VPNs are part of the mainstream, and more and more people wonder what they can do for them. They can certainly do a lot of things, but can VPNs hide your location?
A VPN will hide your location by sending your internet traffic through an encrypted tunnel and connecting you to a remote server in a country of your choice. That way, your real IP address stays hidden, and the websites you visit can’t see where you really are.
Let’s expand a bit further on this notion and see exactly how VPNs hide your location, plus, see the best tips on how to hide your location on smartphones and computers effectively.
How A VPN Hides Your Location
VPNs do an excellent job of hiding your location by hiding your real IP address. An IP address can give away quite a lot of sensitive information about you. For instance, by knowing your IP address, someone can find out:
- The ISP you’re using
- What the city, ZIP code, or area code of your ISP is
It doesn’t seem like much, but for experienced snoopers, privacy intruders, lawyers, etc., that’s more than enough to find out who you are. Or at least to get a warrant from your ISP.
A VPN will act as a middleman when you connect to it as it reroutes your internet traffic through one of their own remote servers, giving you a new IP address in the process.
Not only that, but a VPN will also encrypt all your internet traffic and effectively render it useless for anyone trying to find out what you’re doing online. That way, your ISP doesn’t know anymore what websites or services you’re visiting online. It can only see that you’re using a VPN. However, if you don’t want anyone to know that you’re using a VPN, most major providers have a feature that lets you hide this fact as well.
This feature is useful when a service is blocking VPN users from entering their websites. The most notorious example is probably Netflix that started blocking users from entering their platform if they’re using a VPN.
This doubling down on banning VPN users has started a war between the VPN providers and the streaming platform, leaving many small VPNs out in the cold. Only major VPN providers have the know-how and the resources to stay a step ahead of Netflix.
Can You Be Tracked With A VPN?
Because VPNs hide your real location, anyone trying to track you will only see the VPN’s IP address and won’t know where you really are or what you’re doing online.
However, this is only true if you’re using a well-known and reputable VPN provider. Time and time again, free VPN providers are dropping the ball on purpose or by accident and logging and exposing or selling their customers’ data to advertisers and other third parties.
A good VPN will always have a strict no-logs policy that is preferably verified by a third-party auditing service. As there’s no real difference in prices between the barely known and well-known VPNs, there’s no point going to a potentially shady provider.
RELATED: Why Do VPNs Cost Money (Explained)
Is VPN Completely Anonymous?
A VPN can do many things, but it can’t give you complete anonymity. Although your internet connection is private when you’re using a VPN, and your IP address is masked, there are other factors that affect just how anonymous you’ll be online.
For instance, anything that bears your real name, such as your email address, credit card payments, and social media accounts, are a dead giveaway.
To go from a private connection to a completely anonymous one, you’d have to be careful at every step of the way.
Tips On How To Hide Your Location On Mobile And Desktop
1. Use a VPN
A solid VPN on your phone, computer, or WiFi network is your best bet for hiding your location. As there are arguably thousands of VPN providers out there, finding the best fit for you could be overwhelming.
Luckily, on our website, you can find the best VPNs for your use case. For example, you can browse for the best VPN for streaming or torrenting, as well as find the ones with the best price suitable for your devices.
2. Use Tor Browser
Tor, or The Onion Router, is a free software that was developed by the US military in the nineties. It will hie your location and your internet activity if you browse the internet through the Tor browser.
It will effectively hide your location, but you need to be aware of the fact that the Tor browser can be slow for users and doesn’t support most streaming and torrenting.
The browser is also associated with criminal activity as it can be used to access the Dark Web and the websites that offer illegal products and services.
However, the fact that it is free and that it offers top-notch privacy protection is enough for people to start or continue using it.
RELATED: Torrenting over Tor
3. Proxy Servers to Hide Location
Proxy servers are a free alternative to VPNs. They are the gateway between your network and your end address. People usually use them to access particular files, attachments, downloads, etc.
Proxy servers can be a tool in your pursuit of hiding your location, but they do come with baggage attached. Because they are free, the entities providing them will oftentimes keep logs of your internet traffic so they can sell it to third parties.
This isn’t even remotely unusual, and the issue also plagues free VPNs. That’s why we recommend that you use trusted and paid services.
4. Turn Your “Share My Location” Off
You can easily turn off location tracking on your phone for single apps or across the device. This will stop them from tracking you by using GPS, but you have to be aware that some apps will use your network to figure out your location.
So, in order to stop sharing your location with apps, services, and other third parties, go to Settings in your iPhone and tap the Privacy tab. Tap Location Services and turn them off.
On Android, go to settings and enter the Security & location tab and toggle the location off. You can do it device-wide or go into individual apps and stop them from seeing your location.
You can also turn off the Find My Device feature on both systems.
5. Disable Geolocation in Browsers
I’m sure that you noticed that various websites are asking you if they can see your location to offer you localized service. This can make your life a bit easier as you don’t have to fill in your address all the time.
But then again, you’re telling them exactly where you are at that time. This is obviously problematic for people conscious of their privacy.
You can easily stop browsers and websites on both desktop and mobile devices by going into settings and switching geolocation off for single websites and apps or altogether.
6. Turn on the Airplane Mode
Enabling the airplane mode is the easiest way to hide your location on your mobile device. However, it will render your phone useless as you won’t be able to connect to the internet.
This is more of a short-term fix than a long-term solution as you obviously need the internet connection to use your phone to the full extent.
How Do I Make My VPN Undetectable?
Hiding your location with a VPN is one thing, but how do you hide the fact that you’re using a VPN in the first place?
When you’re connected via a VPN, your ISP will know the fact that you’re using a VPN from your data. But if you connect to a masked server, your data packets will be altered and nobody will notice that you are using a VPN (unless your data packets are manually checked).
No one will be able to tell that you are using a VPN and therefore no app, website, or institution will block you.