It’s an undeniable, if not an annoying fact of life, that not all websites are accessible to everyone. Sometimes, it’s the government or the people hosting your internet connection who are getting in the way. Other times, it’s the website owners doing it for some unfathomable reason. But whichever the case may be, we’ll tell you how to unblock websites — and in more than a single way, too!
Table of contents
The best way to unblock websites: use a VPN
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) works by routing data from your device via a VPN server as well as encrypting every bit of info. This keeps your IP (Internet Protocol) address secret from the website you’re visiting and hides your traffic from your ISP (Internet Service Provider).
A good (read: premium) VPN is the most comprehensive way to overcome blocks, no matter what form they take. Some of these are network firewalls blocking IP and DNS addresses, DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) rooting through your browsing data, and websites looking up your IP and restricting access based on your location.
A VPN has you covered on this front. Here’s how you set it up:
- Sign up for a VPN;
- Install the app;
- Connect to a server (if you’re geo-blocked, connect to a server in a country where you would be allowed access);
The best part is that unlocking websites isn’t the only VPN benefit, but that’s beyond the scope of this article, so follow the link to learn more about VPN features.
Use a browser extension
On the topic of VPNs, there’s a similar option — browser extensions that let you access restricted content the same way a VPN does. You can set up a Chrome extension basically just like you set up a VPN:
- Get a VPN;
- Open the Chrome Web Store and choose the Add to Chrome option;
- Log in and connect to a server you like.
Even though you do get to access blocked sites this way, keep in mind that a browser extension only encrypts the browser data.
Use a proxy
A proxy routes your traffic via proxy servers… and that’s it. It’s like a very cut-down version of a VPN, and the only thing it does is give you a different IP. That said, since your traffic will be routed via a proxy, local firewalls shouldn’t block you as they’ll only see you connecting to the server, not the website you’re actually aiming for.
To use a proxy, do this (we’re going to use the Chrome browser as an example):
- Search for a proxy server list;
- Note the IP and port of the server you want;
- Click the three dots in the upper right corner of the browser and choose Settings;
- Enter proxy in the search tab and choose Change proxy settings;
- In the window that opens, choose Manual setup, enter proxy IP and port number, and click Save.
To stop using a proxy, just disable the Manual setup toggle, and you’re good.
Get a smart DNS
A smart DNS is like a mix of a DNS and proxy — with DNS being the service that translates web addresses into IP addresses for devices to actually use in online communication.
The service maintains a list of websites. When it detects that you want to reach a website or a service that engages in geoblocking, it routes your traffic via a proxy to make it accessible. Because you’re not using a proxy all the time, your internet traffic is usually faster.
A good way to get a smart DNS is to be a Surfshark subscriber and follow this tutorial on how to use Surfshark’s smart DNS. One of the bigger benefits is that you don’t need to install it, but unlike a VPN, it doesn’t encrypt your connection or deal with sophisticated blocks.
Embrace the Tor Browser
The Tor (The Onion Router) browser ensures the anonymity of users’ traffic by routing it through multiple random nodes that only know the IP address of the previous node. The traffic remains anonymous due to this multi-layered (hence the “onion” bit) routing system.
Here’s how you can get on the Tor train:
- Download it from Tor Project’s official website and install it;
- Launch the browser;
- Wait for it to set up a connection;
- That’s it!
The Tor browser is free to use, and it hides your IP, which is nice. Unfortunately, your ISP can be suspicious of Tor use. Another downside is that Tor sacrifices everything it can on the altar of security, so it’s very slow: it’s good for unblocking websites but definitely not fit for streaming. And considering that you can’t choose the country in which the end node will be, it wouldn’t work for accessing country-specific content.
Change browser or device permissions
Sometimes, the restrictions you face aren’t all that sophisticated. In fact, it can be as simple as your system or browser permissions being tampered with or a firewall standing in the way. In these cases, you don’t need to do much to unblock sites — just follow these guides:
- Go to the Tools tab;
- Choose Page info;
- Select the Permissions tab;
- Check or uncheck various permissions your browser gives to the website you’re visiting.
- Click three vertical dots in the top right corner;
- Choose Settings in the drop-down menu;
- Click the Privacy and security option in the menu on the left;
- Choose Site settings and change the permissions of your choice. Voila!
- Click three vertical dots in the top right corner;
- Choose Settings in the drop-down menu;
- Tap Site settings;
- Choose All Sites to set settings for individual sites.
Microsoft Defender Firewall
- Type Firewall & Network protection into the search window on the toolbar;
- Click Firewall & Network protection;
- Switch off the firewall in the individual networks.
Note: it is generally recommended to NOT turn off the firewall.
- Click on the Apple icon at the top right screen corner;
- Choose System Settings;
- Check Screen Time;
- Look around for any blocks set here or even under the Content and Privacy section.
- Open the Settings app;
- Choose Screen Time;
- Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions;
- See whether any restrictions are set.
Use HTML to PDF converter to download restricted content
HTML to PDF converter websites will take a snapshot of an open web page and convert it into a PDF for you to download. How does this work for you? Well, it’s not your device accessing the blocked websites but the PDF converter service. Thus as long as the service isn’t blocked on your device, you can download the PDF version with impunity.
However, this isn’t real browsing. The PDF will only contain the snapshot on a single page. You won’t be able to freely navigate the site via the hyperlinks, watch videos or interact with other interactive objects. At best, you’ll be able to find out a new URL to put into the PDF converter to download another page.
A URL shortener site (like bit.ly) takes a long, hard-to-remember/type out/fit on a web design web address and turns it into a short, easy to remember URL. This can be used to your advantage. Take the URL of the blocked website you want to visit and then shorten it. Use the new link — this will overcome the most basic blocking methods at, say, your school.
Go to the Google Translate website, click the Website button, and paste in the URL of the website you want to visit. The translated version will be routed via Google servers, and thus your firewall will consider it innocuous.
Of course, it doesn’t work if Google itself is blocked.
Using the IP address
Your device doesn’t understand what Surfshark.com means. It asks a DNS server to turn it into an IP address. That’s what computers and such use to communicate — IP addresses.
Thus if your blockade is very basic and based on URL (like a DNS-based blockade would be), you could get around it by finding the website’s IP via a thing called WHOIS lookup. Find a website that does it, look up the IP of the site you want to visit and enter the IP into the address bar.
Google can cache (save) versions of websites. And if you access that cached version, you won’t be accessing the website itself, so the blocks based around doing that won’t work.
HTTPS to HTTP
We do not recommend this at all, but you may get around very basic blocks by switching to the less secure HTTP protocol instead of HTTPS. The way to do it is different for every browser. But if the block is based entirely on reading the URL, up to and including the HTTPS part, then it should work for you.
Why are websites blocked?
I’m going to lay out three main reasons why you’re reading an article on how to unblock websites:
- Bandwidth preservation and discipline: schools and workplaces usually care about these two reasons. By, say, blocking YouTube, they can preserve the network’s capacity and keep you more concentrated on work;
- Regional agreements: before the rise of streaming, a lot of broadcasting and licensing agreements were forged around the world. Some of those agreements impede your access to entertainment today as streaming services are obligated to make parts of their libraries unavailable in certain countries;
- Censorship: this is where the country’s government decides it doesn’t want to give the population access to specific websites and services to promote its agenda.
Whatever the case may be for websites to be blocked, a VPN is the surest way to overcome those blocks.
Is it legal to use a URL unblocker?
The big words here are “it depends:”
- Outside of a handful of countries, using a VPN isn’t illegal, so you’re not breaking the law just by using it. Of course, if you carry out illicit activities while using a VPN — like pirating movies — you could still get in trouble;
- Using unblockers on streaming sites may violate their terms and conditions, and there have been cases of them blocking users;
- When the government takes part in online censorship, it can get pretty serious. However, it really depends on the local law, and no hard-and-fast rule applies here.
So, you see, in most cases, simply unblocking YouTube will cause you no harm.
Disclaimer: We prohibit using Surfshark services for any unlawful purposes as it is against our Terms of Service. Please be sure to act in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
In conclusion: use the best unblocking solution
Now that you know how to unblock a website, you need to choose which method is the best for you. We’d recommend using a VPN as it is the most powerful tool at your disposal. And, hey, if it doesn’t work out for you, Surfshark has a 30-day money-back guarantee!
How do I unblock all websites?
You can unblock websites by using a VPN or a proxy, changing your DNS, or using the Tor browser. Just don’t use a free VPN.
How do you unblock websites on Google Chrome?
To change permission settings for a specific site on Chrome, follow these steps:
- Open the browser and go to the website;
- On the left, next to the address bar, there should be a lock icon — click on it;
- Click on Site settings and change any permission setting you want.
What are the websites that unblock websites?
There are no websites that unblock websites, but there are website extensions that do the unblocking; some great picks would include Surfshark, Nord VPN, and Windscribe, just to name a few.
How to unblock websites at school?
Many of the URL unblocking tips and tricks won’t work on a school computer or any device where you don’t have administrator access. However, you can still try website-based unlocking alternatives like Google Translate or Google Cache.