How to Find Your Public IP Address

You public IP address is the address visible from outside your network. Most people don’t need to know their IP address except for very specific reasons, but fortunately, it’s extremely easy to figure out.

You might need your public, or external IP address, when you’re remoting into your computer when away from home, or when you’re sharing files from your FTP server, or connecting your network to a custom DNS service.

No matter the reason for needing to know your IP
address, there are multiple ways to find it. You can use anything from a simple
website to find your IP address to your computer’s command line utility or your
router.

IP Address Finding Websites

The easiest way to find your external IP address
is most definitely to use a website dedicated to doing just that. These
websites are using their own tools to locate your IP address, and they’re just
one click away from helping you.

Here’s a list of several websites that can find
your public IP address:

Tip: Some of these websites show other helpful information,
too, such as your web browser, your local IP address, and even your physical
location.

Find Your IP Address From the Command Line

Windows users can use a DNS request within
Command Prompt to locate their public IP address. Just open Command Prompt and
execute this command:

nslookup myip.opendns.com. resolver1.opendns.com

You’ll first see results from the DNS server but then another set of results at the bottom. Your IP address is listed below the line that says Name: myip.opendns.com.

If you get any kind of error when running this command, try doing just opendns.com. (remove the myip.), which should give you the IP address of opendns.com. Then run the command again using the myip. part in the front.

A similar command can be used to find your
public IP address in PowerShell:

$tmp =Invoke-WebRequest -URI http://myip.dnsomatic.com/

After entering that command, enter $tmp.Content
to see the result.

If you’re using Linux, try this command from a
terminal window:

dig +short myip.opendns.com
@resolver1.opendns.com

Locate the IP Address From Your Router or Modem

Your router and modem is what sits between your
device and the internet, so it needs to know the IP address your ISP has
assigned to your network. This means you can use your own device to find your
public IP address.

Finding the external IP address from a modem or router is not as easy as using the methods above, but it’s definitely possible. The problem with this method is that you need to know how to log in to your router to see all the settings, which is something many people don’t normally do because they don’t know their password or the router’s IP address.

Most routers can be accessed via the http://192.168.1.1 URL, but others use a different private IP address. Once you know the correct address for your router, you need access to the router’s login information so that you can access the administrative console.

If you’ve made it this far, finding the IP
address should be relatively easy. You can look in a section like Device Info,
Management, Setup, WAN, etc. The IP address itself might be called WAN IP
address, External Address, Public IP, or something of that sort.

How to Stop Your IP Address From Changing

Because of the way ISPs assign IP addresses, your public IP address will likely change at some point in the future. This means that the address you find using one of the methods above, will not be the same address you find a few weeks from now, or maybe even sooner.

While you, as a customer of your ISP, can’t technically force your IP address to stay the same, you can implement what’s called a dynamic DNS service to essentially create that effect.

A dynamic DNS service assigns a name to your IP
address, while at the same time updating its record of what your IP address is.
It does this each time the address changes, effectively giving you one hostname
(like a website URL) that you can use to refer to your public IP address.

Once you’ve assigned yourself a hostname, you
can access your network at any time through that name, which in turn is
actually accessing your network through the public IP address. Again, you don’t
need to know your new IP address each time your ISP changes it because the
service does that for you. All you need is the hostname!

Can You Change or Hide Your IP Address?

By default, your public IP address is visible by
nearly anyone. Each website you visit can see it, your ISP knows what it is,
and people snooping on your network from the street can figure it out. What’s
the best way to hide or mask your IP address?

A VPN, or virtual private network, is by far the easiest and most effective way to keep prying eyes from seeing your public IP address. What a VPN does is create a tunnel from your network to the VPN service, thereby preventing your ISP or anyone on your local network from spying on you.

What this does is force the website you’re on to see the VPN’s address instead of your own, which basically hides your identity on the internet. That is, so long as the VPN service doesn’t reveal your IP address to anyone, which is why you wanted to pick a trusted VPN provider.

There are lots of VPNs to choose from, both free and paid. Some have more or better features and privacy than others, so be sure to take your time researching the best VPN services before choosing one to hide your IP address. If you need to, make sure to check that the VPN connection is actually encrypted before moving forward with a subscription.

See our list of VPN apps you can use to protect your privacy while on a desktop or mobile device.

Use Google Location Sharing to Keep Track of Loved Ones

It seems hard to imagine now, but not too long ago, you couldn’t simply get in touch with someone anytime you wanted to. Once your child, spouse or friend was out of sight, you literally had no way of knowing if anything was wrong until long after the fact.

The mobile phone made that a thing of the past, but smartphones have taken the ability to keep tabs on the people you care about to the next level.

Whether you have an Android or iOS device, you can now permanently share your location with another person and have them do the same for you.

What this means is you can check where they are at any time using the Google Maps app or by visiting the website. Most importantly, you’ll always be able to see their last known location as well as how much battery life is left in their phone.

Obviously, iPhone users can use apps like Find Phone or Find Friends, which are a better option than Google Maps, but it’s still worth knowing. For Android users, this is a great option.

Sharing a Location Through Google
Maps

Before anyone can share their location, both
people need to have a Google account and be in one another’s contact list. This
will happen automatically if either of you have ever sent each other an email
or Hangouts message.

Since your mobile device is something that can be tracked, you can only do this from your phone. If you go to this feature on the website, you can only view the locations that have been shared with you. Whether you’re on iOS or Android, the process is essentially identical.

First, open the Google Maps App. Note that you have to be signed in for location sharing to work.

Now tap the menu hamburger icon at the far left.

Choose Location Sharing > Add People. It’s the little icon that looks like a plus next to a little person.

Now choose how long you would like to share your location for. By default, it’s set to one hour.

Then tap Select People.

Type the email address of the person you want to share your location with into this box.

Once you have chosen the right person and confirm, they’ll see your real time location in their Google Maps app. Now you’ll never have to worry about where your loved ones are again!

Note that in order for this to all work, you’ll need to change a couple of settings on your phone. On your iPhone, you’ll need to give the Google Maps app location access Always and you’ll need to turn on Background App Refresh.

Once you do that, then the other person will be able to view your location continuously until the sharing is turned off. If the other person has not shared their location with you, that will be indicated on the screen. You can tap the Request button to have them share their location.

Note that nefarious people who might get their hands on your phone can turn this on without your consent. You can always tell when your location is being shared if you see the location arrow in the upper section of your phone on the home screen.

To check and see which app is using your location, go to Settings – Privacy – Location Services and scroll down until you see the app that has a filled in purple location icon.

This means that app has recently used your location. You can then go in and check to make sure location sharing is off if desired. You’ll also be able to see who it is you were sharing your location with and hopefully catch them. Enjoy!

4 Simple and Easy Ways to Secure Windows 10

Windows 10 represents three decades of development and as an operating system it’s pretty polished by now. That doesn’t mean, though, that when you boot up a fresh copy of this operating system, it’s perfect in every way.

Windows 10 still needs some tweaking to really offer a good level of security. On top of this, Windows 10 is now also a cloud service, which means that Microsoft now also wants to collect and sell your information.

Unless you do something about it, you’ll be sending oodles of private information to Redmond. Depending on your personal level of comfort, that might be a significant security and privacy issue. Which brings us to our first tip.

Use a Windows 10 Privacy Tool

Microsoft hasn’t made it easy to disable some
of its info-gathering features. There’s plenty to play with in the privacy
settings, but most users don’t even know all the different ways that Windows 10
can spy on users or what happens with that information.

The good news is that there is now a whole
list of specialized tools that only exist to help you tweak privacy settings in
the world’s most widely-used operating system. 
Most of them are free and also let you tweak things Microsoft may not
want you to mess with.

A great example is the delightfully-named O&O ShutUp 10, which bills itself as an “antispy” tool for Windows 10. Whether you consider every toggle it offers an issue or not, it’s certainly a convenient way to take control of the Windows 10 experience.

Ditch Windows Defender

The included antivirus package for Windows 10 is a welcome feature that keeps millions of users who wouldn’t know any better from getting infected with all sorts of nasties. However, if you’d like to take a more active role in your security and would like to catch a wider variety of malware, then a third-party program is your best bet.

There are both free and paid choices. Some tackle everything and others only catch specific types of malware. If you are happy with Windows Defender, but would simply like to supplement it, then something like Malwarebytes is a good choice.

Encrypt Your Hard Drive

Encrypting your hard drive is one of the best security improvements you can make to a Windows 10 PC. It means that if anyone gets their hands on your hard drive, they’ll have no way to actually view the data because it has been strongly encrypted.

In some cases, your hard drive will be automatically encrypted after installing Windows 10, but if not, you can manually enable BitLocker, Microsoft’s native encryption solution. It’s pretty powerful, but you need a motherboard with a TPM module for it to work. If your computer doesn’t have one, you’ll need to use a USB drive to host the decryption key.

If that doesn’t strike your fancy, then a third-party solution such as VeraCrypt will do the job nicely too. Once encrypted, you’ll be sleeping much better at night.

Push UAC To the Max

Windows UAC or User Account Control is a feature of the operating system that warns you whenever a change is made to your computer. For example, when you try to install a new program, UAC will dim the screen and ask you to OK the installation before it runs the software.

By default, UAC will only bug you when you do
something major or when an installed application wants to make a significant
change to your PC. However, there is one higher level of security above the
default, that will warn you for a wider range of changes. This means you’ll
catch hackers and malicious web software that try to hack your machine.

For most people the default setting is just fine, but if you are adventurous, visit all sorts of weird websites and download software to try just for fun, then this is a fast way to protect yourself. All you need to do in order to access the UAC settings is press the Windows Key and search for “UAC”.

Battening Down the Hatches

As it stands today, Windows 10 is an excellent operating system with fantastic security support from Microsoft. However, it’s good to know that you can still control the product you paid for when it comes to how much the developer can poke their nose into your system.

It also never hurts to polish some of the rougher security features against external threats. So here’s to a more secure computing experience for everyone!

Use a Custom Chat Wallpaper in WhatsApp for Android

The rise of WhatsApp as a global instant messaging platform has been phenomenal. WhatsApp has half a billion users globally, which is probably why Facebook was happy to pay over $19b for the company in 2014.

That means a lot of people are spending a lot of time in the WhatsApp app for mobile phones. So why not spruce up the rather drab design with a wallpaper of your own choosing?

That’s right, you can actually pick a wallpaper of your choice to serve as the backdrop of your chat window. It’s pretty easy to do as well! The only downside is that you can’t pick individual wallpapers for each chat, which would have been a great feature.

Perhaps the developers will one day decide to add it to the iOS and Android apps, although individual wallpapers seem to be possible on Windows Phone handsets. Here’s how to change your WhatsApp wallpaper on Android phones.

Change a WhatsApp Chat Wallpaper

The first thing you need to do is open Whatsapp and tap on any chat.

Tap the three dots at the top right corner of the screen and then tap Wallpaper.

You’ll see a list of sources for your wallpaper. If you pick the official wallpaper library, you’ll be taken to the Play store to install the wallpaper pack. In this case we are just going to pick a wallpaper from the Pinterest gallery on our phone.

The choice is of course completely up to you. Note that you can have no wallpaper at all or just reset it to the default by choosing the appropriate options.

For our purposes here, tap Gallery.

Navigate to the image you want to use, then tap your desired picture.

You’ll be taken to the wallpaper preview screen. Pinch to zoom the image and drag to adjust it. Once you are happy with its placement, tap Set.

There you go! Now your Whatsapp experience will be a little bit more enjoyable. Happy chatting!

5 Power User Features in Chrome Everyone Should Know

Google Chrome is one of the most popular web browsers in the world, but it’s actually much more feature rich than something simply designed to browse the web.

Chrome is almost a little self-contained operating system with its own apps and management structure. In fact, when it comes to Chromebooks, it literally works as an operating system.

As such, you’d be forgiven for missing out on some of the deeper, more advanced features the software offers. Here are five advanced Google Chrome features you won’t know how you lived without.

When Getting Profiled is a Good
Thing

Operating systems like Windows (and app like
Netflix) all have user profiles. Which means that multiple people can share the
same device or application without also having to share the same activity
history, preferences and so on.

Chrome offers exactly the same functionality,
but for some reason it seems most people either aren’t aware of this or don’t
see the point. Sure, people are less likely to share devices, but that doesn’t
mean Chrome profiles don’t have other
uses.

One great way to use profiles is to use one
for work and another for personal use. This prevents your personal internet
habits from ever soiling your work computer and lets you have separate login
information for services that might appear in both settings. For example, you
may have a work and personal Office 365 subscription.

Accessing profiles couldn’t be any easier. Just click the three-dot menu button at the top right of the Chrome Window and click Settings.

Now, click Manage other people.

In the Window that now appears, click Add person.

Give your profile a name and click Add and you’ll have a shiny new profile to use! You can switch profiles by clicking the profile avatar icon at the top right of the browser window and choosing the profile of your choice.

By the Power of the Omnibox!

Most of us think of the address bar as a place where you put URLs, but Google’s address bar isn’t actually an address bar! It’s proper name is the Omnibox and it’s a direct interface to the Google search engine.

You’ve probably already noticed that you can simply type search terms into the Omnibox and be taken straight to the Google results, but many people don’t know that you can do things like mathematical calculations, conversions, lookup weather, etc. in the Omnibox without ever going to the actual search page to see the answer.

There’s a lot more to the Omnibox than this, but it deserves an article to itself if you want to really master it.

Manage Your Password Stress Away

Passwords, passwords everywhere and we can’t
remember any of them!

Yes, passwords are a painful fact of life. Weak passwords are easy to remember, strong passwords are hard to remember and really no one likes dealing with them either way. The best solution is to use a good password manager, but most people don’t bother and then end up with bad habits such as sharing the same passwords across multiple services.

Google has come to the rescue and now includes a proper password manager in Chrome itself. You can easily view and look up usernames and passwords that have been saved in Chrome, which is nice if you need to recover a password you have forgotten.

The latest version of Chrome now also offers
to generate strong passwords for you when you sign up or change your password
on a website. These passwords are also synched to the cloud, so they’ll follow
you wherever you log into Chrome.

To access the Chrome Password Manager, simply click the menu button, click Settings and then click Passwords.

Here you can search your passwords, enable or disable the option to have Chrome offer to save your passwords and quickly see which sites you have passwords saved for. You can also enable auto-sign so that you can be logged into a site without having to type anything manually.

Moving Multiple Tabs Will Change
Your Life

Tabbed browsing was an absolute revolution, but managing your tabs can be a real chore. Especially when you find yourself dragging them one-by-one into their proper windows.

It turns out there was never a need to so laboriously move each tab individually to another Chrome window. If you simply hold Ctrl while clicking on tabs you can move them in groups. Yup, we felt pretty silly when we found out too.

Mute Sites to Save Your Sanity

The web is full of media riches, but it can also be a maddening cacophony. Popover ads and other unwanted noise makers can frustrating and distracting. Even worse, finding the culprit can be a hassle among all the tabs you have open.

Chrome helps you out in two ways here. First of all, sites that are playing audio have a little speaker icon in the tab title. So you can quickly see which ones are putting something through the speakers. To quickly curb the noise, simply right click the tab and click Mute site.

Just remember that all tabs open on that site
will now be muted, so if you actually want to hear the audio you can just
reverse the process.

More Than Just a Shiny Name

The list of Chrome features users should know about is quite long and we’re sure we don’t know them all either. Once you delve into advanced commands for the Omnibox, the trip down the rabbit hole really becomes intense, but that’s a story for another day. Enjoy!

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