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How to Hide Your IP Address

Simon Migliano is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times and more.

Fact-checked by JP Jones

Our Verdict

You can hide your public IP address using a VPN, a proxy server, the Tor browser, or a mobile data hotspot. The most effective method is to use VPN software, because it offers a variety of IP address locations, it's compatible with all devices, and it delivers additional security benefits.

How to hide your IP address

Quick Guide: 5 Ways to Hide Your IP Address Online

According to our tests, the five best ways to hide your IP address are:

  1. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN): The best way to hide your IP address overall.
  2. Use a Web Proxy: The easiest way to hide your IP address for free.
  3. Use a Proxy Browser Extension: The best way to hide your IP address without a VPN.
  4. Use the Tor Browser: The most anonymous way to hide your IP address.
  5. Use a Mobile Hotspot: The quickest way to get a new IP address.

Your IP address is the unique string of numbers assigned to your device by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). It lets you find and communicate with websites, applications, and search engines.

Unfortunately, your IP address reveals a lot of personal information about you, too.

Websites can use it to record your browsing activity and identify your approximate location (e.g. your country, city, and ZIP code). They can then use this information to monitor your activity, enforce geographic content restrictions, or impose personal bans.

Learning how to hide your IP address is therefore essential for protecting your privacy and security online. Fortunately, there are dozens of tools and methods you can use – some which are completely free.

In this guide we’ll walk you through the five best methods for hiding your IP address. We’ll explain which option is best for different devices, how to hide your IP address for free, and why you might need to hide it in the first place.

Quick Guide: How to Hide Your IP Address with a VPN

The best way to hide your IP address is to use a VPN. VPN software encrypts all of the data leaving your device and reroutes it through a remote server, temporarily replacing your IP address in the process.

  1. Choose a VPN service. Our top recommendation for hiding your IP address is ExpressVPN, but you can also use Proton VPN completely for free.
  2. Download and install the VPN software onto your device. VPN apps are available on almost every device including computers and smartphones.
  3. Open the VPN app. Choose the VPN server closest to your physical location for the fastest connection speeds, or select a different server for a specific IP address location.
  4. Turn the VPN on. Your IP address will now be hidden and replaced with the IP address of the VPN server you’re connected to.
  5. Check your IP address. Use our IP address checker to make sure your VPN is working properly.

The 5 Best Methods to Hide Your IP Address

Ultimately, the best way to hide your IP address depends on why you’re trying to hide it in the first place. Here’s a comparison of each method’s strengths and weaknesses:

Overall, the easiest way to hide your IP address is to use a VPN service. VPN software will securely encrypt your web traffic and temporarily replace the IP address associated with all of the data leaving your device. The software is easy to install, safe to use, and it’s typically much more effective at hiding your physical location than other options, too.

Proxy servers are quick to set up and use, but they’re often insecure and will only reroute the data leaving your web browser. The Tor Browser is excellent for maximum anonymity, but it runs very slowly so you won’t be able to use it to stream or torrent.

In the section below, we’ll explain each of these methods in detail. Alternatively, you can skip ahead to our analysis of how to hide your IP address on different devices, or how to check whether your IP address is actually hidden.

1. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Pros Cons
Hides your IP address for all traffic leaving the device Good VPNs require a subscription fee
Reliably unblocks geographically-restricted content Requires the download and installation of a VPN application
Offers different servers for multiple IP address locations You are trusting your VPN service with your online privacy and security
Securely encrypts your web traffic Slows down your connection speed, though by a negligible amount
Often includes dedicated customer support Some websites and services block VPN IP addresses
Can include additional measures to hide your location (e.g. GPS and DNS spoofing) Your WiFi administrator can see that you’re connected to a VPN

The safest and most effective way to hide your IP address is to use a virtual private network (VPN). They are easy to use, available on almost any device, and are by far the best option if you’re trying to spoof your location.

IP address test while connected to a German VyprVPN server. The IP address is located in Germany, Hesse.

Here, we’re hiding our IP address by connecting to a VyprVPN server in Germany.

A VPN works by diverting your traffic through a remote VPN server on its way to your target website or application. This has the effect of hiding your IP address behind the IP address of the VPN server.

When you use a VPN, the websites you visit and applications you use cannot see your true IP address. They only see the IP address of the VPN server you’re connected to, which is typically being used by many other VPN users at the same time.

How a VPN hides your IP address

Using a VPN prevents the websites you visit from seeing your public IP address.

This prevents websites and applications from knowing your true physical location and identity. They won’t be able to enforce bans based on your true IP address, either.

However, websites can still ban you or monitor your activity if you’re logged into a personal account. This is primarily how Google and Facebook track their users.

By hiding your physical location, a VPN also lets you bypass geographic restrictions. These are common on streaming websites like Netflix and BBC iPlayer, where TV shows and movies are copyright-restricted to certain countries or geographic regions.

The best VPN services offer hundreds of VPN server locations, which means you can choose exactly where you want your temporary IP address to be located.

The main downside to using VPNs is that the very best cost money. Subscriptions to paid VPNs cost roughly $4.00 per month, although there are free VPNs worth using, too.

EXPERT ADVICE: If you’re using a VPN to hide your location, be sure to choose one with a kill switch and leak protection software. These are security features that prevent your true location leaking if the VPN connection drops momentarily. On smartphone devices like Android, you should also consider a VPN with built-in GPS spoofing.

How to Use a VPN to Hide Your IP Address

  1. Choose and subscribe to a trustworthy VPN service. We recommend using ExpressVPN, our top-rated VPN.
  2. Download and install the VPN software onto your device.
  3. Open the VPN app. You will typically have to log into your account the first time.
  4. Choose a VPN server location. For the fastest speeds, choose the closest location.
  5. Click ‘Connect’.
  6. Browse the internet as usual. Your IP address will now be hidden.

How to change your IP address with a VPN.

NOTE: When you use a VPN, you’re putting complete trust in your VPN service. It’s technically possible for them to see everything you do online, which is why it’s so important to choose a trustworthy service. We recommend only using a VPN with an independently-verified zero-logs policy if you’re at all concerned about privacy.

2. Use a Web Proxy

Pros Cons
Hides your IP address for traffic within the browser window Even the best web proxies only offer a handful of server locations
Usually free and very easy to use Your connection is usually not encrypted, leaving it open to interception
No software downloads or manual installation necessary
Any traffic outside of the browser window is not protected
Bypasses many IP-based website blocks
Connection speeds are often slowed by server congestion and poor maintenance
Prevents advertising companies from tracking your activity across the web Doesn’t work for video streaming (e.g. Netflix)
Most web proxies cache web pages to improve download speeds Many web proxies inject adverts into your session or keep records of your activity

You can quickly hide your IP address using a web proxy. You simply visit the web proxy in your browser, enter the URL of the website you want to browse, and click “Connect”. The proxy then accesses the website on your behalf, thereby concealing your true IP address as you browse.'s web proxy’s web proxy service.

Web proxies are excellent for quickly accessing censored information, reading articles on sites with metered paywalls, or bypassing personal site bans. They are free to use, too. Overall, web proxies are typically the best way to hide your IP address without using a VPN.

EXPERT ADVICE: Using a web proxy is our recommended method for unblocking websites at school, where it is often not possible to download a VPN application or use a proxy browser extension.

Similar to a VPN, a web proxy works by routing your traffic requests via a remote proxy server, instead of sending it directly to your destination website or application.

Diagram of how a proxy server works

How a web proxy server works.

Your IP address is hidden behind the IP address of the proxy server, which means your browsing activity is associated with the location of the proxy server and not your own.

You can therefore use a web proxy to unblock geographically restricted content. However, unlike VPNs, proxies have some common limitations:

  • Most free web proxies are heavily congested with thousands of simultaneous users. This often results in slow speeds, and can lead to the proxy’s IP address being blocked by popular websites.
  • Web proxies don’t tend to support multimedia content. Even if you find a proxy server that works with a streaming service, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to actually watch anything.
  • The majority of free web proxies only have a small selection of server locations to choose from. This means it’s much less likely there will be a proxy server in the location (with the IP address) that you require.

The main difference between a web proxy and a VPN is that most web proxies do not encrypt your web traffic. That means your ISP or network administrator can still monitor your browsing activity and share that information with third parties.

More importantly, the web proxy itself will often be monitoring and recording your activity, too. This is typically how free proxy servers make their money: by selling your browsing information to advertisers, or by inserting pop-up adverts into your session.

CAUTION: You should never disclose any personal or sensitive information while using a web proxy.

You should also remember that a web proxy only hides the IP address associated with the traffic from that specific browser window. Your activity in other tabs and external applications is not routed through the proxy server, and so your IP address is left exposed.

How to Use a Web Proxy to Hide Your IP Address

  1. Visit a safe web proxy in your browser. We recommend, our top-rated free proxy site.
  2. Enter the URL of your desired website. Some web proxies offer you a choice of server location, too.
  3. Click “Connect” and your chosen website should appear in the browser window. The website will see the IP address of the proxy server and not your personal IP address.

How to hide your IP address with a web proxy.

3. Use a Proxy Browser Extension

Pros Cons
Hides your IP address for all browser-based traffic Only uses HTTPS (TLS) encryption, or doesn’t encrypt your data at all
Often free to download and use Not typically available on iOS and Android smartphones
Can bypass geographic restrictions by masking your true location Your WiFi administrator can see that you’re using a proxy server
Can include HTML5 geolocation spoofing Traffic outside of the browser is not protected
Usually works for video streaming Requires the download and installation of a browser extension
Available on Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge

Using a proxy browser extension is an effective way to hide your IP address for web browser traffic on laptops and PCs. They are often free to download, very simple to use, and are typically much better at spoofing your location than a normal web proxy.

Proton VPN's browser extension from the Chrome store running in Opera.

Proton VPN’s browser extension running in the Opera browser.

Like a VPN, you need to download and install the proxy browser extension before you can use it to hide your IP address. They are available within most web browsers, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.

EXPERT ADVICE: We don’t recommend this method to Safari users, due to a lack of safe proxy extensions. You should also note that most devices don’t support the installation of browser extensions, including iOS and Android smartphones, Smart TVs, and games consoles.

Most proxy extensions let you choose which server location you want to connect to. Your IP address is then hidden behind the IP address of your chosen server, and you will appear to websites as though you are browsing from that geographic location.

Proxy browser extensions are therefore a good method for unblocking websites and other types of geographically-restricted content.

Unlike web proxies, they usually support video streaming too — that means you can use a proxy extension to change your Netflix region and watch foreign movies and TV shows.

Interestingly, proxy browser extensions are sometimes even better at spoofing your location than a VPN. That’s because some websites use HTML5 geolocation software to detect your location, which can be spoofed by some extensions.

The three main downsides to using a proxy extension to hide your IP address are:

  1. Limited Coverage: A proxy extension will only protect the requests you send from within your browser. That means you can’t use a proxy browser extension to hide your IP address in torrent clients or email applications.
  2. Weak Encryption: Unlike a VPN, a proxy browser extension won’t encrypt your web traffic with anything stronger than standard HTTPS (TLS) encryption. This means the websites you visit will still be visible to ISPs and snooping third-parties.
  3. Unsafe Proxy Owners: Many proxy servers are set up with the explicit purpose of collecting user data to sell on to advertisers and cybercriminals. That’s usually how they make money.

NOTE: One popular proxy extension for Chrome, Hola VPN, was found to be selling the bandwidth of user’s devices. We therefore recommend doing your research to find a safe proxy extension before downloading one.

How to Use a Proxy Extension to Hide Your IP Address

  1. Open your preferred web browser on your device. We don’t recommend using this method with the Safari browser.
  2. Navigate to the browser’s web store. On Chrome, this is called the ‘Web Store’. On Firefox, it’s called the ‘Add-On Library’.
  3. Find the proxy browser extension you want to use and click “Add”. We recommend CyberGhost on Chrome and Windscribe on Firefox.
  4. Open the extension and select a server location. Choose the nearest one for the fastest connection speeds.
  5. Connect to the proxy server. You can now browse with your IP address hidden.

How to hide your IP address with a proxy browser extension.

4. Use the Tor Browser

Pros Cons
Effectively hides your IP address Difficult to precisely spoof your location
Provides maximum anonymity online Extremely slow connection speeds
Uses strong encryption methods Not suitable for streaming or torrenting
Free to use Many attract unwanted attention due to Tor’s reputation
Not available on iOS
Using Tor is illegal in some countries

The most anonymous way to hide your IP address is to use the Tor Network. Tor is a free, open-source system, maintained and run by volunteers around the world.

When you use Tor, your connection is wrapped in multiple layers of encryption and bounced through a global network of servers before it is sent on to your target website.

From the website’s perspective, this makes it look as though your traffic requests are coming from the IP address of the final server in the network – thereby concealing your true location and identity.

Data passing through the Tor network

How your data passes through the Tor network.

Tor’s decentralized network is its main strength. It lets you hide your IP address with unparalleled levels of anonymity because, unlike with a VPN or a proxy server, there is no single entity or individual who knows both who you are and what you’re doing.

The servers you’re connected to also refresh every ten minutes, providing an extra source of privacy and security. For this reason, Tor is popular among journalists, activists, and whistleblowers.

The most common way to access Tor is through the Tor Browser, which is based on Firefox. The Tor Browser is free to download on Windows, macOS, Linux and Android devices. There’s also an adapted version for iOS users, called the Onion Browser.

The Tor Browser

The Tor Browser is excellent for anonymity, but comes with its own risks.

NOTE: Only traffic requests sent from within the Tor Browser will be protected by the Tor Network. Your IP address is still exposed for activity in external applications, such as torrent clients and email applications.

The main downside to using Tor is its incredibly slow speeds. Multiple servers and encryption layers mean that websites often take far longer to load than they do when connected to a VPN or a proxy server.

Though technically possible, unblocking geographically-restricted websites with Tor can also be very difficult. Users have very limited control over where the final server is located, so precise location spoofing is not really an option.

You should also be aware that ISPs, governments, and network administrators at school and work can see that you’re connected to the Tor Network (even though they can’t see what you’re using it for). This is likely to draw attention, given that Tor is often associated with criminality. In some countries it is even illegal to use.

EXPERT ADVICE: We always recommend combining Tor with a VPN, a technique known as Onion over VPN. Based on our testing with the Tor browser and .onion sites, the best VPN for Tor is NordVPN.

How to Use Tor to Hide Your IP Address

  1. Navigate to the download page of the Tor Project website. For iOS users, check out the Onion Browser site.
  2. Select your operating system of choice and download the appropriate installation software. An .exe file should begin the download.
  3. Open the file once it has downloaded and go through the installation process. You’ll need to click your language from the drop-down menu.
  4. Double-click the Tor Browser icon on your desktop. Click “configure connection” to choose your preferred settings.
  5. Press “Connect” and start to browse freely. Your IP address will be hidden by the Tor network.

How to hide your IP address and unblock .onion websites using the Tor Browser.

5. Use a Mobile Hotspot

Pros Cons
Assigns you a completely new IP address instantly Consumes your mobile data allowance, which can be costly
Easily evades personal IP bans Won’t let you bypass geographical restrictions
Avoids ISP surveillance (although swaps it for mobile carrier surveillance) Your activity can still be traced back to you
Doesn’t require any downloads or new software
All traffic from your device will be protected

A quick and easy way to hide your IP address is to connect your device to a mobile data hotspot.

By switching networks, you can immediately change your IP address from the one assigned to your WiFi network by your ISP, to a new one assigned by your mobile carrier to your smartphone.

NOTE: Connecting to a public WiFi network has the same effect and is a reliable, alternative option. However, be aware that using public WiFi comes with security risks.

Setting up a mobile hotspot on your smartphone is free and very easy to do. You can then connect to it from any nearby device, including laptops, PCs, smart TVs, games consoles, or even from another smartphone.

Once connected, your device uses your smartphone’s IP address for all of its internet activity.

Using a mobile data hotspot is therefore a great option for evading personal IP bans, because these bans typically target your WiFi’s IP address, not your smartphone’s IP address.

We also recommend this method if you think your local network (at home or in public) may have been compromised, or are concerned about ISP throttling.

NOTE: Your mobile carrier can also monitor your activity. Mobile carriers have been known to throttle user connections too, especially if you’ve reached your monthly data limit.

Other downsides to hiding your IP address with a mobile data hotspot include:

  • You won’t be able to unblock geographically-restricted content. That’s because the new IP address you receive is associated with the exact same physical location as your original IP address.
  • It uses up your smartphone’s monthly data allowance. Depending on your contract, this could end up costing you money.

With that said, switching to a mobile data hotspot is certainly a quick, easy, and free option for getting a new IP address fast.

How to Use a Mobile Hotspot to Hide Your IP Address

  1. Find your smartphone’s mobile hotspot settings. For iOS users, go to ‘Settings’, ‘Personal Hotspot’. For Android users, go to ‘Settings’ then ‘Network & internet’ then “Hotspot & tethering”.
  2. Turn the hotspot on and choose an appropriate username and password. Make sure your smartphone isn’t connected to WiFi.
  3. On your other device, open WiFi settings. This is the device you’re trying to hide your IP address on.
  4. Find your smartphone’s hotspot and connect to it. The hotspot should be listed in the list of available WiFi networks.
  5. Browse the internet. Your connection will now be associated with your smartphone’s IP address.

How to Hide Your IP Address for Free

A man hiding his IP address.

You can hide your IP address for free by using a free VPN, connecting to a proxy server, downloading the Tor Browser, or switching to mobile data. If necessary, you can also change your IP address by connecting to a public WiFi network.

Although proxy servers are free and easy to use, free VPN services are usually the best way to hide your IP address without paying anything at all.

If you choose a top-rated free VPN, you can hide your IP address while retaining the additional protection, performance, and freedom of a fully-fledged VPN service. That means you’ll get fast speeds, strong encryption, and access to IP addresses in dozens of different locations.

There are two ways to use a VPN for free:

  1. VPN Free Trials. Most premium VPN services let you trial their VPN service for free. The length of the free trial depends on the VPN, but they tend to last around seven days.

    This is the best way to temporarily hide your IP address without spending a cent, as premium VPNs will enable you to unblock region-restricted streaming content and safeguard your P2P activity without restrictions.

    EXPERT ADVICE: Many top VPNs also include a money-back guarantee. This means you can use the service for around 30 days and then claim a full refund, no questions asked. If you’re happy to pay the subscription fee initially, this is another great way to hide your IP address for free for a short while.

  2. Free VPN Services. There are hundreds of 100% free VPN applications available in web stores and app stores. However, the vast majority of these are ineffective, insecure, and often downright dangerous to use.

    There are a handful of genuinely safe, high-quality free VPNs, too. These won’t unblock streaming services as reliably as a premium service, and many impose monthly data limits or have limited server networks. However, they’re great for simply hiding your IP address, and they’re completely free to use, forever.

    EXPERT ADVICE: Our top-rated free VPN for hiding your IP address is ProtonVPN Free. It has a privacy-first logging policy, and performed far better than most free VPNs for speed and reliability.

There are also a number of ways to permanently change your IP address, which you can do for free. Skip to our section on this below to find out more.

The Best Way to Hide Your IP Address on Different Devices

a man is fiddling around with the wires in a device in order to change its private ip address

The best way to hide your IP address can vary depending on which device you’re using.

It also depends on whether you want the most effective tool, or if you just need a quick and easy solution.

Generally, a VPN is always going to be the most effective option. However, not every device supports VPN software. In this case, you’ll need to install a VPN on your router instead.

Use the table below to determine the best method for you and your preferred device. It contains our specific recommendations for the most effective way to hide your IP address on a range of different devices, as well as the easiest method you can use:

Device Most Effective Method Easiest Method
Amazon Fire TV Stick VPN App VPN App
Android VPN App Switch Network (Cellular or WiFi)
Apple TV VPN App VPN Router (or Smart DNS)
Chromebook Proxy Browser Extension Web Proxy
Chromecast with Google TV VPN App VPN App
Google Chromecast (Older) VPN Router VPN Router
iPhone (and other iOS devices) VPN App Switch Network (Cellular or WiFi)
macOS VPN App Web Proxy
PS4/PS5 VPN Router VPN Router (or Smart DNS)
Roku VPN Router VPN Router
Router VPN Router Contact ISP
Samsung Smart TV VPN Router VPN Router (or Smart DNS)
Xbox One/Series X VPN Router VPN Router (or Smart DNS)
Windows VPN App Web Proxy

NOTE: For some streaming and gaming devices, the simplest way to spoof your location and unblock geographically-restricted content is to use a Smart DNS service.

Smart DNS tools let you change your virtual location, by redirecting your DNS requests. They don’t hide your IP address. That said, they are a useful tool if your goal is to hide your location (rather than your IP address).

In the rest of this section, we will provide step-by-step instructions for how to effectively hide your IP address on different devices. Use the following links to skip to instructions for your particular device:

Windows or Mac Computers

The most reliable way to hide your IP address on any laptop or desktop computer is to use a VPN.

Here’s how to use a VPN to hide your IP address on a Windows PC or macOS device:

  1. Subscribe to a good-quality VPN service.
  2. Install the VPN software onto your PC or laptop. Every top VPN provides dedicated, native apps for Windows and macOS.
  3. Open the VPN app. To unblock geographically restricted content, choose a VPN server located in the country you need. Otherwise, choose the most local server you can see – this will typically give the best speeds.
  4. Turn the VPN on. Once you’re connected, all of your device’s traffic will be routed through the VPN server. Websites will only be able to see the VPN server’s IP address.

iPhone or Android (Mobile)

The most common way to hide your IP address on smartphones is to use a VPN app.

Here’s how to use a VPN to hide your IP address on an iPhone or Android device:

  1. Sign up to a VPN service.

    EXPERT ADVICE: Applications and websites sometimes use GPS information to identify the geographic location of mobile traffic. You should therefore use a VPN with GPS-spoofing technology if you’re trying to hide your location on an Android phone. Currently, your only options are Surfshark, iVPN, and Windscribe. No iOS VPNs support GPS-spoofing.

  2. Install the VPN app onto your phone. You can download it from the iPhone App Store or Android’s Google Play Store. Make sure you download the verified version and not a scam duplicate.
  3. Open the VPN app and choose a server location. Turn on GPS-spoofing in the app settings if you’re trying to unblock region-restricted material on an Android device.
  4. Turn the VPN on in the app. When you use an app or browse the web, your IP address will now be hidden behind the IP address of the VPN server.

Chrome, Safari, or Firefox

To hide your IP address for traffic within the Google Chrome, Apple Safari, or Mozilla Firefox web browsers, the best option is to use a full VPN service that is natively downloaded onto your device itself (see above).

However, VPN apps are not supported on some devices (e.g., Google Chromebooks). In these cases, you need to use a browser extension instead.

Safe proxy and VPN browser extensions are available in both the Chrome Web Store and the Firefox Browser Add-Ons store.

NOTE: Apple restricts the functionality of third-party extensions. As such, most safe VPN and proxy browser extensions are not available for Safari. For this reason, we recommend that Safari users try one of the other methods listed.

Here’s how to hide your IP address using a proxy browser extension on Chrome or Firefox:

  1. Choose a proxy browser extension. Most proxy servers are unsafe to use, so be sure to do your research. We’ve recommended safe Chrome VPN extensions and Firefox VPN add-ons to make it easier for you.
  2. “Add” the extension to your browser. You’ll find the list of extensions in the Chrome Web Store or the Firefox Browser Add-On store. Make sure you add the genuine version of the extension, and not a fake alternative.
  3. Click the proxy extension’s icon in your browser. Choose a proxy server location from the dropdown menu, if you have the option to.
  4. Connect to the proxy server. Your IP address will now be hidden for all of your activity within the browser.

NOTE: Using Incognito Mode on Chrome — or Private Browsing Mode on Firefox and Safari — does not hide your IP address from the websites you’re visiting. It prevents cookies and browsing history being stored locally on your device, but websites can still track your activity and log your location.

Home Routers

In some cases, you can install VPN software directly onto your router. That means you can use a VPN to hide the IP address of all traffic transmitted over your local WiFi network — regardless of which device you’re using.

This is particularly useful for devices like Smart TVs and streaming devices like Roku, which don’t support native VPN applications, proxy services, or the Tor browser.

To set up a VPN on your router, the easiest option is to buy a pre-flashed router. This is a router with VPN software pre-installed. All you then need is a VPN subscription and you can start hiding your IP address on any and all devices in your home.

Smart TVs

To hide your IP address on an Samsung TV, or any other Smart TV without a native VPN application, you will need to use a VPN router (see above).

This is true of streaming devices like Roku, as well as games consoles like PS5 and Xbox One too.

How to Check Your IP Address is Hidden

Once you’ve chosen which method to use, it’s worth running a test to check if your IP address has been successfully hidden.

The quickest and simplest way to do this is to use our IP checker tool. When you navigate to the tool on your device, it will reveal the IP address and geographic location that websites and applications see when you visit them.

EXPERT ADVICE: Remember that your IP address isn’t the only way for websites and applications to determine your geographic location. To comprehensively hide your location, you also need to consider GPS, HTML5, and DNS information.

Example of a IP checker tool.

Our IP checker tool can test if your IP address is being hidden effectively.

If your IP address is being successfully hidden, the tools should display the IP address and location of the proxy, Tor, or VPN server that you’re connected to — not your real public IP address information. Simply compare your IP address before and after connecting to make sure your real IP address is hidden.

NOTE: Be sure to access the tool from within the appropriate tab or browser window if you’re hiding your IP address with a method that has limited coverage, such as a web proxy, a browser extension, or the Tor network.

Why Do You Need to Hide Your IP Address?

IP addresses are a fundamental part of internet communication. They are used to identify devices on the internet, and they enable your device to send and receive information from other devices.

Unfortunately, your IP address reveals a lot of personal information about you, too. Websites can use it to record your browsing activity and identify your approximate location (e.g. your country, city, and ZIP code).

They can then use this information to:

  • Retain a record of your browsing activity and downloads.
  • Enforce geographic content restrictions, especially on streaming services.
  • Impose personal bans or account suspensions.
  • Target you with personalized advertising, based on your recent browsing habits.
  • Increase product prices, based on your geographic location.

Websites may also share your information with governments, advertising networks, and sometimes even cybercriminals.

Your IP address can be traced and used to track your activity, reveal your location, or limit your access to certain content. For this reason, it’s important to know how to hide your true IP address, just in case you have to. This is one of the most common reasons why people use a VPN.

Here’s a list of reasons why you might need to hide your IP address:

  • Hide your physical location. Your IP address can reveal your country, city, and even your ZIP code to anyone with access to a simple IP lookup tool. Spoofing your IP address will hide this information, preventing third parties from tracking your physical location.
  • Hide your identity from websites. When you visit a website, it will usually log your IP address and location information. This can be used to identify you in the future. It might also be used to impose a personal site ban against you.
  • Evade online surveillance. Governments, advertising networks, and cybercriminals use your IP address to collate and track your activity across the web. They can use this to surveil you and build up personalized profiles about your identity and browsing habits.
  • Access geo-restricted content. Streaming services have different content libraries depending on where you are located in the world. By hiding your real IP address, you can spoof your location and access new streaming content.
  • Protect your device against hackers. Hackers can use your IP address to scan your device for open ports. If open inbound ports are detected, your device may be vulnerable to malicious attacks. They can also use your IP address to target you with Denial of Service attacks.
  • Avoid targeted advertisements. Advertising companies can send you personalized advertisements based on the geolocation and activity profile associated with your IP address. Sites might also use this information to change the product prices you see.
  • Prevent doxing attacks. A doxing attack occurs when someone exposes your sensitive information online, which may include your physical address. These attacks usually begin with your IP address.
  • Safeguard your P2P activity. Copyright trolls and hackers exploit the visibility of your IP address within torrent swarms to carry out legal action and cyberattacks against you. It is therefore always safest to hide your IP address before torrenting.

Can You Change Your IP Address Permanently?

We’ve explained how to hide your IP address, but you can also change your IP address permanently.

This means getting a completely new IP address altogether, rather than using a proxy or VPN server to temporarily mask it.

As we’ve seen, one way to do this is to connect your device to a new network. For example, by using a mobile data hotspot or by connecting to a public WiFi network.

Alternatively, you can change the IP address of the network you’re connected to. To do this, you have three options:

1. Wait For Your Dynamic IP Address to Change

The IP address assigned to your device’s network can either be static or dynamic. Dynamic IP addresses change automatically, so all you have to do is wait and a new IP address will eventually appear.

Unfortunately, you may end up waiting a long time. The time it takes for a dynamic IP to change can be anywhere from a few days up to a year.

Every time your modem reconnects, the DHCP (which assigns dynamic IP addresses) tries to assign you the same IP address as before – but sometimes it can’t due to congestion or network outages. Only then do you receive a new IP address.

2. Reboot Your Modem

With dynamic IP addresses, your IP address becomes available for other internet users once you disconnect from the internet. You can therefore try to force the DHCP to assign you a new IP address by rebooting your modem.

If your old IP address is being used when you turn the modem back on, you will receive a fresh, new IP address.

Ultimately, this requires some luck, but the best option is to leave your modem unplugged overnight. At minimum, you should wait at least an hour.

3. Contact Your ISP

The best way to permanently change your IP address is to contact your ISP directly and request a change. You’ll need to tell them your account details and your current IP address. Most ISPs will then be happy to change your IP address for you — although some might require a fee.

NOTE: Permanently changing your IP address won’t let you spoof your location or hide from ISP surveillance. It simply assigns you a new IP address that is still unique to you, your location, and your browsing activity. It therefore won’t help improve your privacy, security, or freedom online.


What’s the Best Way to Hide Your IP Address?

The best way to hide your IP address is to use a VPN. VPNs are by far the most effective and most reliable option for IP hiding on desktop PCs, smartphones, laptops, streaming devices, and routers.

The best VPNs offer a wide selection of server locations, allowing you to change your virtual location and unblock region-restricted content with ease. They also secure your connection with robust encryption, so you can hide from ISP surveillance and stay secure online.

Can I Hide My IP Address Without a VPN?

Using the Tor browser or connecting to a proxy server are both excellent ways to hide your IP address without a VPN.

You can also connect your device to a mobile data hotspot or a public WiFi network. This will give you a completely new IP address, without needing to use a VPN.

Is Hiding Your IP Address Illegal?

Hiding your IP address is not illegal, but a small handful of countries do outlaw the use of VPNs and the Tor Network.

For example, VPNs are illegal in Belarus, Iraq, North Korea, and Turkmenistan. Their use is restricted in China, Iran, Oman, Russia, Turkey, and the UAE, too.

Does Incognito Mode Hide Your IP Address?

Incognito mode on Google Chrome does not hide your IP address.

The only advantage of Incognito Mode or Firefox’s Private Browsing Mode is that the websites you visit aren’t saved in your browsing history.

ISPs, authorities, and the websites you visit are still completely free to track and record your browsing activity. If you’re on someone else’s WiFi network, your incognito history may be visible to the WiFi admin, too.