There are many different reasons you might want to change your device’s IP address. With any research, using a proxy server will come up as a top solution for accomplishing this. But what is a proxy exactly? In its shortest explanation, a proxy is a go-between for the internet and your device.
This explanation doesn’t give you enough information on why you might want to use a proxy server, what one is, or how to use one safely and smartly. Let’s dive deeper into how a proxy server could improve your online experience.
What Is a Proxy, Really?
When you’re browsing online, your device connects to the websites you see. When this happens, the websites see your IP address.
This causes some privacy concerns. Your IP address reveals your device’s real life location and your internet service provider, at the very least. Effective hackers can use this information to get into your device.
Moreover, many websites are geography based, meaning that they show a different version of their content based on the location of the IP address browsing their site. If a user wants to see their US-based website, they need the website to see a US-based IP address.
Understanding all of this, we circle back to what a proxy is. A proxy is an intermediary between your device and the website you’re browsing. Your device connects to the proxy server, and then to the website. As a negotiator between your device and the site you are browsing, the proxy server shows its IP address to the website you browse.
For example, if you were in France and used a proxy server based in the United Kingdom, the websites you visit would only see the IP address from your proxy server.
They would have no way of knowing your device was actually located in France. You would see the website in question as it is being served to anyone with a United Kingdom IP address. For more information about proxies, visit https://proxyway.com/guides/what-is-a-proxy.
Why People Choose to Use Proxy IP Addresses
There are several different kinds of proxies and they accomplish different things. For example, an elite proxy (also known as a high anonymous proxy) can hide your IP address as well as the fact that you’re even using a proxy.
An anonymous proxy is more common. With this service, the website may notice you are using a proxy, but your true IP address is still hidden. Then there are transparent proxies, which reveal everything.
An anonymous proxy, which provides the user with an IP address, is what most people want to set up on their device. Why?
To browse privately. Some users just don’t want their private information, like their location, shown to every website they visit. They also don’t want their visits tracked.
To get around firewalls or bans. By changing your IP address, you can appear to be a different user or to be a user from another location. This last part may be useful if your school, workplace, or country has firewalls keeping you from seeing certain content. That won’t be a problem if your proxy service shows you are elsewhere.
For work research. Do you need to see the content a website is showing to users in a specific country? Are you logging into clients’ accounts on Facebook or Google, and these sites are saying your IP address is signing in to too many different accounts? A proxy server can solve this problem.
To use video content services, like Netflix or Hulu. The content websites show is often changed based on location. This is especially true for video streaming services like Netflix. When you login to your Netflix account from the United Kingdom, you are seeing content curated for the UK.
This is different from the content a user in the USA, Australia, Mexico, or South Africa may see. With the right proxy, you can watch Netflix based in any of these locations.
How to Use a Proxy on Your Device
Using a proxy is fairly simple. You will sign up with a proxy service and they will walk you through the process, the same as with any other service you might use.
The first trick is to make sure you find a reputable company. You don’t want to just use anything out there claiming to be a proxy server, since you will be connecting to this with your device. While mostly you’ll find real companies out there, be sure to check before signing up.
After signing up for a service, you’ll likely be asked to choose your browser and device. They may ask questions about what you would like to do, like whether you want to connect with the same IP address every time or switch often.
You will also be asked about where you would like your proxy to be based. Most companies offer proxies located in many locations around the world.
All in all, it will likely take someone approximately ten minutes to sign up and start using a proxy server to use a service like Netflix or other service where it would be best to use an IP address based in another location.