Change Your IP Address using a VPN – Easily Switch Location
Do you need to change your IP address? Have you been blocked from accessing a site because of your location? Want to switch your Netflix region to a better one? Well the folks from isgmlug.org are here to help you. There’s a simple way to take control and avoid all these blocks and filters (if you just want the solution skip down to the spoofing your IP address section!).
Why You May Want to Change your IP Address
If you want to do anything online then you absolutely need an IP address. This is the unique network number that must be assigned to every device that is connected to the internet. So that’s every computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone or smart TV – if you want to go online it needs an IP.
The IP address is a necessity to speak the language of the internet – TCP/IP. Without one your websites won’t load, your messages won’t get delivered or your movies won’t stream. In the early days of the ‘net’ it didn’t really matter what your IP address was or where it was registered to. However that’s changed significantly in the last few years.
Locating You From Your IP
When your IP address is assigned it becomes the centre of your digital identity. You’ve seen it on TV or in the movies where the bad guys are traced using their IP address. It’s actually not that hard to track people from their IP address if you have the right resources. Even most websites can determine your rough location almost instantly from where your IP address is registered to.
Of course, most websites you visit don’t want your exact postal address. They just want a rough approximation of location to help with their marketing, many are just interested in the country or region. This is so they can perhaps charge different prices or offer different goods and services. However often it’s to block and filter people’s access based on their physical location.
It’s bad enough being charged a different price because of where you live. Yet for many of the best online sites you might actually find you can’t actually use the site at all. The prime example of this is entertainment sites which stream online video and movies. Almost every single large media site on the internet restrict access based on your location.
My favorite online TV site is the BBC iPlayer which is packed full of great TV shows, News, documentaries which are all available completely free of charge. However this is only the case if you are based in the UK and have a UK IP address. My favorite music site is called Pandora which is only available if you have a US IP address.
Your IP Address Increasingly Defines What You can Do Online
Here lies the problem, the internet and all it’s wonders used to be open to everyone. It didn’t matter who you were or where you were located – we were all completely equal online. This has been changing dramatically over the last decade or so where it does matter.
In fact now it matters a lot, if you’re in the ‘wrong location’ you can find many things much harder to do online. It’s not just entertainment sites anything that involves commerce can be affected too. If you’ve ever tried buying things online from somewhere like India or North Africa, you’ll realise it’s not quite as straight forward as from Europe or North America.
There’s all sorts of reasons that websites restrict or block access based on your location. Most of the entertainment sites do it because of copyright issues – i.e. they only have rights to broadcast to specific countries. E-commerce sites restrict due to fraud concerns and risks. Many sites are wary of local laws and regulations, it can be a pain trying to play online casino or use your bookmaker when travelling.
All of these restrictions based on your location rely on checking where your IP address is registered to implement.
Can I Change My IP Address and Location
So obviously if websites are using your IP address to control your access or to send the FBI to your front door then it would be good to be able to change this. Unfortunately although you’ll see lots of articles and web sites explaining how to change your IP address then this is not as simple as they make out.
If you see any of these sort of pages –
How to change your IP address on a Mac
How to change your IP address on a Windows PC
How to change your IP address on a Chromebook
How to change an Android device’s ip
How to change IP address on iPhone
How to change IP address on Xbox
Then unfortunately you’re on the wrong track because they’re referring to the wrong IP address !
You Have Two IP Addresses – Change the Right One
A bit confusing, but unfortunately true most devices have two IP addresses assigned to them. They’re normally referred to as follows –
Private IP Address
An internal IP address which you can pretty much change yourself whenever you like. It’s used by the devices in your internal network to communicate with each other. For most of us it allows us to connect to the Wifi, a broadband router or some sort of internet gateway.
It doesn’t have to be unique on the internet as it’s not visible at all online. No-one can see it outside the network you are using, currently my IP address in a coffee shop is 192.168.1.56.
Public IP Address
This is the important one as far as internet filtering and blocking is concerned. This IP address is normally assigned by your ISP or whoever is supplying the internet access to your connection. They are normally controlled centrally and allocated on a temporary basis.
When you connect to anything online then this is the IP address that is visible. It’s also very easy to track back to your exact location as it will be registered to your provider. Finding which country you’re based in is as simple as using your postal address. However as it’s allocated to you, then you actually have no way of changing or modifying this IP address at all.
So to summarise – don’t bother changing the private IP address as it won’t affect anything online. You could also end up breaking the connection between your device and the internet gateway/router. It’s the public IP address you need to focus on, you can’t change this but can use a VPN or proxy to hide it !
Spoof Your IP Address with a VPN
So we’ve established that you cannot change the public IP address which is the internet facing one. However we know that people bypass all these geotargeting blocks, so how do they do it?
Well it’s actually quite simple, although you can’t change your public IP you can hide it and use another one instead. Basically by using something called a VPN (Virtual Private Network) you can keep your real IP address hidden. All you need to do is to connect to a VPN server and let it act as a middleman when you’re online. Any website or service you connect to will only see the IP address of the VPN server and not your real one.
Here’s how it works –
That’s all there is to it, the VPN used in this example is called Identity Cloaker. Basically although using a VPN sounds complicated it simply involves clicking on a button to connect and disconnect. What’s more most decent VPN services like the one illustrated will have VPN servers in countries all across the country. So you can choose the country you need and click on the corresponding server. You can switch countries at will, although you will need to restart your browser and clear cookies on some sites before you access.
Use VPN or Proxy for Changing IP Address
More and more people are using VPNs both to defeat all these online filters and restrictions. Indeed BBC iPlayer estimate that several million (yes million) connections are regularly streamed to devices outside the UK using a VPN. Most expats have used a VPN at some point even if it’s at the local expat bar or friends house to watch Match of the Day or ITV Hub !
The alternative method is to use a proxy server which also can hide your IP address online too. It works in a very similar way however a proxy is slightly easier to detect and doesn’t encrypt your internet connection. Generally people will use proxies when security is less important and they need a large number of IP addresses not just a single one in a specific country.
For most of us though the most secure and best value option is to use a VPN. They are also generally much easier to use, most of the market leaders have apps for most devices. When you’ve finished installing the software it’s pretty much point and click.
VPN FAQs and Tips
What are the other advantages of a VPN?
The main advantages of using a VPN are security and ability to bypass geo-blocks. If you’re travelling you should enable your VPN whenever using an unfamiliar Wifi connection. It will encrypt your connection and everything you do online including things like email, online banking and other important sites.
Which VPN should you pick?
It’s normally safest to stay with the market leaders as they have the best infrastructure and usually offer the best value. If security is your prime concern some of the smaller, specialised companies can offer a very secure service. If you’re wanting to access a particular site make sure your VPN works with it and has servers in the right country. Some sites have started to block VPN services using VPN tunnel monitoring so make sure yours works. We usually recommend only two VPNs but there are some other good ones out there, have a look at Identity Cloaker for just the PC/UK based servers or if you want to use on different devices and more countries – NordVPN.
How do I change my IP address on my phone or tablet?
If you’re using one of the bigger VPNs like NordVPN then they normally have an app or software for most devices. You just need to install the right version. Some of the smaller VPNs you’ll have to setup manually using the operating system, it’s not hard to do though. Then enable the VPN when you want to change your IP address.
Why should you hide your IP address?
The two main reasons are privacy and to bypass geo-blocks. Some people suggest that you have something to hide if you’re hiding your IP address but that’s simply not true. A VPN will also protect against all the large companies who want to use and exploit your data and personal information simply for profit. Also you can choose the location that suits you, want to post on San Francisco’s Craigslist board just use a Californian proxy or VPN server !
Should I Use a Proxy for Changing IP Address ?
You can use proxies for hiding your IP addresses although it’s generally easier and cheaper to use a VPN. There are free proxies available online but many of these have been hacked and are used to install viruses and malware on their unsuspecting users. They are also easier to detect so they generally don’t work as well with the big media sites like BBC iPlayer, ABC, NBC , Netflix and others. If you want exclusive access or lots of IPs then it’s worth buying a proxy from a specialised vendor like IpBurger.
Why does my VPN not change my location?
If you’ve selected a VPN in your home country then your IP address will change but your location won’t. Make sure you’ve chosen a VPN in the country you need to be in.