In researching VPN services you’ll notice a lot of talk about your IP address and how a VPN functions in a way that masks your own address with that of the VPN server. This prompts a few questions that we want to try and answer, ranging from the basic to the advanced. What is an IP address? How is it used to observe my Internet activity? How does a VPN help me to conceal it? Read on and we’ll make an effort to explain some things you need to know about IP addresses.
What is an IP address?
Let’s get the technical jargon out of the way first. An IP address is a numerical label assigned to each device that uses Internet Protocol for digital communication. It is the second aspect of a system of delivering digital information which includes name, access, and route.
A less technical way of explaining the function of an IP address is to compare it with postal delivery. In order for you to receive your mail at home, the post office needs to know three things: your name, your address, and the route it will take to deliver your mail. The Internet is not so different. It’s basically like a big postal hub that receives mail, sorts it, and sends it to the proper recipient. We call that mail data, and it is routed by your ISP to your home machine. Your IP address helps to make the delivery of your data possible.
Most IP addresses are a 32-bit binary number expressed in a human-readable notation like this: 126.96.36.199. That address is specific to your device, machine, server, etc.
Certainly, you can see how an IP address enables the basic functioning of the Internet. Unfortunately, it also creates a digital fingerprint that can identify the source of transmitted and received data. In short, your IP address is a unique identifier that can open up a window through which your Internet activity can be monitored.
Logging of IP addresses
Many websites log the IP addresses of visitors for a variety of reasons. You’ll often encounter a notification on a website or forum, often near the top of the page, that displays your IP address and location. Why is this done?
Some IP address logging is relatively harmless. The website may simply want to verify that you are who you say you are. Take Facebook as an example. If you try logging into Facebook or Twitter or even Gmail from an unrecognized device, say a friend’s computer or the computer at the local library, you may be prompted to enter a security code which is sent to your mobile phone or possibly an alternative email address. The reason for this is that the website has noted a difference in your IP address and wants to make sure that someone else isn’t trying to access your account. In this regard, the logging of an IP address is a good thing.
Unfortunately, that same type of logging will also prevent you from using certain web services in areas where access is restricted. Netflix is not available in many areas of the world. Neither is Skype. Even Twitter is blocked in some places. If your IP address reveals that you are in a geographical location which does not permit access to certain websites, you will find these services inaccessible.
IP addresses and a VPN
A VPN functions in numerous ways to enhance your browsing security. Perhaps the most important of these is that it has the ability to mask your IP address and make it appear that you are in a different location. This is especially useful for expats and travelers.
Your VPN server, just like your own personal device, has its own IP address. When you connect to the VPN, the big postal hub of the Internet registers that you are accessing the Internet from the location of the VPN server. It will deliver your data without a hitch and without revealing your actual IP address.
Did you recently come to the US from the UK on a visit or to attend school or work? The BBC iPlayer is something you probably use a lot in the UK, but you won’t be able to use it if your IP address reveals that you are out of the country. This is not a big deal if you have VPN service. Just connect to the UK VPN server and you appear to be at home. Your access is restored.
Changing your IP address can also be useful if you simply want to keep it from being associated with various websites. Perhaps you are researching a subject for a school paper that is somewhat controversial. Or maybe there are aspects of your personal life you would like to keep private. In this case, masking your IP address with a VPN is a wise idea that might save you some future trouble. Click here to order you VPN today!
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