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How to unblock websites and access restricted content from anywhere

Keyboard unblock button

In the age of freedom of expression, the mere fact that you might need to google the phrase “how to unblock websites” seems like a cruel joke.

Fortunately, there exist multiple ways to access restricted sites, no matter if they’re blocked by your school, workplace, or the government itself (I’m looking at you, China).

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), open proxies, and various browser extensions are among the many ways that will help you unblock any site you want.

In this article, I’ll describe eight methods that let you browse the web freely, bypassing censorship and geo-restrictions.

Best and secure ways to unblock websites

  1. method: Use a VPN
  2. method: Open proxy
  3. method: Browser extensions
  4. method: use an IP instead of a URL
  5. method: Tor Browser
  6. method: Google Translate
  7. method: Dynamic IP
  8. method: HTML to PDF converter

1. Use a VPN to unblock any site you want

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is possibly the best method to unblock websites, especially if you need to access restricted content on a regular basis.

In short, a VPN is a tool that encrypts your internet traffic and lets you fake your IP address so that nobody can see your real location, allowing you to access geo-blocked websites, e.g. US Netflix. At the moment, it is also the most popular tool to combat online censorship – instead of accessing a website directly, you are doing so through a VPN server, which means your ISP doesn’t know what you’re doing and can’t block you.

The best thing about VPNs is the fact that they make your online activity completely anonymous. In this way, even your Internet Service Provider won’t be able to track you when you unblock websites that are restricted in your country (or office).

NordVPN country selection interface

In addition, most VPN providers offer apps for different platforms. For example, NordVPN has native apps for Windows, Linux, Android, Mac, iOS, and more. This opens a lot of possibilities to unblock sites whenever you want, no matter what kind of device you’re using.

Security level: High

Pros:

  • Completely anonymous
  • High chance of unblocking any site
  • Allows you to watch geo-restricted content
  • Offers customer support

Cons:

  • Needs installation
  • Usually not free

2. Unblock sites with an open proxy

If you’re in a hurry or need to unblock a page on a public computer, using a proxy website is the best way to go.

Just like VPNs, proxies hide your real IP address from the website, as well as the website’s IP address from your government, workplace, or university. Using a proxy is free and requires no installation, making it a perfect tool to get around restrictions at work, school, or a public library. Proxies are also able to unlock some geo-restricted pages, but you won’t have any luck with big streaming services like Netflix.

Free web proxy interface

Proxies have their own drawbacks. Some proxy providers might monitor your online activity or even leak your IP, failing to let you unblock sites at all.

Also, your school or workplace might block proxy websites themselves. Luckily, as the number of proxy sites on the web is huge, you are likely to find one that isn’t blacklisted.

Security level: Medium

Pros:

  • No installation required
  • Usually free
  • Unblocks some geo-restricted content

Cons:

  • Might collect your data
  • Can be blacklisted by an admin
  • Might fail to unblock sites
  • Limited servers
  • Usually quite slow

3. Install a VPN or proxy browser extension

If you need to unblock a dynamic site like Youtube, Twitter, or Amazon, a website-based proxy might not be enough. Instead, you can try installing a proxy in the form of a browser extension for your Chrome, Edge, or Firefox. This kind of website unblocker tool will help you browse with ease, letting you choose different servers depending on your needs.

NordVPN browser extension

You might also want to try a VPN browser extension as an alternative to installing the program onto your computer. Most big-brand VPNs offer add-ons that you can use with your preferred browser.

Security level: High

Pros:

  • Encrypts your connection
  • High chance of unblocking websites
  • Lets you access geo-restricted streaming sites

Cons:

  • Usually not free
  • Requires installation on the browser

4. Use an IP address instead of a URL

There’s always a chance that your institution blocks specific URLs instead of IPs. If that’s the case, you can unblock a site with the help of its IP address.

In case you’re not familiar with the terms, an URL is the website address string you see in your address bar (like https://facebook.com or https://reddit.com), while an IP address is a specific sequence of numbers that is unique to the server hosting the website. You can paste it into the address bar and access the site you need.

However, how do you find the IP address of a website?

Well, there are a few methods. For example, this is what you can do if you’re using Windows:

  1. Type in “cmd” into your start menu
  2. Open a program called Command Prompt
  3. Write the word “ping” and the name of the website you want to unblock (for example, reddit.com)
Ping reddit in command prompt

Then, all you have to do is press Enter and you’ll have the IP address of the site you want to unblock. Paste it into your search bar and enjoy your restricted content!

Unblock sites with Command Prompt

Keep in mind that other operating systems have different tools for locating IP addresses. Linux users can find theirs by typing dig websitename.com into the command line while Mac users can use the Traceroute option.

Security level: Low

Pros:

  • Completely free
  • No installation needed

Cons:

  • Doesn’t always work
  • Complicated for people with no IT knowledge
  • No encryption

5. Use the Tor Browser to unblock banned sites

The Tor Browser is a free open-source internet anonymity tool created as a response to online censorship.

By sending your data through a network of volunteer servers, it hides your IP from the destination server and hides the destination server IP from your ISP. As a result, the Tor browser is a great tool to unblock sites.

Tor browser

If you want to give it a shot, download Tor and use it as your regular browser. Keep in mind that your connection speed might plummet while Tor is in use, and that some websites might still be blocked.

Security level: High

Pros:

  • Completely free
  • 100% anonymity
  • Traffic encryption
  • Access to the deep web

Cons:

  • No access to Netflix
  • Slower speed
  • Some sites block Tor nodes
  • Requires installation

6. View blocked content with Google Translate

Even though this might sound like a joke, you can actually unblock (or rather “access content on”) sites by using good old Google Translate.

Simply paste the website you want to unblock into the field where you would type the text that needs to be translated. Then, click on the link that comes in the translation section and you’ll access the page!

Unblock websites with Google Translate

However, be aware that the quality of the content displayed can be disappointing. You might even see only text instead of the usual layout. In addition, you might not be able to click the links presented on the website.

As a result, Google Translate is useful only when you need to unblock a site for its information, e.g. an article or a forum thread.

Security level: Low

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Absolutely free

Cons:

  • No data encryption
  • Might not preserve the original layout
  • Works only on PCs

7.  Take advantage of a dynamic IP

This method will help you access sites that specifically block your IP address. However, it will work only if your ISP has given you a dynamic IP address, which changes occasionally.

It’s not rocket science: if you can’t access a particular website, simply restart your router and see whether the page you want to visit is able to load.

Unfortunately, if you have a static IP address, restarting your router won’t work for you. To determine the kind of IP you have (dynamic or static), write it down and compare it with the one you get after the router restart.

Tip: To see your current IP address, type in “what is my IP address” into your browser’s search bar.

Security level: Low

Pros:

  • No installation required
  • Completely free

Cons:

  • Works only with dynamic IP addresses
  • Useful only in cases when a particular website blocks your IP

8. Use HTML to PDF converter to download restricted content

If you don’t really need to access a restricted website, i.e. you only need to read its contents, then this HTML to PDF converter may do the trick.

Unblock websites with a PDF converter

This free tool will take any URL and convert it to a PDF document, displaying the text and pictures as they appear on the site. You can then download the file or simply preview it online.

Security level: Low

Pros:

  • No installation required
  • Completely free

Cons:

  • No way of interacting with the content
  • Doesn’t allow you to actually visit the site

How to unblock websites at school or work?

It’s no secret that institutions like schools, universities, or offices can restrict access to certain websites that are deemed inappropriate or might put a strain on productivity.

However, these restrictions sometimes go overboard. Whether you want to check your emails or take a scroll or two through your social media platform, you may need to have a way to unblock the sites that let you communicate with the outside world.

So, here’s what might work best for you. If it’s your personal work computer, you might be able to install a VPN and use it as much as you please. However, you won’t have such luxury if you’re using a public computer at school or if you don’t have an assigned workstation at your job.

In this case, a proxy website might become your best friend, as it requires no installation. Other good methods to unblock sites at school or work are using IP instead of URL or simply converting the page’s contents into a PDF file.

You may also like to read:

Why are websites getting banned?

If you find yourself unable to access a web page, there can be multiple reasons behind it. Luckily, whether you’ve accidentally left the Parental Control filter on or the site got banned by the government, there’s usually a way to fix this problem by yourself.

  • Censorship. Believe it or not, online censorship is still a huge problem in 2021 – and China is not the only culprit. There are many governments that limit the access to content that might clash with their political or religious views, and a good VPN is one of the few ways to bypass this.
  • Geo-blocking. The majority of streaming sites offer a different content selection for people in different countries because of copyright agreements. Luckily, you can watch movies unavailable in your own country thanks to proxies and VPNs.
  • Work policy. Some schools, universities, or offices block access to certain websites that contain unethical, illegal, or inappropriate content. However, even completely safe sites often get blocked in an attempt to increase productivity or to preserve bandwidth.

In Western countries, the usage of tools like VPNs or proxies is completely legal as long as you don’t involve yourself in illegal activities like torrenting copyrighted content.

So, if you simply want to unblock Facebook at work, you won’t break any laws. Sure, you go against your work policy and might still get into trouble, but that’s about it. The same goes for unblocking geo-restricted content on streaming sites like Netflix or Youtube. It is not illegal – it simply goes against the site’s terms of use.

However, keep in mind that every country is different. Countries like China, Saudi Arabia, or North Korea (which are listed as “Enemies of the Internet” by Reporters Without Borders) have much stricter laws in terms of VPN usage. It is smart to research the regulations of your particular country before trying to access restricted websites.

Best VPNs for unblocking websites

Despite the vast selection of methods to bypass internet restrictions, using VPN apps that unblock websites is the best way of getting the content you need.

That’s because a VPN will do this in the most effective way possible. It won’t distort the layout of the page you’re trying to reach, won’t slow down the traffic too much, and will even let you watch blocked videos on Youtube and other streaming platforms.

In other words, you’ll feel as if the site hadn’t been blocked in the first place.

NordVPN

Featured as the #1 VPN provider of the year, NordVPN is much more than a website unblocker.

It offers complete anonymity while browsing, encrypts your data using the AES-256 cipher, offers a wide variety of tunneling protocols (including its own revolutionary NordLynx protocol), and a huge number of extra features like a free SOCKS5 proxy.

With NordVPN, you’ll be able to bypass the website restrictions posed by your workplace or school. In addition to this, you’ll have no problem accessing the geo-restricted libraries of Netflix, Disney+, HBO, and Hulu.

You can get a NordVPN subscription for as low as $3.71 a month if you buy their two-year plan. However, if you’re not sure if you want to commit, take advantage of their 30-day money-back guarantee. In this way, you’ll find out whether NordVPN truly fits all your needs.

For more NordVPN features, see our NordVPN review.

Surfshark VPN

Able to unblock restricted websites even in China, Surfshark VPN is an affordable tool to bypass online censorship.

Thanks to its use of the WireGuard tunneling protocol, it ranks third on AV-Comparatives’ list of the VPNs with the fastest download speed. It also offers 3,200 different servers in 65 countries, which means that you’ll always find the server you need for the best speed results.

However, the best thing about Surfshark is the fact that a single subscription covers an unlimited number of devices. In other words, you’ll not only be able to use Surfshark both at home and at work, but also cover the devices of your whole family. You can even unblock sites wherever you go if you install the VPN on your Android or iPhone.

Surfshark’s price starts at $2.49/month for a two-year subscription. You can also try a single-month plan for $12.95 and make use of its 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with the service.

Make sure you don’t miss our Surfshark VPN review.

ExpressVPN

Even though a bit expensive (from $8.32 a month), ExpressVPN is one of the best choices to bypass online censorship thanks to its utmost attention to privacy.

Its strict no-logs policy, AES-256 encryption, IP leak prevention, and RAM-only servers provide the highest level of security any VPN could give you. It also offers a huge list of tunneling protocols to choose from, including OpenVPN, which is one of the most popular protocols available, and their own Lightway protocol.

In addition, ExpressVPN is great at unblocking sites. It lets you access web pages no matter if they are blocked by your workplace or country. The program also offers useful features like the kill switch, which will automatically disconnect you from the internet if the connection between your PC and the VPN is compromised.

For more information, read our ExpressVPN review.

Bottom line

Whether you live in a country where the majority of international websites are blocked or you simply want to watch a Netflix movie unavailable in your region, having lots of options to unblock sites feels liberating.

It’s good to know that no matter how hard someone might try to enforce online censorship, there will always be people who develop new ways to defend your right to information.

FAQ

How to unblock websites at school?

The fastest and easiest way to unblock websites at school is using a proxy website. It will not only unblock the site you need, but will also make it hard to track your online activity.

Which browser is best for blocked sites?

The Tor browser. Even though other browsers like Chrome allow you to add extensions that unblock sites, Tor does this on its own without the need for add-ons.

Can VPN unblock sites?

Yes. A VPN can bypass most internet restrictions, allowing you to access geo-restricted content or websites banned by your institution.

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