How to Hide Your IP Address

article feature image

The IP address is a unique identifier used in all internet exchanges powered by the IP protocol. This also means that all web connections can be tracked and analyzed using IP addresses.

In this article, we'll take a look at the IP address function in tracking and how to bypass it. We'll explore four essential options you can use to hide your IP address and how to approach them in web scraping. Let's get started!

How to Scrape Without Getting Blocked? In-Depth Tutorial

For more on avoiding web scraping blocking see our full introduction article which covers request headers, TLS handshakes and javascript fingerprinting

How to Scrape Without Getting Blocked? In-Depth Tutorial

What is The IP Address?

The IP address is a unique address that identifies a device on a local or public network. Currently, there are two types of IP addresses:

  • IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4)
    The most popular IP address out there, which consists of four sets of decimal numbers separated by dots (e.g., 192.168.1.1)
  • IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6)
    A less popular IP address has been recently introduced as the available number of IPv4 addresses has reached the limit. It consists of eight groups of four digits (e.g., 2001:0db8:85a1:0000:0000:8a1e:0370:7334)

Many websites don't support the IPv6 addresses yet, so we are obliged to use IPv4 addresses. And due to the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses, they are more expensive than IPv6 addresses.

The main functionality of IP addresses is to uniquely identify a device on the network and to route data packets over the network to reach their destination.

Depending on the ISP IP addresses can be static (remain constant for long periods) or dynamic (that changes often). Despite the differences, most web servers can still recognize and track both types of IP addresses.

For more, refer to our previous article on IP address details for more on IP versions, structure and metadata.

Why Hide Your IP Address?

Web servers can implement rate-limiting rules to limit the number of requests sent from a specific IP address. Exceeding this limit can lead to requests throttling or even blocking. Therefore, hiding your IP address by constantly changing it is essential to avoid IP throttling and bans.

Some online services may set restriction rules for specific geographical locations. Masking your IP address by changing it to a different region can help bypass these restrictions.

Another advantage of IP address hiding is adding more layers of security and privacy, making it harder for malicious middleware to track your online activities.

How to Avoid Web Scraper IP Blocking?

Learn about IP addresses and how IP tracking technologies are used to block web scraper IPs.

How to Avoid Web Scraper IP Blocking?

Now that we have an overview of IP addresses and why hiding them, let's explore how to make your IP address more private.

Use Proxies

A proxy is a server that acts as a middleware between you and the resource you are requesting. In essence, a proxy will hide your IP address by routing the request from your IP address to another IP address associated with the proxy.

There are two types of proxy protocols, HTTP and SOCKS. The SOCKS protocol is considered faster, more secure and stable. The HTTP protocol is more popular and highly adopted by proxy providers and HTTP clients.

There are different types of proxy IPs categorized by issuer type: Datacenter, Residential, Static Residential and Mobile. See our extended comparison article for more.

Introduction To Proxies in Web Scraping

Learn about the proxy types, how they compare against each other, what common challenges are posed by proxy usage and the best practices in web scraping.

Introduction To Proxies in Web Scraping

What makes proxies very effective at IP address hiding is the ability to rotate proxies. Which automatically assigns outgoing requests with different IP addresses. Allowing to distribute of connection patterns through multiple agents - this prevents tracking and throttling.

Let's take a look at the pros and cons of hiding your IP address using proxies.

Pros

  • Highly customizable for specific locations and IP types.
  • Minimum traffic latency compared to other IP masking alternatives.
  • Highly effective at changing your IP address by rotating over a wide list of proxy pool.
  • Lower likelihood of being blocked by anti-bot services (depending on proxy type).

Cons

  • It can be expensive, especially with high-quality proxies.
  • It can be complex to use for non-technical users.

Use VPNs

VPN is a popular method for hiding IP addresses due to its simplicity and ease of use. Like proxies, VPNs hide origin IP addresses by routing the network traffic through a remote server.

VPNs can also be used as proxies if they support HTTP or SOCKS proxies. See how to use vpns as proxies for more.

Let's look at the pros and cons of hiding your IP address using a VPN.

Pros

  • Easy to configure and use.
  • Considered cheap compared to other advanced options.
  • Enhanced network security.

Cons

  • Many VPN providers offer a limited network speed and bandwidth.
  • Limited amount of concurrent connections, making it insufficient for heavy tasks such as web scraping.
  • Many VPN providers use datacenter IP addresses with a high-risk score, leading to potential blocking.
  • Routing the network traffic from and to the VPN can lead to high data transmission delays and latency.
  • High likelihood of being blocked by anti-bot services.

Use Tor

Tor (The Onion Router) is a free and open-source software that allows for anonymous network communication. The Tor browser hides your IP address by encrypting all the network traffic in multiple layers through a series of routers called nodes, which run over volunteer-operated servers. After the data is encrypted through these layers, the data gets decrypted again through another set of node routers. Finally, the data reaches the regular network through a final node called the exit node. Making the network transmission secure and encrypted.

Tor can also be used as a proxy by routing all the requests to the Tor port. Here's an example in Python:

import requests

proxies = {
    # presumable tor service is running on localhost (127.0.0.1)
    # the Tor default port is 9051
    'http':'socks5://127.0.0.1:9051',
    'https':'socks5:/127.0.0.1:9051'
}
url = "https://httpbin.dev/ip"
res = requests.get(url, proxies=proxies)

Another advanced usage of Tor is routing all the network traffic to Tor using Onionfruit on Windows or Tails Linux distribution.

Let's take a look at the pros and cons of masking your IP address using Tor.

Pros

  • Open source and free to use.
  • Resistant to IP tracking.
  • Anonymous network traffic through an encrypted data transmission.

Cons

  • Slow connection due to routing the traffic to multiple routing servers.
  • Some websites might block the traffic coming from Tor by detecting the exit node.
  • While the Tor browser is straightforward to set up, it can be complex to configure other applications to use its network.
  • High likelihood of being blocked by anti-bot services.

Use Mobile Networks

Depending on the internet service provider, IP addresses assigned to mobile phones can be dynamic. This means that the IP address itself can change whenever you reconnect to the network or after a certain amount of time.

Mobile IPs also have a low-risk score with network firewalls, minimizing the chance of getting detected as a bot. So, you can mask your IP address by connecting devices with your mobile network through hotspot or USB tethering.

Let's look at the pros and cons of masking your IP address by connecting to mobile networks.

Pros

  • Easy to configure and use.
  • Low likelihood of being blocked by anti-bot services.

Cons

  • Can't change the IP geolocation, restricting access to certain websites.
  • Limited reliability and speed connection compared to a wired connection.
  • Limited concurrent sessions, making it ineffective for heavy tasks.
  • Challenging IP rotation through reconnecting or waiting for a fixed amount of time.

Which Method to Choose?

From the above, proxies are the best option for hiding your IP address due to their performance, reliability and customization capabilities. However, the best option depends on your use case, available budget and the target website. Both ToR and commercial VPNs can be cheap entry-point option for web scraping.

That being said, proxies can be made even better with extra smart layers that are built on top of them. Let's take a look at how ScrapFly can help you hide your IP address 👇

Hide Your IP Address Using ScrapFly

At ScrapFly, we recognize the challenges of hiding IP addresses. This is why we simplified the process while also making it highly resilient.

ScrapFly is a web scraping API powered by a smart proxy algorithm that rotates residential proxy IPs from over 50+ countries. Moreover, ScrapFly allows for scraping at scale by providing:

scrapfly middleware
ScrapFly service does the heavy lifting for you!

To hide your IP address using ScrapFly proxies, you will only have to send a simple API call to the target website:

from scrapfly import ScrapflyClient, ScrapeConfig, ScrapeApiResponse

scrapfly = ScrapflyClient(key="Your ScrapFly API key")

result: ScrapeApiResponse = scrapfly.scrape(ScrapeConfig(
    url="https://httpbin.dev/ip",
    # choose a proxy from the residential pool
    proxy_pool="public_residential_pool",
    # select a the proxy country
    country="us",
    # enable the ASP to bypass any website's blocking
    asp=True,
    # enable JS rendering, similar to headless browsers
    render_js=True,
))

# get the page HTML content
print(result.scrape_result['content'])

FAQ

To wrap up this guide on masking IP addresses, let's take a look at some frequently asked questions.

Can I hide my IP address for free?

Yes, you can hide your IP address for free using free or open-source options, such using Tor or mobile networks. You can also use free VPNs or proxies. However, they often come with limitations such as slower speed, access restrictions, and potential security concerns.

Yes, it's considered legal to hide your IP address for privacy reasons. However, attention should be paid to the terms of services of the target website, as masking your IP address for violating them can have legal consequences.

How to Hide Your IP Address - Summary

The IP address is a unique set of numbers that identifies a device over the network. There are different reasons for hiding your IP address, including adding privacy layers, avoiding geolocation restrictions, IP throttling and blocking.

We explored four different alternatives to hide your IP address, how each works and the pros and cons of each. In a nutshell, these options are VPNs, Proxies, Tor and Mobile Networks. However, proxies are the best alternative to hide your IP address due to their performance, reliability and customization capabilities.

Related Posts

Use Curl Impersonate to scrape as Chrome or Firefox

Learn how to prevent TLS fingerprinting by impersonating normal web browser configurations. We'll start by explaining what the Curl Impersonate is, how it works, how to install and use it. Finally, we'll explore using it with Python to avoid web scraping blocking.

FlareSolverr Guide: Bypass Cloudflare While Scraping

In this article, we'll explore the FlareSolverr tool and how to use it to get around Cloudflare while scraping. We'll start by explaining what FlareSolverr is, how it works, how to install and use it. Let's get started!

How to Bypass CAPTCHA While Web Scraping in 2024

Captchas can ruin web scrapers but we don't have to teach our robots how to solve them - we can just get around it all!