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Governments and institutions have their reasons to block websites and online services. Yet there’s almost always a way around the blocking – you just need to know what they are.
Of course, the means you need to use to bypass a block will differ based on how it was implemented. In this article, we will discuss 11 effective ways to bypass various website blocking measures. These include:
- VPNs (Virtual Private Networks)
- Changing your DNS server
- Using the Wayback Machine
These are just a few of many ways you can unblock a website. So, read on to learn the details.
How to access blocked websites
Some businesses, schools, and governments block sites for the purposes of minimizing distractions, censoring content and conserving bandwidth. However, there are various ways for how to access blocked websites that hide a user’s online identity and avoid restrictions.
One of the easiest methods is by recasting the URL on occasions where a certain website is hosted on a VPN that lacks the verified installed SSL. When this is used, a security notice is displayed and the user is given an option of proceeding anyway and visiting the website.
1. Using VPN or Tor to open blocked websites
VPNs enable users to go through restricted sites from almost any network by relocating IP addresses. Users can download apps and open websites that are restricted in their countries and schools using a good VPN.
The VPN makes a tunnel which changes a user’s data in such a way that it cannot be hacked and consequently encrypts users’ connection for tighter security. There are various VPNs that users can choose from, such as NordVPN, CyberGhost VPN, Surfshark and many, many more.
2. Use Tor
For stronger security, users can combine a VPN with The Onion Router, or Tor. It enables users to browse anonymously and inhibits browsing traffic from being tracked due to its enhanced privacy.
However, Tor can be used on its own as well. As Tor is built on a network of volunteer relays, it prevents onlookers from being able to track down specific users’ information and search patterns.
Tor is completely free, albeit often very slow.
3. Unblocking websites using a different DNS
When governments ban some websites in some areas, it is the ISP that blocks traffic to and from the website. Alternating DNS settings from a user’s ISP to something disparate can assist in accessing a blocked site. A user can alter their DNS to a Google Public DNS.
Right-click the network symbol in the taskbar, then select Open Network Sharing and double-click on their network in the window. A dialogue box appears and the user is free to change the DNS below IPv4.
4. Using proxy servers
Proxy servers can be used to access blocked sites by sending traffic through a proxy server. Users can send a web query to the proxy and have that proxy make the connection before sending back the results.
Communication via a proxy is not blocked since the user communicates directly with it rather than the website. There are several proxies that users can select such as Anonymous, Ultrasurf, and HideMyAss. Reliable proxies can help a user to circumvent Internet censorship.
Using proxy servers is easy as long as the user follows the steps below:
- Go to the proxy service website and type in the URL on the site you wish to unblock. Press enter.
- Browse the restricted website as you normally would. Once you start browsing, you will see the address bar of your browser displaying the proxy service’s domain, thus ensuring that you are browsing anonymously.
One important thing to keep in mind when it comes to proxy servers is that traffic is often not encrypted.
5. Use of translation services to unblock websites
Another method of unblocking websites is by making use of online translation services. Google translate, for example, picks up a website and displays it for the user without directly visiting the site.
Users can utilize this trick by requesting the translating services to interpret English pages into English. But, when inputting the URL English should not be selected as the source language. Keep “translate from” as auto detect and ‘Translate to” as English then click on translate. This method only works with single page sites as navigation is restricted.
6. Using Internet options and HTTPS to unblock websites
If a website has been blocked using Internet Options, a user can still unblock it. The user should follow these steps:
- Go to Internet Options in the control panel. On the security tab, click on “blocked websites” in the Internet Security Zone.
- Then, click on the button labeled “Sites.” Check if the websites URL you wish to access is listed there. If yes, choose the URL and click remove.
- You will be approved and the website should be unblocked with ease on any browser.
HTTP is a common communication protocol that enables users and servers to interact while HTTPS is an encrypted and secure means of communication. Websites can be unblocked by altering HTTP to HTTPS. This is effective on websites that host their domain on a VPS, the ones with an unverified SSL certificate, as well as a dedicated server environment.
To use this method:
- Open your browser and go to address bar
- Type https://www.example.com instead of http://www.example.com
- Click proceed anyway if a security message pops-up, and access the blocked websites
7. Using a Wayback Machine and RSS to unblock readers website
Wayback Machines can be used to browse archived pages without really visiting the blocked site. This is because the machine keeps copies of many of the websites on the internet. With this, users can view blocked research resources.
The machine is easy to use and all a user needs to do is go to https://archive.org/web/ in your browser. Enter a website address into the text field near the top of the page. Click browse history. Select calendar day. Review the results.
Users can also use RSS to unblock a website that has been blocked by their Internet Server Provider. This is due to the fact that majority of the websites that issue articles on the internet have their RSS feeds readily available for their readers. Readers can get fresh ideas and read with ease by grabbing and adding the RSS feed of the blocked website to their device without actually logging into the main site. An example of one RSS is “Feedly”.
8. Changing the network proxy in browsers to unblock sites
If a user’s institution has several proxies for its network, they can simply change the network proxy in their browsers to allow access to the websites. This is due to the fact that many websites are available in some proxies and unavailable in others.
For this to be effective, the user should first disable the proxy network by finding the network/connections option in the web browser settings. Then choose the non proxy alternative or use another proxy that provides unlimited browsing at the institution.
9. Unlocking websites using IP address/ Firefox from a USB drive
Authorities blocking a website might omit using IP and instead store the URL and ignoring the fact that each website’s URL has an IP address. With this in mind, a user can simply get the IP address for any site by using a domain such as the ping.com command in command prompt.
Once the user gets the IP address, they can enter it in their browser’s address bar and hit enter to visit the blocked website. Users with Linux, Mac and Android can use the same command with similar tools.
Restricted sites are also accessible using free browsers such as Firefox or Portable Opera USB. This applies to cases where users are not allowed by their institutions to install extensions on their web browsers.
Using Opera Portable via USB is easy:
- Visit opera-usb.com and download it to your flash drive
- Put the USB flash drive into the guest PC
- Click operausb.exe inside opera952en, to start the USB portable browser. The browser sends a request to the servers that act as anonymous proxies.
10. How to unblock websites on Chrome
Another way is by unblocking the site from the confined list. For this, the following steps should be followed:
- Open Chrome browser
- Click the menu button – look for 3 dots at the upper right corner
- Click settings. Scroll down and look for “Show advanced settings”
- Click “Change proxy settings” in the network section, then click the “Security” tab followed by “Restricted sites” icon
- Click “Sites” option in order to open restricted sites windows
- Finally, click the restricted websites from the list and choose the “Remove” button; the specific blocked website unblocks automatically.
Otherwise, if this doesn’t work, read the instructions below for using a VPN.
11. How to unblock a Gmail account
For those looking for information on how to unblock Gmail accounts, the answer is a simple one. A good VPN that is reliable in creating a private network over a public one is usually all that is required. The VPN should route traffic through an encrypted tunnel that will shield it from geo-blocks. There are a few steps on how to get a VPN to unblock Gmail:
- Sign up with a trusted VPN
- Install the VPN software on the devices of your choice.
- Connect to the VPN, preferably in a Gmail-friendly country.
- Go to the Google sign in page. If your VPN is working properly, you will be able to access Gmail.
12. Ways of unblocking websites in China
There are several ways to bypass a blocked website in China. One of the best is by using Shadowsocks. The open source proxy guarantees users freedom from online censorship by providing vital protocols that are hard to delete.
It encrypts the connection between a proxy server and a user’s computer by using the SOCKS5 protocol. However, this tool isn’t really made for the user’s privacy protection. Its main purpose is to evade censorship. Shadowsocks encrypts traffic from the user’s device to the user’s proxy server without hiding their IP.
Ultrasurf is a popular anti-censorship freeware program that is used in China to unblock websites. It detours firewalls using an HTTP proxy server that works similar to a VPN by creating a tunnel between a pool of servers in different locations and a user’s computer.
Ultrasurf has a unique feature in that it changes the IP address of its servers up to 10,000 times/hour. This way, it cannot be detected and its users can candidly access the internet. Once it is uninstalled, it leaves no trace of any data.
There are many reasons as to why websites are blocked, such as to keep away distractions of employees and students, or to keep certain content away from citizens in countries like China, Russia and Egypt.
All these measures are sometimes useful, but mostly a hindrance to the people surfing the web. With the recommended methods above, users can easily unblock websites and enjoy surfing without being caught. However, the solutions come with some advantages and disadvantages that users should be ready to encounter.
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Nadin has been tinkering with computers and gadgets for as long as she can remember. She has extensive knowledge about various topics, including IoT, Linux, digital security, and more. Nowadays, she works as an IT network professional and writes helpful guides in her free time.