How to Hide the Geographic Location of Your IP Address
By Avery Martin
Your IP address acts like a numbering system that provides the approximate physical location of your computer and is provided to you by your Internet Service Provider. An ISP is the only entity that can identify the physical address of an IP assigned to a customer. However, this requires law enforcement to acquire a subpoena for that information. Websites that use IP-tracking and Geolocation can identify the general location of your IP address, but it is always just an approximation and often provides false-positives. To hide your real IP address on the Internet, you can use a Proxy, VPN or a combination of both.
Navigate to a VPN provider such as TunnelBear, NetShade or HotSpot Shield (see links in Resources). Register for an account and download the VPN client to your computer. HotSpot Shield provides free ad-based access and TunnelBear provides 500MB of free access per month.
Launch the VPN client on your computer. TunnelBear and NetShade require you to provide a username and password provided during registration. The free ad-based version of HotSpot Shield does not require registration.
Select a location and set your preferences when the VPN client launches. Click the "Preferences" tab if using HotSpot Shield and select the option to launch automatically when connected to the Internet. TunnelBear and NetShade provide an option to choose from various VPN servers. NetShade also provides the option of configuring a Proxy for use with the VPN.
Navigate to an online proxy server such as Ninja Proxy or Proxify. Enter a website address you wish to visit into the web address bar on the website and click "Submit" or a similar button. Choose advanced options such as "Remove All Scripts" to hide computer operating system information from sites that use Java. Some proxies also allow you to remove ads and return text results only for better security and faster browsing.
Click the "Start" button and type "Internet Explorer" then select "Internet Explorer" from the list of results in Windows 7. Click the "Tools" button, "Internet Options" and "Connections" tab. Select "LAN Settings" and check the option to "Use a Proxy Server for Your LAN." Enter the proxy provider's address in the Address box, type in the "Port" number and set any advanced options required of your proxy provider. Click "OK."
- Before and after connecting to a VPN or Proxy service, navigate to a website that identifies your IP Address as well as Geolocation to check if your computer's IP address has changed. WhatIsMyIp.com, CheckMyIp.com and WhatIsMyIpAddress.com all provide a way to check your IP address (see links in Resources).
- A VPN provides the greatest level of protection when connecting to the Internet. Because of the nature of how VPNs work, many services don't keep logs of user activity. Other providers only keep basic information such as the user account and IP address of the user. In most cases, this information is purged shortly after the user disconnects. Check with the VPN providers policy to learn how they handle information. Services that provide Proxy services often keep logs of your activity for a pre-determined length of time to help prevent fraud and abuse.
- Proxy-based servers can be dangerous since you don't always know the entity that hosts the server. There are many proxy servers that serve only to capture important financial and private information. Make sure to use only reputable proxy servers. In most cases, this means purchasing a service plan.
- When using a VPN or Proxy, you do not need to set any advanced options if you only want to hide your IP address. Consult the provider's documentation to learn about the advanced settings and options available.
- Your ISP won't be able to determine what websites you have visited or track your Internet activity if you use a reputable VPN or Proxy service.
- VPNs and Proxies provide decent protection on the Internet. Keep in mind that while connecting and disconnecting to a service, there are moments in transmission that private information can still be collected if someone is manually monitoring your activity.
Avery Martin holds a Bachelor of Music in opera performance and a Bachelor of Arts in East Asian studies. As a professional writer, she has written for Education.com, Samsung and IBM. Martin contributed English translations for a collection of Japanese poems by Misuzu Kaneko. She has worked as an educator in Japan, and she runs a private voice studio out of her home. She writes about education, music and travel.