Web proxies may be straightforward (and often free), but they have several drawbacks. Data speeds can be atrocious, certain types of content (videos, music, etc.) may be difficult to access, many proxy services interject their own advertising, and some websites simply won’t work through a proxy.
Web-based proxies like Hide My Ass claim to keep your IP address and other identifying information anonymous while you’re browsing the Web.
Also, while free Web proxies are a dime a dozen and new ones pop up on an almost hourly basis, it’s difficult to tell which ones are honeypots set up by bad guys hoping to sneak a peek at your personal information as you share it through their proxy server. In other words, you shouldn’t do your online banking or log into a password-protected website when you’re using a Web proxy—especially if the connection isn’t encrypted via HTTP Secure (denoted by an https:// prefix in your browser’s address bar).
The three Web proxies identified above are long-standing and well-trusted, however, and each offers a paid subscriber service that nixes the speed and content complaints.Proxy.org and PublicProxyServers.com also maintain extensive, frequently updated lists of Web proxies.
Manual proxy servers
Some proxy servers don’t have a simple website interface, but still allow you to utilize their service for anonymous browsing. You just need to manually configure your browser to connect to the proxy’s IP address. As with Web-based proxies, you’ll want to shy away from revealing sensitive information or passwords with a proxy server.Hide My Ass and ProxyNova keep two of the best lists of active proxy servers, with each individual proxy’s speed, uptime, country of origin and level of anonymity clearly identified. (You want an anonymous or high anonymous proxy server, of course.)
Powerful options to browse the Web through a proxy server or VPN can be found in your browser settings menu.
Internet Explorer 9: Navigate to Tools > Internet Options > Connections tab > LAN Settings. Check the Use a proxy server box and enter the port and IP address info for the proxy server, then click OK. If the proxy you chose uses a secure or SOCKS connection rather than HTTP, enter the settings in the Advanced option.
Firefox: Click the Firefox button, select Options > Advanced Tab > Network Tab, and then click the Settings button in Connections.
Chrome: Click the wrench icon, choose Show Advanced Settings > Change Proxy Settings, and then proceed as you would with Internet Explorer.
Hide your IP address with a VPN
Virtual Private Networks are a good option for people who want an anonymous yet speedy connection and don’t mind paying for the privilege. Premium VPNs maintain dedicated proxy servers for their users. Your connection is encrypted and the websites you visit see the VPN’s identifying information, not your own.
There are a ton of VPNs out there, and virtually all of them block your identity from third-party websites, but the question an anonymous-minded person wants to ask is, Does my VPN provider keep server logs? TorrentFreak asked several top VPNs that very question and several answered with a resounding "No!" Once you’ve settled on a provider, you’ll need to configure Windows 7 to connect to the VPN.
One of the best and most well-known virtual private networks is The Onion Router, or Tor for short. The Tor network has proven its mettle under fire, helping journalists file reports from countries where Internet access is restricted and allowing citizens to communicate digitally when governments shut down the Internet. Rather than establishing a direct connection between your PC and a proxy server, then connecting the proxy server to the website you want to visit, Tor bounces your data request through several random Tor server relays before pointing it to the final destination. In fact, Tor got its name because like an onion (or an ogre), this network has layers.