Modern devices are technological marvels. Between laptops, smartphones, and tablets, we can communicate with someone on the other side of the planet within seconds, keep ourselves entertained in various ways, and even get our work done without going into a physical office space.
Our devices integrate seamlessly with the internet, which allows them to become far more powerful than we could ever imagine. However, sometimes the internet also has its limitations, and our devices are sometimes blocked from accessing content that is locked into a specific region — we’ll discuss geo-blocking in further depth later on!
There is also the risk of cybercriminals with malicious intentions tracing our devices and pinpointing our physical location — which is never a good thing! Luckily though, you can overcome all of these obstacles simply by changing your IP address. Not sure what an IP address is? Keep reading for the full lowdown on what an IP address is! Along the way, we’ll even talk about the best VPNs you can use to change your IP address at the click of a button.
What is an IP address?
Since we’re talking about an IP address, you might be wondering what it is. Before you can understand what we are trying to achieve, we first need to define what an IP address is. It’s essentially a unique string of numbers, separated by periods, that is used to identify your device on the internet. An IP address looks something like this: 192.158. 1.38. One of the important jobs that an IP address has is to provide a website with your device’s physical location.
This allows websites to send you targeted advertisements based on your geographical location. Have you ever wondered how Google can recommend a shop that’s close to your location? Or how your local grocery store sends ads to your social media platforms? They all use your IP address to get that information — and you’ll see how changing your IP address affects these advertisements too.
Websites also use your IP address to determine whether you are allowed to access the content on their site or not. Some content may be subject to geo-blocking restrictions — something you’ll be all too familiar with if you’re a sports fan! Geo-blocking is common when it comes to finding sports live streams, but you may also have encountered geo-blocking when browsing through YouTube or even when trying to access some movies and series on Netflix!
Every platform and website has its reasons for employing geo-blocking, but at the end of the day, it mostly comes down to strict rules that they need to follow. Let’s take major sports streaming platforms such as Sky Sports for example. These media companies need to pay an exponential amount of money to buy the rights to broadcast any sport. Unfortunately, they also have to follow the rules that come with those broadcasting rights — one of which will determine where they are allowed to broadcast their content.
It might seem frustrating, but at the end of the day, the sport needs to have several different buyers rather than one major media company creating a monopoly. This allows the sport to make more money and ultimately gives them more sustainability.
Websites use your IP address to identify your location, and if you are not in the right region you will simply be blocked from accessing their content. This can happen to you even if you’re a paying subscriber. As frustrating as it can be, it’s the unfortunate reality that we need to face.
How to change your IP address
Luckily though, your IP address is not a ball and chain! You can change it with the help of a popular cybersecurity tool. All you need to do is install a virtual private network on your device and you will have the ability to change your IP address at the click of a button!
VPNs allow you to connect to a secure server in another country or city around the world. Once you’re connected, the VPN will hide your real IP address, and your device will adopt the IP address of the server you are connected to.
For example, if you’re in Spain, you can connect to a global server in the United Kingdom. This will trick the website into believing that you are accessing it from the UK, and thus give you access to websites that are only available in the UK. Where you may have had trouble accessing Sky Sports beforehand, you’ll now have full access to any content on their website. You’ll also notice that the Spanish advertisements you have been seeing on your device will be advertisements from the UK instead.
In essence, you have changed your virtual location. While you might be in one country, you can change your device’s location to another country. This is the main function that has made VPNs so popular in recent years as users take advantage of the fact that they can now bypass geo-blocking and access sports streams, and geo-blocked websites, and even gain access to new movies and series on entertainment platforms such as Netflix!
Other benefits of using a VPN
While a VPN is great for disguising your physical location and tricking a website into believing that you are accessing it from elsewhere, it also comes with another advantage. Remember, a VPN is a cybersecurity tool first and foremost.
While your device has a VPN installed and is connected to a server, your internet connection will also be encrypted. This will mask anything that you do on your device, and it will hide your online activity from cyber criminals, your internet service provider, and even the government. This makes a VPN the ultimate tool for privacy and security.
But there’s one more crucial thing to keep in mind! You must use a premium VPN at all times. Free VPNs might sound great, but in reality, they come with a ton of drawbacks that will affect your overall experience. Ultimately, using a free VPN will lead to slower connection speeds, less security, more ads, fewer global servers to connect to, and daily data limits!