How to Unblock Websites & Bypass Geo Restrictions
So you’re just about to go visit a website, but you find that there’s a restriction. This can be irritating and inconvenient, especially if you need to access some online content for educational or informative purposes.
There are a variety of reasons why a website may be blocked. You may live in a restricted country or be trying to access some content from school or work, who may well have some content blocking restrictions in place.
Restrictions online can be imposed in a heavy-handed, broad stroke way. In this article, we’ll explain how to unblock websites by using a VPN.
Why are Certain Websites Blocked?
There are a variety of reasons why certain websites may be blocked. The reasons can range from the well-intentioned to the fully restrictive and repressive.
Online content can be blocked by a government for a variety of religious or political reasons. As the internet is a place of free, unfettered exchange of ideas some authoritarian governments can find this threatening, so they restrict their citizens from accessing websites that may trigger some form of rebellion or freedom of thought.
Due to streaming licenses, there are many websites that simply cannot be accessed in certain countries. For example, you may want to know how to unblock websites if you live in Australia and wish to access BBC iPlayer, or live in the UK but wish to access the American offering of Netflix.
School and work restrictions
Many schools and workplaces block certain content from their servers. This is in the hope to boost productivity so that both students and employees don’t spend their time on social media and streaming sites instead of doing work.
The Best Way to Access Blocked Sites on any Device
Using a VPN is by far the easiest, safest, and most reliable way to access restricted content from any device. It outsmarts the router and will give you access to any site you wish to access.
It does this by routing your traffic through an external, often foreign server. The local block will not recognize your IP address as being in the restricted location, which will, in turn, leave you hidden.
Here are the main reasons why a VPN is the best way to access blocked content.
- Untraceable: A decent VPN will be completely untraceable, meaning your actions will not ever be traced back to you.
- Safe: Many free URL workarounds can leave your computer and all of its data exposed to cybercriminals and hackers. An encrypted, safe VPN will not leave you exposed in this way.
- Fast: Many free workarounds have terrible connection speeds that make downloading impossible and streaming unpleasant.
Here are our top picks for the most reliable VPNs to unblock websites:
- ExpressVPN – the best overall VPN. Express VPN is one of the safest VPNs on the market. They also have an anti-logging policy, which means that none of your personal information, bar your email address and password, are kept. Express VPN has servers in 78 countries however, and it supports three connections at any one time. It also supports all major and popular operating systems.
- NordVPN – reliable and secure VPN. NordVPN is unique because it allows up to six connections at one time. They also have a non-data logging policy.
- Surfshark – cheapest VPN. This is another great VPN. Surf Shark is one of the most secure VPNs on the market, and you can connect an unlimited number of devices to one account, which is a great financial benefit. If you’re looking for a cheap, secure VPN that can support a lot of customers, then you should consider using Surfshark.
10 Alternative Ways to Unblock Blocked Websites
If you do not wish to use a VPN, there are a variety of other workarounds you can use to access content from anywhere.
1. Changing your DNS server
A DNS (Domain Name System) server acts as a tunnel from your computer to the content you wish to access. It works in a similar way to a VPN, in that it makes your computer seem like it’s coming from a different location. However, a DNS is not as private or as secure as a premium VPN.
2. Unblocking websites using TOR
Another way to bypass content restrictions is to use the TOR browser. This works by funneling your activity through various layers of encryption. This is a decent free workaround, but you’ll find that it’s speeds are slower than a VPN because it’s only supported by open source and volunteers.
3. Using a Web Proxy
Sometimes you can’t even get onto the VPN or TOR website in the first place due to restrictions. A web proxy separates you from the servers you browse, making it untraceable. Navigating the proxy interface can be difficult, and it generally doesn’t support high-quality streaming.
4. Using a Proxy Extension
Another way you can work around a content block is to use a Proxy extension. It works in the same way that a usual proxy does, by acting as a firewall and a web filter. However, having it as an extension is handy and convenient. It does, however, encounter the same problems as a usual proxy, in that it doesn’t support streaming properly.
5. Using a URL shortener
If your blocking network uses a simple URL blocking method, then a URL shortener could possibly help. Service like Bitly can shorten a website’s URL, which will help you unblock websites. For example, if your school blocks Facebook.com, you can create a different (shortened) URL to access it.
6. Switching Protocols
If your blocking network is using a very basic blocking method that filters out a simple list of URLs, then switching from HTTPS to HTTP might help. This is, admittedly, a bit of a long shot.
This is one of the riskier approaches to take, as HTTP is not a secure protocol and may result in your either being hacked, or sling all of your data.
7. Using your Google Cache
Your Google Cache will sometimes save old pages that you’ve loaded recently. If, for example, you loaded some blocked content at home and then you go to the workplace, you may be able to load the page.
To do this, go to Google and search for the site you want to access. Click on the down-facing arrow on the right, and press ‘Cached’. This may work if you’re lucky.
8. Using a websites direct IP address
URL’s operate as a link to a website’s IP address. Many blocking softwares commonly only block the URL and not the IP address. So if you go ahead and directly enter the IP address into the browser, you may be able to trick some rudimentary blocking servers.
You can find a website’s IP address by visiting this site.
9. Using Google Translate
Some content blockers do not consider Google Translate to be a powerful enough tool to bypass the blockers. However, if you try the foreign versions of some websites by using Google translate, then you’d be surprised at how many websites you can access.
10. Using a Free VPN
There are a variety of free VPNs out there that you can use if you’re really strapped for cash, and desperate to get around content blocks. There are hazards involved with using a free VPN. They are often not secure, which could lead you to vulnerable to phishing attacks.
Is it Safe to Unblock Websites?
Accessing blocked content in your school or workplace is not illegal by any means. If you get found out you may face some form of disciplinary action. However, VPNs are untraceable and do not log any of your private information, so you can confidently skip detention if you fancy a lunchtime Netflix session.
In some countries, unblocking certain websites is in fact illegal. For example, the penalty for distributing disallowed content in some Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia can come with a range of heavy penalties.
Content blocks can be the bain of an employee’s or student’s life. The range of VPNs available means that you can securely and safely access any website you wish. Failing that, there is a range of alternatives that you can use to get the websites you need to. Happy browsing!