Nothing is quite as frustrating as trying to get on your favorite website and finding it blocked. There are many reasons an authority decides to block the public’s access to a website, just like there are many reasons the public wants to get through. Annoying bans and restrictions take place when employers, schools, and governments feel the need to censor content. Blocked websites are no match for a little ingenuity, but how do you do it?

How to unblock websites

If you want to learn how to unblock websites, there are several options. A VPN is the most reliable choice, but there are a few other methods you can also try.

VPN

surfshark vpn to unblock websites

The best way to unblock websites is through a VPN, or Virtual Private Network. Not only do VPNs allow you to access blocked websites, they also protect your privacy completely. For this reason and many others, it’s the best choice when looking for how to unblock websites. A VPN routes your connections through a private server, hiding your identity.

VPNs encrypt your data before it even leaves your device, which means even your internet provider can’t see what you’re doing. The data goes first to the VPN, then out into the world to connect with whatever site you’re looking for. Don’t confuse a “free proxy” service with a legitimate VPN server. “Free proxy servers” are almost always tracking your activity and serving you ads.

Some benefits of using a VPN include the facts that the destination site can’t see who you are, your computer can’t be identified by third parties, and data is encrypted instead of being sent out raw.

Change your network proxy

disable network proxy

The internet provider you are using could have several different proxies. If you find a website blocked or restricted, you can try disabling the proxy settings in your network. How you do this depends on what browser you’re using. Go to settings and find the network or connections options. You can choose to have no proxy, or select one that has unrestricted browsing. You may have to use a little trial and error before you get through.

URL recasting

A quick, simple thing to try with a blocked website is URL recasting. This is just fooling around with how the URL is written to try to get through to the blocked site. This sometimes works if a site doesn’t have a verified SSL. Try using https instead of http, or leaving the http off and just typing the www. If this results in a security warning, click proceed and see if the website opens.

Portable browsers

To unblock a website at school, you can download a browser onto an external memory device. Install a web browser like Firefox onto an external USB or similar device and you could be able to bypass the block.

Use Google translate

unbloxk websites with google translate

Sometimes even when Google is banned, Google Translate is not. This is because it is generally considered an educational tool so is non-threatening. However, it may be able to unblock sites for you at school or work. Convert the blocked site into another language that you know, and you may be able to bypass the block. You can also try Microsoft’s Bing or another translation service and see if it works.

Try an online proxy

If your access to certain websites is blocked at work or school, you can try a proxy. This will allow you to access social networking sites, video streaming, or other blocked websites. It is important to remember that a proxy server is not at all as secure as a VPN. However, they will get the job done if there are no other alternatives. Proxy websites camouflage your ISP from the blocked site and lets you access it.

Use the IP address instead of the domain name

One simple thing to try if you run into a blocked website is using the IP address instead of the actual domain name. This trick can fool DNS servers who are blocking the website. For example, instead of typing http://www.facebook.com into your browsers address bar, type 31.13.72.33. If you don’t know the IP address of the site you’re trying to reach, you can find it here.

Try the internet archive

There is a fascinating site called The Wayback Machine that gives you access to a copy of almost everything on the web, even if it is now defunct. This gives you access to saved versions of the site you are looking for. You may find that the archived version of the site is not blocked and you can surf to your heart’s content.

Most popular websites and web apps that are blocked

There are many popular websites that can be blocked for various reasons. Many times, this is because of a government policy to try to prevent their citizens from getting information. Here are a few examples a website blocking

  • Facebook – Some governments are fearful of the ideas and information available on Facebook, and also because activists can use it for planning purposes. China, Iran, Korea, Pakistan, and Vietnam all block Facebook, just to name a few.
  • Twitter – This social networking site is blocked in North Korea, Iran, China, and Turkmenistan after their governments identified “illegal tweets”. Either Twitter notifies users from that country that they can’t see the tweet, or it will be blocked unilaterally.
  • Reddit – This content site hosts a massive amount of political discussion and technical details that many governments would prefer weren’t discussed. For this reason, Reddit is completely blocked in Russia, North Korea, Indonesia, and China.
  • Wikipedia – France, Italy, Iran, China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Uzbekistan are just saying no to Wikipedia. Why? The incredible wealth of information available on almost every subject.
  • YouTube – Since you can get any and all types of content on YouTube, one of the world’s most popular websites, naturally it is banned in certain countries. YouTube is blocked in China, Iran, and North Korea and censored by 21 additional countries.
  • Hulu – The mature content on Hulu can cause it to be blocked.
  • Google – Given it’s incredible usefulness, it is no wonder that many governments fear it. Google and Gmail allows information to spread incredibly quickly, and it allows people to research anything with ease. Google Maps is also feared for its satellite imagery. Google is banned in North Korea, Sudan, Syria, Russia, Iran, China, and Cuba.
  • WhatsApp – The world’s most popular messaging app is not welcome everywhere. On WhatsApp people can call, text, and have group chats, so it is seen as a threat to some governments who block this app.
  • Twitch – Many people love watching gaming live streams on Twitch. There’s a chat feature where many people can participate. Sometimes the users and the streamers can get a bit wild. Countries like Russia and China have blocked this site.
  • Adult Sites – Some workplaces and countries want to tell you what you can see. How you spend your time is impossible to know if you’re using a solid VPN service.
  • Skype – Skype helps you to connect face to face with anyone in the world. There’s are free and paid versions. The connection is encrypted as well. Seven countries clamp down on Skype currently.
  • Telegram – This is another encrypted messaging app. It is said to be extremely secure since Telegram never gets an unencrypted version of the chats. Users can also make encrypted voice calls and host news channels. Governments don’t like that this allows information to flow quickly and privately. About 4 countries restrict Telegram. Russia is the country that is known for cracking down the most.

Why This Matters

People all across the world have been arrested and imprisoned simply for their content. Some countries have arrested people simply for saying something “subversive” or “offensive.” These terms are vague and easy for a government to use broadly.

Other people get in trouble for viewing streamed content. Some countries have much stricter copyright laws than others. Fines for this can be quite expensive for people who aren’t careful.

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