the proxy.
Although this process may sound similar to how a VPN works, there are a couple of disadvantages of using proxy servers to hide your IP address:
- A proxy does not encrypt data (and thus doesn’t hide your online activity;)
- A proxy does not work on the operating system level;
- When you use a proxy server, the encryption is not hacker-proof, and the sites you visit will still be visible. You’ll just be able to access blocked content.
The quality of proxies can also vary. Some have decent security, while others are downright dangerous. They keep logs, offer outdated or no encryption, and collect your personal information.
Thus, proxies lack the extra features that come naturally with VPNs.
3. Use Tor (The Onion Router)
Using software like Tor for anonymous communication is another way to mask your IP address. Connecting to the Tor browser sends your encrypted web traffic through several routing processes. These keep your identity hidden under three layers of encryption. Ergo, the onion comparison.
Because it has to pass through multiple servers, it isn’t a good option for streaming videos or downloading large files. Though it is more anonymous than Google, it’s much slower and is best suited for regular browsing.
Tor is probably the most comprehensive way to hide your IP for free. Still, it’s important to keep in mind that hiding your IP with Tor is not always safe. If you’re interested to learn even more, here’s a quick look at what Tor is and how to use it.
Does Incognito mode hide my IP?
No, Incognito mode absolutely does not hide your actual IP address. It’s not meant to do it. Incognito mode only exists to allow you to browse without leaving traces or sensitive information on your browser. This includes browsing history, cookies, passwords, credit cards, and auto-filled blanks.
After you close the Incognito window, all that information is deleted. However, as Incognito works inside (your device), not outside (with your router, your ISP, and the pages you visit), your ISP can still log your activity and access your information when you use Incognito mode. Only your browsing history won’t be visible to them.
At best, you’re only keeping your browsing hidden from other people who use your device.
Why should I hide my IP address?
Your IP address is the primary way of identifying you online even when you don’t log into accounts or post identifying information. It is tied to the devices you use and can be traced back to them.
You may want to hide your IP to:
- Hide your identity from websites and services;
- Access geo-blocked websites and services;
- Save money by fooling price discrimination;
- Dodge targeted advertising.
Explore our article and find out what can people do with your IP address.
In closing: Pick the most effective way to hide IP
All three methods of hiding your IP – VPN, proxies, Tor – have their own benefits and drawbacks. You have to decide which serves your purposes the best. For everyday users, our suggestion is to use a VPN as it offers the best balance between functionality (which includes speed) and privacy.
Can you completely hide your IP address?
Yes. Actually, there’s no way to partially hide your IP address – it’s either hidden or revealed. So any measure that hides your IP online will also hide your IP completely.
Does a proxy hide your IP from your ISP?
No – nothing can hide your IP from your ISP. However, a VPN can hide your online activities from the ISP by hiding your online destination (so the ISP doesn’t know where you’re going) and encrypting your data (so the ISP doesn’t know what you’re doing there.)
How do I hide my IP address on my iPhone?
You can hide your IP address on your iPhone by using a VPN or using a proxy. Tor Browser currently has no iOS support, so your options are limited to the two we mentioned before. We suggest using a VPN.
How do I hide my IP address on an Android?
Hide your IP address on an Android by using a VPN, a proxy, or the Tor Browser. Each of the methods works, but a (premium) VPN has the best balance of security and usability.
What happens when I mask my IP address?
When you hide (mask) your IP address, you route all of your data via an intermediary like a VPN server. So whatever service or website you’re connecting to sees the IP address of the VPN server. That’s it!