If you’ve been on the internet for a while, you’ve probably heard of something called an IP address. You also may have heard that keeping your IP address from strangers is important, but how exactly do you protect your IP address? And is it possible to change your IP address?
It’s possible to change or hide your IP address if necessary. The most popular way to do this is to use a VPN — such as NordVPN or ExpressVPN — to mask your IP address while you browse the internet. You can also change your IP manually by altering the network connection settings on your computer.
Even though most people know they have an IP address — and the fact that they’re supposed to protect it — many don’t understand why protecting it is even important in the first place. Let’s go through this topic in more detail so that you can keep your computer more secure.
Can You Change Your IP Address?
Your IP address is like your computer’s mailing address. It tells internet services where exactly to send the information that you request. But, unlike a typical mailing address, you can change your IP address if necessary.
Your IP address is granted to you by your internet service provider. This means that changing internet service providers will often change your public IP address.
However, changing internet service providers can be complicated, time consuming, and costly. Thankfully, there are other options.
Before we get into how to change your IP address, there’s an important question that we need to answer first. Why would you even want to change your IP address?
The main reason people have for changing their IP address is for privacy purposes. Your public IP address is used by advertisers and trackers in order to follow what you do online. Changing your IP address will throw off these trackers, at least for some time.
A lot of people change their IP address in order to protect their location data. Your IP address numbers are actually tied to your location, and the numbers can be used figure out certain information about where you’re located.
However, this information isn’t really as useful as it may seem. Your IP address will only let people know what city, state, or country you live in. It won’t let people know your home address or anything that specific.
If someone malicious has your IP address, it can actually spell bad news. With your IP address, someone can execute a DoS (Denial of Service) attack on your network to prevent you from being able to connect to a network.
A skilled hacker could even change their IP to yours and then conduct illegal activities on the internet using your identity. This would essentially frame you for a crime.
Running into these problems is pretty rare though, but it’s best to avoid them entirely by regularly changing your IP address.
A less serious reason someone would want to change their IP address is for streaming purposes. This is likely a concept that many readers are unfamiliar with.
As we mentioned above, your IP address is actually tied to the general location that you live in.
Streaming services like Netflix have different catalogs of movies and shows depending on what country you live in, and they determine your location by detecting your IP address’ location. This means that if you change your IP, you’ll see different streaming options.
Let’s say for instance, there’s a show you want to watch on Netflix, but it’s only available on Netflix in Germany. In this case, you would just need to change your IP to a German IP address, and Netflix would let you watch that show.
How to Change Your IP Address
If this is all sounding a bit complicated, you don’t have to worry. Thankfully, there are multiple different ways to change your IP address and avoid it being tracked down, and some are pretty basic. Let’s go through two of the simplest methods so that you can change your IP quickly and easily.
Changing Your IP With a VPN
A VPN, or a Virtual Private Network, is a service that protects your online identity by hiding your IP address. It does this by changing the IP address that your computer gives out to the websites you visit.
When looking for a VPN to use, the first thing that comes up is whether you want a paid or free VPN. Paid VPNs usually require a monthly payment, but they also tend to be much more reputable than free versions. Free VPNs are known for selling their users’ data for a profit and for potential security flaws.
When it comes to paid VPNs, the two most reputable ones are ExpressVPN and NordVPN. In order to use these to change your IP address, all you have to do is download either their programs or their browser extensions and follow the instructions on their websites to activate the VPN.
If you don’t want to pay a monthly fee in order to mask your IP address, it’s actually possible to change your IP address manually using your computer. This is possible on both Mac and Windows computers, so let’s go through the instructions to do this on both devices.
- On Windows: First, begin by logging into your Administrator Account. Then click Start and select the Control Panel. On this page, select Network Connection and then select your local area connection. Next, you’ll want to click on Properties and then TCP/IP. Here, you should be able to type in your desired IP address.
- On Mac: Open System Preferences and then click on Network. Next, select Network Connection, then Configure IPv4, and then select Manually. This should allow you to type in whatever IP address you would like.
Public vs. Local IP Address
When looking into anything about your IP address, you’ve likely come across two terms: Public IP Address and Local IP Address. What’s the difference between these two IP addresses, and why do they matter?
Essentially, every device you operate has two different IP addresses that it uses depending on what it’s trying to connect to. A public IP address is used to connect your device to the internet, while a local IP address can connect your device to other devices on your home network.
Basically, if you’ve ever connected your phone to your computer on the same internet connection, this process happens using the devices’ local IP addresses. As we mentioned earlier, a public IP address tells internet services where to send information so that it ends up on your computer.