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Changing or Hiding IP: Is It Really Necessary?

Internet protocol or IP address is what identifies users on the internet. Every user has a unique IP address. A lot of people do not pay attention to it, but they may have to.

There is no doubt about the benefits of the internet. It makes communication, research and several other things faster and simpler. While a user visits different sites however, he becomes vulnerable. Through the IP address, a user leaves a digital footprint, making it easy to track his activities and personal information including his geographical location.

He subjects himself to data collection. Among the things that marketing groups, search engines, etc. track are internet usage, web history, computer system and other personal information.

A user does not have to be vulnerable on the internet. He can protect himself. If privacy is something that a user values, changing or hiding his IP address may not be a bad idea.

Why would someone change his IP address? Hackers and fugitives are not the only ones changing IP addresses. Average users can surf the internet anonymously. They can benefit from the change more than they know.

Protect Oneself from Spyware and Other Online Threats

The biggest benefit of changing or hiding one's IP address is protection from threats. As the name suggests, spyware monitors activities. This software is automatically installed on a user's system when he reaches maximum free downloads from certain websites. Once the software is installed in the computer, user activities are monitored. Personal information may also be compromised. This makes a user vulnerable to hacking as well.

Avoid Pop Ups and Ads

Unless access to websites is paid for, a user will be bombarded with pop ups and other ads when visiting them. These ads are not only annoying. System efficiency suffers. In fact, it is also possible for one's system to stop functioning altogether. There are ad blockers that may be used for getting rid of these pop ups. However, the most effective way to avoid them is through an IP change.

Diminish Spam

Personal information is obtained by online marketing groups not only from getting users to sign in to websites. Obtaining information for marketing purposes is also accomplished by spyware. This is why average users get flooded with junk mails. One of the best ways to diminish spam is to change or hide one's IP address.

Search engines and social networking sites track user activities and online habits indefinitely. In other words, if a user wants to surf the internet safely, changing or hiding his IP address may prove to be a smart move. The need to hide or change IP address becomes much more apparent when a user has confidential information to protect.

Now there are two kinds of IP addresses: static and dynamic. Both may be changed but in different ways. On one hand, the only way to change or hide static IP address is to contact one's internet service provider. Dynamic IP address on the other hand, is more flexible. This article focuses on changing or hiding dynamic IP address.

Easiest Ways to Change IP Address

In addition to requesting an IP change from the internet service provider, there are other simple ways to do it. It can be done through the command prompt, the control panel, the modem and the router.

How to Change IP Address through the Modem

This is the simplest way of changing one's IP address. It is done by simply unplugging the modem. It should be completely disconnected. Battery must be removed if the modem comes with one. For this to work, the modem must be left turned off for at least 5 minutes.

A new IP address shall be automatically assigned by the ISP from available addresses. It usually works. Unfortunately, it is not guaranteed. Some ISP's may require unplugging the modem for a couple of hours or days before a different IP address is assigned to the user.

How to Change IP Address through the Command Prompt

Windows 8 users can access the command prompt by simply typing the words on the START screen. It will then appear on the search list. Windows 7 users can gain access by clicking on START, pointing to ALL PROGRAMS, selecting ACCESSORIES and command prompt. When the command prompt is up, the following steps must be performed.

  • Step 1: Type "ipconfig /release" and press enter.
  • Step 2: Type "ipconfig /renew" and press enter.

In some cases, turning off the computer and all internet connections such as Ethernet hubs, switches and cable or DSL modem may be necessary after performing the release. Turn everything back on and perform renew. Type “ipconfig” and press enter to find out the new IP address. It should be labelled as IPv4.

How to Change IP Address through the Control Panel

  • Step 1: Access CONTROL PANEL and select NETWORK AND INTERNET.
  • Step 2: Click on NETWORK AND SHARING CENTER.
  • Step 3: Choose CHANGE adapter settings found on the left side of the window.
  • Step 4: Right click on the network card and select PROPERTIES.
  • Step 5: The Networking tab appears. Choose either IPv4 or IPv6 and select PROPERTIES.
  • Step 6: Choose the option to obtain an IP address automatically. To complete the step, click on OK. At this point, you should have a new IP address.

How to Change the IP Address through the Router

It is also possible for a user to change his IP address by using the default IP of the router instead. To do this, the following steps must be performed.

  • Step 1: Access the router page by typing 192.168.1.1 on the internet browser.
  • Step 2: The page will require log in. Enter the Network ID and password.
  • Step 3: Once access is obtained, select STATUS and look for the option to Release IP Address.
  • Step 4: Another series of options shall appear. Go to SETUP and choose MAC address clone. Click save settings.
  • Step 5: Turn the modem off and unplug it. Remove the battery if it has one. Keep everything else on.
  • Step 6: On the router page, go back to STATUS. Select the option to Renew IP Address.
  • Step 7: Turn the modem back on. Wait for 5 minutes before clicking on REFRESH. At this point, the default IP address of the router shall be in use.

The options suggested above will only work if a user has direct access to the modem and router without limitations on system access. Otherwise, other methods of changing and hiding the IP address must be explored. The easiest method is to simply use a different network or a Wi-Fi connection. Such an option has certain risks as well. Aside from the options already mentioned, a user may also rely on proxies and VPNs.

What Is a Proxy?

A proxy server has many uses from using connections and accessing files from a different server. Essentially, a proxy is useful in making indirect network connections. This means websites can be accessed with a certain degree of anonymity.

There are two ways or protocols proxy servers use to communicate with the internet: HTTP and SOCKS protocol. As long as a user accesses HTTP websites, the HTTP protocol is enough. It can conceal the original IP address from basic checks. However, if a user requires more than accessing websites, the SOCKS protocol may be more useful as it is capable of handling all kinds of internet traffic such as torrents.

There are plenty of free HTTP proxies available on the internet. The most essential pieces of information to obtain are the IP address and port number in use by the proxy.

Configuring Internet Explorer to Use HTTP Proxy

  • Step 1: Open Internet Options and click on the CONNECTIONS TAB.
  • Step 2: Choose LAN SETTINGS and select the option to Use a Proxy Server for Your LAN under Proxy Server.
  • Step 3: Key in the IP address and PORT number of the proxy server in the respective boxes.
  • Step 4: Check on the option to Bypass Proxy Server for Local Addresses. This can help with faster connection.
  • Step 5: Click OK to close the windows.

Configuring Mozilla Firefox to Use HTTP Proxy

  • Step 1: Open the TOOLS Menu.
  • Step 2: Choose OPTIONS and click on the ADVANCED icon on the left side.
  • Step 3: Choose the NETWORK tab and click on SETTINGS under CONNECTION.
  • Step 4: On the CONNECTION SETTINGS window, check on the option Manual Proxy Configuration.
  • Step 5: Key in the IP address and PORT number of the proxy. Click OK to close. Alternatively, the option to Auto-detect Proxy Settings for this Network may also be used.

Paid versus Free Proxies

There are risks to using proxy servers, especially the free or public ones. Data that travel through proxy are in an unencrypted form. This makes it easier for hackers to intercept the data.

When using free proxies, an average user also risks encountering malicious proxy servers. These proxies do more harm than good. Some of these proxies are used to put malicious programs on the system as well as bombard users with ads. The worst part is that these malicious proxy servers are also capable of recording every piece of information sent through them such as log-ins and other personal data. In addition, public proxy servers are often unstable.

The downside of using paid proxies is the fee. However, it may be more secure and safer than free ones. They are not only useful in accessing websites anonymously. They can also manage any kind of internet traffic and provide support for user convenience. Paid proxy servers work at varying speeds.

Before using a proxy server, a user must concern himself not only with being anonymous but also with the reputation of the company running the proxy. Otherwise, the user is at more risk online.

What Is VPN?

The main purpose of Virtual Private Network or VPN is to help protect a user's identity and data over public networks including wireless hotspots and Internet. This is done by creating encrypted tunnel which is then responsible for transporting data in the most secure manner. VPN services are also useful for users to gain access to websites which may only be accessed by users at certain countries.

VPN services use various protocols. The list includes PPTP, IPsec, SSL/TLS and SSTP. Corporate users are more likely to use SSL or IPSec VPN protocols. Since the requirements of an average user are not complicated, PPTP VPN protocol may be adequate.

The biggest advantage of PPTP protocols is its availability or compatibility with major operating systems. It can also be used on smart phones.

VPN versus Proxy

Compared to Proxy servers, VPNs offer better security because of the higher levels of encryption. VPN users can be rest assured that all their inter activities remain private. VPNs are also capable of bypassing spying attempts from the government and internet service providers.

There are advantages of using proxies over VPNs too. One, VPNs cost more money. Two, connection may become slow especially during peak times. Three, user's identity and online activities may be tracked by authorities if the VPN provider keeps a record of it. This is why it is important for a user to assess the provider’s logging policy before signing on the dotted line.

Free versus Paid VPN

These VPN protocols may be obtained for free or for a fee. Free VPN services are not always the best choice. There are risks that come with it. For one, there is a possibility of being scammed. Two, the security level offered by free VPN is rather low. Paid VPN services on the other hand, offer much higher security levels.

Three, while support is available to paying VPN clients, a user cannot expect support from a free service. Four, users who want to avoid annoying ads should opt for paid VPN. As with other free services, public VPNs are swarming with advertisements. This is an inconvenience for users who prefer efficient connection.

The most important criterion in selecting a VPN provider is integrity. If a user's main aim is to protect his identity and personal data from online threats, he must find a provider capable of providing security, safety and protection.