The Internet is full of amazing content. It’s just a shame you can’t always enjoy it all.
Well, there are some reasons:
- Content providers use geo-blocks to restrict your access.
- Oppressive governments force national ISPs to block specific websites.
- Schools, businesses, and other institutions use firewalls to control what websites you can access.
It sounds bad, but don’t worry – there are easy ways to unblock websites.
5 Simple Ways You Can Try to Get Websites Unblocked
Here are some simple things you can do to get access to any content you want:
1. Use a VPN
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an online service that hides your IP address, which is the key to unblocking websites without any effort.
After all, your IP address gives out a lot of information about you – what country you live in, what city you are from, what your ZIP code is, and who your ISP is.
With that data, websites can easily use geo-restrictions to stop you from accessing the content you want. Even your firewalls rely on your IP address to control your web access.
To get around this, you simply need to run the VPN and connect to a server. When you do that, the VPN server will automatically replace your IP address with its own address.
And on top of that, a VPN also encrypts your Internet traffic. Basically, that means that if anyone (ISPs, government surveillance agencies, firewall admins, hackers) tries to monitor it, they won’t be able to. All they’ll see is gibberish, so they’ll have no idea what you’re doing online.
Why is that important?
- It stops your ISP from throttling your bandwidth (intentionally lowering your speeds) when you use “too much data” to watch your favorite shows and movies.
- It prevents your ISP from logging all your browsing history and selling it to the highest bidder.
- Government surveillance agencies (like the NSA) will be unable to see every single thing you do or watch on the Internet.
- Lastly, it prevents cybercriminals from eavesdropping on your web traffic when you use unsecured WiFi.
That all sounds good, right?
Well, just make sure you pick the right VPN. Otherwise, you might end up losing access to your favorite websites because the service is unstable or it got blocked.
My personal recommendation would be ExpressVPN. It’s a very decent choice. It’s got tons of servers (around 2,000), has P2P support, stealth servers, and IKEv2 support – which is the perfect protocol for unblocking websites due to its security and speed.
To find out more about the provider, check out this ExpressVPN review.
2. Use a Smart DNS
Like a VPN, a Smart DNS is also an online service that hides your geo-location. However, it doesn’t do that by spoofing your IP address. Instead, it hides your DNS address since it also contains data that leaks your geographical location.
What’s more, the service will use dedicated proxy servers from around the world to resolve your DNS requests to further trick websites into believing you’re from a different country.
Basically, the Smart DNS will intercept your connection requests to any website you want to access. Once it does that, it will replace any data in the requests that can leak your geo-location with new information that points to a whitelisted region.
One of the best things about Smart DNS services is that they don’t encrypt your traffic. While that does mean you don’t get any privacy boosts, it also means you can use your original ISP speeds to enjoy online content. So, you don’t need to worry about any potential slowdowns.
VPNs are more likely to be blocked by content providers than Smart DNS services, but keep in mind that they are not completely out of the firing line should platforms want to crack down. Unfortunately, a Smart DNS can’t help you bypass firewalls since it doesn’t actually hide your IP address and traffic.
As luck would have it, ExpressVPN also offers a Smart DNS service on top of its VPN service, giving you the best of both worlds. And yes, it unblocks Netflix US and BBC iPlayer.
3. Try Your Luck with a Proxy
A proxy server works as a middleman between you and the web. It intercepts your connection requests, and forwards them to web servers for you, hiding your IP address in the process.
One cool thing about proxies is that they can archive content within their local cache. If you request a web page that’s already on the cache, the proxy can deliver it faster to you.
However, proxies don’t offer strong encryption like VPNs do. So, you’re better off with a VPN if that is important for you.
4. Use Tor
Tor (The Onion Router) is an anonymity network, so it can help you unblock websites by hiding your IP address and encrypting your traffic.
I really like the fact that Tor is free to use, and it’s relatively simple to understand.
Sadly, it’s not the best way to unblock websites at all.
5. Connect to the Website with Its IP Address
I’m saving this for last because this method doesn’t work with geo-blocks, just with firewalls.
Basically, if you’re lucky enough, sometimes the network admin or government authority carelessly only blocks a website by its URL and not by its IP address too. If that’s the case, you can unblock the website by typing its IP address in the URL bar instead of its domain name.
To find the address, just open the Command Prompt, and type “ping [website name].” For Facebook, that’d be “ping facebook.com” for example. If you’re not on Windows or don’t want to do that, use WhatIsMyIPAddress.com. Just type the website’s name and you’re good to go.