Everything has a number: bank cards, mobile phones, IDs, medical insurance documents. When a device goes online it’s also given a number — an IP address. It can be used to find out your exact location and what exactly you did online.
My name is Nicolas Cuts, I am a Switcherry VPN employee, and today I will tell you what an IP is and how you can hide it in any version of the Windows operating system. You will learn about reliable and proven methods, their advantages and disadvantages. By the time you reach the end of this article you will have understood how IP addresses work and found a way to hide yours that suits you the most.
Table of contents
- 1 What is an IP address
- 2 How to find out your external IP in Windows
- 3 Reasons to hide your IP in Windows
- 4 Safe methods for Windows
- 5 Insecure methods to hide your IP in Windows
- 6 How to hide IP on Windows 10 and other versions using Switcherry VPN
- 7 Conclusions
What is an IP address
Internet Protocol Address is a unique identifier assigned to a device that goes online. It is needed to connect to computers within the network. It somewhat resembles a phone call: no one can call you if you don’t have a phone number. When you surf the web, you receive data because the server knows where to send it — to your IP address.
You get your IP address from your Internet provider. He knows your home address and has access to all your personal data and online activity. Usually this information is used to make advertising more accurate or collect statistics, but technically, it can also be hijacked by scammers. Your IP determines whether you have access to blocked resources, what prices you are given, how safe public Wifi and downloading files is. Hiding your IP isn’t a 100% anonymity and security guarantee but it’s certainly better than nothing.
How to find out your external IP in Windows
You can find out your external IP here: switcherry-vpn.com/location-and-ip. Your browser will tell you about your operating system, its name, version and connected modules.
In addition to an external IP there is also an internal IP. To find out what it is in Windows, open the “Command Prompt” application. In the window that opens, type “Ipconfig”, after which your internal address will be displayed in the “IPv4 address” row. It is needed to connect your computer to a modem and is of no value to hijackers.
Reasons to hide your IP in Windows
In 2013, the English newspaper “The Guardian” published the materials provided by the former NSA agent Edward Snowden. It became known that the US government is responsible for massively monitoring US citizens and those of other countries. This caused a large scandal, and users all around the world became concerned about their confidentiality. One way to ensure it is to hide your IP.
Hiding your IP is a good idea not only to ensure your anonymity and online security but also in a number of other situations. Let’s talk about each one separately.
Access to restricted resources
Each country has its own laws regarding the Internet. In some places it’s free, and in some many resources are blocked or censored. China’s Golden Shield has been operating since 2003 (also known as the “Great Firewall of China). Millions of URLs and thousands of popular sites and applications were blocked as a result of its activities, among which are:
China combats undesirable content in various ways. In countries like India, Pakistan the UAE and Russia the situation isn’t as bad – their restrictions aren’t as hardcore as the Golden Shield. However, the trend is that restrictions are to only get more tight.
The actual blocking of a resource is the responsibility of the provider, since they cut off the access of a specific range of IP addresses to the restricted website. The provider will no longer be able to stop you from visiting the sites you want if you hide or change IP.
Changing your GEO
By knowing one’s IP, you can determine the location of its owner with shocking accuracy. This is how advertisers configure their ads for you. According to Google’s financial statement, the corporation earned $146.9 billion in 2020 in ad revenue. You’ve probably noticed that after one search related to refrigerators you get spammed with fridge ads wherever you go. All your search queries are saved and later sold to companies, which base their marketing strategy on this data. Hide your IP address and the number of ads, including local ones, will go down drastically.
The cost of hotels bookings, car rentals, goods in online stores varies depending on your location.
With the American IP address, a cheap plane ticket from New York to Rome costs $590, with an Indian one – $539. The difference is obvious.
There’s also the possibility of scammers learning your location.
Safe downloads from torrents
Using torrents is legal, but the laws of the US and several European countries prohibit the downloading and distribution of copyright materials. A single pirated song or film can get you a fine from a few hundred to several thousand dollars or euros. In 2012, two Americans, Cormelian Brown and Kywan Fisher, received fines of 1.5 million dollars each for distributing 10 films on BitTorrent.
And although there is a lot of legal content on torrent trackers, they are blocked entirely for having at least something illegal. Sometimes torrents are the only place where you can find the content you’re looking for. You can safely and anonymously access restricted resources and download what you want, you just need to hide your IP.
Watch streaming services
During the coronavirus pandemic streaming services have become an integral part of the life of every person. However, outside the United States and Europe, streaming platforms such as Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu and Amazon Prime either provide limited content or are blocked entirely. By choosing an IP of another country you will gain access to hundreds of movies, TV shows and channels.
Safe methods for Windows
There are 3 relatively safe methods to hide your IP in Windows. Each one has both advantages and disadvantages. We will examine each of them separately and find out which is better.
A proxy server is a link that acts as an intermediary between your device and the Internet. When you connect to a site, the data is first sent to the proxy server and only after – to you. The proxy has its own IP, so yours remains secret. Most proxies are free but slow services. Some of them sell user data, some are even specifically created to steal it. Anonymous, safe and efficient proxies are all paid and aren’t that cheap.
Their main disadvantage is that the transmitted data in 99% of proxies isn’t encrypted, even in paid ones. You can use them to gain access to restricted websites, but downloading torrents or connecting to say, Netflix isn’t a good idea. You can easily be tracked and held legally responsible.
- Request filtering. Used by companies to prevent employees from accessing specific resources that are either distracting or are a threat to inner sensitive data;
- Quality servers use cache memory. Some data is already stored in it, which speeds up the download time;
- Free proxies work slowly;
- Weak security. Data can be stolen from the cache, and some proxy servers sell it themselves;
- Constant crashes due to overloads;
- Free proxies eventually either start performing worse or start charging users;
- Your IP address may get blocked;
- More often than not there’s no data encryption;
How to use it
Types of proxies:
- CGI — a web page where you just enter the URL you want. This isn’t very convenient, since this means that you need a separate tab for each website, with the content often being displayed incorrectly.
- HTTP —It is activated directly in Windows and works in the browser until you turn it off manually.
- HTTPS — Supports SSL encryption: when you enter passwords, bank card info, passport details, this information is encrypted. Overall performance is poor and the encryption unreliable.
- SOCKS4, SOCKS5 — allow you to use proxies not only in browsers, but also in applications, like Skype or Steam.
Figuring out how to use CGI is simple. Understanding the rest will take some effort. First you need to find a proxy server — that can be easily done online: you’ll need an address and a port.
Now, on to the configuration. For Windows 10 and 8, go to «Settings»
Enable “Use a Proxy Server”, enter the address and port, click “Save”. In the bottom window, you can specify several URLs for which you want to use a proxy if it is needed exclusively for them.
The Onion Router — it was originally used by the military to hide the IP addresses of its officers and regular troops. After it discovered VPNs, TOR became accessible to ordinary users. To go online one uses the TOR Browser, which works similar to popular regular browsers like Chrome, Safari, Firefox. Sends data from the server to the device through several intermediaries using three-level encryption.
- Bypasses restrictions;
- Protects against espionage;
- Incredibly high loading time;
- Data leaks. When you visit sites that do not support HTTPS protocol, security is not guaranteed.
- If you use TOR, your provider will know. Using it isn’t illegal per se, but law enforcement agencies may be interested in why you installed it. They won’t bust down your door to find out, but will make a little note about you;
- Full protection is provided only when installing the Tails operating system, that passes all traffic through TOR. If you use Windows, only browser traffic will be protected.
- You can’t download torrents
How to use it
You can install the TOR browser for Windows by following this link https://www.torproject.org/download/. Be careful, always download applications only from the official sites.
After installation you’ll be shown the instructions to learn how to use TOR. You can choose a low, medium or high level of protection. The higher the level, the less functions (present in regular browsers) you will have at your disposal. This is due to the fact that more features equals more vulnerabilities. Sometimes the content is displayed incorrectly. Based on our experience, the default settings are enough for everyday use. If you are afraid of hacker attacks, then choose a higher level of protection.
4 rules to follow when using TOR:
- Don’t download or distribute torrent files;
- Don’t use browser plugins;
- Only use HTTPS versions of websites;
- Don’t open downloaded files while you’re still online.
Virtual Private Network — an encrypted connection between the device and the Internet. Provides great security compared to proxies and TOR. When connecting to the Internet, a “funnel” is created, inside which all traffic is encrypted. Your real IP will be hidden, and your provider will see another one. It can be the IP address of any country. It becomes impossible to track your online activities both for your provider and for hackers.
- Encrypted traffic;
- It’s difficult for hackers to bypass all the protection measures;
- Safe use of public Wi-Fi;
- Safe downloads from torrents;
- Faster loading speeds;
- Incorrect setup will result in vulnerabilities in protection;
- Low quality VPN services often leak user DNS and IP addresses;
- Many free services don’t perform their functions all too well;
How to use it
All you need to do is download and install the application for Windows, choose the country you want and you’re all set. With Switcherry it’s easy.
So what are we left with? TOR is slow, with limited features, proxies aren’t secure and rarely work properly. The best choice is a VPN — fast, reliable, anonymous, secure.
|VPN||Fast||High||Full||Average||Others can only see your fake IP address|
|Proxy||Often slow||Low||Incorrect display of certain content||A good proxy is expensive||
Data can be stolen
|TOR||Slow||Average||Can’t download torrents or access websites without HTTP protocols||Free||High|
Insecure methods to hide your IP in Windows
The 3 methods to hide your IP in Windows that we’ve described aren’t the only ones. Below we list another 5 ways, but they are far from safe and convenient.
Your IP is issued by your provider, therefore, your home IP won’t be the same your device gets in a cafe or other public venue. In this case, it will be difficult to link specific online actions to you, since several people are connected to the Wi-Fi. The main danger is that public Wi-Fi is often used by cybercriminals to install malicious software which they use to steal personal data: bank cards, passwords, documents, photos, videos and other personal data. Every year thousands of users fall victim to cyber attacks. This method should be used as a last resort. In other cases, it is not recommended to connect to public Wi-Fi without a VPN and antivirus. Plus, it’s hardly convenient needing to go to a remote location each time you want to hide your IP address..
You can create a Wi-Fi access point with a smartphone and a mobile network, that will give your device an IP that’s different from your home one. The method is suitable for one-time uses: when making a purchase or paying for services, in case you want to avoid linking your home IP with a specific transaction. Your location can still be revealed and tracked and regional restrictions will still be an obstacle.
Your provider gives you two types of IP – dynamic and static. The static one is granted by default, it’s the one you have now. You can also get a dynamic IP by asking the provider. In this case, the IP changes each time you connect to the Internet or after a set time interval – depends on the service provider. Often, it is necessary to go through a long procedure and substantiate your reasons behind wanting to switch to a dynamic IP. Plus, the provider will still be able to track your traffic.
Programs to hide your IP
Thousands of programs exist to help you hide your IP in WIndows, but most are ineffective, and often harmful. Such software is morally outdated and won’t ensure the necessary level of security.
Restarting your modem
The method is suitable when you have already been assigned a dynamic IP. If you turn off the modem for several hours, then there is a high possibility of your IP changing. It is unlikely that you want to wait so long, since it is much easier to use a VPN and get not only another IP, but also access to all online resources.
How to hide IP on Windows 10 and other versions using Switcherry VPN
Getting started with Switcherry is easy.
Go to the client download page switcherry-vpn.com/vpn-for-windows and select your version of Windows — the installation process is similar to all versions (10, 8, 7). Click “Download”.
After downloading, launch the installer and setup the client.
After launching, the default mode is “Fastest Mode”, which connects to the nearest server. Click “Connect” to start.
Click “Fastest Mode” and select “Freedom Mode” — that way you connect to the nearest server without any restrictions.
You can choose any country. Click on the heart to the right of the country and it will be saved to the “Favorites” tab.
Now let’s check how it works. Here is my real IP, that I checked through switcherry-vpn.com/location-and-ip
And now after the activation of the VPN. In this case I chose Japan, but you can select any other country.
Switcherry uses 256-bit encryption — the same encryption used by the militaries of developed countries. Hackers will need to go through trillions of combinations. Switcherry doesn’t cut down on Internet speed, instead ensuring it runs smoothly, which was proven by the Ookla speed test.
As you can see, hiding or changing your IP address is important for security and confidentiality reasons online. We recommend using a VPN, since currently it’s the most advanced technology we have.
That’s all for our guide. I’m Nicolas Cuts, thanks for stopping by! I hope you found this article useful and you found the answers you were looking for.