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When you browse the internet you must identify yourself to the websites you wish to connect to and in doing so you leave a trace of your activities online. If your IP address remains unchanged for long periods of time it can become a security risk, so it is important to understand what an IP address is, how it works, and can you change it.

What is an IP address?

Every system on every network has an identification number: the internet protocol address (IP address). Typically generated by your router, this unique address contains two numbers: a public number and a private one. Your router uses the public IP address assigned by your internet service provider (ISP) to access the internet. Your router also assigns a private IP address to your device when it creates a local network in your home.

So, wondering what its function is? Well, to put it simply you need an IP address to connect. If you do not have an address, a website will not know where to send pictures, pages, files, and other information to. Therefore an IP address is essential if you wish to create a connection between a device and the website you wish to visit.

When you visit a website, the site can see your router IP address. The website will know who your ISP is, be it WOW internet or another, and will be able to figure out which neighborhood you are from. However, it will not be able to find out your residential address nor will it know the people living inside, which is a good thing.

People outside your network will only be able to see your public address and that is the only thing that can be linked to your home. So, there is a level of anonymity to your presence in cyberspace.

Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to IP address is that for devices connected via the LAN cable, the private IP address remains the same. However, for mobile devices connected over Wi-Fi, the private IP address keeps changing. What is more is most homes use a dynamic IP address, which means your ISP also changes the IP address assigned to you from time to time so there is little to worry about.

Why You Should Change Your IP address?

Changing IP address though has its benefits and keeps you safe and your data secure. While you are safe for the most part, you never know; your IP address in a criminal hand can land you in trouble. Here is what they can use this information for:

Download Illegal Content

If a pirate gets hold of your IP address, then you might just have to pay huge fines for movies and music downloaded under your name illegally.  

Know Your Home Address

If a smart hacker knows your IP address, they can trace your home address to stalk you and rob you. So, you definitely want to keep your IP address a secret and change it often.

Spy on you

With your IP address, hackers can access your IP traffic and get your personal data and financial information including passwords in which case it is better to be safe than sorry.

Benefits of changing your IP address

Apart from security concerns, there are other benefits of changing your IP address.

For example, when you change your IP address you can access content online otherwise unavailable in your area. This is often the case with Netflix; simply change your location and a whole lot of options will open up for you.

Some websites, especially travel-related ones, use your IP address to see how many times you have visited their site searching for a query and depending on that they change the prices visible to you.

A different IP address also helps you avoid internet speed throttling by your ISP. So if you face this problem often, then try changing your IP address.

As you can see, you have good reason to change your IP address. Apart from the benefits it provides, it is the only way to ensure safety over the internet. So, without further ado let us get to it.

How to find your IP address?

Before you start changing your IP address, you should first know what it is. After all, if you do not know what it is, then how will you know if it has changed?

Finding your IP address is easy. One way to go about it is simply to run a Google search for an IP address checker. They should be able to tell you your public address. For the private IP address, you will have to check your device. 

For Mac users:

  • Go to system preferences
  • Click on Network

There you go, your IP address should pop up. Click on the connected devices and you will know their private IPs as well.

For Windows users:

  • Click Start
  • In the search bar, type cmd, and press enter
  • You will get a command prompt, type ipconfig, and press enter

Voila, you have your private IP address.

How to change your IP address

Changing an IP address is easy. Here are some simple ways through which you can change it. They should work for all ISPs.

Change your location

When you go outside to a public space or any different location really, and connect from a different network your IP address changes. When you connect to the internet from your office, your device is assigned a new public and private IP address. The same is the case at a coffee shop. Anyplace that offers Wi-Fi gives you a new IP address so grab your backpack and head out.

Reset Your Modem

If you cannot go out or do not want to, you do not have to. Simply reset your modem and you will have a new IP address. Unplug it for at least 30 seconds before plugging it back in again. Connect your device to the internet as you normally would and you will notice the IP address has changed. Whether you are using AT&T or Spectrum internet, resetting the modem at home should change your IP address.

Use a VPN

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) keeps your IP address private by showing that you are connecting to the internet from a different place. You could be in the USA, but the website you are visiting will think you are based in the UK. A VPN changes your IP address through an encrypted tunnel and the best part is that it even keeps your internet activities a secret from your ISP. ISPs are known for tracking your activity and selling it to third parties. However, if you subscribe to a reliable internet service provider such as RCN internet,  then you have nothing to worry about.

Use a proxy server

If you change the proxy settings in your web browser settings, you will get the same results as your IP address will be automatically configured. This is great for basic web browsing but you will need a more specific setting depending on what it is you are going for.

Ask your ISP

Another way to change your IP address to ask your ISP to change it for you. Contact the provider you are subscribed to and ask that the change be made. If you are an AT&T user, then that should not be a problem as AT&T router IP is easy to change.

Using these methods you should be able to change your public and private IP address. If you would rather just reset your private address, then check out the methods below.

How to change a local IP address

There are two ways to change your local IP address, depending on the device you are using:

For Mac users

  1. Go to System Preferences
  2. Select Network
  3. Highlight IP addresses on the list that you wish to change and click Advanced
  4. Navigate to TCP/IP
  5. Update your IP address and Press OK.

For Windows users

  1. Go to Control Panel
  2. Click on Network and Sharing Center, select Change Adapter Settings followed by Network Connections
  3. Once there, you will see a list of all the Ethernet and Wi-Fi connections to your router. Simply select the one you want to change and click on Properties.
  4. Go to ‘This connection uses the following items: InterInternet Protocol Version 4 (TCP / IPv4)’
  5. Select Use the following IP address and update it to what you want it to be
  6. When you are done, click OK.

How to change your Phone IP address?

To change the IP address assigned to your phone simply go to the Wi-Fi settings and select advanced settings. You should be able to configure a new IP from there.

Changing a Router IP address

To change a router IP address, you must first log in as an administrator account holder that will give you permission to reset it. The process from there on varies on the router you own, but you should be able to configure it from there.

That is it! After reading this you should be able to change the IP address on any device and keep yourself and your data safe in cyberspace.

Frequently asked Questions

If someone knows my IP is it bad?

To most people, it is of virtually no value and given how ISPs tend to change it any way you are in no trouble.

Can someone hack me if they know my IP?

While it is extremely difficult, it can be done. However, the firewalls put up by the ISP and routers should be able to ward off most dangers. The hacker will be able to learn your city, state, zip code, and bring trouble your way, so you should not make it a point to share it.

Can a VPN change my IP?

Yes, VPN is a great way to go if you wish to change your IP address.

What is an IPv4 address?

IPv4 stands for Internet Protocol version 4 and is a part of the IP address. There are two versions of IP address: IPv4 and IPv6. IPv4 is the original version and is 32-bits in size. If you are thinking ‘what is my ipv4 address,’ then simply go into the settings to find out.