How To Hide IP Addresses

You can use VPNs, the Tor browser, or proxy servers to hide your IP address, among other methods.

By
&
Aliza Vigderman
Gabe TurnerChief Editor
Last Updated on Mar 16, 2021
By Aliza Vigderman & Gabe Turner on Mar 16, 2021

Think of IP addresses like mailing addresses for devices. They tell your Internet Service Provider, would-be hackers, and websites your devices’ approximate locations and could give away more information about your online activity. For these reasons, many people want to hide their IP addresses but aren’t sure where to start. We’ve got just the answers.

NordVPN connected
NordVPN connected

What Is An IP Address?

First, let’s take it back a notch and define what an IP address really is in the first place. IP stands for internet protocol, and it’s essentially a device’s identifying number that’s associated with a specific computer or network of computers. Using the IP address, computers can receive information. However, IP addresses can also be used to track the user’s approximate location and web activity, so hiding is a must if you want to remain private online.

How To Hide Your IP Address

Just like skinning a cat, there are a few different ways to hide your IP address, a process also known as IP masking.

VPNs

The easiest way to hide your IP address, in our opinion, is to use a VPN.

  • What it does: VPNs, which stands for Virtual Private Networks, hide a user’s IP address, replacing it with either a dedicated address, a static address that’s shared with multiple users, or a dynamic address that changes with each connection. Your Internet Service Provider will only be able to see these replaced addresses and not your device’s real IP address.
  • How to get it: Getting a VPN is easy.
    1. Figure out which one you want (our best VPNs list is a great place to start).
    2. Create an account.
    3. Download the app.
    4. Log in.
    5. Connect to a server.
VyprVPN Server Info
VyprVPN Server Info

Tor

Want to hide your IP address on a web browser for free? Meet Tor.

  • What it does: Tor is a web browser that blocks tracking, which is not the case for popular browsers like Chrome and Firefox. Rather, as soon as you’re off of a website, your cookies will clear, as will your browsing history. The website won’t see your real IP address, but instead the one that Tor has replaced it with. And the best part? Tor encrypts all of your information three times, so you know it’s secure.
  • How to get it: To download Tor:
    1. Go to Tor Project’s website1.
    2. Install the browser.

Note: Tor is available on the macOS X, Windows, Android or Linux operating systems. It is not currently available for iOS devices.

Proxy Servers

Many people put proxy servers head to head with VPNs, as we did in our VPN vs. proxy server comparison. And while it’s true that both options will hide and encrypt a user’s IP address, only VPNs also encrypt their web activity. However, proxy servers have the advantage of being free, typically, while most VPNs cost money. In sum, we’d recommend proxy servers if you need coverage on one website or app for a single use.

FYI: The reason proxy servers are free is usually because they sell user data, making VPNs a better choice for privacy. And don’t forget, there are some free VPNs out there, along with VPNs with free trials.

  • What it does: Proxy servers are single-use servers that users can connect to to encrypt and hide their IP address.
  • How to get it: How to get a proxy server to hide your IP address differs based on what operating system you’re using.
    • Mac:
      1. In the Safari app, click on Preferences.
      2. Click on Advanced.
      3. Click on Change Settings.
      4. Update your settings with the information that the Network Administrator provided. And you’ll get a new, protected window!
    • Windows:
      1. In administrative templates, hit Windows Components.
      2. Click on Data Collection And Preview Builds.
      3. Configure Authenticated Proxy Usage.
      4. Set it to Enable.
      5. Click on Apply.
    • iOS:
      1. In Settings, click Wi-Fi.
      2. Click Network info.
      3. Click on HTTP proxy section.
      4. Choose the Manual option.
      5. Click on Edit Proxy Settings.
      6. Turn on Authentication.
      7. Save by going back to the Wi-Fi Selection page.
    • Android:
      1. Under Settings, click Wi-Fi.
      2. Clock Network Name.
      3. Choose Modify Network.
      4. Click on Advanced.
      5. Click on Manual.
      6. Enter in your Hostname and Proxy Port.
      7. Don’t forget to click Save!2

Public Wi-Fi

This method is by far the least effective, but you can technically hide your IP address by joining a public Wi-Fi network.

  • What it does: Your device’s private IP address will be changed to that of the network you’re connected to.
  • How to get it:
    1. Simply go into your phone or computer’s settings.
    2. Enter the Wi-Fi area.
    3. Join the public network.

Why Should I Hide My IP Address?

Our research on VPN usage shows that for nearly half of VPN-users, general security and privacy were the greatest reasons for using the VPN. While VPNs aren’t the only way to hide your IP address, we’re guessing that if you want to hide it, it’s for similar reasons. Here are some other reasons why someone would want to hide their IP address:

  • Anti-tracking: Haunted by targeted ads that follow you around the internet? Or maybe you just don’t want to be added to a million different listservs everytime you go to a new website. By hiding your IP address, you’ll confuse websites and apps, warding off tracking.
  • Secure networks: With the rise of remote work, many people are turning to their home offices rather than their work cubicles. But for those of us handling sensitive information, hiding your IP address can be a great way to keep your web activity to yourself.
  • Bypass government restrictions: People in places with high levels of internet censorship might want to hide their IP address in order to access banned websites or apps.
  • More privacy: Journalists, activists, and anyone doing sensitive work online will appreciate the anonymity of hidden, private IP addresses.
  • Stream: Finally, hidden and replaced IP addresses allow users to stream content in other countries’ libraries, be it on Netflix, Hulu, or any streaming service. If you want to hide your IP address with a VPN so you can stream more freely, check out our lists of the best VPNs for Netflix, the best VPNs for Hulu, the best VPNs for Prime Video and the best VPNs for Disney+.

Can IP Addresses Really Be Hidden?

While VPNs, the Tor browser, proxy servers and public Wi-Fi networks can hide and replace your devices’ private IP addresses, ultimately, your Internet Service Provider will still be able to see the replacement, as will every website you visit. So while you can hide your device’s private IP address, the replacement will be visible.3 We like to think of these replacement IP addresses like a Halloween costume; while a scary mask can hide your face, people will still be able to see the mask itself.

What Is My IP Address?

Each device comes with a unique IP address, but where in the world can you find it?

Windows 10

  1. In the taskbar, select Wi-Fi network.
  2. Click on Network.
  3. Click on Properties.
  4. Choose the IPv4 address.

iOS

  1. Under Settings, click on Wi-Fi.
  2. Look at the Network that you’re connected to.
  3. Look at the right of the name of the Network, for a circular button with a lowercase “i” in it.
  4. Click on that button to reach a new page specifically for that Network.
  5. Scroll down to where it says IP address.

Mac

  1. Under System Preferences, hit Network.
  2. Select your Wi-Fi network.
  3. Click on Advanced.
  4. Choose TCP/IP.
  5. Check under where it says IPv4 address to find your IP.

Android

Last but not least, on your Android phone:

  1. Hit Settings.
  2. Click About.
  3. Click Status.
  4. Choose IP address.
Changing You IP - On Android, Scroll to IP address to see your IP address.
Changing You IP – On Android, Scroll to IP address to see your IP address.

Summary

While you can’t truly hide your IP address from absolutely everyone, you can hide your device’s private IP address and mask your location. Even in the age of ever-present technology, privacy is still something to strive for, so hopefully this article helped you move towards that goal.

FAQs

Of course, if you’re still left with some questions, we’re happy to answer them as well.

Citations
  1. Tor Project. (2021). Homepage.
    torproject.org/

  2. SmartProxy. (2021). How to Set up a Residential Proxy in the Android Device.
    smartproxy.com/configuration/how-to-setup-proxy-for-android

  3. Avast. (2021). How do I Hide My IP Address?
    avast.com/c-hide-my-ip-address