An IP address accompanies us every step of the way as we traverse the various corners of the Internet. It is the basis of communication and identification of devices on the network, thanks to which everything can work. Each user, device, server or website is assigned an IP address. When you do anything on the web, you first introduce yourself using them. It is also the trace you leave behind. Can the IP be changed? And if so, how can it be done?

To begin with, it's important to explain the difference between a public IP and a private IP, as you have daily contact with both. 

Private IP is used in local networks, at various levels. Your computer has its own individual private address in your home network. The router through which you connect to the network also has its own private address, with which it can be identified, for example, in a neighbourhood network.

Public address is the one with which you are visible in the network. One IP address can represent many different devices in the network, e.g. connected to a housing estate network. It does not uniquely identify a particular device, but of course such a situation may also occur - when you have a dedicated IP. Everything depends on the configuration of network devices and the type of network.

It is the public IP address that you may wish to change or hide for various reasons. The most common way to do this is to use proxy servers, VPNs or Tor. Each of these methods has its advantages and disadvantages and works well for different applications.

Why change the IP?

You may wonder in what situations a change of IP may be needed and useful. Most people only start looking for ways to do this when they actually need it. This may be related to activities such as:

  • An analysis of what the Internet "looks like" in other countries. Google, large web portals and advertising networks display completely different things to users who connect from different countries. Changing IPs gives you the opportunity to see this, analyse it and better prepare, for example, an advertising campaign for a particular country.
  • Unblock access to websites and web services that block access to users from certain countries. Due to RODO, regional blockades or other reasons.
  • Access to Polish services and sites when travelling to other countries when they restrict or block access to all foreign IP addresses.
  • Bypassing the blocking (ban) of an IP address when, for example, you are using a residential network and someone's actions have made it impossible for you to use the service.
  • Changing the IP also means hiding it. In this way, you can regain at least some privacy on the web, which is increasingly under attack from various quarters.

Proxy vs IP change

Proxy is simply an intermediary server. In simplest terms, a device on the network that receives traffic, processes it and forwards it. From the technical point of view, it is the simplest solution to change IP, but it is burdened with various disadvantages.

An anonymous proxy allows you to change your IP address and hide some of your information. Depending on the configuration and the degree of anonymisation, it transfers more or less data to the destination. As the name suggests, the proxy mediates the network traffic. When accessing a website, for example, it is the proxy server that "presents" itself to the server with the website, instead of the user.

The advantage of proxies is that they are fast - provided they are private and not publicly available proxies used by thousands of users. 

The proxy does not encrypt the connection to the network. Packets are passed through the network fully transparently. It's as if there is nothing on the way. The danger with proxies is also that many are set up as traps, to intercept user data. The free proxy networks available in many places are free only in that their owners have a view of the data that users send. 

VPN

VPN is a tool that has been growing in popularity for several years, both among professionals working in the field of networking and among ordinary users. VPN combines the advantages of a tor and a proxyand it is also easy and simple to use. A virtual private network, as this is how the term VPN should be explained, acts in a sense as an encrypted tunnel that connects the user to the target.

As an IP switching tool, a VPN is second to none. It has advantages over both proxy and track, discussed later in this text. A connection with a VPN is fast, stable and secure while protecting your privacy. Provided, of course, that you opt for a VPN as a service provided by a specialist company. You can also set it up yourself, on your own server. Which, however, works poorly when used for regular and free IP changes.

First of all - a VPN gives you great freedom when changing your IP address. Due to the fact that it allows you to quickly and easily choose the country through which you will connect. Sometimes even a specific city or server with a specific IP. It is easy to imagine the various scenarios in which this can be used. Both at work and in home applications.

A VPN is simultaneously able to provide online security through encryption and a fairly decent level of privacy. Data encryption does not come at the expense of speed. Its drop is no more than about 5%, which is caused by encryption and decryption of sent and downloaded packets. Practically imperceptible. 

You can find many different companies offering VPN services on the web. Before choosing one, it's worth looking at them carefully, reading reviews and testimonials online.

Track

The term Tor has been in the media from time to time. Often in the context of cybercrime or hiding identities online. It is true, Tor is often used for bad purposes, but its purpose is completely different. Its main purpose is to allow anonymous and unrestricted use of network resources in places where this is restricted by the authorities.

Tor also allows you to change IPs, but gives you much less control over the process than proxies and VPNs do. All because of the randomness. In the case of tor, anonymisation involves multiple encryption of data (layered, as in onion) and routing the connection through multiple servers (tor network nodes). The new IP you receive is assigned to the originating node. This can be a completely random country.

What does this bring? Greater difficulty in tracking down users, greater privacy, but at the same time a strong decrease in network speed and performance. This is why few people use Tor on a daily basis just to change their IP. The disadvantages and difficulties outweigh the advantages. Access is also problematic - Tor is used through a special browser. When we need the IP in another application - there is a problem.

You can read more on similar topics at DobryVPN.pl

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