How to change location and IP address with a VPN

Find out how to change your location and IP address using a virtual private network.

Illustration of a 3D map on a mobile phone

Why use a VPN?

How to change your location, location lockout.

Virtual private networks (VPNs) have all sorts of uses, and though most people download them to shore up their digital privacy, they can also change the location of your laptop, desktop, mobile, or tablet's IP address to somewhere entirely different.

There are plenty of good reasons to do so. Whether it's getting around annoying blocks that some workplaces and countries impose on social media platforms (like Twitter and YouTube ), accessing Netflix's regional content libraries, or keeping up with international sports, a VPN is, by far, the easiest way to switch up your location.

The process is called 'geo-spoofing' by the tech-savvy people of the internet, and I'll show you how to do it yourself with the help of one of the best VPNs in the biz.

ExpressVPN: my #1 VPN pick overall

<a href="https://go.expressvpn.com/c/4550836/1330033/16063?subId1=hawk-custom-tracking&sharedId=hawk&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.expressvpn.com%2Foffer%2Frecommended-deal%3Foffer%3D3monthsfree" data-link-merchant="expressvpn.com"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"> ExpressVPN: my #1 VPN pick overall

I’ve put a lot of VPNs to the test over the years, and ExpressVPN tops the lot. It's wickedly fast and capable of keeping up with HD streaming, and has all the tools you need to deter even the craftiest snoopers. Plus, with servers in 94 countries, you'll be spoiled for choice when it comes to picking out a new location.

Be sure to put ExpressVPN's 30-day money-back guarantee to good use, and get an extra 3 months of coverage and a year of unlimited secure cloud storage when you pick up a 12-month plan.

All of your devices have their very own IP address —and a VPN switches this original IP address with one that belongs to a VPN server. This is how they fool the sites you visit into thinking you're somewhere else. Sites, third-party snoopers, and anyone else who might decide to check out your activity will see the VPN server's IP address rather than your original IP.

So, if you're in the States and you connect to a VPN server in the UK, you'll be able to browse British content with your shiny new IP address as though you, yourself, were in the country. Pretty simple, right?

As I mentioned earlier, there are dozens of reasons why changing your location can come in handy. Here are just a few:

Unblocking content : you might already be aware that different countries get access to different content on streaming platforms—some of the best US Netflix shows just aren't available to folks elsewhere, and BBC iPlayer is blocked for anyone outside the UK.

Keeping up with sports : similarly, some sporting events won't be broadcast (either live or on-demand) where you live. This can be particularly annoying if you're trying to stay up to date with the latest results.

Bagging bargains : with access to VPN servers around the world, you'll be able to hop from location to location to find the best sale prices in different regions, and save some serious cash.

Improving your digital privacy : masking your original IP address is also an awesome way to boost your anonymity and security when you're online. VPNs keep your browsing habits safe from prying eyes, including site trackers, opportunistic cybercriminals, your internet service provider (ISP), and even your government.

Protecting your digital rights : for journalists, whistleblowers, or anyone else dealing with delicate digital issues, using a VPN to disguise an original IP address is practically a necessity. 

Believe it or not, this is the easy bit. I'm using ExpressVPN to outline the steps you'll need to take to change your location, but there are plenty of super secure VPNs on the market that you can check out.

(Oh, and I'm also on a Mac, but you can switch your location on mobile with the best VPNs for iPhone and the best VPNs for Android .)

  • Download and install ExpressVPN (you'll need to sign up and pick out your subscription tier, too).
  • Log in to the ExpressVPN client, and you'll see a long list of available servers.
  • Pick a server in the country where you want to appear, and click it to connect.
  • You're all set—after a few seconds, your VPN server will do the legwork, and you'll have a brand new IP address in the location of your choice.

ExpressVPN app interface on Mac

Unfortunately, some sites and services (like Netflix), use advanced detection methods to figure out whether you're using a VPN to change your location. If they sniff you out, they might prevent you from checking out the videos you're trying to watch or restrict your access to the same content you can see in your original location.

This hiccup is particularly common for folks using a shared IP address, since other people can use them to spoof their location in the same way that you are. Some VPNs actually offer dedicated IP addresses, that only one person can access, that'll help you avoid this issue—so long as you're willing to pay for the privilege.

However, before you fork over more cash, there are a few fixes that are worth trying.

Switch servers

The first thing to do is to see whether you can switch servers. Plenty of VPNs offer multiple servers in one location, so you can try your luck with a few alternatives in the same country and see if you fare better.

Remove browsing data

If this doesn't work, you might have browsing data (like cookies) saved on your device, giving away your real location.

How does this happen? Well, when you visit a site for the first time, a pop-up can pester you and ask if you want to share your location with the site. If you give the site permission, it'll always know where you really are, even if you're using a VPN.

Looking for alternatives to Google search? DuckDuckGo won't record your IP address or personal data, and Mozilla Firefox has way more privacy tools. 

Some sites can detect cookies on your browser, too, and read your original location. There's a way to prevent this: by clearing your browser cache.

However, doing so will clear your browsing history. If you'd rather avoid deleting all those useful links, you can do your browsing in incognito mode, though this won't change your location by itself—you’ll still need a VPN.

If you're using Google products (and let's face it, most of us are), it's a good idea to switch off location tracking services, too. It's a pretty straightforward process:

  • Open up a Google search page
  • Click the padlock to the left of the site address
  • Select permissions > Location access
  • Select 'Block for current search engine'

Solve DNS leaks

Sites can figure out your real location, even if you're using a VPN, through DNS leaks . Some VPNs encrypt your web traffic without forwarding DNS requests from your devices to their servers. Instead, your requests will be routed, unconcealed, to your ISP's DNS servers. This is a DNS leak in a nutshell, and it makes it incredibly easy for sites to detect your original whereabouts and keep tabs on what you get up to online.

If your VPN provider doesn't use its own DNS servers to handle your requests, I'd recommend switching to one that does.

If you're using a secure browser and still finding that your VPN servers are blocked, you can take matters into your own hands and set up your very own VPN server. You'll need network administrator experience to do this, but free and open-source software like Outline VPN is designed specifically for folks who want to create a VPN service.

Looking for a VPN that'll unblock streaming content in just a few clicks? Check out our guide to the best Netflix VPNs . 

Contact your VPN provider

If all else fails, it's worth contacting your VPN’s customer support team to ask which services, sites, and apps do and don't work with the VPN. It's worth noting that Netflix is particularly finicky—VPN users are only allowed to view its self-produced licensed content, and you'll be blocked entirely if you’re subscribed to the Basic ad-supported plan.

VPN support agents are usually more than happy to help you pick out a better server, adjust your configuration, or get set up with a dedicated IP address. All you need to do is ping them via live chat or register a support ticket. 

Can I use a free VPN to change location?

If you're working with a budget, or prefer not to part with a penny, there are a number of reliable free VPNs out there.

However, most of these services come with restrictions. You'll likely have to put up with bandwidth restrictions and a monthly data cap, and fewer servers in fewer locations. Free providers often struggle to unblock the likes of Netflix, too, making them less than ideal VPNs for streaming . Oh, and since these VPNs have to make money somehow, you might be inundated with ads—or, if you're using a particularly unscrupulous service, your personal information might be sold off for profit.

What else can I use a VPN for?

VPNs help folks navigate the web without restrictions. For instance, some countries block sites entirely—like China's outright ban on Facebook and Twitter. Using one of the best VPNs for China , however, can help you bypass these blocks and enjoy unfettered access to the internet.

Myriad threats are lurking around every digital corner, unfortunately, and you might not want search engines keeping tabs on your every online move. The data gleaned from this kind of invasive tracking can help advertisers spin up creepy ads tailored to your habits. VPNs put a stop to this by encrypting your data—meaning you can go about your business without anyone looking over your shoulder.

Can I get a specific IP address with my VPN?

Yes, you can—with a dedicated IP. Dedicated IPs aren't assigned to multiple users; they’re reserved for one person. However, if you decide to invest in a dedicated IP, you'll be able to switch from it to a shared IP, and back again, whenever you choose. Most VPNs offer dedicated IPs in exchange for a monthly fee. 

How do I change my VPN region?

Changing your VPN region (or location), is a piece of cake. All you need to do is install the VPN on your device and open up the app. You'll see a long list of servers in countries all around the globe—pick one (or let your VPN match you with the quickest option), and you’re done. You'll have a new IP address and a new location. 

How do I know if my location has changed?

If you want to make sure that your location really has changed, and that sites aren't able to determine your original whereabouts, there are a few ways to check.

You can use a site like WhatIsMyIPAddress.com to identify your original IP address, with your VPN switched off, and then connect to a VPN server and refresh the page. If the IP address is different, your VPN is working as it should be, and has masked your original IP address. If both addresses are the same, you might be dealing with a less-than-reliable VPN or a leak.

We test and review VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example: 1. Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service). 2. Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroad. We do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing.

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River Hart

River is a Tech Software Editor and VPN expert at TechRadar. They’re on-hand to keep VPN and cybersecurity content up-to-date and accurate. When they’re not helping readers find the best VPNs around (and the best deals), River can be found in close proximity to their PS5 or being pushed about the countryside by the lovely Welsh weather. 

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How to change your IP address

Ever wondered if it’s possible to change your IP address? The good news is that you can—and I’ll show you how.

An IP address on a screen of code, representing an article about how to change your IP address

Changing your IP address: the easy way

Changing your ip address: with a vpn, how to automatically update your ip address: windows, how to automatically update your ip address: macos, how to manually change your ip address: windows, how to manually change your ip address: macos.

If you're concerned about your digital privacy, well, you have every right to be—third-party snoopers, hackers, and other online nasties are all hungry for your data, after all. Luckily, changing your IP address can help shore up your security, and it's not all that difficult to do.

All of your traffic is tied back to your device's IP address—all of your gadgets have one, including your PC, laptop, mobile, and even your router. Your internet service provider (ISP) can use your IP address to keep tabs on what you get up to online and build up a profile of your habits (that is, if you're not using one of the best VPNs in the biz). Unfortunately, this can then be used to generate creepy, invasive, targeted ads. Changing your IP address ensures that nobody can watch over your shoulder.

If you change your IP address to one located in another country, however, you'll also be able to check out region-specific content—like Netflix shows that are only available in the US or exclusive sporting events. That's especially handy if you're traveling overseas and want to keep up with your favorite series, or if you just need a new digital boxset to binge.

So, let's get stuck in—here's how you can change your IP address on a computer running either Windows 11 or macOS.

A Motorola modem, representing the easy way to change your IP address

The simplest way to change your IP address is to unplug your modem. Keep in mind that this may not work on the first try. It’s even possible that you’ll need to leave your router unplugged overnight.

  • Check your IP address . Our guide on how to find your IP address details the steps.
  • Unplug your router for five minutes. This may take longer depending on your ISP.
  • Plug your router back in and check to see if your IP has changed. If not, repeat the steps.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN

ExpressVPN currently sits at the top of my VPN rankings—and for good reason. It's wickedly quick, unblocks pretty much every streaming platform, and makes changing your IP address as simple as hitting a button. Oh, and you can get an extra 3 months free if you pick up a 12-month plan.

If you want another super-easy, super-reliable way to change your IP address, you'll want to recruit the help of a secure VPN . Because VPNs route your traffic through a secure server, and encrypt your data, they prevent your ISP (and other nosy onlookers) from monitoring your browsing sessions.

VPNs also make it incredibly easy to change your location. You can take your pick of servers, usually scattered across the globe, and fool the sites you visit into thinking you're really there (when you're actually still on your couch with your cat). Then, you'll have unfettered access to streaming content, be able to bypass pesky blocks, and even snag the best deals on region-specific sales.

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  • Open your VPN application . If you've never used it before, you'll need to run through a quick installation process and input your login details.
  • Choose a server . If you’re after increased privacy, choose one in your home country. If you want to access content from another country, pick one in your desired location.
  • Press the connect button .
  • Wait a few seconds for the VPN to connect . You'll now be using a new IP address.
  • Press Win + R on your keyboard to open the Run box.
  • Type "cmd" in the search bar then hit Enter to open the command prompt box.

A screenshot showing the Windows CMD prompt

  • Type "ipconfig /release" . Be sure to include the space between "ipconfig" and "/release". Hit Enter. A wall of text will flood the screen.

A screenshot showing the Windows command prompt

  • Type "ipconfig /renew" and hit Enter. Close the command prompt window afterward.

A screenshot showing the Windows Command Prompt

  • Click the Apple icon in the upper left corner of the screen. Click System Preferences.

A screenshot demonstrating how to change IP address on a Mac

2. Select Network .

  • Select Network.

A screenshot demonstrating how to change IP address on a Mac

  • Click Advanced.

A screenshot demonstrating how to change IP address on a Mac

  • Click TCP/IP on the following screen then click Renew DHCP Lease.

A screenshot demonstrating how to change IP address on a Mac

If you already have an IP address you'd like to use, and want to take matters into your own hands, here's how you can manually set your IP address on a Windows device.

  • Press the Start icon in the taskbar. Alternatively, click on the search icon.

A screenshot showing the Windows Start menu

  • Type "settings".

A screenshot of the Windows Start menu showing the Settings app

  • Click Network & Internet .

A screenshot showing the Windows Network & internet menu

  • Select your network (either Wi-Fi or Ethernet).

A screenshot showing the Windows Network & internet menu

  • Find IP assignment and click Edit.

A screenshot showing the Windows Network & internet menu

  • Click on the drop-down menu and select Manual.

A screenshot showing the Windows Network & internet menu

  • Toggle IPv4 on.

A screenshot showing the Windows Network & internet menu

  • Set your IP address on the following screen, along with Subnet mask, Gateway and Preferred DNS. You can also select Alternate DNS. Click save.

A screenshot showing the Windows Network & internet menu

On the other hand, you have an IP address you want to use and a Mac device, this is how you can manually set it on macOS.

  • Click the Apple icon in the upper left corner of the desktop and select System Preferences. On the System Preferences window that appears, click Network.
  • Click your current network and select Advanced.
  • Click the TCP/IP tab. Choose Manually from Configure IPv4.

A screenshot demonstrating how to change IP address on a Mac

  • Type a new IP Address . Click OK and then Apply.

A screenshot demonstrating how to change IP address on a Mac

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on X/Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.

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How To Change Your IP Address

Whether to gain more privacy or access certain content, you can change your device’s IP address using the methods in this guide

Aliza Vigderman

What Is An IP Address?

Where to find your ip address, pros and cons of changing addresses.

Even though you may be in cyberspace, you’re still in a specific, virtual location defined by your IP address. But for those who want to stay private, get around government restrictions, and the like, changing your IP address is a simple first step. In this article, we’ll tell you how to change your IP address, step-by-step, along with providing you with more information about the types of IP addresses, the pros and cons of changing them, and more. Get your invisibility cloak ready because we’re about to go private or as private as you can be online.

See the exact steps to changing your IP address on an iPhone, Android, Mac and Windows computer. Also, learn why you would want to change your IP address in the first place.

» Do You Know: How to find the IP address on your iPhone

Pro Tip: Changing your IP address can help you get around website restrictions and censorship, but some apps and services use GPS location. If you’re having trouble changing your GPS location, read our Surfshark review . You’ll appreciate its GPS override feature.

Easily Change Your IP Address with a VPN

Whatever your reasons are for changing your IP address, whether to stream certain content or to gain privacy, using a VPN is one of the most secure ways to do so. A VPN cloaks your real IP address with its own server IP address, and it encrypts your browsing traffic so that no one else sees what you’re doing online. Change your IP address with a single mouse click with these VPNs that we tested ourselves:

NordVPN Logo Horizontal

Besides using a VPN to change your IP address, which we’ll discuss further below how to do, there are a few other ways to change your IP address.

One of the most straightforward ways is to adjust your device’s settings. This, however, only works if your network has an available address to which you can change your current IP address. In addition, your new IP address will still be tied to your local network, and thus, it can be geo-tracked to your approximate location just like the old one.

Still, it’s worth a shot, right? Here are more detailed instructions for how to change your IP address manually on different types of devices.

How to Change Your IP Address on Mac Manually

  • Go to System Settings...
  • Click Network.
  • Click Wi-Fi.
  • Click Details...
  • Click TCP/IP.
  • Under Configure IPv4, change the drop down to Manually.
  • Type in your IP address.

Manually changing your IP address on a Mac

How to Change Your IP Address on Windows 11 Manually

  • Click on the Start Menu.
  • Navigate to Control Panel.
  • Click Network and Sharing Center.
  • Click Change Adapter Settings.
  • Where it says Wi-Fi or Local Area Connection, right click.
  • Click Properties.
  • Select TCP/IPv4/ Internet Protocol Version 4.
  • Click Use The Following IP Address.
  • Type in the IP address and then click Ok.

Change IP Address on Windows

How to Change Your IP Address on Android Manually

  • Go to your Android Settings.
  • Navigate to Wireless & Networks.
  • Click on your Wi-Fi network.
  • Click Modify Network.
  • Select Advanced Options.
  • Change the IP address.

Changing Your IP - On Android, Scroll to IP address to see your IP address.

How to Change Your IP Address on iOS Manually

  • Go to your iOS device’s Settings.
  • Click the network that you are connected to.
  • Under IPv4 Address, tap Configure IP.
  • Click on Manual.
  • Enter your IP address.

Changing your IP address on iOS

How to Change Your IP Address on Router Manually

  • Turn off your router.
  • Turn it back on a day later.
  • Go to your administrative interface and reconnect to your ISP.

After turning the device back on, you can check your routers IP address to see if it changed. If you want your device to pick a new IP address for you automatically, here’s what to do.

How to Change Your IP Address on Mac Automatically

  • Go to your Mac’s System Settings app.
  • Select ‘Details…’ under the Network Connection.
  • Click Renew DHCP Lease.
  • To confirm, click Apply.

Automatically changing your IP address on a Mac

How to Change Your IP Address on Windows Automatically

  • Enter your Administrator Account.
  • Click Start.
  • Click Settings
  • Go to Network & internet.
  • Click Location Area Connection.
  • Click Wi-Fi or Ethernet.
  • Select Manage known networks.
  • Click your network
  • Click Edit next to IP assignment.
  • Select Automatic and then save 1

Automatically changing your IP address on Windows

How to Change Your IP Address on Android Automatically

  • Click Settings.
  • Select Connections.
  • Select the network you’re on currently.
  • Click Advanced.
  • Select either DHCP or Static.

If you don’t already have a new IP address or you don’t want one the automatic address from your device, then you can connect to a Virtual Private Network or VPN. VPNs will replace your IP address and encrypt all of your web activity. You may get the same IP address every time you connect (static), or a different one each time (dynamic). Some VPNs also offer dedicated IP addresses, if you want to be the only one with that address.

How to Change Your IP Address with a VPN

  • Download the VPN app .
  • Create an account.
  • Click Connect.

Connecting with Ivacy VPN

To learn more, read about the best VPN for every occasion or our comprehensive VPN guide .

A sister to VPNs is proxy servers , intermediary devices that hide IP addresses. 2 Here’s how to connect to a proxy server on your Mac, Windows, Android or iOS device.

How to Connect to Proxy Server on Mac

  • Open Safari, Macs’ default browser.
  • Under the Proxies section, click Change Settings.
  • Update the Settings with the information that the network administrator provided.

Proxy Settings on a Mac

How to Connect to Proxy Server on Windows

  • Open your Settings.
  • Click Network & internet.
  • Click Proxy.
  • Click Set up under the automatic or manual section.
  • Enter your proxy information.
  • Click Save.

Proxy settings on Windows

How to Connect to Proxy Server on Android

  • Tap Settings.
  • Tap Connections.
  • Tap Settings next to the network name.
  • Tap View More.
  • Tap Proxy, then select Manual.
  • Enter your proxy port and hostname.

Proxy Settings on Android

How to Connect to Proxy Server on iOS

  • Enter your phone or tablet’s Settings.
  • Click on the “I” button next to the network you are using.
  • Click HTTP Proxy.
  • Click Manual.
  • Change the setting from Off to Manual.
  • Enter in the Server and Port information needed.
  • Save your information.

Proxy Settings on iOS

Tor is a secure browser that, along with hiding your IP address, will also prevent tracking and targeted ads. Once you’re off a website, its cookies will clear as will your browsing history . Both your IP address and your web activity will be encrypted not once, not twice but three times. 3 Just download the browser from Tor’s website to hide your IP address when browsing online!

Tor link lists using the using the TorWeb App

Of course, some people may not be totally clear on what an IP address actually is; no shame here! An IP address, which standards for an internet protocol address, is a device’s identifying number associated with a specific computer or network of computers. Basically, IP addresses let computers send and receive information, but they can also be used to track the physical locations of users, 4 a nightmare for those concerned with privacy. And according to our VPN usage research , that accounts for 40 percent of VPN-users.

» How To: Get a US IP Address

NordVPN on Desktop and Mobile

Types of IP Addresses

Not all IP addresses are created equal! Rather, they can be divided into a few different categories, some of which have certain advantages over others.

  • Public : Each and every internet-connected device has a public IP address, distributed by the Internet Service Providers vis-à-vis the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. What, you haven’t heard of ICANN? Nevertheless, these public IP addresses are searchable on the web, which is why we can find our printer simply by Googling its IP address .
  • Private/ local : In contrast to public IP addresses, private IP addresses aren’t searchable on the web. Rather, they’re numbers that routers assign the devices on their networks so that they can communicate with each other.
  • Dynamic : Dynamic IP addresses, as we mentioned before, are any type of IP address that change every time you connect, usually through a VPN. This makes users hard to track online, as their literal address keeps changing.
  • Static : Static means that the IP addresses do not change. With VPNs, static IP addresses are usually shared with thousands of users in order to obscure their identities. However, some websites block these shared IP addresses, which necessitates users getting dedicated IP addresses. What a convenient transition!
  • Dedicated : Dedicated IP addresses are assigned to only one user rather than being shared by several. They usually cost a different fee on top of the regular VPN subscription.

Changing Your IP - On Windows, Turn on IPv4 and fill out the fields IP address, Subnet prefix length, and Gateway. Hit Save when you're done

  • IPv4 : Internet Protocol version 4 is used by 99 percent of networks, but since it can only store 4.3 billion addresses, it’s being replaced by IPv6, which we’ll get to in a second. Unlike IPv6, IPv4 addresses are four one bite numbers separated by dots like 555.555.1.1.
  • IPv6 : While they’re only used by less than 1 percent of networks, IPv6 has its advantages over IPv4, namely that it can provide an infinite number of addresses. It also allows for larger payloads and is compatible with a greater number of mobile networks. Although they’re starting small, eventually, IPv6 will replace IPv4. 5

» Further Reading: Dynamic vs Static IP Address

Feeling lost in the sauce? Finding your IP address isn’t that complicated, even if you’re not a tech expert like us.

Your private information

My ip address.

IP: Loading…

Status: Unprotected

My IP Information

Internet provider: Loading…

City: Loading…

Region/ State: Loading…

Browser name: Loading…

Browser version: Loading…

Device brand: Loading…

Device type: Loading…

Latitude: Loading…

Longitude: Loading…

Postal code: Loading…

Where to Find Your IP Address on Mac

  • Enter your Mac’s System Settings.
  • Select Network.
  • Select your Wi-Fi network.
  • Click Details…
  • You’ll see your IP internal address listed.

IP address location on a Mac

Where to Find Your IP Address on Windows

  • Enter your TaskBar.
  • Click on Settings.
  • Select your network.
  • Click Wi-Fi Properties.
  • Look under IPv4 Address.

IP address location on Windows 11

Where to Find Your IP Address on Android

  • Enter your phone’s Settings.
  • Click About.
  • Click Status.
  • Look at the IP Address.

IP Address on Android

Where to Find Your IP Address on iOS

  • Click on the “i” button next to Network.

Changing Your IP - Proxy Settings on iPhone

Of course, there’s always the debate of whether or not to change your IP address in the first place. While the angel on your shoulder tells you it’s a great way to increase your privacy and access other country’s servers, the devil tells you that it could be costly, that some websites won’t work and that your ISP will still be able to see your address. There’s truth to both of these sides, so we recommend making your decisions on a case-by-case basis. That being said, we broke down the main reasons why you should and shouldn’t change your IP address.

» How To: Get a UK IP Address

Why You Should Change Your IP Address

  • Avoid tracking : If you’ve ever searched for anything related to consumerism, then you probably already notice how your searches seem to follow you around the internet like you owe them money. This sort of tracking is made possible by cookies, which some antivirus software can disable.
  • Bypass government restrictions : Governments like China greatly restrict internet usage in their country, so if you want to bypass firewalls, changing your IP address is a must.
  • Access international servers : Maybe you simply want to see what’s on Netflix Canada from your apartment in California. By changing your IP address to a Canadian one, you can trick the streaming giant into showing you a whole lot of new content.

FYI: Not all VPNs are compatible with Netflix. To find one that’s right for you, read our review of the best VPNs for Netflix .

  • Gain privacy : Maybe you’re an activist, a journalist, or anyone else handling sensitive information, or maybe you just don’t want your Internet Service Provider to track your every move. If that’s the case, changing your IP address is a step in the right direction in terms of privacy.
  • Increase security : Most people think nothing of joining public Wi-Fi networks (and depending on your settings, this may even happen automatically). However, using public Wi-Fi opens up a slew of security risks, with hacking at the forefront. But by hiding your real IP address, you greatly lower your risk of hackings .

Why You Shouldn’t Change Your IP Address

  • Some websites won’t work : Some websites, like the aforementioned Netflix, won’t work with certain VPNs or proxies. So while they may be able to bypass government restrictions, that doesn’t stop individual websites from blocking certain IP addresses.
  • Not always legal : Depending on where you are, VPNs may not be legal ; they’re banned in China, Belarus, Iran and a few other countries, so keep that in mind before you connect.
  • May slow down connection : Any added encryption will slow down your browsing speeds, although the exact slowdowns will differ from service to service. Still, if you’re performing tasks that require a lot of bandwidth like streaming video or video chatting, you might experience some frustrating lag.
  • VPN may log data : Again, depending on the service, your VPN company may be logging the very information you want to hide, like your IP address and web traffic. Our advice? Always read the VPN’s privacy policy, which we cover in our individual VPN reviews, and talk about it extensively on our best no-logging VPNs page.
  • Could cost money : Not all VPNs are free (except of course, the ones that are; check out the best free VPNs to see what we’re talking about). Still, free VPNs typically have limits on time, data, or servers, so if you want full coverage, you might have to pony up some dough.
  • ISP’s will still be able to see IP : Even with a new IP address, your Internet Service Provider will be able to see it, so you’re never truly “private” when you’re online.

» Learn more: All about ISP Throttling

Overall, we’re of the faith that changing your IP address is a necessity at times, and we love that there’s more than one way to do it. We hope we answered all of your questions about changing your IP address, but if we didn’t, read on.

Being public digital security experts, we’re constantly inundated with a number of questions surrounding changing your IP address. Here are those questions, with, you guessed it, answers.

You can change your IP address in your device settings or by using the Tor browser, a VPN or a proxy server.

Changing your IP address may or may not be legal; it depends on how you do it and where you’re located. For example, using a VPN to change your IP address is legal in the U.S but illegal in China.

Your IP address may show a different city if you’re connected to a VPN or proxy server with servers in that city. That may be the closest server to you, or simply the one that allows for the lowest bandwidth usage.

Resetting your router may or may not change your IP address, depending on how long you wait before you turn it back on. We recommend waiting for about a day in order to get a new IP address.

Microsoft. (2020). How to change the IP address of a network adapter . docs.microsoft.com/en-us/troubleshoot/windows-server/networking/change-ip-address-network-adapter

SmartProxy. (2020). How to Change Your IP Address Right Now . smartproxy.com/what-is-a-proxy/change-ip

Tor Project. (2020). Browse Privately. Explore Freely . torproject.org/

Investopedia. (2020). IP Address . investopedia.com/terms/i/ip-address.asp

Linksys. (2020). Differences between IPv4 and IPv6 . https://community.fs.com/blog/ipv4-vs-ipv6-whats-the-difference.html

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How to change your location: VPNs, proxies, and Tor

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VPNs, proxies, and the Tor browser are some of the best tools you can use to change your virtual location online. But, which one should you pick? We explore the various options in this article.

How do virtual location changes work?

Most sites, services, and apps determine your location based on the IP address assigned to you each time you go online. An IP address is a string of numbers that offer clues to your general vicinity. 

Therefore, changing your IP address is the most straightforward and reliable way to change your virtual location, fooling sites, services, and any individual snoops. You’ll see that there are several ways to change your IP address, the easiest of which is via a VPN app .

Why should I change my virtual location?

Changing your virtual location by replacing your real IP address with a different one can offer a variety of benefits, enhancing your online experience in terms of security, privacy, and accessibility. Here are several reasons why you might consider changing your virtual  location:

1. Access to restricted content and web services

One of the most popular reasons to change your virtual location is to be able to access different types of content and web services that might not be available in your geographic location. For example, if you’re an expat, you might want to access your bank or government accounts in your home country, and using a VPN could help you connect to your accounts without running into problems because you’re overseas.

2. Improved privacy

Changing your virtual location conceals your physical location from stalkers, snoops, bullies, and the like. When you’re browsing the internet, trackers can also follow you around the internet using your IP address. So by replacing yours with a different one, you can also lessen targeted advertising, tracking, and potential data collection by ISPs (Internet Service Providers) or government agencies.

3. Finding discounts

Prices for online shopping, hotel bookings, and flights can vary based on your geographical location. By changing your virtual location, you might find better deals or lower prices that are targeted to a specific market or country.

4. Improved internet connection speeds

When changing your IP address to one that is closer to the service you’re trying to use, such as an online gaming site, you could speed up your internet and get a gaming advantage by reducing lag or ping.

5. Avoid targeted advertisements

Online advertisers and networks compile detailed profiles of users based on their location, browsing habits, and other online activities. It’s creepy. By changing your virtual location, you can obscure your actual location and browsing patterns, making it harder for ad networks to target you with personalized advertisements.

6. Software testing and development

Developers and testers might use a VPN to change their location to test apps and websites as they appear to users in different geographical locations. This helps in ensuring that digital products provide a consistent and user-friendly experience worldwide.

7. Market research and SEO

Marketers, researchers, and SEO specialists might change their virtual location to see search results, advertisements, and content as it appear to users in different regions. This can provide valuable insights for competitive analysis, marketing strategies, and understanding local trends.

8. Break through censorship

As most online censorship happens based on your location, changing your virtual location can offer access as if you are in a different country. It also provides a layer of anonymity and security for those wishing to share their views, report on sensitive issues, or access information without the fear of reprisal.

How do I change my virtual location with a VPN?

All you need is a VPN app on your device. Here are the steps you need to take to change your location with a VPN:

1. Pick a reliable VPN service

Select a reputable VPN provider with strong encryption, a no-logs policy, a stellar reputation, and a selection of VPN server locations that serve your needs.. ExpressVPN also brings greater value by offering a slew of other security  features included in its apps, like a password manager and ad blocker.

2. Sign up for the service and download the VPN app

Most high-quality VPNs are subscription-based. Once you’ve signed up for an account, download the VPN app to your devices and sign in.

3. Select a server location

Open the app and select your desired server location. Some VPN providers might also suggest the best VPN location for you based on speed and server capacity.

4. Connect to the server

After selecting a server, click the “on” button (or similar). The VPN app will establish a secure connection to the chosen server. This process may take a few seconds. You can verify your new virtual location by visiting a website like whatismyip.com to see your new IP address and location.

Does a VPN change my IP address?

Yes, a VPN does change your IP address. When you use a VPN, your internet traffic is routed through a VPN server, making it appear that your online activities originate from the server’s location, not your actual physical location. This process assigns you an IP address that corresponds to the VPN server’s location, effectively masking your real IP address.

How does a VPN change my IP?

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how a VPN changes your IP address: 

  • Connection to VPN server: When you activate your VPN and choose a server to connect, your device establishes a secure connection.
  • Data encryption: The VPN encrypts your internet traffic. This means that any data sent from your device is encoded so that it can only be decrypted by the VPN server.
  • IP address masking : Once your encrypted traffic reaches the VPN server, it is decrypted and sent to its final destination on the internet. To any website or online service you access, it appears as though your traffic is coming from the VPN server, not your actual location. As a result, the IP address shown to websites and services is that of the VPN server.
  • Privacy and anonymity: Your location and identity are hidden because the website sees the VPN server’s IP address instead of yours. This enhances your online privacy and anonymity, making it difficult for anyone to track your online activities back to you.

How can I change my virtual location with a Tor browser?

When you change your location with the Tor browser, your internet traffic goes through many layers of encryption and different servers around the world before it reaches where you want to go. This makes it look like you’re accessing the internet from a different location than where you actually are. However, unlike a VPN, the Tor browser does not allow you to select a specific country or location for your traffic to appear easily. The exit node (the last relay your traffic passes through before reaching the internet) can be in any country and this changes with each new session or website you visit.

If you have a specific need to appear as if you are accessing the internet from a particular country using Tor, you can manually configure Tor to use exit nodes from a specific country, although this is a bit more advanced and might slightly reduce your anonymity. Read more on whether Tor is safe.

Follow our guide to find out how to set your virtual location when using the Tor browser:

1. Download and install the Tor browser 

First, if you haven’t already, download and install the Tor Browser from the official Tor Project website. This ensures you have the latest, most secure version.

2. Access the Tor configuration file 

After installation, you might need to access the Tor configuration file (torrc), which is located in the Tor Browser’s installation directory. The path and method can vary depending on your operating system.

For most users, navigating to the Tor Browser folder and looking for the torrc or torrc-defaults file is the first step. On Windows, this might be under the Browser -> TorBrowser -> Data -> Tor directory inside the Tor Browser installation path.

3. Configure Tor to use specific Exit Nodes

Open the torrc file with a text editor and add the following line to specify the desired country by its two-letter ISO 3166 country code: 

ExitNodes {us} StrictNodes 1

Replace us with the country code of your choice. StrictNodes 1 tells Tor to strictly use the exit nodes specified then save the changes and close the file.

4. Restart Tor Browser

For the changes to take effect, you need to restart the Tor Browser. Once restarted, Tor will attempt to use exit nodes only from the specified country, making it appear as if your traffic is originating from there.

How can I change my virtual location with a proxy server?

Proxies aren’t designed to protect your privacy the way VPNs and Tor do, since they don’t have the same robust encryption features. However, they can do the job of changing your IP address. Here’s how to use a proxy service to change your virtual location.

1. Choose a proxy service

Select a proxy service that meets your needs. There are many types of proxies, including free and paid services, and they come in various forms such as HTTP/HTTPS, SOCKS, and web proxies. Paid services usually offer better reliability, speed, and security. (That said, if you are going to use a paid proxy service, you might as well upgrade to a high-quality VPN.)

2. Get the proxy server details

Once you’ve chosen a proxy service, you’ll need to obtain the necessary details to configure your connection. This typically includes the proxy server’s IP address or hostname, port number, and sometimes a username and password for authentication.

3. Configure the server for your device

You can configure a proxy server on your device or within specific applications like web browsers. The process varies depending on your operating system or the application you’re using. Here are general steps for common scenarios.

Google Chrome : Chrome uses the system’s proxy settings. On Windows, changing this in the Internet Options will affect Chrome. On macOS, Chrome follows the system’s network configuration.

Mozilla Firefox : Go to Options > General > Network Settings, and select Manual proxy configuration. Enter your proxy server’s IP address and port number. If necessary, include your username and password for authentication.

Safari : Safari uses the system’s network settings. Go to System Preferences > Network, select your network service (e.g., Wi-Fi or Ethernet), click Advanced, and then Proxies. Fill in the Web Proxy (HTTP) or Secure Web Proxy (HTTPS) fields with your proxy server details.

For Windows 10/11: Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Proxy. Under Manual setup, turn on ‘Use a proxy server’, and enter your proxy server details. Click ‘Save’ when done.

For macOS: Open System Preferences > Network, select your active connection, and click Advanced. Go to the Proxies tab, select the appropriate proxy protocol, and enter your proxy server details.

4. Verify your new virtual location

After configuring the proxy, verify that your virtual location has changed. You can use online services like whatismyip.com to check your new IP address and location. If it reflects the proxy server’s location, you’ve successfully changed your virtual location.

What are some other ways I can change my virtual location?

Besides using a VPN, Tor browser, and  using a proxy server, there are other things you can do to change your virtual location. A word of caution though, not all of these options will ensure strong privacy and security.

1. Smart DNS services

Smart DNS is a technology that works by rerouting your DNS queries through a server in another location. Unlike VPNs, Smart DNS doesn’t encrypt your traffic, which means it can offer faster speeds but less security. It’s particularly useful for smooth streaming or gaming.

2. Browser extensions

Some browser extensions can spoof your location to websites. While not as secure or reliable as VPNs, they can be a quick and easy solution for accessing content and applications that were previously inaccessible.

3. Manually change your IP address

In some situations, you might want to change your IP address without using external services or software. This can be achieved by manually changing your device’s IP address settings or by renewing your IP address through your network connection. 

Some ISPs may allow you to change your IP address upon request. This can be useful if you’re dealing with a network ban or IP-based restrictions.

If you’re particularly tech savvy, you could change your IP address on your laptop or PC by forcing your computer to request a new IP address from your router. This is done through the command line interface using commands like ipconfig /release followed by ipconfig /renew on Windows, or sudo dhclient -r followed by sudo dhclient on Linux and macOS. This method changes your local IP address provided by your router, but the resulting IP will continue to reflect your real location.

4. Change region settings on your device

Many devices and operating systems allow you to manually change your region in the settings. This can affect the content you see in app stores and some services. For example, changing your country in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store can give you access to region-specific apps and content.

5. Use an international cloud server

Using cloud services to deploy your own VPN or proxy can also change your virtual location. Services like Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure allow users to set up virtual servers in different regions around the world. By setting up your own VPN or proxy on one of these servers, you can control your virtual location more directly.

How to change VPN location on iOS and Android?

Using a VPN app is the easiest way to change your location. Many VPN apps, like ExpressVPN, allow you to connect to a virtual server with just one tap after you’ve signed up for an account and installed the app.

To change your VPN location in the ExpressVPN app on iOS or Android devices, tap the three dots next to the location (right under the large “on” button). You’ll be able to browse locations under the Recommended and All Locations tabs, or you can type in the location you’re looking for. Then just select the location and the VPN server will connect.

How do I know if my location has changed?

A quick and easy way to check if your virtual location has changed is to use an IP check website like whatismyip.com , ip2location.com , and whatismyipaddress.com . These sites should display your location and new IP address, like this:

IP Address

What is the best way to change your location?

The easiest way to change your virtual location is with a VPN. Here’s a comparison of the most common methods to see why VPN is the best choice.

How often does a VPN change the IP address?

A VPN changes your IP address each time you switch servers manually or when reconnecting after the connection has been disabled. While less common, some VPNs offer static IP addresses that remain the same.

Will I get a different IP address every time I connect to a VPN?

Yes, typically you will get a different IP address each time you connect to a VPN, especially if you select different server locations. If you connect to the same server location repeatedly, you might get assigned the same IP address. But note that whatever your IP address assigned by a VPN, it is being shared by hundreds or thousands of people at the same time. 

For a consistent IP address, some VPN services offer a dedicated or static IP option, which ensures the same IP address every time you connect. However, from a privacy and anonymity standpoint, using a static IP negates some of the benefits of using a VPN.

Is it illegal to change your location with a VPN?

Changing your location with a VPN is legal in nearly all countries . VPNs are widely used for enhancing online privacy, securing internet connections, and accessing content that might be restricted in certain geographic regions due to censorship. However, some countries have restricted the use of a VPN or banned them altogether, so it’s worth researching and considering the rules before traveling to a different country. 

And while VPNs themselves are legal to use in nearly all countries, using them to engage in illegal activities is, of course, illegal. VPNs can provide privacy, but they do not exempt users from obeying laws.

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COMMENTS

  1. How to change location and IP address with a VPN

    last updated 12 January 2024. Find out how to change your location and IP address using a virtual private network. (Image credit: Future) Jump to: Why use a VPN? How to change your...

  2. How to change your IP address

    How-to. By Tony Polanco. last updated 16 January 2024. Ever wondered if it’s possible to change your IP address? The good news is that you can—and I’ll show you how. Comments (0) (Image...

  3. How to change your virtual location and IP address

    Log in to the app. Select the server country to connect to. There you go! Your IP address and location are changed. How does a VPN change my IP? A VPN routes your traffic through a VPN server to make it look like it’s coming from a different location.

  4. How To Change Your IP Address in 2024

    View Plans. How To Change Your IP Address. Besides using a VPN to change your IP address, which we’ll discuss further below how to do, there are a few other ways to change your IP address. One of the most straightforward ways is to adjust your device’s settings.

  5. How to Change Your Location and IP with a VPN

    14 mins. •. 22.02.2024. Written by. Atika Lim. VPNs, proxies, and the Tor browser are some of the best tools you can use to change your virtual location online. But, which one should you pick? We explore the various options in this article. How do virtual location changes work?