Benefits of Hiding Your IP Address When Streaming
Your IP address reveals a lot of information about you and your online activities.
An IP address serves as a home address for your internet connection, and it uniquely identifies the device that you are using to access the internet. Importantly, your IP address allows websites and services to locate and communicate with your devices.
When you access streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Amazon, and others, they log your IP address in order to identify your location, monitor your usage, and serve you relevant content.This is great for customizing your streaming experience, but there are some solid reasons why streamers may choose to hide or mask their IP address when using these services.
Let’s take a look at these reasons so that you can decide if you, too, want to hide your IP address when streaming online content.
What’s an IP Address?
The “IP” in IP Address stands for “Internet Protocol.” It is a unique sequence of numbers that identifies a device that is connected to the internet.
This protocol is what allows devices to locate one another and communicate with each other.
A public IP address is assigned by your internet service provider (ISP), and a private IP address is typically used within a single household or business network.
Every website that you access can see and record your public IP address in order to identify your device, as well as your general location. IP addresses allow packets of data to be sent back and forth successfully, reaching their correct destination.
Why streamers may want to hide their IP Address
There are a few key reasons why someone who regularly streams music, videos, tV shows, or movies online would be motivated to hide or mask their public IP address. The reasons vary from person to person, and not every potential issue affects every streamer. But one or more of these reasons may be enough for you to decide to mask your IP address while streaming.
Privacy & Anonymity
Some streamers want to keep their viewing habits private. When you access streaming platforms, they log details like your IP address, viewing history, duration and timing of watching, and other usage data.
In these instances, your IP address functions as an identifier so that they can curate the content you access based on your behaviors online.
For any number of reasons, streamers may not like the idea of companies knowing their every move. Using incognito mode can help, but it’s not enough to provide real anonymity. Hiding your IP address is a more effective method of creating a private streaming experience.
Accessing Content in Other Regions
Complicated licensing agreements govern what streaming platforms can offer – and where they can offer it. Your streaming experience is affected by what country or region you are in at the time.
Changing or masking your IP address is a strategy that some streamers use to bypass geographic restrictions on content, thus accessing more shows and movies that may not be available in your current region.
For example, Netflix has different libraries in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, Asia, and other regions. In order to access shows and movies from a different region, streamers may use a VPN to change their IP address. Importantly, this is against the Terms of Service for most streaming platforms, and they may cut off your access if they detect the use of a VPN.
Avoid Bandwidth Throttling
Your ISP sees the traffic that comes in and out of your public IP address. If you use streaming heavily, you may exceed your monthly data cap. This is surprisingly easy to do, especially if you share an IP address with other family members or people in your network.
Working from home, joining a lot of video meetings, kids streaming content for fun, gaming, and other everyday internet activities can take up a lot of data!
Excess usage of your streaming bandwidth could prompt your ISP to throttle your connection speeds, which can be inconvenient, frustrating, and even detrimental to your work, education, or enjoyment.
If you mask your IP address, that prevents your ISP from identifying your streaming activity when applying streaming limits.
How to Hide Your IP Address When Streaming
If you want to keep your IP address hidden from streaming platforms, ISPs, and other parties, you have a few great options.
Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) encrypts your internet traffic and masks your IP address. Instead of connecting directly to a streaming platform, you will first connect through a VPN server. The streaming service sees and records the VPN’s server, not yours.
With a VPN, you can choose your server’s location, which makes it a great option for accessing region-restricted content. The only significant drawbacks are that some platforms will detect VPNs and shut down their access to content, and VPNs can impact your internet speed.
The Tor browser conceals your IP address by routing your web traffic through multiple relay servers before the data reaches its final destination.
This provides anonymity for the streamer, but the focus of the Tor browser is not accessing regionally-blocked content. The biggest downside to using the Tor browser is that it slows down your connection speed significantly, which makes it frustrating to stream large videos.
Streaming platforms use DNS lookups to block content based on geographic region. When you connect to a SmartDNS, it overrides those DNS lookups. It provides a region-appropriate IP address based on what you need to unlock content.
Using a SmartDNS doesn’t provide anonymity, and it doesn’t change your IP. Instead, it reroutes traffic by changing your DNS setting on the device that you are using or the router. This is a great way to gain access to regionally-restricted streaming without slowing down your internet speed.
A seedbox is a private remote server that is used to download files from peer-to-peer networks. Instead of torrenting directly from your IP address, the seedbox lets you torrent anonymously. You will securely stream the downloaded content from the seedbox’s IP address to your home device.
The benefits of using a seedbox include anonymity, faster speeds than a VPN, constant uptime, and a lack of security. Drawbacks include the fact that seedboxes are complicated to set up, cost money to run, and have a storage limit.
The Wrap-up: Benefits of Hiding Your IP Address
These are the important takeaways to remember about hiding your IP address while streaming:
- Hiding your IP address helps you maintain your privacy, as streaming platforms can’t tie your viewing history and habits to your specific identity, location, or device.
- Unlocking more content that isn’t available in your geographic region expands your entertainment library by a lot!
- Your ISP can’t see your streaming bandwidth usage if you hide your IP address, which prevents them from throttling your usage.
Hiding your true public IP address when streaming video, music, and more can be beneficial for your privacy, your security, and your ability to access more content online. VPNs offer the best all-around option for concealing your IP address, although there are other options if you don’t want to go the VPN route.
With your IP address hidden, you are free to stream and download content without being tracked, profiled, throttled, or geo-blocked.
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