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!
I have just joined NordVPN but still can’t access the websites i want. Their help team said these were not supported. I checked other countries and couldn’t access tv on demand/ replay websites there either. Any advice?
Hi Henriette, I am sorry to hear that NordVPN isn’t working out for you. NordVPN does offer a 30-day money back guarantee. If you are within this time frame, you can go through the process of reclaiming your payment. Which websites are you trying to visit? Maybe we can help pinpoint the exact VPN that would best fit your personal needs. Thanks!
I only joined a couple of days ago so I might ask for my money back. I’m trying to access TVNZ on demand and THREEnow in New Zealand. Also tried tenplay in Australia without success. Would like to access replay sites in France and UK too if I could.
Hi Henriette, I would suggest either going with ExpressVPN or PrivateVPN. A lot of people prefer these brands for unblocking streamed content. Both also have money back guarantees in case it does not work out. Let me know if either one of these options works for you!
ExpressVPN has servers located in a stunning 94 countries around the globe. Those servers are reliable and super fast, which is why ExpressVPN is by far the best video VPN. A VPN for streaming needs to provide privacy. ExpressVPN is ideal because it provides encryption implemented to an incredibly secure level. The outcome is that ExpressVPN is a streaming VPN that is unrivaled. Subscribers use the VPN to unblock streaming video that is blocked in all regions. They are also permitted to watch content from torrent sites that might be blocked in their current location.
The only back drop is that, it is expensive in comparison to the other VPNs. And hence, won’t it discourage users from buying it? Even though it offers a 30 day money back guarantee, a user might first want to be sure that this is the VPN that suits their needs best.
I was a bit reserved when I first heard of VPNs from your site last year. However so far I have no problems and I totally agree with you on Express VPNs top-notch customer service. It’s really great.
Express VPN is a very good But it is slightly costly .so you can also use Nord VPN it is cost effective .VPN unblock sites as well as protect your privacy.It means that you can search anonymously by using VPN.
Hi, can you tell me if it’s safe to purchase a VPN subscription while in Saudi Arabia using a credit card issued by a local bank? Can I get around this by using PayPal (never used it before)?
Hi, and thank you for such a pertinent question! While VPNs are technically not illegal in Saudi Arabia, the government has been known to crack down hard on citizens who use this solution, regardless of the reason. We haven’t found specific reports of people being tracked by their card purchases, though we can’t confirm that this does or doesn’t happen. However, many VPNs offer alternative payment methods such as PayPal, which doesn’t require a local card, though it may leave a paper trail. If you’re still concerned, many VPN providers are now starting to accept payment in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which can give you better privacy and anonymity. Let us know how you chose to solve your problem for other users’ reference!
I think VPN should be used by each internet user because of the safety and security of important data. I also use VPN for doing the important data transfer.
Are VPNs just for streaming tv shows? I’m going to be traveling to the middle east and want to make sure I can get the news sites I read everyday while I’m abroad. Do you think that’s safe for me to do? Don’t want to have any problems while moving around.
Hi, and wishing you safe travels! VPNs are great for streaming your favorite shows and movies, but they do so much more! They can access sites like Netflix because they’re designed to route your traffic through local websites, so you can visit any page you’d like (as long as you’re connected through the proper servers) without worrying about restrictions Moreover, VPNs encrypt your browsing, so no one can see what you’re doing or which websites you’re visiting. Your journey should be safe if you stick with a VPN!
I need to know which of these providers will allow me to torrent. I made the mistake of torrenting outside of VPN and my ISP started monitoring my connection. They ended up dropping me because of it. Didn’t matter that I don’t share.
Yes, I know it is my own fault for not being more careful but I am getting a new provider next week and I’ve read that VPN will be the best option.
Next question, how much will my speed drop over VPN while torrenting. Will I need any special setup to torrent?
We’re sorry to hear about your ISP troubles Billy, but happy you’re now being more careful! Out of the VPNs we list in the article, all of them permit torrenting, meaning you can safely connect and download files anonymously. In terms of download speeds, there are a few top choices, including ExpressVPN and PureVPN (which has actually been shown to improve download speeds in some cases), though they all offer reliable, if not blazing fast speeds. Finally, some VPNs may require that you connect through specific servers, or perform a manual configuration. However, every service can easily assist you with the process if it’s needed. Let us know how your downloading goes!
Every internet user will understand the feeling when Facebook is blocked for you! Whenever I’m at school or at my job, Facebook is completely detached from me. I understand that it’s for more productivity, but complete detachment is not what I like. Thanks to you, James, I’m now able to enjoy FB using HideMyAss. It’s a great VPN as a freemium service provider. Great content, loved it!
I think ExpressVPN is really effective to access a blocked website. Most of the people use ExpressVPN to unblock their favorite blocked website. All these methods are really interesting here. Thanks for sharing.-
I am having problems accessing Korean website in the UK and I really need to access their website. Which VPN type would be the best suit for me? Express VPN? OR private VPN? I am confused 🙁
Hello, and we’re sorry to hear you’re having difficulties accessing the website! Luckily, the VPNs we listed on this page are all great recommendations to help you access restricted websites, no matter where they’re based. Our top recommendation is ExpressVPN thanks to its robust security features, as well as its spotless record accessing blocked websites. PrivateVPN also offers a great solution to access geo-restricted content, but you can safely choose any of the services we listed here and still get where you need to go. Let us know which VPN you choose!
Why are there restrictions on some websites ? Why can’t I just access them without using VPN ?
We feel your pain! Unfortunately, many websites and online streaming services feature content that is copyrighted or trademarked in one country, but not protected in others. Copyrights are not international generally, and the way people ensure that their services and websites are only being visited by local audiences is by limiting the locations users can access these properties from. This means that in some cases, such as for Netflix or the BBC’s iPlayer, the movies and shows are protected by US or UK law, but not necessarily by other countries, leaving them vulnerable to piracy. On the other hand, some countries may prevent citizens from accessing websites they consider inappropriate (as is the case with Saudi Arabia and the UAE) or dangerous (as many websites are by China and Russia). These laws are not always in users’ best interests, however, and in some cases can limit you from viewing content you should be able to access legally (if you’re a citizen of a country but are simply visiting elsewhere, for example). However, VPNs let you enter these websites by bypassing these outdated geo-restrictions, and gain access to any content you want, without having to worry. While it’s not an optimal system, VPNs are useful because governments have shown themselves to not always act in citizens’ best interests. It may not be as free as we like, but VPNs let us access the web as we should!
I have been using HideMyAssVPN to access restricted websites now and I love it. Can it be shared please?
Hello Dan, you can use it on 5 different devices – you are allowed up to 5 separate connections with one HMA! account. I strongly recommend you try their live chat option which is super quick and which replies to any technical question you may have.
While I was in school, I used IPVanish. It never disappoints. Has over 850 locations to choose from. Great article totally on point
If you are looking for the fastest VPN that is always able to unblock websites
without compromising privacy then go with NordVPN.
WoW very nice article I totally agreed with this article that we can use VPN to access blocked sites.
Netflix is blocked in my region that why I recently bought ExpressVPN from ReviewsDir in discounted rates to access Netflix i am completely satisfied with Express VPN to access blocked sites.
With LiquidVPN’s new software and built-in Smart Streaming technology it is quite easy to access georestricted content from a VPN server that is very close to your location. This means you get all the benefits of CDN technology.