How to Unblock YouTube at School and Elsewhere
Many schools and workplaces block YouTube. As with any site that publishes user-generated content, quality on the site varies hugely and institutions worry that students will access content that’s inappropriate or misleading.
While their concerns are valid, if you’re trying to watch something educational as research, or sharing a video project privately with your teacher or peers, or you’re just viewing for your own entertainment during breaks, there are plenty of ways to get around the block.
Best Way to Unblock YouTube for School
When you open any website, the site knows where you are, based on your IP address. This means your school can set things up so that YouTube won’t open for anyone who tries to access it using an IP address linked to the school’s WiFi connection. A VPN redirects your internet connection through its own servers, though. So, YouTube sees the VPN server’s IP address, not your school’s… and lets you in.
Plus, because your data is encrypted, your school administrator doesn’t know this is happening – and you get even more security and privacy because no one else on the school’s public WiFi network can snoop on what you’re doing, either.
Best VPNs to Bypass School Restrictions and Unblock Youtube
Let’s take a look at the best (and best-value) VPNs that work perfectly with YouTube and should bypass your school’s restrictions.
#1 Surfshark – the VPN for YouTube that won’t hurt your wallet
Platforms Supported: Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, Linux, Chrome, Firefox | Compatible Devices: Routers, Raspberry Pi, Amazon Fire TV | Unblocks: YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer | Maximum Devices Supported: Unlimited | 1,000+ Servers | 61 Server Country Locations
Price: Starting from $2.21
Surfshark is the cheapest option among leading VPNs. Plus, it’s easy to use and works on pretty much any device. It’s particularly good at unblocking YouTube, even if you’re studying in China, where you might be blocked by the institution and government restrictions.
Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands, so there’s no information-sharing arrangement with other countries. It also uses military-grade encryption and a no-logs policy, so it keeps no records of what YouTube videos you’re watching (or whatever else you do online).
Surfshark isn’t quite as fast as some other industry-leading VPNs, nor does it have the same range of server locations. While you’re unlikely to have problems playing YouTube videos, this will depend on how good your school WiFi is and how many people are using it at any one time. However, if the price point is your main concern, it’s an obvious choice. For more details, check out our in-depth Surfshark review here.
#2 NordVPN – all-round best value and easiest-to-use VPN for YouTube
Platforms Supported: Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, Linux, Chrome, Firefox | Compatible Devices: Routers Raspberry Pi, Amazon Fire TV | Unblocks: Youtube, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, BBC iPlayer|
Maximum Devices Supported: 6 | 5,000+ Servers | 59 Server Country Locations
Price: Starting from $3.71 per month
NordVPN is fast and effective at unblocking YouTube. It’s easy to use and has thousands of servers around the world, so not only can you watch YouTube videos at school, you can unblock those that aren’t usually available in your country. It works with most devices and operating systems.
Since the company is based in Panama and keeps no activity logs, only you will know what you watch online. NordVPN also has a double-VPN feature, which secures your anonymity by tunneling and encrypting all your internet traffic twice. Learn more about NordVPN here.
#3 ExpressVPN – the fastest, most powerful VPN for YouTube
Platforms Supported: Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, Linux, Chrome, Firefox | Compatible Devices: Raspberry Pi, Amazon Fire TV | Unblocks: YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, DisneyPlus, BBC iPlayer | Maximum Devices Supported: 5 | 3,000+ Servers | 95 Server Country Locations
Price: Starting from $6.67 per month
ExpressVPN’s speeds are excellent for streaming videos. You’re unlikely to notice any dip at all on YouTube. It has an enormous range of server locations all around the world, so you can always find one nearby or use it to access content only available elsewhere. It even works in China.
This is ideal if your school WiFi is a little slow or easily overloaded by the number of people accessing it. The drawback is that it’s more expensive than many competitors, even for a long-term subscription.
However, you may decide it’s worth it for a super-speedy VPN that works on all devices and operating systems, with superb security features. The company is based in the British Virgin Islands, keeps no activity logs and uses specialist TrustedServer technology to keep your identity and data safe as you stream or browse. For more details, read our in-depth ExpressVPN review here.
How to Unblock YouTube with a VPN
Here’s a step-by-step guide to using a VPN to unblock YouTube. Note you should only install YouTube on your own devices used to connect to school WiFi, not on a school computer. For using YouTube on a school computer, jump to the “other ways to access YouTube at school” section below.
- Download your new VPN desktop app/program onto your laptop /phone / other device and follow the installation instructions.
- Open up the VPN app/program and enter any validation codes provided during sign-up.
- You will now have the option to choose where in the world you want to connect from.
- Hit “connect”.
- Open the YouTube site or app.
- Navigate to the video you want to watch.
- If for any reason the YouTube video still won’t load or says it’s not available in your country, clear your cache/history/cookies and reload the page.
- Play your video!
Other Ways to Access YouTube at School
What if you want to open YouTube on a school computer, where you can’t install your own software (and wouldn’t want to pay for it to be there)? Well, you have 3 options.
- Use a proxy site, which is a kind of website version of a VPN. However, these do tend to be quite slow and full of ads.
- Try changing the web address from http://youtube.com to https://youtube.com. This is a more secure connection anyway, but the chances are that your institution has only set a block to the old, http version and hasn’t got around to updating this.
- You could try to make use of a quirk in Google Translate to bypass the blocked site name by “translating” the website name from another language to English and clicking the destination link. However, while this works for most sites, it’s pretty flaky and doesn’t always work for YouTube – or videos generally. Here’s an example link: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=es&tl=en&u=www.youtube.com
All of these methods will work on your own devices too – but they aren’t as convenient or effective as a VPN. Plus, your site administrator will be able to see what you’re doing, so you could get into trouble.
Whatever the reason you need to access YouTube, it’s really frustrating when your school places a blanket ban on all YouTube content. All the methods here will help you get around the ban quickly and easily.
However, bear in mind that if you want to go under the radar without your school administrator knowing what you’re doing, you need to encrypt your connection, which boils down to using a VPN.