This article has been just updated: December 13, 2019
Your IP address is a sensitive piece of information, and it’s understandable that you would like to keep it hidden. In this article, we describe three different methods how you can hide your real IP address to protect yourself from doxing, avoid geoblocks, and enjoy the internet without being monitored.
What Is an IP Address?
Every device connected to a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication, such as the internet, is assigned a numerical label, an Internet Protocol address (IP address). Most IP addresses today are 32 bits long, but the whole world is gradually moving to 128-bit IP addresses, which deal with the long-anticipated problem of IP address exhaustion.
Fortunately, you can hide your real IP address quite easily, and there are actually multiple ways how to do it, some more convenient than others.
Method 1: Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A virtual private network, or VPN, is an encrypted private tunnel through which you can connect to the internet and prevent unauthorized third parties from snooping on your online activity. When you visit a website with a VPN, your real IP address is hidden. The only IP address visible to the website is the IP address of a server belonging to your VPN service provider of choice.
There are many different VPN service providers to choose from, but we recommend NordVPN, which is located in Panama, a country that does not participate in the Five Eyes or Fourteen Eyes alliances and has no mandatory data retention laws.
NordVPN has over 5,000 servers in more than 60 countries around the world, and it starts at just $2.99 per month. With a single NordVPN subscription, you can secure up to 6 devices at the same time, which is a huge plus considering that the NordVPN app works on iOS, Android, and even Android TV.
To hide your real IP address using NordVPN:
NordVPN works on Android, Windows, macOS, iOS, Android TV, Linux, Chrome, and Firefox.
- Go to: https://nordvpn.com/
- Choose a plan that’s right for you.
- Create an account.
- Select a payment method.
- Complete your order and download the NordVPN client.
Method 2: Tor Browser
The Tor Browser is a modified version of Mozilla Firefox for use with the Tor Network, which is a free, worldwide, volunteer overlay network consisting of more than seven thousand relays to conceal a user’s real IP address.
Tor started in 2002, but the technology behind it was developed in the mid-1990s by United States Naval Research Laboratory employees with the purpose of protecting U.S. intelligence communications online. Over the years, Tor has become associated with an online drug trade and darknet markets like Silk Road.
However, Tor is used for much more than buying and selling drugs online. According to Tor developers, activist groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recommend Tor as a mechanism for maintaining civil liberties online, journalists use Tor to communicate more safely with whistleblowers and dissidents, and individuals use Tor to protect their anonymity when visiting websites, sending instant messages, or downloading sensitive documents.
Unfortunately, Tor isn’t suitable for torrenting and other forms of file sharing. If you want to download large files at high speeds, we recommend you use a VPN service like NordVPN instead.
To hide your real IP address using Tor Browser:
- Go to: https://www.torproject.org/
- Click the “Download Tor” button.
- Choose the correct version for your operating system.
- Extract the download file.
- Launch Tor Browser.
Tor Browser pre-configured to protect your privacy and anonymity on the web as long as you’re browsing with Tor Browser itself and not some other applications.
Method 3: Public Wi-Fi
There are currently around 279 million public Wi-Fi hotspots worldwide, and their number is expected to increase to 454 million by 2020. That’s great news for those who would like to hide their real IP address and access the internet without leaving any identifiable information behind.
The problem is that not all public Wi-Fi hotspots are created equal. For example, many restaurants, fast food chains, and coffee shops require you purchase something before they give you the password to their network. You might as well pay for a VPN service and access the internet anonymously from anywhere.
Even if you manage to find a public Wi-Fi hotspot that you can connect to without having to buy a cup of coffee first, your search isn’t over yet. Some public Wi-Fi hotspots are painfully slow and basically useless for anything except for instant messaging and perhaps browsing the web.
To quickly find the best public Wi-Fi hotspots in your area, we recommend a hotspot database like Instabridge, which provides access to more than a million up-to-date Wi-Fi passwords and works on all iOS and Android devices.
There’s also WiFi Map, a huge user-created database of more than 100 million free public Wi-Fi hotspots in world’s busiest cities, airports, small towns, and villages as well as the most remote areas of our wonderful planet. WiFi Map works on iOS and Android, and it even works offline, so you can find a fast public Wi-Fi hotspot without using your mobile data.
In this article, we’ve described three different methods how you can hide your real IP address and access the internet anonymously. Just remember that your IP address isn’t the only piece of information that can be used to identify you on the internet, so exercise caution and don’t do anything illegal. Of course, you can combine multiple methods together to achieve an even higher level of anonymity online.