What is a VPN?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a private network of servers that is commonly used by individuals and businesses to surf the Internet securely and prevent tracking/spying. VPNs allow data traveling through the network to be encrypted and tunneled for a combination of security features that are tough to beat.
In addition to this, many advanced VPNs require authentication with “certificates” by users before they can access the network which means it’s impossible to imitate your computer’s IP and credentials, and impossible to imitate you.
How does a VPN work?
There are a number of different technologies that VPNs use to increase the security of the network, including the use of Internet Protocol Security (IPSec), Transport Layer Security (which involves tunneling and can bypass firewall rules), OpenVPN, and Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP) which are also tunneling protocols.
Not all VPNs use these protocols, and you’ll see other terms around like PPTP, L2TP, IKEv2, and more. If you’re interested in this stuff, there’s a lot of information available. But don’t worry, you don’t have to understand all this technical jargon to change IP address using a VPN.
It is possible to change IP address using VPN just by connecting to the VPN server. Depending on what your operating system is, and which VPN protocol you choose, you may or may not have to install third part software. Either way, after setup, connecting to the VPN server is as simple as choosing a location and hitting “connect”.
What can a VPN do?
The VPN server allocates IP addresses to computers on the network, so once connected you’ll get an IP address from the location you chose. You can change IP address to any country or city location that the VPN provider makes available to you. These locations will depend on the VPN provider and package plan you choose.
Many VPN providers are available online, charging varying rates, and offering varying levels of services. Some VPN providers have a large number of potential IP addresses that you can use, in many different countries. These allow you to change IP address using a VPN as frequently as you desire, free of charge.
Some providers target users looking to access entertainment sites like Hulu and BBC iPlayer, and some advertise to those who want high security or anonymity while browsing the internet. This is dependent on the provider, but regardless, all VPNs pretty much produce the same results.
Most VPN services allow you to change IP address regularly and automatically. Changing the IP address assigned to your computer requires no input from you. In fact, most VPN providers change the IP address assigned to your computer each time you log onto, or off the network.
Advantages of Using a VPN instead of a proxy
Proxies also allow for a change of IP, but VPNs provide a few advantages when comparing the two. First and foremost changing your IP address with a VPN means better security. VPNs in general, are also more reliable. You’ll drop fewer connections and expose your real IP less often. Another huge advantage is that software and programs running on your computer will also use the IP provided by your VPN connection, while many proxies are web based only.
This means that your virtual IP is not limited to browsing, but also works with VOIP programs such as Skype, online gaming, messaging programs, and other software that uses an internet connection. The data you send through these is as secure as data you send through a web browser.
This can be confusing to a new user, but it shouldn’t be. Most VPN providers will have PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN available. Some will have SSTP. It can be broken down like this:
Your basic VPN is PPTP. Installation is the easiest and connection speed is the fastest, but it’s also the least secure. L2TP is an upgrade for PPTP, and users looking for high security on mobile devices like smart phones should use L2TP. Mobile devices can also use PPTP.
OpenVPN can’t be used on most mobile devices, but it’s also the most secure. This would be a good choice for someone looking to change their IP address using a VPN with a higher level of security and anonymity. It uses SSL encryption, which is the same encryption you trust when you make online purchases with your credit card. You’ve got to install it because it’s third party software, but most VPN services have simplified this process to make it possible to complete in just a few clicks.
SSTP offers similar levels of security to OpenVPN, but is a Microsoft product and only works with Vista,Win 7, and Win 8.
Below are the top three VPN providers to help you change IP address. I’ve written a bit about each provider to help you better understand the kind of service they provide.
Top Three VPN Services
Hide My Ass
Hide My Ass is extremely popular among VPN users. They have a lot of FREE online anonymity tools including a free web based proxy, free anonymous file sharing, free anonymous email, and more. Of course, free tools have their limitations, and they do provide paid services including anonymous surfing software, and a ProVPN package that puts other services to shame. The most popular product is this ProVPN package because for $6.55 per month, you get access to almost 2,000 different IP addresses across 32 countries and 150+ servers. An amazing package, for an amazing price. This includes support and a 30 day money back guarantee.
12VPN is another great choice. They’ve got a much simpler site, and a “no frills” attitude. Their in the top three for a couple reasons. Their customer support is top notch – always fast, and always helpful and friendly. In addition to this, the offer the most types of VPN protocols of any VPN service provider, so whatever your device, they can help you change IP address using a VPN. If you’ve got something other than Windows, Linux, Mac, iOS or Android, you might have a hard time getting a proper VPN from other services.
VyprVPN probably has the fastest VPN connection of these three providers. They’re owned by Golden Frog which provides a few other online services as well. The VPN they provide is clearly dedicated to functionality and speed, and you can expect nothing but a very reliable connection from their VPN servers.