One of the key features of any VPN service is its ability to hide your IP address. To be fair, this is also something a proxy could do but it won’t necessarily encrypt all data that is transferred between your device and the Internet — whereas with a VPN you get that protection included as part of the package.
Before delving into details, let’s first see…
Why would you want to hide your IP address?
Why wouldn’t you? Why would you want the likes of Google and Facebook — let alone spy agencies — to know your web whereabouts? Cause yes, they are tracking you online, with their code being placed across millions of websites across the Internet.
With your IP address being hidden — actually changed to another one — no company or agency could know exactly where you are. After all, it is your privacy we’re talking about here and you shouldn’t take it lightly.
On the other hand, it’s not always about changing your IP address — rather…
It’s all about location…
Cause access to some website and services may not be available from anywhere, and by changing your IP address – you get to access those sites that could otherwise be out of your reach.
For instance, if you’re a US citizen traveling abroad, you will lose access to your Netflix account in another country. With a VPN, you can connect to a US-based server and voila — you get to watch any TV show and/or movie on the popular streaming service you want.
Similarly, if access to some websites like YouTube and Facebook is not allowed on your current premises (i.e. high-censorship countries, universities & schools) – by connecting to a VPN server in a different country – you will get a new IP address alongside a secure tunnel that will provide you with access to the Internet in its entirety.
Are there free solutions?
A good VPN costs money. Period.
There are many proxies services out there that will hide your IP address. Also, there is the Tor browser.
The problem is that neither of these can get you consistently fast Internet speeds once you change your IP address. In sharp contrast, professional VPN service providers have invested — and are still investing — millions into their server networks in order to offer a service you can rely on.
And while you may get a decent Internet speeds with a free solution one day, it doesn’t mean you’ll get it the next one. These things cost real money.
Also, with a proxy service – your identity is not completely protected online, cause the traffic isn’t being encrypted.
Finally, it is worth adding that most VPN services are not that expensive and most offer money-back guarantees. Meaning, if they don’t work for you during that money-back period – there is an easy way to ask for your money back.
A VPN has more to offer…
Aside from letting you easily hide your IP address, a good VPN will also keep you more secure online. This is especially important when connecting to public WiFi networks when you may be in the “same space” with other users, some of which may be on the lookout to get ahold of your personal data.
As noted above, a VPN will not only mask your real IP address but will also encrypt all communication. So even if your data is intercepted somehow — in the so-called “man in the middle attack” — it will be unreadable to third parties.
Furthermore, a VPN will unlock and unblock the whole of the internet, with the best services managing to get around various geo-restrictions all around the world. This includes what is commonly referred to as the Great Firewall of China, which is a high-tech solution developed by China’s censors.
Finally, with a VPN you may also be able to save money on airfare. This works by changing a VPN server you’re connecting to so that you always get the best possible deal that is typically reserved for new customers. Yes, airlines and services like Orbitz and Expedia are tracking what you’re doing on their websites, and based on your interest – they’ll serve you a different (higher) price.
The bottom line is – a good VPN will hide your IP address while also providing you with extra bells and whistles. We think those extras and the reliability the best services offer are worth the premium. Don’t be cheap on your own privacy, so get the best service money could buy. Check out Best of the Best VPNs page and take it from there.