An explanation for beginners in beginners terms!
If you’ve never set up your computer to browse the internet anonymously you may be asking what is an IP address? IP address stands for Internet Protocol which is a numerical value assigned to each computer which can be found by other devices. So what does that mean? Basically an IP address is the fingerprint or identity of your computer. An IP Address is a series of numbers that will appear as XX.XXX.XXX.YYY
There are two different types of IP addresses; static or dynamic IP address. A Static IP address means that your IP will consistently be the same set of numbers. For example if your IP address is 188.8.131.52 it will always be those numbers and never change. Static IP’s are the most common form of IP addresses and are very helpful when accessing certain websites. For example some websites such as forums, gaming websites, file hosting websites will record your IP address when you visit or log onto the website. When you revisit that website the website detects your IP address and knows who you are and allows access to their resources (files, games, forums) faster.
On the negative side though because your IP address is always the same there will always be a record of every site you have visited and your activity on the website will always be traced back to your computer. It is also negative in the sense that hackers can also get a hold of your IP address and “mask” (disguise) their IP address with your IP address, which means any activity the hacker performs on the internet will be traced back to your computer.
A dynamic IP address is the rarer IP address and means the IP is not constant that it is always changing. For example where an IP address is XX.XXX.XXX.YYY the “YYY’s” will always change each time you connect to the internet. For example you will connect to the internet and your IP for example will be 184.108.40.206 however the next time you connect your address will change and may be for example 220.127.116.116 These IP addresses have the same pros and cons as a static IP but are reversed. Accessing gaming websites, forums, file storage websites may be slower to retrieve because the recorded IP address for your account will be different each time you visit/log into the website. However, a dynamic IP is safer in the sense of hackers obtaining your IP address, because even if a hacker retrieves your IP the next time you connect to the internet your IP address will be different and therefore their activity may not be traced back to your computer.
How to determine whether you have a static or dynamic IP is as simple as connecting to the internet, visiting this website which at the top of the page displays your IP address, disconnect from the internet, reconnect and visit this page again and see if your IP address is different to your first visit. Whether you have a dynamic or static IP address is completely determined by your ISP (Internet Service Provider). There is programs that can change your IP from static to dynamic, however they are very unreliable and will often just ruin your internet settings and take you offline altogether. Internet Service Providers have the ability to change your IP address from a dynamic to a static and vice versa, however most Internet Service Providers will ask you to put in writing why you need it changed and it is very rare that they will accept your reason or change the type of IP address you have. In most cases an Internet Service Provider will actually assume you’re a hacker just for asking for it to be changed, so unless you have an amazing reason don’t expect them to change it.
So how can you change or hide your IP address safely so your activity on the internet isn’t recorded? You need a proxy or VPN service. To discover the difference between a Proxy or VPN service please read onto to the next page.