Everyone has an IP address. This is a unique address given to us by our ISP (Internet Service Provider), but will a VPN hide this? We’ll be finding out in this guide.
An IP Address acts as a carrier of information for each user. It can be dangerous these days when online anonymity is genuinely scarce, and everyone including the government, companies and others seeks to collect as much information about every internet user as possible.
Luckily, recommendations are that you can hide your IP Address by using additional security tools, such as a VPN.
But is it as clear cut as that?
If you wish to know more about IPs, VPNs, how it all works, and whether or not it will hide your IP – stick around, and you will get the answers you need.
What is an IP address?
Let’s start from the beginning.
An IP address is a string of numbers that does not mean much to you when you first look at it, but it can link to a lot of information about you. That’s because at the time of connection your IP Address is unique to you.
It’s similar to a phone number, although you’ll only keep the same IP Address from a very short time up to a few months or possibly longer.
Online services and websites that you visit use your IP Address to function.
With it, they can identify you, as well as some crucial information about you, such as your location and other details.
Having an IP Address is essential for the internet to function.
It helps websites and services know who requested what and where to send the data. Unfortunately, it can also be used against you such as checking if you’re in the correct country to access specific content.
Streaming services like BBC iPlayer, Netflix and most others will do this sort of thing.
What are the dangers of exposing my IP Address?
There used to be a time when no one had to worry whether or not their IP address is exposed. But, as we moved forward in time, and online capabilities became more diverse, information about internet users has become crucial to a lot of people.
Now companies want details about you that would help them target you with better ads to improve their sales.
Hackers want details about you as they could help them hack your device for nefarious purposes. Even your government wants to identify your online movements and track what you are doing through your ISP and its spying agencies.
An IP Address will not identify you directly, but it’s possible to track you and the information you give out can in many cases lead to identifying you.
Databases get hacked, and your IP and name might be stolen at the same time, which leads to hackers knowing precisely who you are, what you do, what you like, and more.
Will a VPN hide my IP Address?
You don’t need to panic, however, as VPNs are perfectly capable of hiding your IP address.
When you use the internet, you connect to your ISP’s servers. They give you an IP address, and they can store everything you do while online.
VPNs have their own servers, with their own IP addresses, that are known to be owned by the company, and they can be in use by all of its users at the same time, so there is no way to know who does what while using it.
When you connect to VPN servers, you get one of these IP addresses, while your real IP gets masked.
How does a VPN protect my IP Address?
As mentioned already, when you use a VPN, you get an IP address owned by the VPN service, instead of the one your internet company provides to you.
Your real IP Address, given to you by your internet provider, is still there, but there is a cloak over it, and all of the details of your actions are attributed to the VPN server.
A VPN introduces a secure step in between steps 1 and 2.
Luckily, most quality VPN services delete this information, and any knowledge of your online actions remains known only to you.
As your real IP Address is hidden, you are even safe from hacking attacks, such as DDoS, as they would hit VPN servers, and not you.
We also mentioned that VPN IP addresses are shared among many users at the same, so there is less possibility for your actions to be attributed to you. It all gets mixed up with other users, hiding your online activity away from almost everyone.
Best VPN services for hiding your IP address
Now we come to the big question – which VPN to use?
There are many of them, hundreds even, and more are likely to come due to the emerging popularity of VPNs.
For now, we believe that ExpressVPN is the best choice for most people worldwide.
ExpressVPN has one of the largest server networks in the industry, with 94 countries covered, and some 160 locations. They also have 3,000+ servers, and thousands of IP addresses, and whenever you use the service, you are assigned one randomly.
These IPs are known as Shared IPs, and any ExpressVPN user can use them at the same time. This will mingle your actions with theirs.
Of course, there are other decent services, like NordVPN and IPVanish. NordVPN has over 5,100 servers, while IPVanish has around 1,300.
Factors to consider
It is comforting to think that using a VPN will solve all your problems, but that is often not the case.
Also, it is essential to choose the correct VPN, as not all services are equally as good. Some of them may use static IP addresses, meaning that you are the only one who uses a single address. This can increase the chances of you being identified.
It is similar to using your IP Address, only this time; it will take longer to extract your identity, location, and alike from all small details that you share here and there.
Worse still, if the VPN service keeps logs (details of your activities), they will know what you do, and they may surrender this information to authorities, or in the case of free VPN services, sell it to advertisers.
This is what many free VPNs are doing, which is why we highly recommend against them.
VPNs are a great way to become pseudonymous and hide your online activities.
Unfortunately, this is more than necessary these days, as there are so many information seekers out there, that it is next to impossible to use the internet without some form of tracking.
Your IP address is particularly vulnerable, as you display it openly to anyone to see while using the internet without protection.
By following this guide you should now have a better understanding of how you can beef up the security of your IP Address and internet use in general and use the internet more securely.
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