SafeIP delivers quick and easy anonymous browsing
If you’re looking to preserve your privacy online then there are already a host of free tools and services queuing up to offer you a new IP address, so discovering yet another, in the shape of SafeIP, didn’t exactly fill us with excitement.
The program doesn’t stop there, though. It also claims to block cookies, conceal your referrer and browser agent, block ads and prevent you from accessing known dangerous sites. And all for free, no adware or similar catches. Perhaps SafeIP was worth a look, after all.
Installation was straightforward. The program asked that we close any open browsers and other internet tools, but didn’t force us to do that, or ask us to reboot: it just opened a small, simple console and was ready to work immediately.
SafeIP correctly displayed our current external IP address, and displayed a list of five countries where we could obtain another (the US, UK, Poland, Germany and France). And getting a new identity is just a matter of double-clicking one of these, at which point your new IP address appears in a second or two and is ready for use.
Does it work? It seems that way. We gave ourselves a Polish identity, for instance, and this was correctly reported at various IP-checking websites (some of which now displayed ads in Polish to reinforce the effect). Our browsing speeds were a little slower, but in general it all seemed very smooth and easy to use.
Websites can track you with more than just your IP address, of course, but clicking Settings reveals more tools to help. You’re able to block the transmission of your browser user agent or web page referrers, for instance, just by checking a box or two. And SafeIP can block all cookies in much the same way.
The Settings dialog also included checkboxes for “Advertisement blocking” and “Malware protection”, though, and they seemed the most intriguing. Would they offer any real protection? Well… No.
It seems all the program tries to do is add some entries to your HOSTS file; not exactly the most sophisticated of solutions. And it couldn’t even do that properly on our test system, complaining that “there was a problem adding updates to your HOSTs file” when we checked the relevant boxes.
SafeIP isn’t quite as advanced as its lengthy feature list might make you think, then. And if you really want to block ads or malware then we’d probably recommend you use something else.
If you just want to change your IP address occasionally, though, the program will get the job done quickly, easily, and with the minimum of hassle.