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Does a VPN Really Hide Your IP Address?

Updated on: August 15, 2021

Does a VPN really hide your IP address?

A VPN is a tool that comes in very handy for those who are looking for privacy on the Internet.

If you are using a virtual private network, chances are you expect that you are now completely hidden online. While it is quite easy to test this assumption on a free website, like this one, most people do not.

If people routinely checked to make sure their IP addresses were hidden online, they would realize that, often, they’re not. Unfortunately, only reputable VPNs will reliably hide your IP address whenever you are on the web.

In a Hurry? Here’s How to Easily Hide Your IP Address

Check out these quick and easy steps to hide your IP address online:

  1. Choose and download a reliable VPN. We highly recommend ExpressVPN for its large server network and secure IP addresses.
  2. Connect to your choice of servers from around the world, and your IP address will reflect the country in which your server is located. ExpressVPN offers server locations in 94 countries around the world.
  3. Voila! Your IP address is now hidden from your ISP or third parties!

Reasons to Hide Your IP Address

You may be aware that it’s important to hide your IP address, but something you may not know is just why hiding your IP address is so important.

Here are some of the benefits of hiding your IP address:

Content — like that available on the region-specific Netflix website, is accessible only to people surfing the web from within a specific geographic area; so people can only gain access from using an IP address that reflects a permitted region. For example, if you want to watch Netflix US, but you are located in the UK (with a UK IP address), you will need to change your IP address to reflect a US location. This can be done by connecting to a VPN’s US server.

Conceal your Location — If you are looking to hide your IP address, the most practical reason is that you want to hide where you are located. Hiding where you are actually located ensures that nobody can see your home address or the address from which you tend to access the web. This helps keep cyber-criminals from tracking you in real-time.

Hide your Activity — Whenever you are surfing the web, your Internet traffic is being tracked. Have you ever wondered how products are often marketed to you so perfectly? The way advertisers know who to target is based on which products, websites, and domain names you may have searched for in the browser on your device in the previous days, hours, or even minutes. I don’t know about you, but this alone makes me want to hide my IP address, as I sometimes feel like someone is staring at me through my screen, able to see every move I make. Using a VPN to hide IP addresses gives you privacy and prevents the websites you are accessing from being logged and tracked, so the next time you sign online, your previous internet session is obsolete.

Secure Wi-Fi and Internet Connection — If you are using the Internet in a public setting, or on an unsecured network, you are likely putting your device and your information at risk for data breaches or malware. If you are using a proxy server, this will not encrypt your traffic. One of the easiest ways to protect your information, computers, or devices in these situations is to conceal your IP address. This way, nobody — including your ISP — sees any searches you enter in your browser or any website you may be accessing; and they can never decipher any messages or private information you may be sending since all of your Internet activity is sent through an encrypted tunnel.

Circumvent Network Blocks — If you have tried accessing particular websites or products from the computers at a library, at work, or at school, you may have realized that you are unable to gain access to certain sites — even if they are not risque! Using a virtual private network to give you access to new IP addresses is one of the quickest ways to access the Internet without restriction and use Facebook and other blocked sites under the radar.

Can a VPN Really Hide Your IP Address?

Yes. A good VPN really can hide your IP addresses from your ISP, and other parties.

When you use a VPN, this conceals your IP address, letting you avoid detection by your ISP and access whichever website you are trying to view that may ordinarily be out of your reach. This way, you can “be” in any location offered by your VPN provider, and access services in those countries as if you are a native of that region.

All of the top VPN services use military-grade AES 256-bit encryption to keep your online activity and information completely safe from any hackers, prying eyes, your ISP, or third parties. Your traffic is sent through a secure tunnel; so, if anyone, including your Internet provider, can access your activity, they will never be able to decode what you are actually doing online.

On top of this encryption, the top VPN companies also offer a Kill Switch on their apps. What this means is that if your VPN somehow disconnects suddenly, your Internet connection is also killed, ensuring that VPN users are not caught with their IP address or data unprotected.

3 Best VPNs for Hiding Your IP Address in 2021

Devices compatible with ExpressVPN
Company Location: British Virgin Islands
Servers: 3000+
Countries: 94
Connections: Up to 5
Speed: Great
Torrenting: Yes
Logs: No
Free Trial: 7 Days for Mobile
Live Chat Support: Yes
Money Back: 30 Days
Netflix: Yes
Price: From $6.67/month

ExpressVPN is a great choice if you are looking for a VPN that will reliably conceal your IP address. Whether you are connecting to a local server or a server around the globe, your connection speeds when using this service will be consistently and reliably fast, and you will have no issue getting an IP address in whatever country you are trying to access.

If you are looking for an IP address that will unblock geo-restricted content, this is a great option. It has over 3,000 servers in 94 countries around the world and has no issue unblocking Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, HBO GO, Disney+, ESPN+, Showtime, and many other streaming services.

ExpressVPN will work on all main devices, including Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, PlayStation, Xbox, routers, Linux, Chromebook, smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, gaming consoles, and others; and users can connect up to 5 simultaneous devices to one account.

As for privacy — Express offers military-grade 256-bit encryption, split tunneling, DNS and IP leak protection, a verified no-logs policy, and a Kill Switch that ensures that your IP address is not revealed if your VPN connection ever cuts out.

From experience, I can attest that this provider has some of the most responsive, knowledgeable customer support around. And, in the end, if for some reason you are not pleased with your subscription, you can opt-out within 30 days for a full refund, guaranteed, so there really is nothing to lose.

Pros:

  • Exceptional streaming speeds
  • 24/7 Live chat customer support
  • Easy to use across platforms
  • Hides your IP on the Internet
  • 30-day refund guarantee
  • Widespread server coverage

Cons:

  • More expensive than the other VPNs

2. NordVPN

Devices compatible with NordVPN
Company Location: Panama
Servers: 5200+
Countries: 60
Connections: Up to 6
Speed: Great
Torrenting: Yes
Logs: No
Free Trial: No
Live Chat Support: Yes
Money Back: 30 Days
Netflix: Yes
Price: From $3.71/month

With over 5,400 servers in 59 countries worldwide, NordVPN is one of the top VPNs on the market that consistently delivers good speeds and reliable connections while reliably hiding your IP address and information on the web.

Using NordVPN, users can easily hide their own IPs and get buffer-free access to geo-blocked services like Netflix, Hulu US, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video Disney+, and over 400 other services.

NordVPN protects your activity with its AES 256-bit encryption and OpenVPN and IKEc2/IPSec protocols that will keep your data and our footprint hidden. It has a verified no-logs policy and DNS and IP leak protection, and its CyberSec feature also provides an extra layer of protection from malware and annoying ads that may pop up.

NordVPN works with Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, smart TVs, routers, and Linux, so there should never be a problem finding an app that is compatible with your device, and you can use up to 6 devices simultaneously with a single subscription.

NordVPN has stellar customer service, including 24/7 live chat support that you can use in case any problems arise, but if you are still not sold after a few weeks, you can opt-out and take advantage of the NordVPN 30-day refund guarantee.

Pros:

  • Very fast streaming speeds
  • DoubleVPN and Obfuscated Servers
  • Good server coverage
  • Great privacy and security features
  • 6 user connections on a single plan
  • Hides your IP on the Internet

Cons:

  • Speed can be slower in advanced mode

Devices compatible with Surfshark
Company Location: British Virgin Islands
Servers: 3200+
Countries: 65
Connections: Unlimited
Speed: Good
Torrenting: Yes
Logs: No
Free Trial: 7 Days (Mobile Only)
Live Chat Support: Yes
Money Back: 30 Days
Netflix: Yes
Price: From $2.49/month

Surfshark is certainly among our top choices if we are looking for a service that will reliably hide our IP addresses.

Though Surfshark’s speed does not compare to the top two providers, its servers are still plenty fast for streaming with hardly any buffering or lag.

Surfshark can easily help hide your actual IP and give you access to restricted streaming sites like Hulu, Netflix, HBO GO, Disney+, ESPN+, and Amazon Prime Video, and more.

It has compatibility with pretty much all devices and platforms you use, including Windows, Android, Mac, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Fire TV, Apple TV, and more.

Surfshark passes all the tests for security features with its AES 256-bit encryption, no-logs policy, split tunneling, double encryption, Kill Switch, DNS and IP leak protection, and its special CleanWeb suite, which blocks ads and protects against malware.

Part of what pushes Surfshark toward the top of the list is that it allows for unlimited devices to connect on a single account, making it ideal for a large family looking for ways to connect multiple computers or devices at once.

Surfshark also offers some great 24/7 live-chat customer support and a 30-day refund guarantee, giving you the chance to try this service for a few weeks and then change your mind without penalty.

Pros:

  • Live chat
  • No-logging policy
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Affordable
  • Good server coverage
  • Hides your IP addresses

Cons:

  • Slightly slower speeds
  • Split tunneling only on some platforms

How to Set Up a VPN to Hide Your IP Address

Follow these 5 quick steps to hide your IP address:

  1. Select a reputable service. We recommend ExpressVPN for its large network of secure servers in over 94 countries.
  2. Create an account and download the VPN to your device.
  3. Sign in to the VPN app on your device.
  4. Connect to a VPN server in whichever location you would like to access content.
  5. Access geo-restricted content, game, or torrent anonymously with your new IP address.

Can Any VPN Effectively Mask Your IP Address?

Unfortunately, the common misconception is that using a virtual private network automatically gives you great security and a hidden IP address. This is not the case.

Many VPNs are questionable in terms of online safety and security features. When you are using a free or even a non-vetted paid option, you cannot be sure that your VPN actually hides your IP address. Some VPNs are so unpredictable that, even if you see that your IP address is hidden, you may not realize that you are leaking other information that you assumed would remain private.

The best method to ensure that your VPN hides your IP is by choosing a pre-vetted VPN service. Then, with any service you pick, google “find my IP address” and you will be able to tell if your actual IP, your actual location, and Internet Service Provider are visible.

You can find a lot of cheap top-rated VPNs for any activities be it torrenting or streaming, so using those VPNs won’t cost you a fortune.

FAQs

Can I use a free VPN to hide my IP?
If you are looking to hide your addresses using a free VPN service, you may want to think twice. Free VPN options are very often found to compromise user safety and security, selling user data to the highest bidder. Because of their unreliability and (often) lack of transparency when it comes to their policies, I would not count on a free option to hide your IP address consistently, if at all.
How do I know the VPN is working?
It is really easy to check if the VPN you are using is working at hiding your IP address. If you google “what is my IP address,” you can find a free site like this one that will show you your exact IP address, location, and even your ISP. If you are connected to your VPN server and this site shows your actual IP address, your VPN is not working. If the IP address and location shown on this checker site shows your VPN server country and IP address, it is working, and you are connected to the web anonymously.
On which devices can I install a VPN to hide my IP address?
You can install a VPN connection on pretty much any device you own. The top VPN services, like the ones listed above, let you use their VPN apps on Windows, macOS, iOs, Android, Linux, routers, Smart TVs, and more platforms.

Conclusion

So, does a VPN hide your IP address? They are certainly supposed to, and the top, vetted VPNs definitely do succeed at hiding your IP address and Internet activity so that no one — your ISP, cyber-criminals, authorities, and any third parties — can determine who you are and where you are located.

I strongly recommend ExpressVPN because of its broad network of servers in 94 countries around the globe, its renowned speeds, and its top safety and security benefits.

Using ExpressVPN, or another of the other top VPNs we reviewed above, will ensure that you can browse the Internet without any buffering or throttling, access geo-blocked streaming services with a secure and anonymous IP address, and torrent securely without your activity ever being traced back to you — staying off the radar of your Internet providers, government agencies, hackers, or other third parties.

To Sum it Up, these are our three choices that will conceal your IP addresses and keep your data and traffic hidden from your ISP and from individuals and websites online:

  1. ExpressVPN Visit the Site $6.67/month for 15 months
  2. NordVPN Visit the Site $3.71/month for 24 months
  3. Surfshark Visit the Site $2.49/month for 24 months
VPN service
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$6.67 /mo
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  • Fast speeds.
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$11.95
$3.71 /mo
Save 68%
Best Budget
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  • Chrome & Firefox extensions.
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$12.95
$2.21 /mo
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