How to Hide Your IP Address and Become Anonymous in 2021
Some frequently used strategies to hide your IP address can expose you to hackers and give you slow speeds. Having worked in cybersecurity for over 6 years, I’ve found that using a VPN to change your IP address is the safest and fastest method available. This software keeps your true location hidden so you can browse anonymously, stream blocked content, torrent privately, buy cheaper plane tickets, and more.
In this article, I’ll explain the basics of IP addresses and the 5 best ways to hide them — some are even free. As a bonus, I’ll share the top VPNs for IP-masking so you don’t waste your time trying services that can’t reliably spoof your location or keep you safe.
If you need a quick answer, jump here to see the best VPNs for hiding your IP address.
Quick Guide — 5 Ways to Hide Your IP Address Quickly
- Virtual Private Network (VPN) — VPNs are the best available technology to hide your IP address. They provide the best security and speed for anonymous torrenting, bypassing geoblocks, and more. You can even try the top service on this list risk-free for 30 days.
- Proxy servers — Maintain fast speeds, but can’t consistently bypass streaming restrictions.
- The Onion Router (TOR) network — Free and gives you complete anonymity, but is the slowest method on this list.
- Hotspot — A quick solution for masking your home IP address, but you won’t be able to access geo-blocked content.
- Public WiFi — Useful for short periods, but not ideal for data-intensive activities like torrenting or streaming.
5 Best (And 3 Worst!) Ways to Hide Your IP Address in 2021
There are a ton of recommendations online about how to mask your IP address, but I’ll show you the 5 easiest and quickest ways. First, I need to warn you about some ineffective methods mentioned on other sites so you don’t waste your time with them:
- Changing your IP address by unplugging your modem or asking for a new one from your ISP. This isn’t the same as hiding it, and you can still be tracked with your new address.
- Using your web browser’s incognito mode — which still allows your IP address to be traced.
- Hiding your private IP address — which isn’t as important. It’s used by devices to communicate on a local network (e.g. between your computer and printer at home) and isn’t visible on the internet.
Easy tip: Once you’ve picked a method, I recommend that you use this tool to check your IP address and see if it’s really hidden. Having tested different IP-masking strategies for years, I found using a VPN is the easiest and most secure way.
The easiest and most secure way to hide your IP address is with a Virtual Private Network.
VPN software protects your online privacy through 2 processes. First, it redirects your online traffic away from your ISP’s servers and sends it through one of its own servers instead. Since VPN users share the same IP address of the server they’re connected to, your online traffic stays anonymous as it can’t be differentiated from other users’ data. Next, a VPN encrypts all information sent from your device (making it unreadable to anyone who might intercept it).
Using a high-quality VPN is the best way to spoof your location because its:
- Data leak protection keeps you private even in the event of technological malfunctions.
- Encryption maintains your safety and privacy for torrenting or sending sensitive data.
- Ability to bypass geoblocks lets you access sites normally restricted in your location.
- Fast speeds allow you to torrent files quickly, stream in UltraHD, and browse online.
- Easy setup lets you securely connect in under 1 minute.
2. Proxy Server — Fast, but Not Ideal for Torrenting and Unreliable for Streaming
Proxy servers hide your IP address while maintaining decent speeds. However, I wouldn’t recommend them if you want to do online requires anonymity or bypassing restrictions.
Like VPNs, proxies reroute your internet traffic through their own servers and mask your real location with the proxy server’s IP address. The key disadvantage is that proxies don’t encrypt your data like VPNs, so they can’t reliably unblock restricted content. This means proxies are a bad choice for private torrenting and can’t unblock streaming sites like Netflix or Hulu.
3. Tor Network — Free and Provides Anonymity, but Is Very Slow
Using Tor (The Onion Router) provides a high level of anonymity online — but you’ll have to deal with extremely slow speeds.
When you connect to the special Tor web browser, your traffic is sent through numerous servers with multiple layers of encryption. This means Tor makes your IP address and online activity totally untraceable (great for dealing with very sensitive information). The many rounds of encryption mean it’s very slow — it can take 10+ seconds to load a simple webpage! I found streaming and torrenting impossible on Tor as I couldn’t even load a 3-minute video.
Once you’re on the Tor network, your ISP can’t see what you’re doing — but it can see when you connect to it. In some countries, simply accessing Tor can cause authorities to investigate you as it’s often used for illegal activities. For complete anonymity, connect to a secure VPN before using Tor so your ISP will never even know you’ve accessed it.
4. Create a Hotspot From Your Smartphone — A Quick Solution, but You Can’t Access Geo-Blocked Content
Setting up a WiFi hotspot from your smartphone is a quick way to get a new IP address from your mobile network (while masking the one assigned from your home router). This method is appropriate for short-term IP masking — like if you wanted to buy something online and didn’t want the transaction associated with your usual IP address.
Unfortunately, it’s unsuitable for accessing geo-blocked content — like if you wanted to stream Netflix US while you’re in another country. Your new mobile network IP address still reveals your location and this will be detected by websites that block users outside certain places.
5. Use Public WiFi — Free, but Not Suited For Data-Intensive Activities
You can also change your IP address by logging on to a WiFi connection in a public space. Since most private networks are secured with a password, it’s easier to use a connection at a cafe, airport, or mall. It’s a quick and easy way for you to temporarily access a web page that’s blocked on your school or workplace network.
However, most public WiFi connections are often slow and may cap the amount of data you can use. The owners of the network usually need to put restrictions in place so that there can be fair usage for the many people logging on at the same time. As a result, this method is unsuitable for data-intensive activities like torrenting and streaming.
3 Best VPNs for Hiding Your IP Address in September 2021
- Keeps all your online traffic private with IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection
- AES 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and proven no-logs policy for added data security
- Remain anonymous on up to 5 devices simultaneously
- 3000+ secure servers in 94+ countries
- 30-day money-back guarantee to test its features risk-free
You can feel safe with ExpressVPN as it uses the best available leak protection technology to keep your IP address and other sensitive information hidden from prying eyes. Many VPNs are capable of hiding your real location, but may still leak DNS or WebRTC data. Revealing this information is just as dangerous because your location, IP address, and browsing history can be discovered from it. During my tests, ExpressVPN never leaked any of this data.
I was also pleasantly surprised that ExpressVPN operates all of its DNS servers which means your data never leaves its network and always remains encrypted. Other providers send DNS requests to third-party servers outside of their network, leaving your data vulnerable and unencrypted. That’s not the case with ExpressVPN, so you can rest assured that all the websites you visit, files you download, and purchases you make will always remain hidden.
Due to its strict no-logs policy, ExpressVPN never collects data about your online activities that could be linked to your identity. This policy was put to the test in 2017 when authorities tried to access ExpressVPN’s servers to get information about a user during a criminal investigation. However, they couldn’t find anything and that proved ExpressVPN really does adhere to its no-logging policy. This gave me great peace of mind because I knew that none of my online activities could ever be linked back to me.
ExpressVPN is one of the best services to hide your IP address and trick streaming platforms so you can access blocked content. Its IP-masking technology was reliable during my testing over 4 days, and ExpressVPN always gave me access to Netflix US. I streamed all my favorite shows with minimal lag thanks to its fast server speeds.
The only downside is that ExpressVPN is a bit pricier than other providers on this list. However, it’s one of the most secure services and it’s one of the best VPNs for China! If you want a more cost-effective way to use it, I recommend that you try ExpressVPN risk-free for 30 days with its money-back guarantee. When I tried this policy during testing, customer service processed my request in under 3 minutes and returned my money in 5 days. The whole process was fast and easy.
ExpressVPN works on: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Raspberry PI, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire Stick, routers, and smart TVs.
ExpressVPN unblocks: Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, YouTube TV, ESPN, and more.
September 2021 Update! ExpressVPN has dropped prices for a limited time to a crazy $6.67 per month for the 1-year plan (you can save up to 49%) + 3 months free! This is a limited offer so be sure to grab it now before it's gone. See more information on this offer here.
- Provides IP and DNS leak protection to keep your data hidden
- AES 256-bit encryption, kill switch, and no-logs policy for added security
- Secure up to 7 devices simultaneously
- 6900+ servers in 90 countries with special NoSpy servers in Romania
- 45-day money-back guarantee
CyberGhost reliably masks both your IP address and DNS requests (which is essential if you want to access blocked streaming or gaming websites!). I wanted to see if it could successfully prevent both types of information leaks over 4 days of testing and it passed with no issues. These test results reassured me that it would hide my true location from prying eyes.
With additional security features like military-grade encryption and a no-logs policy, you can be confident that CyberGhost will hide all your sensitive data (not just your IP address). These top-tier features made me feel safe using CyberGhost when I needed to do things that require absolute privacy like use my online banking or access the dark web.
If you want extra assurance that your online data will stay hidden, you can use CyberGhost’s special NoSpy servers. They’re located in Romania, which is privacy-friendly and doesn’t have data retention laws. This means you can be certain no user data will be recorded. All NoSpy servers are also completely owned and operated by CyberGhost, so it can closely monitor the network for any possible security breaches. To access the NoSpy servers, simply enter “Romania” into the search bar at the top of the app. When you scroll down to the bottom of the list, you can simply connect to any server beginning with the name “Nospy”.
Since masking your IP address with a VPN can slow your connection, I wanted to make sure CyberGhost maintains decent speeds. During testing, I was surprised that CyberGhost had speeds of 13-15 Mbps, which allowed me to enjoy data-intensive activities like torrenting and streaming. While it may not be as fast as ExpressVPN, I still managed to download a 500MB file in 8 minutes and streamed Netflix US shows in HD from Australia with minimal lag.
The only issue I have with CyberGhost is that it doesn’t promise WebRTC leak protection (which could reveal your IP address). Even though I never discovered this type of leak during my tests, I would feel more comfortable if it guaranteed this type of protection.
CyberGhost is one of the most generous VPNs when it comes to its money-back guarantee period, so you can try it risk-free for 45 days. This gives you more than a month to test its NoSpy servers and perform your own leak tests. If you feel it’s not suited for you, contact its customer support through its 24/7 chat service and request a refund. I managed to get my money back in 5 days and the whole process was simple.
CyberGhost works on: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Amazon Fire Stick.
CyberGhost unblocks: Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, YouTube TV, ESPN, and more.
September 2021 Update: CyberGhost has dropped prices for a limited time to a crazy $2.25 per month for the 2-year plan (you can save up to 83%)! This is a limited offer so be sure to grab it now before it's gone. See more information on this offer here.
- Hides your information with IP and DNS leak protection
- AES 256-bit encryption, kill switch, and proven no-logs policy for online security
- Connect up to 10 devices simultaneously
- 34400+ servers in 78+ countries that all support torrenting
- 30-day money-back guarantee
When I first read about PIA’s IP-cloaking, I wasn’t sure what this feature was or how well it worked. After testing it myself, I learned that this technology hides your IP address just as well as the top providers on this list. PIA effectively cloaks your real location by assigning you with an IP address associated with a VPN server. This means all your online activities become mixed with those of other users, so you can’t be identified.
In addition to IP-cloaking, PIA uses leak protection and an automatic kill switch to ensure your activities stay private even if you accidentally get disconnected. To see how well its technology works, I conducted multiple IP and DNS leak tests over 3 days — I was happy to discover that it passed every time, proving my real data was never revealed.
PIA is also one of the few VPNs with a proven history of keeping subscribers’ data private. In 2 separate cases, US police asked PIA to provide information about its users during criminal investigations. However, PIA couldn’t comply as its strict no-logs policy, IP-cloaking, and other security features erased any trace of user activities. This proved to me that it really doesn’t save any information about subscribers and that my data would remain private.
One minor disadvantage I discovered is that PIA is based in the US, which is part of the 5 Eyes alliance — a group of countries that share surveillance information about its citizens. I’m usually skeptical of providers based in 5 Eyes countries because government agencies may try to spy on your data as it passes through the VPN servers. However, I’ve made an exception for PIA because its proven no-logs policy shows that they don’t keep user data that authorities could access.
To see if it meets your needs, you can use PIA risk-free for 30 days with its money-back guarantee. After I finished testing it, I requested a refund from its customer support team and my money was returned within a week!
PIA works on: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV, Linux, Chrome, Kodi, and routers.
PIA unblocks: Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and HBO Max.
September 2021 Update! For a limited time only, save 77% on PIA's 2-year plan + get an additional 2 months free! Hurry and check out the deal here!
The Basics: What Is an IP Address and Why You Should Hide It
An Internet Protocol (IP) address is the virtual address of a device that can connect to the internet. If you want to mail a letter, you need to know the exact address to write on the envelope. Similarly, devices communicating over the internet must have an IP address to send and receive data. An IP address appears as a unique set of numbers (e.g. 192.168.1.2) for each device because computers can only communicate with numbers.
Here’s an example of how it works: when you send an email, your device’s IP address gets stamped on the message. The email is then stored on a holding server until the recipient opens it. When the receiver wants to see the message, the server uses the IP address of the device in order to display the email on the correct screen.
Why You Should Mask Your IP Address
IP addresses allow the internet to work — but leaving yours unprotected is like letting someone look through your bedroom window at all times. Prying eyes can use your IP address to see your real location and browsing history (like websites you visit or what you torrent). Worse still, your ISP may already have sensitive data like your name, credit card details, and address. This means it can link what you do online to your identity.
The good news is that you can hide your real IP address from everyone except your ISP. You can also stop your online history from being associated with it. By masking it, you can:
- Hide your personal information and online history from third-parties. This stops others from passing your data on to advertisers and government authorities.
- Torrent anonymously without your ISP or authorities finding out.
- Access location-restricted content and bypass IP bans on streaming sites (like Netflix), banking platforms, or travel websites.
- Hide your activities from government surveillance agencies that have the power to use private information against you.
- Block targeted ads by preventing marketers from tracking your location and browsing.
- Stop hackers from using your IP address to conduct illegal activities, take control of your device, steal your identity, and more.
FAQs: Hiding Your IP Address
How can I change my IP address with a VPN?
- Get one of the top VPNs on this list to reliably hide your IP address. Overall, ExpressVPN performed the best and you can try it risk-free for 30 days!
- Connect to a server. For the fastest speeds, use auto connect to pair with the best server for you.
- Start browsing anonymously! Once you’re connected, your real IP address is hidden so you can torrent, stream, and surf the web privately.
What are some free ways to hide my IP address?
This list of the best ways to hide your IP address includes 3 free methods. For example, you can use the Tor network or public WiFi — but I wouldn’t recommend it because of speed and security issues. The safest and fastest option is to use a top-tier VPN’s money-back guarantee.
Tor is extremely slow — it can take 10+ seconds to load a simple website, so it’s impractical for torrenting or streaming. Similarly, public WiFi is unsafe as hackers often monitor these networks to steal user data. A premium VPN can securely mask your IP address, encrypt your data, and maintain fast speeds.
If you want to spoof your location without spending any money, I recommend you try ExpressVPN risk-free for 30 days or review this list of the best free VPNs. When I tested this policy myself, I requested a refund from its customer support live chat and my money was returned in 4 days!
What’s the best way to hide my IP address to watch Netflix?
The best way to unblock content on streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime is to use one of the top VPNs on this list. They mask your IP address with the latest technology so streaming platforms can’t detect your real location.
Other methods like proxy servers are unreliable because they don’t encrypt your data. This makes them easily detectable, and you’ll be blocked from watching content that’s not available in your region.
You can try the best service ExpressVPN risk-free for 30 days with its money-back guarantee. This gives you enough time to see if it can access your favorite content and give you fast speeds. If you’re not 100% satisfied with its performance, simply contact its customer service for a refund — I got my money back in only 4 days.
How can I hide my IP address on my Mac, iPhone, Android, or Windows devices?
The best way to hide your IP address on Windows, Android, Mac, or iPhone devices is with a VPN. In addition to hiding your true location, this cybersecurity software also protects your data with encryption while maintaining fast speeds. This makes it a great choice for torrenting privately and accessing blocked streaming (like Netflix) or gaming content.
The VPNs on this list work with numerous operating systems and devices like Linux, Android TVs, and more. Plus, if the VPN you’re interested in doesn’t have a native app for a particular device, you can install it on your router to protect everything connected to your WiFi.
Should I hide my IP address when torrenting?
Yes! The best way to do so is with any of the top 3 VPNs on this list. It’s essential to keep your torrenting secret — especially from your ISP. Your ISP can throttle your speed if it isn’t torrenting-friendly or report you to authorities if it finds out you accidentally downloaded copyrighted material.
However, masking your IP address alone isn’t enough to guarantee your privacy while torrenting. You also need to encrypt your data. This makes all your internet traffic unreadable if your ISP ever tried to spy on you. Only the best VPNs have the advanced technology necessary to keep your torrenting totally private.
My tests showed that ExpressVPN is the best VPN for torrenting because it has top-tier security and fast speeds. While connected, I managed to download a full movie in under 15 minutes and multiple IP leak tests showed that it always kept my data hidden. You can even try it for 30 days using its money-back guarantee if you’re not ready to commit to a long-term plan!
Mask Your IP Address and Stay Anonymous With a VPN
It’s important to be careful when trying different IP-masking techniques. Some leave your private information vulnerable to hackers, while others slow down your connection speed so much that you can’t stream or torrent at all. A VPN is the easiest and safest way to hide your IP address, secure your data with encryption, and maintain fast speeds.
If you’re not ready to pay for a subscription yet, I recommend that you try ExpressVPN for 30 days with its money-back guarantee period. I found its leak protection kept my sensitive data (IP address, DNS, and WebRTC) private. This allowed me to surf the web anonymously, hide my torrenting, and bypass geoblocks. If you’re not satisfied with its performance, simply contact the customer service department to request a refund — I got my money back in only 4 days after answering a few quick questions.