How to browse anonymously

Updated July 11, 2018

Websites you visit gather information about you all of the time, ranging from your location through to the browser and computer you use. There are numerous reasons you might not want this information to be collected, and thankfully there are several options available for masking your identity online. Basic tips like not logging into search engines, using the privacy function on your browser and changing your IP address can help, but for true anonymity you need to go further. It’s best to use software packages, public proxy servers or web-based proxy sites to stay incognito on the internet.

Free proxy software

Download a free proxy program such as Tor, Freegate or FreeProxy (see Resources). Install your chosen program – accept the terms and conditions and click “Next” through the screens. With Tor, you download a package of software that contains everything you need. One bonus of Freegate, for example is that it doesn’t even require an installation – you can run it straight from the download.

Right-click the Tor icon in the bottom-right of your screen and click “Start” from the menu if you’ve chosen to use Tor. Browse the web as you ordinarily would. Everything is bounced around numerous servers to keep your identity anonymous. Choosing the “New Identity” option after clicking the icon changes your Tor details to make you even more difficult to track.

Run Freegate if you’ve chosen that option. Simply open an Internet Explorer window and start browsing as normal. Other browsers require configuration (see section below), so Internet Explorer is the easiest option.

See Resources for a detailed guide regarding the use of FreeProxy. This is a good program but requires some configuration before it’s ready to use.

Public Proxies

Visit a website such as Public Proxy Servers or Atom InterSoft which list public proxies (see Resources). These (like the software versions) simple re-route your internet connection through another location to protect your identity. Choose a server (higher percentage of “uptime” is better), and take down the IP address and port numbers (ip:port).

Open your browser’s “Options” screen. On Internet Explorer, go to “Tools” then “Internet Options” and click the “LAN Settings” button. Tick the box beside “Use a proxy server for your LAN” and type the IP address you noted down and the port number into the “Address” and “Port” fields. Tick the “Bypass proxy server for local addresses” if you’re happy to be identified on your home network (it will still be active when you go online). Press “OK” to finish.

Click the “Firefox” icon in the top corner of the browser if you’re using it instead of Internet Explorer. Go to “Options” and “Options” again to open the window. In the “Advanced” tab, choose “Network” and then “Settings.” Select the radio button beside “Manual proxy configuration” and enter the details (as in step above). Press “OK” and “OK” again to finish.


Visit a website such as Anonymouse, the Cloak or Hide My Ass (see Resources) which offer online proxy servers. You have to browse from within the website itself, however, and these can be somewhat slower than your ordinary connection.

Type in the URL you wish to visit in the field provided. Many sites have additional options such as SSL security (encryption), and these can be configured as required.

Browse as you ordinarily would. Remember that you can’t change the information in the address bar, and websites might not display correctly.

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About the Author

Lee Johnson has written for various publications and websites since 2005, covering science, music and a wide range of topics. He studies physics at the Open University, with a particular interest in quantum physics and cosmology. He's based in the UK and drinks too much tea.