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Ways You Can Hide Your Public IP Address

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Question: Ways You Can Hide Your Public IP Address
When connecting to the Internet, your home computer (or network router) is assigned a public IP address. As you visit Web sites or other Internet servers, that public IP address is transmitted and recorded in log files kept on those servers. Access logs leave behind a trail of your Internet activity. If it were possible to somehow hide my public IP address, its Internet activity would become much more difficult to trace.
Answer: Unfortunately, it is not technically possible to always hide the public IP address of a home network. An IP address enables devices to locate and communicate with each other on the Internet. Completely hiding the IP address of a device would render it invisible but also unusable online.

On the other hand, it is possible to hide public IP addressees from most Internet servers in most situations. This method involves an Internet service called an anonymous proxy server.

Using an Anonymous Proxy Server

An anonymous proxy server ("proxy") is a special type of server that acts as an intermediary between a home network and the rest of the Internet. An anonymous proxy server makes requests for Internet information on your behalf, using its own IP address instead of yours. Your computer only accesses Web sites indirectly, through the proxy server. This way, Web sites will see the proxy's IP address, not your home IP address.

Using an anonymous proxy server requires a simple configuration of the Web browser (or other Internet client software that supports proxies). Proxies are identified by a combination of URL and TCP port number.

Numerous free anonymous proxy servers exist on the Internet, open for anyone to use. These servers may have bandwidth traffic limits, may suffer from reliability or speed problems, or might permanently disappear from the Internet without notice. Such servers are most useful for temporary or experimental purposes.

Anonymous proxy services that charge fees in return for better quality of service also exist. These services are designed for regular use by households.

Related Tools for Hiding My IP Address

Several related software tools (both free and paid versions) support anonymous proxies. The Firefox extension called switchproxy, for example, supports defining a pool of proxy servers in the Web browser and automatically switching between them at regular time intervals. In general, these tools help you both find proxies and also simplify the process of configuring and using them.

The ability to hide an IP address increases your privacy on the Internet. Other approaches to improving Internet privacy also exist and complement each other. Managing Web browser cookies, using encryption when sending personal information, running a firewall and other techniques all contribute toward a greater feeling of safety and security when going online.

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