How to unblock websites

By Jayden Andrews. February 12, 2020

Except for criminal activities, the internet should be a free space for anyone to do what they wish to do. It has a vast reserve of information and services that can provide value to every user. Unfortunately, authorities can block access to some sites, such as social media platforms, for many reasons. 

These reasons range from legitimate to illegitimate ones. Schools, governments, ISPs, and other companies may ban some websites in order to conserve bandwidth, minimize distractions, or censor content. For instance, your office may block you from getting on social media sites like YouTube during work hours, which could be legitimate. Governments can also prevent you from accessing these sites, yet you are paying for your internet. Such constraints over websites are incredibly frustrating.      

When it comes to the government blocking access to the internet and censorship, most people often think of the few authoritarian countries. In reality, more and more countries are censoring content more than ever. You have probably faced it yourself, and subsequently got annoyed. 

But all is not lost. You have two main options to get around this: accept the restriction and focus on other things or try to bypass the censorship. Let’s face it. Most people would choose the latter. The good thing is that unblocking geo-blocked websites is not as hard as most people think. You have got several options to circumvent such limitations, which we will cover shortly. 

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12 Ways to Unblock Websites

While there are several methods you can use to unblock websites, the reliability and safety of those options depend on the website you want to visit. The jurisdiction where you wish to visit the website from also matters. Some of our suggested solutions, such as a VPN, are very secure and reliable.

So, let’s look at the various options you have right now:

01

Use a VPN

VPNs are by far the most secure and reliable way to work around web filters. Unlike simple proxies, VPNs allow you to bypass censorship by routing your internet traffic through a server that conceals your identity. VPNs are reputable for adding the much-needed layer of security using encryption. In most cases, when a government or an ISP blocks a specific website, they usually block more than just the URL. Sometimes, they block IP address ranges, ports, or use other mechanisms to counter attempts to bypass the blockage. But with a VPN, it won’t matter if you are in a country or an institution with heavy internet censorship.

A VPN service bypasses most of the mechanisms put in place to block you from accessing restricted websites. That might be more than you need to unblock your favorite website, but there are many other reasons you may want a VPN.

There is a wide range of VPNs available, and the setup usually varies from across the board. Typically, you need to download and install VPN software on your device, which will then allow you to change some settings like the location of your server. From here, you can start browsing as you normally would.

02

Use Proxy Websites

Proxy websites work almost the same as VPNs, but they only lack encryption. So, they might be suitable for accessing blocked websites in professional environments. For instance, if your employer prevents you from accessing some websites, proxy websites will let you get around the filters. The simplest proxies may run through a web page or a browser. This way, the traffic from your browser is routed through the proxy. The only downside of using this proxy is that you cannot route traffic from any other service or app. For the best experience, choose a proxy that uses HTTPS encryption.

03

Get Web Pages via Email and RSS Readers

Web services like Web2Mail send web pages directly to your inbox, and it is usually free. To receive content from a particular website, send an email to www@web2mail.com with the site’s URL as the subject. RSS readers can also help you get updates from different websites in a single pace.

So, you can sign up to these readers to get content from blocked a website, if that website has an RSS feed.

04

Use IP Rather Than URL

If you can’t use a VPN or a proxy to access a blocked website, use the site’s IP address. Using an IP address is a good option if blocked websites are stored as a list of URLs. Usually, when you type a domain name into your browser, the browser request is directed to a server.

That server will return images, texts, or anything that the browser needs to load the website. It will return nothing if the URL of that website is blocked. But if its IP is blocked as well, then you won’t be able to access the site using this method.

So, what is the difference between an IP address and a URL? An IP address is a string of numbers and decimals that identifies a site, while a URL is a direct connection to a website, including its domain name and the protocol identifier (HTTP://).

To get the IP address for any site of your choice, use the Command Prompt to do a ping domainname.com. You can also use similar commands and tools on other platforms like Linux, macOS, and Android.

05

Use Google Cache

Major search engines, such as Google and Yahoo, offer a cached version of web pages.

You never know, maybe the blocked site is among those cached by Google.

To access a blocked site, search for it on Google, and then click the down arrow beside the site URL and choose Cached. It will return the cached version of the web content.

06

Try Google’s Public DNS

If you are looking for a reliable DNS, then you can use Google’s Public DNS, a free DNS resolution service. Usually, when you visit a website, your device performs a DNS lookup to convert the numerical address of that page to what you see. If the censoring is applied to your network, the domain names linked to tainted sites will be prevented from resolving the page you visit. So, using an untainted Domain Name System like Google’s can help you get around this problem.

07

Change Your Device’s DNS Settings

Your ISP can impose some restrictions on your DNS address. But you can get around this temporary blockage by replacing your ISP’s DNS with an alternative DNS address. Even if you don’t have an alternative DNS, Google can help you get one.

08

Use the Tor Network

The Tor network employs the same mechanism as a VPN to bypass restrictions. Tor encrypts and routes your traffic through random servers on the web. So, it might provide more anonymity than a VPN. But it is less reliable for getting around filters and more decentralized than a VPN. Tor might be incompatible with a lot of devices and often gets very slow. Routing your traffic through many servers in different parts of the world takes time, hence the slower speed. For this reason, it might not help you to stream content.

09

Bypass the Restrictions via Extensions

Another option to bypass restriction put in place by your office is to use extensions. Several extensions allow you to access your favorite sites on Firefox, Chrome, and other browsers. ProxMate, UltraSurf, and Hola are just a few examples.

10

Use Short URL Services

The same way you can access a blocked website by using its IP address rather than the URL, you can access it using its masked URL. Indeed, short URL services may be all you need to bypass web filters.

10

Use the Wayback Machine

The Wayback Machine offered by Archive.org usually indexes versions of most websites on the internet. This tool saves multiple versions of a site, making it possible to access an old version. As a savvy internet user, you can use this tool to access blocked content. The old downside to using it is that it might not have the current version of the website you want to access.

11

Use Google Translate

Sometimes, governments and institutions ban a website, but fail to block resources that are used to access it. What it means is that you can access some blocked websites via Google Translate. You can also try Microsoft’s Bing translation service to see if it does the trick.

To use Google Translate as a web proxy, visit translate.google.com, and then complete these steps:

  • Type the website you want to visit into the translate box and select a language that isn’t English.
  • After that, follow the link in the translate box, where it will take you to the blocked website.

Final Verdict

Relying on governments and other authorities to act in your best interest and keep every website accessible might disappoint you. Luckily, they can’t prevent you from accessing your favorite site.

As you can see, accessing blocked websites is easy. The only catch is that you have to choose the method that best suits your needs. If security and reliability are your priorities, then VPN is your best choice. And if you are looking for a free alternative, then Tor is a smart option.

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