A reliable VPN is the very thing that helps you bypass various restrictions online. Yet your ISP, the government, organizations, or even websites can block your VPN connection.
Luckily, by choosing a high-rated and trustworthy VPN, you can avoid these restrictions and bypass VPN blocks. Making your VPN connection virtually undetectable.
In this article, you’ll find out everything you need to know about VPN blocking and the best ways to fix it.
How to effectively bypass VPN blocks?
- Switch servers to another location
- Use a different encryption or tunneling protocol
- Get a dedicated VPN address
- Choose a VPN that can do it all, we recommend NordVPN, now 68% OFF
5 best VPNs for bypassing blocks
The following top-rated VPN providers are known for being able to get around various VPN blocks. This is due to various technologies from obfuscated servers to integrated proxies.
- NordVPN – the best VPN that includes obfuscated servers
- Surfshark – least expensive VPN with powerful Camouflage mode
- IPVanish – regularly rotates IP addresses
- ExpressVPN – dedicated network of obfuscated servers
- Atlas VPN – IP address rotation, browsing protection
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What is a VPN blocker
A VPN blocker is a method in which you’re prevented from using VPN tunnels. Because a VPN encrypts your data and hides your browsing activity, giving you anonymity and privacy online. However, that’s why certain organizations or even the government would like to prevent the use of VPNs.
You might be experiencing VPN blocking due to existing government censorship, so you’re prevented from visiting certain sites or have to deal with geographical location restrictions. Or the use of VPN can even be banned by organizations or schools to prevent users from accessing certain sites on the business’s or school’s networks.
In addition, the most common ways to block VPN use are:
- IP blocking – when the entire list of IP addresses connected with the VPN is blocked on the network.
- Port blocking – when the firewall blocks specific ports that VPNs use.
- Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) – check the data packets that are moving through the connection traffic from and to the device. It’s to try and figure out if anyone’s using a VPN connection and block it. DPI identifies VPN use by analyzing data packets for patterns that often indicate encryption and tunneling protocols commonly used by VPNs.
How to bypass VPN blocks: 8 working methods
There are plenty of ways to bypass VPN blocking and we’ll present some of them in more detail for you. So, no matter how and why your internet access is restricted, you’ll be able to safely unblock any site you wish with a secure and trustworthy VPN.
1. Choosing a secure and reliable VPN
While there are lots of VPNs available on the market, not all of them can bypass geo-blocks. That’s why it’s important to know how to choose one that can. Here’s what you should look for when picking a VPN for bypassing blocks:
- A vast server fleet. When it comes to servers – the more, the merrier. That’s because if one server doesn’t unblock content, you have plenty of others to test out.
- Obfuscated servers. Traffic obfuscation means hiding the fact that you’re using a VPN. This helps trick sites and platforms into thinking that you’re physically in a country where their content is allowed, thus accessing it without restrictions.
- A selection of tunneling protocols. A VPN that can offer a few tunneling protocol options is a huge plus. Protocols, such as WireGuard, ensure super-fast speeds.
- Dedicated IP. VPNs with dedicated IP feature will make it much harder to identify your connection as going through a VPN tunnel, since you'll always connect with the same IP address, which will be encrypted.
The best VPN solution that has it all is NordVPN. It has over 5,800 servers in 60 countries, includes traffic obfuscation, unmatched performance, and features for streaming, such as Smart DNS.
2. Switching to another server or VPN
It goes without saying that simply switching server (and getting lucky!) is the easiest way to get your VPN up and running. Usually, a VPN provider offers hundreds of different servers (often having multiple in the same country), so trying to reconnect might just be the thing you need to get around the VPN block.
It’s especially simple with services like NordVPN that have plenty of servers in many countries. You can also try connecting to another country if the server location is not that important to you.
However, if you can’t seem to find a server that works, you might just ditch your current VPN altogether and try a new one. The best thing about that is the fact that you can do it for free, as most major-brand VPNs offer a 30-day money-back guarantee that lets you try out service after service until you find the one that unblocks everything you need.
3. Using obfuscated servers
Sometimes, connecting to an obfuscated server (or using a "stealth mode" or "stealth protocol") will be the only way to get you out of a VPN block. This is especially relevant for people who live in places like China, where ISPs perform Deep Packet Inspection to detect VPN traffic. Such servers help because they often connect through ports that are usually used by email providers, websites, and other essential services, and thus aren’t usually blocked.
To use obfuscated servers, you first need to pick a VPN that offers them. We recommend Surfshark and NordVPN as a few of the services that have continuously proven to bypass VPN blocking thanks to this technology.
Once you’ve downloaded and installed the VPN of your choice, connecting to an obfuscated server is super easy – for example, if you use NordVPN, connect to the obfuscated server from the specialty servers section on the main app panel.
4. Changing the tunneling protocol, encryption, or port
This is yet another simple way to bypass VPN blocks. For a variety of reasons, your VPN might be blocked only when using a certain tunneling protocol. You might fix this by picking a different one in the Settings menu of your VPN application. It can be especially helpful to use new and less popular VPN protocols, as they may not have been blocked yet by your network or in your country.
You might get around VPN blocking by using a different encryption algorithm. Luckily, some VPNs let you pick a preferred type of encryption manually.
Alternatively, you can try selecting a different port used by a tunneling protocol. As an example, even though the default port of OpenVPN is 1194, it doesn’t mean that this protocol can’t use entirely different ports – you just need to select them manually.
Sometimes, it’s possible to do this directly on the app, however, you might need to do this manually as not all applications have such selection options implemented directly.
5. Getting a dedicated/static IP address
If the reason behind your VPN block is plain old IP range blocking, then getting a dedicated IP address might solve the problem. That’s because you’ll be the only person using it, which means that it will draw less suspicion.
Many VPN services allow you to buy a static IP (which usually costs a couple of dollars a month), which is well worth the money when you consider its usefulness.
6. Switching to mobile data
Believe it or not, enabling mobile data on your phone can instantly help you bypass VPN blocks if VPN connections are banned by the network of your school or workplace.
Sure, you won’t be enjoying free Wi-Fi anymore, but you’ll be able to use the VPN of your choice. Just keep an eye on your mobile data limit if you don’t have an unlimited data allowance.
7. Changing the DNS settings
You might not be able to access VPN servers due to the blocks set by your ISP. Luckily, tweaking your DNS settings has a decent chance of setting things right. You can consider some of the most popular DNS providers like Cloudflare (220.127.116.11, 18.104.22.168), Google (22.214.171.124, 126.96.36.199), and OpenDNS (188.8.131.52, 184.108.40.206).
Tweaking your DNS settings can also work instead of using a VPN (assuming a website you want to access is blocked at the DNS level). However, keep in mind that this method works differently than a VPN. Your traffic won’t be encrypted – you’ll simply unblock the websites banned by your ISP.
8. Setting up a manual VPN connection
When your VPN gets blocked, a manual VPN connection might be your best solution. You can try setting up a VPN connection manually on your device (for example, it’s possible on Windows 10) via inbuilt VPN functionality or an app like OpenVPN Connect or strongSwan.
Setting up your own VPN server is also a way to go, but it can be a time-consuming, challenging, and expensive endeavor. On the bright side, it almost guarantees that websites won’t be able to detect that you’re using a VPN (especially if you use your own hardware and network to set it up).
Other ways to unblock content
If you don’t have the time to go through all of our suggested methods to unblock your VPN, you’ll appreciate the following alternatives that will give you the opportunity to access blocked websites.
SOCKS5 proxy (Shadowsocks)
Even though much more limited than VPNs, proxies are one of the more reliable ways to unblock the pages you need. Just keep in mind that the level of security won’t usually be the same as with a VPN. It’s also likely that you won’t be able to unblock everything you need – for example, a proxy might not let you watch geo-blocked Netflix content.
Keep in mind that it’s generally better to use a SOCKS5 proxy than an HTTP proxy. It is much more flexible in terms of types of traffic (HTTP is only for web traffic, whereas SOCKS5 can also be used on your torrent app, for example).
Shadowsocks is particularly powerful and may even get you over the Great Firewall of China.
And the best part – some VPN providers allow you to use a proxy without the need for manual configuration.
Using Tor won’t unblock your VPN, but it can serve as a pretty good alternative. It is an open-source browser based on a network of volunteer servers, which protects your anonymity by hiding your real IP address and encrypting your data.
However, even though Tor will unblock a fair share of websites, it's very slow. Also, you can't choose the country you want to connect through.
SmartDNS (or a DNS proxy) is available as a feature by many VPN providers like NordVPN and Surfshark. It helps you access streaming sites like Netflix or HBO on devices that don’t support VPN connections. These include smart TVs and gaming consoles.
Why are VPNs blocked?
There are lots of reasons why a website, your ISP, or the government might block VPN connections. Here are the most common ones:
1. School and workplace policy
It’s no secret that some schools, universities, or even offices block certain pages like Facebook, Twitter, or Youtube for productivity reasons (if that actually makes people more productive is another question). And as a VPN is one of the ways to bypass these bans, your workplace or school might block VPN connections as well.
Another reason for banning VPNs at school or at the office is the possibility to supervise Internet traffic, as VPNs make it impossible for ISPs and network admins to access your browsing history.
To prevent you from using a VPN to access blocked websites, your ISP or network admin can use firewalls or other network filtering measures.
Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and other streaming platforms are unintentionally responsible for a huge chunk of the world’s VPN sales. And the reason behind this drive for VPNs are geographical licensing restrictions.
For example, you might have noticed that your country’s Netflix library doesn’t include certain movies and shows available in other regions of the world. That’s because the platform didn’t buy the license to distribute these shows in your country.
As a result, streaming services have to ensure that their content can be accessed only in the regions it is licensed in. Unfortunately, this simply means blocking VPNs and proxies.
3. Fraud prevention
Some websites that deal with money don’t allow VPN usage in fear of money laundering. For example, you may not be able to do any transactions via PayPal if you’re connected to a VPN server.
Even worse, you might get locked out of your account when trying to do so.
4. Legal issues
Remember – using a VPN doesn’t make an illegal activity legal. A good example is playing at online casinos. As some countries deem gambling illegal, many gamblers use VPNs to be able to play real money games that would otherwise be inaccessible in their region.
However, some casinos block VPN connections and might even terminate your account (together with all the winnings) if VPN usage is detected.
5. Political reasons
Even though it’s truly unfair, there are many countries that use online censorship to limit the information that reaches their citizens. For example, China doesn’t allow any access to Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and even Pinterest or Wikipedia. For this reason, VPN usage is widespread in China among natives and tourists alike.
However, it’s rather difficult to find a VPN that works in China due to strict regulations. And even if you find one that bypasses the Great Firewall of China, you may get fined if the government finds out about that.
Also, keep in mind that some countries ban VPNs entirely. Don’t try using one in Russia, Belarus, Turkmenistan, Turkey, or North Korea if you don’t want to risk your freedom.
Types of VPN blocks
VPN blockers are the methods and techniques used to block any means of communication through VPN tunnels. Unfortunately, there exist tons of different ways to block unwanted VPN traffic. Below, I described the most common ones and explained how you can bypass them.
1. IP blocking
One of the simplest ways of VPN blocking is blacklisting the VPN’s IP addresses. Sites like Netflix and Hulu simply find the lists of IP addresses belonging to a VPN (unfortunately, these are sometimes available publicly) and block their access to the website.
It’s also possible for a service to notice unusual traffic associated with a certain IP address. Normally, an IP address is used by a single device. However, if the same IP gets shared by thousands of people, it becomes clear that a VPN might be involved here.
Solution: connecting to a different server; buying a dedicated IP
The best way to avoid this problem is to get an IP, unique only to you. Several VPN providers offer an opportunity to purchase a dedicated residential IP and avoid blocking. One of the best such options is NordVPN.Get NordVPN
2. Deep Packet Inspection
To enforce censorship, some countries might use a technique called Deep Packet Inspection (DPI). But how does it work?
Well, first of all, you should know that all the data that you transfer online (be it a text message or a visit to a website) is divided into data units that are called packets. A packet consists of two parts: the header and the payload.
Regular packet filtering examines only the header (which includes things like your IP address), however, deep packet filtering is a much more advanced technique that can also examine the payload – which allows detecting VPN traffic.
Solution: using a different encryption algorithm; picking a different tunneling protocol; connecting to an obfuscated server/using stealth mode; using a proxy
3. Port blocking
Some networks may try to block VPN connections by blocking common connection ports used by VPN protocols. For example, OpenVPN uses TCP Port 1194 by default and blocking these ports will prevent a VPN from connecting to a server.
Solution: switching to a different tunneling protocol; changing the default ports used by your VPN protocol; connecting to an obfuscated server/using stealth mode
4. QoS filtering
Aside from Deep Packet Inspection, the government of China might also use a technique known as QoS (Quality of Service) filtering. In short, it slows down unwanted traffic to the point where the connection times out and you’re left with a blocked VPN.
Solution: using an obfuscated server or tunneling protocol
Can a free VPN bypass VPN blocks?
Whether a free VPN can bypass VPN blocks depends on the VPN itself. However, most free VPNs cannot bypass restrictions. In fact, we don’t recommend using them at all. Since free VPNs are free, they don’t make a profit, which can result in outdated software.
Plus, as they say – if it’s free, then you’re the product. Free VPNs are no different – untrustworthy providers can end up selling your data to make money. Or worse, it can be malware in disguise, defeating the purpose of a VPN in the first place.
A better option is getting a freemium VPN – a free VPN of providers that offer premium services. They work as introductory products, so while they’re very limited in terms of servers and data caps, they’re safe. Plus, you’re more likely to access a geo-restricted site or two.
However, the best solution for unrestricted access and unlimited VPN usage is investing in a premium VPN solution. The best ones offer complete privacy, great performance, and the ability to access virtually any content.
- NordVPN – with servers in 60 countries and obfuscated servers, you’re guaranteed unmatched speeds and access to virtually any corner of the internet. You can try it out with a free NordVPN 7-day trial.
- Surfshark – traffic obfuscation and servers in 100 countries will ensure unrestricted access to any geo-restricted site. You can try it out on all of your devices with a free Surfshark trial.
- IPVanish – regular IP rotation and over 2,200 servers in 52 countries will ensure an uninterrupted experience at all times. Bypass blocks and stay secure by trying IPVanish out with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
How do I know a site has detected VPN use?
For a variety of reasons, a website can block your VPN, not allowing you to see its content. Usually, the reason behind such VPN blocks is a geographical one, and thus you’ll see yourself unable to access streaming giants like Netflix, Hulu, or BBC iPlayer when connected to a VPN server.
And it’s really easy to know when a site blocks your VPN – you’ll see an error message stating that you seem to be trying to bypass geo-restrictions:
Luckily, disabling your VPN will turn things back to normal, as Netflix and other streaming platforms don’t ban your account for trying to trick them into showing you geo-blocked movie libraries. Further, if you want to try accessing those libraries again, simply pick a different server in the same country.
However, sometimes things can become a little more complicated. For example, online casinos and even some online wallets might terminate your account entirely if VPN usage is detected, so you have to be extremely careful and always read the Terms of Service of a particular platform.
Additionally, there are some really great undetectable VPNs on the market currently. For example, our top suggestions of NordVPN, Surfshark, and IPVanish will surely help you bypass VPN blocks.
Further, here’s a troubleshooting guide to ensure that your VPN connection stays undetected:
- Choose a quality VPN, our top suggestion is NordVPN
- Switch servers and get a new IP address
- Try changing between possible tunneling protocols
- Enable the Obfuscation feature
- Use TCP Port 443 to evade port blocking
- If available, select Dedicated IP feature
- Use Tor over VPN feature to hide your VPN use
- Change to mobile data instead of Wi-FI
If you feel like a video could explain it all better, watch our guide on how to bypass VPN blocks. You'll learn why VPNs get blocked, the best VPNs to help you with it, and more.
The bottom line
Even though there are plenty of ways to block VPN traffic, a top-rated and trustworthy VPN will be able to bypass those blocks.
Our top suggestion for the safest VPN is NordVPN. This quality VPN service will mitigate the risk of getting blocked in the first place. Additionally, you’ll have a vast list of servers in geographically varied locations to pick from, and specialty servers, like obfuscated ones, to ensure your VPN connection is hidden.
And, even if you get the dreaded proxy error while watching Netflix, you can try one of our suggested ways of how to bypass VPN blocks and set things right.
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Does my ISP see when I use a VPN?
It depends. ISPs can see what IP address you're connected to, but don't necessarily know it corresponds to a VPN server. Even if they do, they don't have access to your browsing activity while you’re connected to a VPN server.
Is it illegal to use a VPN or bypass VPN blocks?
It depends on the location. Even though in most countries VPNs are completely legal, some countries strictly regulate VPN usage or have even banned VPNs altogether. And then bypassing VPN blocks is also illegal. Additionally, if the service prohibits the use of a VPN, like inline casinos, then your account will be terminated if found out.
Is it legal to bypass VPN blocks?
If VPN usage is legal in your country, it’s also legal to bypass VPN blocks. Sure, it might be against the Terms of Service of some platforms (like Netflix), but usually, you won’t face any consequences for doing so. However, it depends on the service – for example, most online casinos will terminate your account for using a VPN.
Can Netflix ban you for using a VPN?
No, Netflix doesn’t ban accounts for VPN usage, even if it goes against their Terms of Service. However, this might change in the future (even though it’s highly unlikely), so keep an eye on their ToS just in case.
What to do when my VPN is blocked?
There are many different things you can do depending on the type of block you encounter. The easiest solution is to try switching servers or getting another VPN service entirely.
Can a firewall block a VPN?
Yes, it is possible for a firewall to block your VPN. Luckily, it’s also possible to bypass this block with the help of obfuscated servers. However, most firewalls don’t block VPNs by default – a firewall will usually block VPN connections only if it was configured to do so. We recommend picking a reliable VPN like NordVPN, so even if your firewall tries to block it, you can select from the list of obfuscated servers and continue browsing online anonymously.