Does a VPN change your IP?
Updated: March 31, 2016
Yes. A VPN works by rerouting your internet connection via an external server operated by the VPN Provider. When you visit a website it is the IP Address of that server which the site can see, not the IP Address of your own internet connection.
Your IP Address works a bit like an electronic identity card for you while you are online. It includes various pieces of information about your internet connection, including where in the world you are located when you are logging on.
It is also unique to your connection meaning that anyone wanting to snoop in on your internet activity can trace which sites have been visited by a particular IP Address and know that you (or at least a device using your internet connection) was the one that went there.
There are a variety of different reasons why an Internet user might want to change his IP Address, and whilst some may be related to criminal intent, there are also a whole host of perfectly legitimate (and legal) reason too. And a VPN is the easiest, and most cost-effective way to do it.
Why would I want to change my IP Address?
There are any number of perfectly legitimate reasons why you might want to change your IP Address using a VPN. Some of the most common ones we have come across here at Fried.com are:
· Privacy: The revelations a couple of years ago of the extent of US Government snooping into the internet activity of their own citizens woke a lot of people, both inside and outside the USA, to the reality of the level of privacy users can expect online.
The aftermath of his expose saw a huge spike in the number of VPN users. So how does a VPN protect your privacy. It routes your internet activity through an encrypted pathway, and it changes the IP Address which the sites you visit can see. What they can see is the IP Address of the server you have come through before visiting the site, and this makes it all but impossible for your visit to be traced back to you.
· Censorship: As technology and connectivity improves, so does the desire of some despotic and authoritarian regimes from around the world to control it, and limit what their citizens can view online.
This online censorship is now becoming more and more common, and users in countries such as China and Iran have their online freedom severely restricted. How can they get around this? Well the simplest way is by using a VPN to change you IP Address to one that indicates you are logging on from another country.
If your IP Address says you are in the USA, you can view any site that is permitted in the USA, regardless of whether you are physically there yourself or not. A VPN can allow you to do this and so fool either websites that are voluntarily restricting access to some content, as LinkedIn does in China for example, and also sites that are blocked by state bodies or local ISPs.
· Accessing geo-blocked content: More and more people are watching online streaming services these days, and many have noticed that they are not the universal offerings that some had initially imagined. Services like Netflix and Hulu offer different programs and services to users in different countries. It is all down to what shows they hold the rights for in each country.
The prime example of this is Netflix, whose US service, despite costing the same as the UK version (for example) has almost twice as much content, including many of their most popular shows. Many users therefore want to pay for the US version of Netflix, but Netflix will still look at your IP Address to determine your location and block you from doing so if you are not in the USA.
By using a VPN to give yourself a US IP Address, you should be able to watch Netflix USA wherever you are in the world and doing so is perfectly legal too.
How does a VPN change my IP Address?
The way a VPN changes your IP Address is very simple. Connecting to a VPN, means you are connecting via an encrypted pathway, to a server located somewhere else (they can be anywhere in the world).
When you connect to a website, that website can see the link back to that server, but it cannot see beyond that server back to your own personal internet connection. Therefore, the only IP Address it can see is that belonging to the server.
This means you are serving the web anonymously, as there is no way to connect you with the IP Address that you are using.
There are a variety of different reasons why you might want to change your IP Address. But whatever those reasons are, the easiest and most cost-effective way to do it, is by using a VPN. And yes, one of a VPNs primary functions is to change your IP Address. This is why many people sign up for them in the first place.