Changing Your IP Address Online

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If you spend any amount of time online then there's almost certainly been a point where you've discovered that the internet isn't quite as unrestricted as you imagined.  Indeed it's been some years since the internet was pretty much open and slowly more and more blocks, filters and restrictions have appeared.

The sources are from many places, of course many of the blocks that affect millions of people are instigated by our governments - 'for our own good'.  The definition of what's bad for us will vary widely depending on your location.  For example in most Western democracies if it's not illegal generally you'll be able to access although this is isn't 100 the case.  If you're in a country run by some sort of authoritative regime then things will be much more restricted.  Places like China, Thailand and Saudi Arabia filter and block huge sections of the internet based on religious, cultural and political opinions too.

There are less sinister filters happening too, commercial consideration and copyright laws will also be responsible for blocking out huge parts of the internet.  Again these are usually dependent on where you log onto the web from.  The practice is commonly referred to as geo-blocking, restricting access based on your physical location - e.g try and watch the BBC from anywhere outside the UK and you'll see what happens.

It can get very frustrating and it's only likely to increase on all fronts.  The internet gets a little more segmented and locked down every passing year.  Fortunately there are several solutions which can unlock the internet almost completely irrespective of your location.   Indeed you can get very basic services designed to watch a single station ranging to sophisticated services which can offer both residential and rotating proxies to use.

For the geo-blocking there's a simple fix and that's just to switch your IP address as required.  All these blocks are based by looking up the origin of your address.  If you're able to change it then those blocks will no longer apply to you.

Here's a video demonstrating one method to changing your IP address online, it's a few years old but is perfectly relevant today.

This illustrates the concept perfectly, if you change the 'perceived' location of your IP address then you should be able to remove any country specific blocks.  This does rely on certain factors, if a site is restricted to US only then you'll need to connect via a US server and so on.  It should be noted that when you're connected to a VPN to that country all your other browsing will be affected too.  So for example if someone in the UK was connected to a US VPN to watch Netflix then they'd get different search results too.  A google search for plumbers would get US based ones instead of UK - not much more than an inconvenience but   certainly worth remembering.

Remember your IP address doesn't actually change at all, this is almost impossible to achieve without owning your own ISP.  All these services do is hide your true location by replacing your real IP address with the VPN server's address.  You can't actually buy a UK IP address or a US one to use directly on your PC as it simply won't work.

The world of VPNs and proxies is becoming increasingly important as the wholesale censorship of the internet increases.  There is little to suspect that this trend will do anything other than accelerate in the years to come.   As our lives move more and more online,both the increase in censorship and the risks to our privacy will increases.   Simply put a secure VPN service can actually solve both issues relatively easily.

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Smart DNS to Unlock Netflix

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For anyone who travels a lot or perhaps has moved to live in another country then Geo Blocks are a real issue.   I'm talking about those annoying messages you're likely to  get when you try and access something on YouTube or perhaps watch a programme on the BBC iPlayer site.  It will be something like - 'sorry this is not available in your country' as you click the play button.

You can get these messages on just about every decent media website on the internet, depending on where you happen to be.   For example you can't access the BBC, ITV or Channel 4 from outside the UK.  The same thing happens to the best US media sites when you're outside the USA.   If you travel around these blocks will change except if you're somewhere a little obscure or exotic when you'll probably be blocked from everything,

There is a solution of course, and it's one literally millions of expats across the world have been using for many years.  It involves hiding your real location in order to watch whatever you want want.  It's why you'll find thousands of  British expats happily watching the news on their laptop or US citizens enjoying NBC when travelling abroad.  The solution though has several distinct methods although most of them accomplish the same aim - to hide where you are.  Here we'll look at a popular one called Smart DNS in order to watch the US version of Netflix.

Using Smart DNS to Unlock Netflix

Now for the last couple of years Netflix has been available in most countries in the world.  Gone are the days when you'd visit somewhere and find your account simply stopped working. The media site is now available in over 190 different countries, so it's unlikely you'll ever be completely blocked.

However there is still a huge issue in that all these versions of Netflix are not the same.  In fact depending on where you are the films and shows you can access on Netflix vary greatly.  The best by far is the US version followed probably by the Canadian one.   These versions of Netflix have loads more movies and TV programmes plus they have much more up to date content.  For example you'll find a movie will appear on US version of Netflix and never be released on the other versions.  Also you'll find full versions of popular box sets on the US version of Netflix and cut down release in other locations.

When you see the US version of Netflix you'll appreciate why people go to so much effort to watch it.  Here's one of the methods they use in this video  

It's actually very easy to use, all you do is to change your DNS servers to use Smart DNS.  Then whenever you visit one of these geo-restricted sites like Netflix it redirects your connection through an intermediate server in the correct country. This makes it look like you're in the right country and hence the website will work perfectly.

Using Smart DNS to Unlock Netflix doesn't work like a VPN which routes your entire connection through an intermediate server.  In fact it only does enough to hide your location, the rest of the stream comes directly to your computer.

There's another huge advantage to using Smart DNS too.  So because it doesn't require any software, you can effectively enable it on any device you like.  For example simply access the network settings on Smart phones, TVs, Games consoles and tablets and you can stream US Netflix to any of these.  A VPN is more difficult to set up and almost impossible to do so on devices like TVs and consoles.

The drawback is that there are very few of these solutions which actually work with Netflix anymore as they've instigated some pretty high tech blocks.  Fortunately there are a couple of solutions which still work - Identity Cloaker is one of the few VPN services that still work and below you'll find the only reliable Smart DNS service which works with Netflix.

Which you use depends really on your requirements, you'll get no security if you use Smart DNS remember.  The programs like Identity Cloaker are more adaptable and you can use them for lots of different purposes.  For example you can configure the VPN client to switch between rotating and residential proxies automatically, which is really useful for many online tasks.  For just watching TV though these features don't really help much.

Here's a free trial but you should be warned that the Netflix functionality is not enabled in the trial version simply because it's so expensive to set up and to prevent abuse.  All the rest works though so you can use it to stream the BBC or an American channel to test it out first.

Free Trial of Smart DNS Proxy

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Rotating and Residential Proxies

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Proxies used to be primarily used in business and education networks as gateways to applications and internet access. A normal configuration would have a proxy server hard coded as a gateway for any internet traffic from a client PC. Backed up by your browser configuration, this meant that all internet access could be monitored and controlled by the company's network administrators by routing it through the proxy. Although this function still exists, proxies also now have a myriad of uses in other sectors too. Many people use them to provide a level of anonymity and privacy, others use them to enable money making tools which require multiple connections. Ever heard of Sneaker Bots or Ticket Bots? These are examples of software which simply won't run without a selection of proxies to route them through. A sneaker bot for example is a piece of software which allows you to make multiple applications for the latest sneakers online -
rotating and residential proxies
Here's an example of one of them called Soleslayer, but there are many more. The idea is that it's very difficult to obtain the latest sneakers online you have to be very lucky and persistent. Soleslayer and their ilk will allow you to automate the process of applying for them and making multiple applications with multiple identities. Some people use them because they're desperate to make sure they get the latest pair, others try and buy as many as possible and sell off at a huge profit. Ticket bots are similar but directed at buying tickets for things like concerts and sporting events. It can be a frustrating experience doing it manually as anyone who's spent many hours trying to get tickets for some mega popular event will know all too well. The problem is to make these 'bots' work properly they need to make multiple connections and if they all come from the same IP address those addresses get blocked or banned very quickly. So you need a way to spread the connections from different addresses - which is where the residential proxies come in.

The Role of Rotating and Residential Proxies

So a proxy server can hide your location by forwarding and receiving your request. However a standard proxy server will only have one or two IP addresses too so they will get blocked too. The other issue is that most commercial proxy servers have 'commercially' classified IP address ranges which is another way that websites block suspicious transactions. So to make these bot's work you need two things:  
  • To make a large number of connections from different IP addresses.
  • These IP addresses must be classified as 'residential'
The bots must be either configured with a large number of proxy servers with residential IP addresses which can be changed with each new connection or the proxy must be capable of rotating it's own configuration and IP addresses.  There are solutions from a few providers where you can find rotating proxies and even buy rotating residential proxies.
Both these scenarios are actually available, and many people use them to enable these bots and various other money making tools.   The difficult bit is definitely obtaining the residential IP addresses, commercial ones are simple as these are allocated freely to datacentres and websites.  Residential proxies are much harder to obtain as these IP addresses are normally only assigned from ISPs to home customers.
A few companies have set up networks of these addresses and you have some options to buy residential proxies.  Although some by fairly dubious means like the Illuminati network which is actually piggybacking off home users connections who are using the free version of a VPN service called Hola without reading the small print!  There are huge security risks to using these, especially if you have to put in any financial information or usernames whilst using the,   You're much safer finding a company who have dedicated proxies which they actually own.
Personally I wouldn't want to route any sort of details through unsuspecting PC users so I'd never use that network.  If you do have the need for some seriously fast residential proxies then may I suggest the following company - check them out they have a serious network set up with thousands of residential IP addresses and even some sophisticated residential backconnect proxies.

Try out Storm Proxies

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High Speed Anonymous Proxies

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If you're looking for proxies online, then it's best to be very clear what you want them for.  That's because although there are many sources for proxies in many cases they're not very suitable.  First of all it's best to rule out the most popular source - free ones.

high speed anonymous proxies

This is because there's a several  big problems with using free proxies which means the only people who do use them are broke school kids who desperately want to access some site blocked by their campus network.   So what are these issues?  

Why There are No Free High Speed Anonymous Proxies

Running a proxy and the bandwidth it requires costs money.  If it's free someone, somewhere is paying this. Perhaps you think it's some wealthy, philanthropist who values free speech and liberty so much they are prepared to pay for these servers for anonymous individuals to download porn in secret.  Sounds feasible? No, at least if you're not over twelve years old, of course it isn't.  There are two main reasons a proxy server might be free -

  • It's been mistakenly left accessible by some inept administrator.  Thus anyone can use it to bounce their connection through.  However this is risky as you're using it illegally and you'll be easily tracked down.  It's also probably not very secure if it's been left open in the first place.
  • It's been hacked and deliberately left open for people to use.  Yes it could be some freedom fighting hacking group, but it's more likely to be left open in order to steal usernames and passwords from the people using it.
And as far as high speed anonymous proxies, well these free servers will never be fast because they are always completely overloaded within hours. They're picked up by the proxy scrapers and posted up on websites across the internet.  They're are a few free commercial proxy/vpn services but they also try and make money out of you too.  Generally you'll either get swamped with adverts or like Hola they'll use your own internet connection for their paying customers to generate income.  If you want untold individuals downloading dodgy  porn through your registered  IP address then this is the option to take.

So if you want to be anonymous, secure and safe and not reduce your internet speed to 20th century levels then you have a couple of options but I'm afraid both cost some money.  If you're technically minded and don't mind running your own, then rent some server space and install either Glype or  some remote access software.  A simple proxy server like Glype will be fine for switching your address to use things like SEO tools or mass posters. In reality real technical knowledge and your own restricted server, is the ideal high anonymous proxies scenario. Although running your own service takes a little effort and some money you do have control over your connection and if you configure it properly then a decent level of anonymity on a dedicated server.

If your goal is to bypass region locks and access sites that are normally blocked due to your location then you're probably best investing in one of the VPN services that are available.  You'll need to ensure that you have a server in each country you require so for example to access the BBC you'll need to buy UK proxy  for it to work. Here's a demonstration of my favorite one in action:

Which site you want to access is crucial here and why running your own anonymous proxy or VPN service is more difficult. For example, the BBC blocks lots of VPN services automatically by blacklisting IP address ranges. Netflix requires that your IP address is assigned from a residential pool which are extremely hard to acquire. The bigger VPN companies like Identity Cloaker accommodate these requirements and switch out their addresses as required.

So if you're looking for something fast, secure and easy to use then using a service like Identity Cloaker is probably your best option.

You can try the 10 day trial out here and see how well it works.

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High Anonymous Proxies

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Have you ever heard people ask online about where they can find high anonymous proxies? Even asking the question sounds like you've got something to hide. The reality is that there are many genuine reasons for trying to increase the level of privacy you have online.

First of all, though you should now that there is no exact definition of what constitutes a high anonymity proxy despite what you might read. There are sites and indeed scraper tools which look for usable proxies online and then classify them by levels of anonymity, however most of these are very arbitrary and have little technical justification. It's important to realise just because you see someone describe a proxy as secure or elite, doesn't mean it is.
high anonymous proxies
The Star Trek anonymous  landing crew

In fact some years ago I analysed some proxies which were listed by a popular proxy classification website, and many of the highly secure proxies were pretty much wide open. Some were even hacked servers which has been taken over by hacking groups in order to pinch personal details. Whereas the classification referred to how easily the proxy was detectable from the target website they didn't take into account it might have been run by groups of cyber thieves!

Often though the primary requirement of a proxy is for people just wanting to hide their IP address. The web is unfortunately full of websites which block and censor based on your location. A proxy server is one method that can be used to hide your real location and instead present the address of the proxy server. High anonymous proxies were generally defined as those which didn't pass on any information in the form of meta tags or information which would identify the existence of a proxy.

The reality is that proxies are of limited use in both maintaining your privacy and in circumventing region locks and restrictions. Indeed if you use free proxies, you're more likely to risk losing your privacy completely to identity thieves and hackers. There are better options for anonymity than using slow and convoluted systems like TOR.

Forget High Anonymous Proxies

For the ultimate in both anonymity and privacy plus an unmatched ability to bypass region blocks all over the world - watch this video:
The program is called Identity Cloaker and using it you have the ability to connect to a network of fast, secure servers across the world. Using it in a simple one country mode you can access media sites which are normally blocked. For example they have many UK servers which opens up all the online UK television channels like the BBC and ITV etc. The servers are securely configured, very fast and the connections are VPNs encrypted with a 256 bit AES cipher.

However to really ramp up the anonymity and privacy level - leave the encryption at the highest level and tell the program to switch servers automatically every few minutes. This means that you connection will be relayed through a different server without you doing anything, your connection and IP address will be rotated automatically.

There are many more security configuration settings which you can control to reduce the footprint of the VPN (Virtual Private Network) even more.  You can also get it to switch into a residential vpn service although you'll have to ask their support for this.   However in reality setting the encryption level to high and switching between servers every couple of minutes will give you almost complete anonymity online. Remember though to watch region locked content you need to ensure that you're connected to a server in the right country.

So forget those high anonymous proxies and step into the 21st century with Identity Cloaker.  You can try the 10 day trial out here and see how well it works.

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