How To Change Your IP Address
Even though you may be in cyberspace, you’re still in a specific, virtual location, and that location is defined by your IP address. But for those of us that want to stay private, get around government restrictions, and the like, changing your IP address is a simple first step. In this article, we’ll tell you how to change your IP address, step-by-step, along with providing you with more information about the types of IP addresses, the pros and cons of changing them, and more. Get your invisibility cloak ready because we’re about to go private, or at least as private as you can be online.
How To Change Your IP Address
There are a few different ways to change your IP address, and the most straightforward ways simply involve adjusting your device’s settings.
If you already have a replacement IP address, then you can enter it in the settings section of your device. Here are more detailed instructions.
- Mac: In System Preferences, click Network, Select Network Connection, then Configure IPv4. Choose Manually and type in your IP address, well, manually.
- Windows: In your Administrator account, click Start, Control panel, Network Connection, and then select your local area connection. Next, hit Properties, click on TCP/IP and then type in the address you desire.
- Android: Under Settings, hit Wireless & Networks and click on your Wi-Fi network. Next, hit Modify Network, Go To Advanced Options, and then change the IP address.
- iOS: Under Settings, click Wi-Fi, Network, and under IPv4 address, Configure IP. Then, enter your address in number by number.
- Router: Turn off your router for a full minute, if you can stand the suspense, then turn it back on about a day later. Reconnect to your Internet Service Provider using your administrative interface.
If you want your device to pick a new IP address for you, here’s what to do.
- Mac: Go to System Preferences, Network, and Select Network Connection. Configure IPv4 and then click Using DHCP.
- Windows: This one’s a bit long, so strap in. On your Administrator account, hit Start, Control Panel, Network Connections, Location Area Connection, Properties, TCP/ IP, Properties, and Obtain An IP Address Automatically.1
- Android: In your Settings section, click on Connections then Wi-Fi, and then select the network your on. From there, you’ll see your IP address displayed, but click on Advanced at the bottom. That’s where you’ll be able to type in your IP address.
- iOS: Go to Settings, Network, select your network, and then under IPv4 address, hit Configure IP then Automatic.
If you don’t already have a new IP address or you don’t want one the automatic address from your device, then you can connect to a Virtual Private Network or VPN. VPNs will replace your IP address and encrypt all of your web activity. You may get the same IP address every time you connect (static), or a different one each time (dynamic). Some VPNs also offer dedicated IP addresses, if you want to be the only one with that address. With any VPN, simply download the app, create an account and hit connect to change your IP address. To learn more, read about the best VPN for every occasion or our comprehensive VPN guide.
A sister to VPNs is proxy servers, intermediary devices that hide IP addresses.2
- Mac: In the Safari app, hit Preferences, Advanced, Change Settings, and then update your settings with the information that the network administrator provided in the System Preferences pop-up.
- Windows: Under Administrative Templates, click Windows Components, Data Collection and Preview Builds, and enable Configure Authenticated Proxy Usage. Then, disable Authenticated Proxy Usage and hit Apply.
- Android: Under Settings, click Wi-Fi, select your network’s name, hit Modify Network, Advanced, Manual, enter in your proxy port and hostname, and click Save.
- iOS: Click Settings, Wi-Fi, and then select the “i” button next to your network name. Next, scroll down to the HTTP Proxy section, click Edit Proxy Settings and turn on authentication. To save, simply return to the previous window.
Tor is a secure browser that, along with hiding your IP address, will also prevent tracking and targeted ads. Once you’re off a website, its cookies will clear as will your browsing history. Both your IP address and your web activity will be encrypted not once, not twice but three times.3 Just download the browser from Tor’s website to hide your IP address when browsing online!
What Is An IP Address?
Of course, some people may not be totally clear on what an IP address actually is; no shame here! An IP address, which standards for an internet protocol address, is a device’s identifying number associated with a specific computer or network of computers. Basically, IP addresses let computers send and receive information, but they can also be used to track the physical locations of users,4 a nightmare for those concerned with privacy. And according to our VPN usage research, that accounts for 40 percent of VPN-users.
Types of IP Addresses
Not all IP addresses are created equal! Rather, they can be divided into a few different categories, some of which have certain advantages over others.
- Public: Each and every internet-connected device has a public IP address, distributed by the Internet Service Providers vis-à-vis the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. What, you haven’t heard of ICANN? Nevertheless, these public IP addresses are searchable on the web, which is why we can find our printer simply by Googling its IP address.
- Private/ local: In contrast to public IP addresses, private IP addresses aren’t searchable on the web. Rather, they’re numbers that routers assign the devices on their networks so that they can communicate with each other.
- Dynamic: Dynamic IP addresses, as we mentioned before, are any type of IP address that change every time you connect, usually through a VPN. This makes users hard to track online, as their literal address keeps changing.
- Static: Static means that the IP addresses do not change. With VPNs, static IP addresses are usually shared with thousands of users in order to obscure their identities. However, some websites block these shared IP addresses, which necessitates users getting dedicated IP addresses. What a convenient transition!
- Dedicated: Dedicated IP addresses are assigned to only one user rather than being shared by several. They usually cost a different fee on top of the regular VPN subscription.
- IPv4: Internet Protocol version 4 is used by 99 percent of networks, but since it can only store 4.3 billion addresses, it’s being replaced by IPv6, which we’ll get to in a second. Unlike IPv6, IPv4 addresses are four one bite numbers separated by dots like 555.555.1.1.
- IPv6: While they’re only used by less than 1 percent of networks, IPv6 has its advantages over IPv4, namely that it can provide an infinite number of addresses. It also allows for larger payloads and is compatible with a greater number of mobile networks. Although they’re starting small, eventually, IPv6 will replace IPv4.5
Where To Find Your IP Address
Feeling lost in the sauce? Finding your IP address isn’t that complicated, even if you’re not a tech expert like us.
- Mac: Under System Preferences, click Network and then select your Wi-Fi Network. Under Advanced, click TCP/IP and check under where it says IPv4 Address.
- Windows: On your Windows 10’s TaskBar, click Wi-Fi Network and select your network. Next, click Properties and then IPv4 address.
- Android: Simply go to Settings> About> Status> IP address to find the IP of your Android phone or tablet.
- iOS: Last but certainly not least, in your iPhone or iPad’s settings, click Wi-Fi, and then click the “i” next to your network. Scroll down to see your IP address, which should be located just under where it says IPv4 address.
Pros and Cons of Changing Addresses
Of course, there’s always the debate of whether or not to change your IP address in the first place. While the angel on your shoulder tells you it’s a great way to increase your privacy and access other country’s servers, the devil tells you that it could be costly, that some websites won’t work and that your ISP will still be able to see your address. There’s truth to both of these sides, so we recommend making your decisions on a case-by-case basis. That being said, we broke down the main reasons why you should and shouldn’t change your IP address.
Why You Should Change Your IP Address
- Avoid tracking: If you’ve ever searched for anything related to consumerism, then you probably already notice how your searches seem to follow you around the internet like you owe them money. This sort of tracking is made possible by cookies, which some antivirus software can disable.
- Bypass government restrictions: Governments like China greatly restrict internet usage in their country, so if you want to bypass firewalls, changing your IP address is a must.
- Access international servers: Maybe you simply want to see what’s on Netflix Canada from your apartment in California. By changing your IP address to a Canadian one, you can trick the streaming giant into showing you a whole lot of new content.
FYI: Not all VPNs are compatible with Netflix. To find one that’s right for you, read our review of the best VPNs for Netflix.
- Gain privacy: Maybe you’re an activist, a journalist, or anyone else handling sensitive information, or maybe you just don’t want your Internet Service Provider to track your every move. If that’s the case, changing your IP address is a step in the right direction in terms of privacy.
- Increase security: Most people think nothing of joining public Wi-Fi networks (and depending on your settings, this may even happen automatically). However, using public Wi-Fi opens up a slew of security risks, with hacking at the forefront. But by hiding your real IP address, you greatly lower your risk of hackings.
Why You Shouldn’t Change Your IP Address
- Some websites won’t work: Some websites, like the aforementioned Netflix, won’t work with certain VPNs or proxies. So while they may be able to bypass government restrictions, that doesn’t stop individual websites from blocking certain IP addresses.
- Not always legal: Depending on where you are, VPNs may not be legal; they’re banned in China, Belarus, Iran and a few other countries, so keep that in mind before you connect.
- May slow down connection: Any added encryption will slow down your browsing speeds, although the exact slowdowns will differ from service to service. Still, if you’re performing tasks that require a lot of bandwidth like streaming video or video chatting, you might experience some frustrating lag.
- Could cost money: Not all VPNs are free (except of course, the ones that are; check out the best free VPN is to see what we’re talking about). Still, free VPNs typically have limits on time, data, or servers, so if you want full coverage, you might have to pony up some dough.
ISP will still be able to see IP: Even with a new IP address, your Internet Service Provider will be able to see it, so you’re never truly “private” when you’re online.
Overall, we’re of the faith that changing your IP address is a necessity at times, and we love that there’s more than one way to do it. We hope we answered all of your questions about changing your IP address, but if we didn’t, read on.
Being public digital security experts, we’re constantly inundated with a number of questions surrounding changing your IP address. Here are those questions, with, you guessed it, answers.
Is there a way to change your IP address?
You can change your IP address in your device settings or by using the Tor browser, a VPN or a proxy server.
Is changing your IP address illegal?
Changing your IP address may or may not be legal; it depends on how you do it and where you’re located. For example, using a VPN to change your IP address is legal in the U.S but illegal in China.
Why does my IP address show a different city?
Your IP address may show a different city if you’re connected to a VPN or proxy server with servers in that city. That may be the closest server to you, or simply the one that allows for the lowest bandwidth usage.
Does resetting my router change my IP address?
Resetting your router may or may not change your IP address, depending on how long you wait before you turn it back on. We recommend waiting for about a day in order to get a new IP address.
Microsoft. (2020). How to change the IP address of a network adapter.
SmartProxy. (2020). How to Change Your IP Address Right Now.
Tor Project. (2020). Browse Privately. Explore Freely.
Investopedia. (2020). IP Address.
Linksys. (2020). Differences between IPv4 and IPv6.