How Do I change My IP Address?
“How do I change my IP address” is a search phrase that is commonly used on Google’s search engine. Someone that is typing that search phrase in to Google’s search box is obviously interested in learning how to change his or her device’s IP address.
There are many reasons why a user might want to change their IP address. These will be discussed further below. But first, what is an IP address?
An IP address is a unique set of numbers separated by periods (i.e. 126.96.36.199) that identifies each device and allows it to communicate with other devices on a network.
Your ISP (Internet Service Provider) assigns your device an IP address each time you connect to the Internet. IP addresses can be static (not changing) or dynamic (changing).
From your IP address, the physical location of your ISP is known. Other than your ISP, no one else can pinpoint your home address from your IP address.
Reasons to Change IP Address
At this point, you may wonder, “What are some good reasons why I would I want to change my IP address?” Well, there are multiple reasons why someone would want to change his or her device’s IP address:
- To overcome the download limits per IP address within a certain time period on certain p2p sharing networks.
- To bypass bans on forums or chat rooms.
- To surf the web anonymously and avoid tracking by the government, advertisers or cyber criminals.
- To bypass Internet censorship imposed by your local ISP, or other governments and institutions.
Does any of the above apply to you? If yes, read on…
The Easiest Ways to Change Your IP Address
Although there are various ways that may work to change your IP address, the two easiest and most effective methods are to use a proxy service or a VPN service. Both of these services indirectly enable you to change your IP address. The VPN or proxy server will rout your internet traffic to their servers, access the web on your behalf, and then pass the data or information back to you.
Figure 1. A VPN encrypts you internet traffic and accesses the web using its own IP address
To the web server, your request is coming from the IP address of the VPN or proxy server, not your computer. Most VPN and proxy services have many different IP addresses. Each time you connect to one of their servers, you will get assigned a different IP address from the server.
In addition, both proxy and VPN services provide you with these benefits:
- Ability to bypass internet censorship or to access a website that is blocked at schools or work places.
- Ability to overcome geo-restrictions and access geo-blocked content – due to licensing and copy rights issues, some media sites such as Netflix, Hulu, and BBC are not accessible to users that are located outside of the geo-restricted region for that particular service.
For example, a user that is visiting France will not be able to access Netflix content because Netflix restricts its service to US users only. But if you connect to a VPN or proxy server in the US, the VPN or proxy server will access the content on your behalf and pass the content back to you for viewing.
VPN vs. Proxy – Which is Better?
If you just want to change your IP address to be anonymous online, then either a VPN or a proxy service works. But if you want a private and secure web browsing experience, then a VPN is your best option.
When using a proxy service, all of your internet traffic is not encrypted. Therefore, hackers or anyone with malicious intent can intercept and steal your usernames, passwords, financial information, or any other sensitive data that can be used to steal your identity.
A VPN, on the other hand, creates a secure tunnel between your device and the VPN server. All the traffic inside that tunnel gets encrypted. What this means is that hackers or anyone nearby will see only garble and will not be able to steal any of your private information or data. Additionally, no one will be able to find out which websites you visit or what you do on those sites.
To use a VPN service, simply install the VPN client on your computer and you are ready to browse the web anonymously and securely.
As you can see, using a VPN is perhaps the easiest and most secure way to change your IP address and browse the web. There are free and paid services available. Just make sure that you use a reliable and trusted VPN service that doesn’t log your online activity and your assigned IP address.