How to Unblock Websites to Bypass Geo Restrictions
So you’re ready to go on your favorite site but you are blocked. In order to access blocked content, you will need to use a VPN.
VPN is a very popular and affordable internet access option for many different needs and purposes, and VPN for blocked sites is definitely one of them.
In a restricted online world, you’ll learn how to unblock any website online, how VPN for blocked sites is the way to go, and which are the best-recommended VPNs to open blocked websites online.
The best VPN we recommend to access blocked websites is ExpressVPN.
Unblock Sites Online with a VPN
VPN stands for ‘Virtual Personal Network‘. A VPN enables you to create a private network over a public network. It uses advanced tunneling and encryption technologies to hide your online data, making your activity online private, anonymous and almost untraceable.
VPN is used by people all over the world to gain access to banned websites, open blocked sites, unblock a video website, or unblock URLs that can’t be accessed.
It’s the main way that people get past the problem of a website blocker. Although some countries are cracking down on VPN use, and trying to curb the use of VPN, there’s no question that it’s the best solution available today for the problem of how to unblock websites.
How We Tested
We’ve tested a range of VPNs to see which ones are best to access blocked websites.
These are the must-have features that mean you’re going to be able to unblock sites online with VPN, and how the VPN providers below deliver on each.
- Privacy and Security: The encryption methods and security protocols used by the VPN will determine how private and safe your VPN connection truly is.
- Server locations: The more server locations and countries, the easier it is to overcome geo-based bans on websites. It also affects the speed and reliability of the VPN connection.
- Kill Switch: This is a really important feature to maintain utmost anonymity on the internet. In the event that the VPN connection drops out, the kill switch automatically kicks in, disconnecting you from the internet so your true IP and location won’t be revealed.
- Customer service: VPN customers often run into technical and connection issues. No VPN is perfect. That’s why solid accessible customer support is so important.
- Money-back guarantees: You’re determined to unblock any site but not at any cost. Make sure to choose a VPN that offers your money back if you’re not satisfied, so you won’t have any regrets.
- Pricing: With so much competition among VPN providers, VPN pricing is generally affordable and reasonable. Even the highest quality VPNs should be attractively priced.
Best VPN to Access Blocked Websites
Fast, easy way to access blocked websites, no matter where you are.
So first in my little roundup here is ExpressVPN, and for a good reason.
The thing is, a lot of times, you wind up compromising speed for security with VPNs. All of that top notch encryption can really bog down a connection, making it tricky to stream Netflix and download music (a deal breaker for me).
With ExpressVPN, you get unlimited bandwidth, two connections per account and an incredibly fast connection, despite the military-grade encryption that’s used.
I’ve used this VPN a lot, and I’ve never had any trouble streaming Netflix, downloading music from iTunes, or anything else that tends to suck up bandwidth like a black hole.
What really sold me on these guys though was their customer service. They are just so damn fast.
They always respond to emails in less than 20 minutes and of course their live chat support means you can get help instantly if you need it.
Besides unmatched speed, ExpressVPN have servers in prime locations for streaming entertainment. It does come at a slight cost as it’s pricier than most of the competition, but you do get your money’s worth thanks to the overall reliability and ease of use.
So if you plan on using a VPN for American Netflix and other online content, you can’t do much better than ExpressVPN.
Morevover, their software is easy to use, and they include a 30-day, money-back guarantee, so you can always snag a refund if it just doesn’t work out.
- Privacy & Security: 256-bit AES encryption and DNS/IPv6 leak protection, with split tunneling.
- Server locations: 94 server countries with over 1700 VPN servers.
- Kill Switch: Yes.
- Customer service: Email, phone, chat and online query submissions, 24/7.
- Money-back guarantee: 30 days.
- 1 month: $12.95
- 6 months: $9.99/month
- 12 months: $6.67/month – plus three months free!
For more info on ExpressVPN, check out our full review.
While most VPN services promise to get rid of any logs of user data, you can actually trust NordVPN to empty their recycle bin.
They don’t care if you want to stream blocked content, and they have lots of servers to choose from.
NordVPN and ExpressVPN are neck and neck for the top VPN. However, NordVPN doesn’t win the top spot as it’s support is lacking. With no online live chat and delays in response from their team, we recommend ExpressVPN as the overall best VPN.
NordVPN is also the cheapest overall, and their 24-month deal is great value for money.
They also offer a 30-day money back guarantee trial so you can try the service without commitment to contract unless you are satisfied.
- Privacy & Security: 256-bit AES encryption and high-level NGE (Next Generation Encryption) IKEv2/IPsec protection, with double encryption.
- Server locations: 61 server countries with over 3500 VPN servers.
- Kill Switch: Yes.
- Customer service: Help center.
- Money-back guarantee: 30 days.
- 1 month: $11.95
- 12 months: $6.99/month
- 24 months: $3.99/month
Surfshark is one of the best VPNs on the market to help you access websites that are blocked, wherever you are in the world.
There are a number of reasons for this, but firstly, Surfshark has a large network so it is simply capable of unlocking all that content in any instance. When it comes to VPN providers, the more servers they have in the more locations, the better they are at helping users get around geo restricted content. Surfshark manages to do just that by having over 800 servers in over 50 countries. This means it can provide users with a wide range of IP addresses that gives them the key to viewing any content they require.
Secondly, Surfshark has quick connections that more often than not are so fast there is minimal difference between the speed seen in a naked connection and one that has a connection through a Surfshark VPN server. This is great news for those that are using a VPN to unblock video content on streaming services such as Netflix. What is also great about the Surfshark product is that along with that quick connection, the company does not place a limit on the amount of data that a person can use each month either. Again, this is fantastic news for those that use Netflix or other streaming services that eat up data so very quickly.
The company also has an admirable approach to its customers’ security that demonstrates a dedication to their online safety. As such, they maintain a no logs policy so that it is impossible for customer data to be leaked through hacking or security breaches, or even when requested by a country’s law enforcement services. Surfshark also has a Kill Switch feature that automatically cuts a user’s internet connection should their VPN connection drop too.
- Starting from as low as $1.99
For more info on Surfshark, check out our full review.
HideMyAss also uses strong OpenVPN encryption to keep your personal details private and safe from hackers.
HideMyAss’ biggest plus is that it doesn’t slow down your internet speed when you use it, so you can get into movies and binge-watch TV shows from other countries without lags or buffering.
There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Privacy & Security: 256-bit AES encryption supporting both UDP and TCP ports.
- Servers: 940 in over 190 locations.
- Kill Switch: Yes.
- Customer service: Help center and online request form.
- Money-back guarantee: 30 days.
- 1 month: $11.99
- 6 months: $7.99/month
- 12 months: $6.99/month
As their moniker suggests, PrivateVPN is also big on privacy. It’s a major plus point in the current climate of online privacy worries.
Their service is intuitive to use and speedy enough for video streams, while it’s priced competitively compared to the rest on the list. Like ExpressVPN, they also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
There isn’t much else that sets it apart from the rest, but it does the job effectively.
- Privacy & Security: AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) 256-bit encryption code with 2048-bit DH key
- Servers: Over 80 in 56 countries
- Kill Switch: Yes
- Customer service: Live chat and online user guides
- Money back guarantee: 30 days
- 1 month: $7.67
- 3 months: $5.25/month
- 13 months: $3.88/month
Way Was the Site Blocked?
There are many reasons why sites have their web access blocked. Apart from legal and copyright issues, there are a number of nefarious explanations that governments give as to why they must block websites.
Oftentimes, the stated reason sounds legitimate, such as preventing hate speech or protecting national security. Yet in many instances, these are just an excuse to restrict free speech and silence political opponents.
Even in the world’s freest countries, there are instances of web access blocks. Here are some examples of when knowing how to unblock blocked websites online would certainly come in handy:
Unfortunately, this is an all too common reason for blocked websites. In the 2017-2018 Iranian uprising, the Iranian government made it impossible to access blocked websites in some cities to prevent the spread of protests. It was reported that in early January 2018, Iranian internet traffic was down by 50%, which shows the broad impact of the censorship. Read More: Best VPN for Iran
In 2018, ahead of Chinese elections, the Chinese government banned George Orwell’s Animal Farm online, and a host of words, such as ‘disagree’, ‘shameless’ and ’emigrate’ from the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. These are all examples of online suppression that have political underpinnings.Read More: Best VPN for China
Some Islamic countries have strict censorship laws that block access to websites promoting anti-religious content.
For example, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia bans sites that are deemed to be ‘anti-Islamic’ or ‘offensive’. Apart from blocking sites promoting gambling or drugs, the censorship also extends to women’s rights and other sticky issues based on religion.
Penalties for publishing or visiting banned websites in Saudi Arabia are steep, and can even include prison sentences.
Religious censorship can also be self-imposed or imposed by publishers, rather than the government. Even in the US, conservative Christians are leading efforts to ensure that Christian speech is uncensored online. National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) are attempting to meet with leaders in big tech and social media to prevent blocks of religious Christian content and websites.
Online censorship and blocked websites are a common result of national security concerns. The Egyptian parliament is currently reviewing the anti-cybercrime law, which, in actuality, is an attempt to codify censorship into law – all in the name of national security. The Egyptian authorities already ban many websites for national security reasons, yet until now, it has been handled unofficially. If the new law passes, this will push internet restrictions into the legally enforceable realm. Read More: Best VPNs for Egypt
Turkey is another example of internet restriction in the name of national security. In early 2018, legislation is being prepared that would give Turkey’s government media body the rights to monitor all internet programming. The government claims it is in the interest of national security, but is it really? Read more: Best VPN for Turkey
Schools and workplaces commonly block internet sites, because they say that it helps keep students and employees focused and productive.
Blocking websites in privately-held settings, such as a workplace, raises interesting ethical questions. Does the employer have the right to restrict the online activity of employees?
Why can’t employees have access to particular sites, say on their lunch break? And if schools are government-run, isn’t blocking websites in schools then a form of government censorship?
These questions are not simple, and no sufficient answer has yet been found. In the meantime, the only option is to find out which is the best VPN for school or work, so you can circumvent the problem – fast.
How do Countries Employ a Website Blocker
There are a number of different ways that countries block websites. They may use various combinations of methods, or may resort to extreme measures during periods of civil unrest.
Here’s a sample of ways that countries can make it much more difficult for citizens to figure out how to unblock blocked websites online:
Blocking IPs: By preventing access to certain IP addresses, countries can prevent citizens from accessing sites hosted by those IP addresses. This block can be easily circumvented. Any country serious about letting their citizens open blocked sites can’t rely on blocking IPs alone.
Blocking or Redirecting DNS: Domain Name Server blocking or redirecting is a strategy that makes it harder to reach specific domains or websites. It prevents requests for valid IP addresses from being returned correctly. Like IP blocking, DNS blocking is not the most effective way to prevent citizens’ attempts to access blocked websites.
Deep Packet Inspection: This is a more advanced way that countries prevent website access. It analyzes and filters packets of data, rather than just the data headers, enabling much stricter monitoring and censoring of online information. This method is used by many countries who take serious steps to prevent the ability of citizens to open blocked sites online.
Network Disconnection: In some cases, governments have simply cut off internet networks in certain cities or regions. This has happened during times of unrest, widespread protest and war. It is a fast and technically simple way of ensuring that citizens have no internet access at all, let alone being able to unblock websites.
Today, the idea of a free and open internet is unfortunately just a pipedream, in many countries around the world.
Although there’s a long way to go before the internet can ever be truly free, VPN is the best way to face the problem of how to access blocked sites.
Whether it’s accessing blocked sites at home, or working out how to unblock websites at school; if it’s the need to overcome political censorship, or bypass national security bans on specific websites – no matter where you are, a VPN is the safest and most reliable alternative to unblock sites online.
Until freedom on the internet is fully realized, embrace VPN – the best-known way to access blocked websites in 2018.
We highly recommend ExpressVPN for all your unblocking needs.
With a super-fast speed, 100% Anonymous no-logs, the best support we’ve seen, plus a huge number of VPN servers!