Your IP address is like a counterpart of your street address. It provides a pretty accurate fix on where you are, what device you are using and – by extension – who you are in real life. Without this piece of information, it’s much harder for the state to track down online criminals, and corporations would struggle to police who has access to their services.
More and more people are coming round to the idea of changing their IP details. So we’ve put together an easy to follow guide. It’s not hard, but it does need to be done right, and we’ll show you exactly how.
Why would you need to change your IP address?
Before we run through ways to change your IP address, you’ll probably want to know why it could make a difference. It’s not something that you learn about at school, but there are plenty of excellent reasons to change your digital identity.
- Workaround corporate filters – Have you ever tried to access a streaming site located in another country, only to receive a notification that the service “is not available in your region”? It’s a depressingly common issue. But what few people realize is that you can usually beat these filters by fooling sites into thinking you are located nearby – and IP data is a key part of that picture.
- Hide your identity from snoopers – The online world is definitely not private, at least not any more. Wherever we go, we could be watched by state agents, copyright holders, marketers, and criminals. But by scrambling our IP data, we can make things much harder for snoopers to identify and monitor us – a huge win for privacy fans.
- Evade ISP throttling – Your Internet Service Provider loves to track each and every user, and constantly monitors your monthly data consumption. Sometimes – and they’re not supposed to do so – ISPs “throttle” users, keeping their download speeds low. But they can only do so if they have IP information which links to your account.
All of these reasons make it useful to know how to change your IP address. Now, we can run through how to actually do so.
But if you’re confident enough to get started, go ahead. Fire up a VPN you can trust, and start surfing anonymously. Check out our NordVPN review for a great example of a VPN done right. Give it a try, and you probably won’t need to go elsewhere.
A quick guide to changing your IP address
Firstly, it’s useful to understand the difference between a local and a public IP address. In this guide, we are talking about the latter. You can easily change your local identity, but it won’t have any effect on unblocking Netflix or evading surveillance. To do that, you’ll need to change and anonymize your address.
The best way to do so is via a Virtual Private Network.
VPNs work by encrypting the data you send across the internet, then routing this data through servers located around the world. As data is routed, the VPN will assign you a fresh public IP address. This essentially tells external websites that your location is near the server, which doesn’t have to be anywhere near you.
The process is really easy:
- Find a reliable VPN – Poor quality VPNs struggle to protect the IP they give you. For anonymization to work, the IP you are given has to remain safe from “leaks”. If an IP leak happens, your original IP will be exposed, rendering the VPN useless. NordVPN, PIA, Cyberghost, AstrillVPN, PureVPN, and ExpressVPN are all reliable providers with excellent records on IP leakage.
- Choose a client for your chosen platform – Most good VPNs have clients for laptop OS and smartphones. Select the right one, and choose a subscription plan that works for you. We don’t recommend free VPNs, as they tend to offer poor IP shielding.
- Fire up the client – When the client loads, you’ll need to enter your login details. After that, you can choose between servers located across the world. Pick one that suits your needs, then connect to the VPN.
- Check your IP has been changed – Now, you should be protected. But don’t take the VPN’s word for it. Use a tool like WhatismyIPaddress to make sure that the change has taken place.
Are there other ways to change my IP address?
VPNs are the easiest and most reliable method to alter your online identity, and they also come with the added bonus of encryption. But they aren’t your only option.
Proxies are similar to VPNs in that they route your traffic through servers around the world. But they don’t feature encryption, so they aren’t strong privacy tools. However, if you just want to access the BBC iPlayer in Los Angeles, they offer a cheap, lightweight solution.
TOR is another option. Famous as a portal to the “Dark Web”, the TOR browser includes the option to change your location. However, it’s significantly slower than a good VPN and may leave you open to official surveillance. But it does the same job.
Give yourself an anonymous IP address whenever you need it
There’s no reason to stick with the identity provided by your ISP. And that’s especially the case when changing your IP address has so many benefits. From accessing content libraries at Netflix to shielding your browsing history, it makes sense to have the ability to change your IP whenever you want to.
So, get hold of a high-quality VPN and follow the guide above. It’s simple, and the benefits make it well worthwhile.