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You’re at work or school, but you want to check on Facebook, or watch something on YouTube. It’s blocked. Surprise, surprise.

We’ve all been faced with it, and subsequently got annoyed.

Now, you’ve two options: be productive instead 15 Productive Things To Do Online When You Have 15 Minutes To Kill 15 Productive Things To Do Online When You Have 15 Minutes To Kill Can we put some value in the minutes we waste? Let's get thinking about the productive things we can do online when we have a few minutes in our hands. Read More , or try and bypass the filter. Let’s face it, most of us would choose the latter, particularly if you need to view Twitter for research purposes (wink, wink). But how would you do that? Here are some of your options…

1. Use a VPN

Your best bet is using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) What Is The Definition Of A Virtual Private Network [Technology Explained] What Is The Definition Of A Virtual Private Network [Technology Explained] Read More . You’ve probably heard a bit about them, but they’re not as complicated as they initially sound.

VPNs are best known for adding a much-needed layer of security and privacy using encryption — that’s useful if you’re entering sensitive information and are worried about hackers, or, as in this case, bypassing blocks. These networks connect you to a website via an encrypted “tunnel” What A VPN Tunnel Is & How To Set One Up What A VPN Tunnel Is & How To Set One Up Read More , which scrambles data travelling through it either way. Though it’s certainly not fool-proof Don't Believe These 5 Myths About Encryption! Don't Believe These 5 Myths About Encryption! Encryption sounds complex, but is far more straightforward than most think. Nonetheless, you might feel a little too in-the-dark to make use of encryption, so let's bust some encryption myths! Read More , you can generally rely on this level of encryption How Does Encryption Work, and Is It Really Safe? How Does Encryption Work, and Is It Really Safe? Read More .

Similarly, this is a dependable way of visiting blocked sites, but can require a bit of effort to install. The TOR browser, however, is easy to download How You Can Officially Browse Facebook Over Tor How You Can Officially Browse Facebook Over Tor Remarkably, Facebook has launched a a .onion address for Tor users to access the popular social network. We show you how to access it in the Tor-Browser. Read More and run. The reason it works is because any software trying to keep an eye on your browsing instead only sees that you’re using a VPN. Without considerable work, no one will be able to monitor URLs: cybercriminals might put in the effort to view your data, but it’s doubtful your employer or educational institution ever will.

It might also be worth downloading a VPN app onto your smartphone Keep Your Data Private With These 4 VPN Apps For Android Keep Your Data Private With These 4 VPN Apps For Android VPNs can be useful for a whole host of reasons, but their main benefits are that they keep your data private even over a public WiFi connection (which are surprisingly easy to exploit) and they... Read More or tablet, if you plan on using it somewhere access is often blocked.

2. Bypass Firewalls Using Proxies

Most treat VPNs and proxy servers as interchangeable, but the latter lacks the encryption software that protects a lot of your data. That’s not to say it’s useless or a massive threat to your privacy though! Quite the opposite in fact: proxies hide your Internet Provider (IP) address — which anyone can trace back to your computer How to Trace an IP Address to a PC & How to Find Your Own How to Trace an IP Address to a PC & How to Find Your Own Want to see the IP address of your computer? Perhaps you want to discover where another computer is situated? Various free tools are available that tell you more about a computer an its IP address. Read More — making your searches anonymous by instead displaying the proxy’s IP.

There are literally thousands of proxy sites on the web. There are also sites that list proxy servers. Do a quick search online. You’ll be bombarded with free services, and, of course, plenty of paid-for ones. The former should be acceptable if you’re just bypassing a site now and then, but if you need a proxy on a regular basis, and are looking for something more secure (and anonymous) 6 Reasons You Should Be Using an Anonymising Proxy Server 6 Reasons You Should Be Using an Anonymising Proxy Server Online privacy is important, but you don't have to remain exposed. You can use an anonymizing proxy server to remain hidden from prying eyes, granting you a little more security in your online affairs. Read More , consider whether it’s worth paying.

Don’t be put off. It’s not very difficult to set up a proxy server How To Create Your Own Online Proxy Server In Minutes How To Create Your Own Online Proxy Server In Minutes Read More , no matter what browser you’re using, to get past restrictions.

3. UltraSurf

This is a seriously popular tool for bypassing blocked websites — except you’ll initially be put off because it uses Internet Explorer as default. That’s in its basic form, with no installation required, so download the EXE file onto a USB drive and run it whenever you need it.

It will open Internet Explorer with the UltraSurf homepage. From there, the web is your oyster.

Fortunately, you can use it on most browsers; notably, an add-on for Chrome and Firefox, but you can manually install it elsewhere. Though it’s only available on Windows right now, Mac and Linux trials are taking place.

The good thing is, it’s fast, because it routes you through a possible three servers so you get highly reliable speeds. You might initially be put off using Internet Explorer, but this, too, can be a benefit, as it’s what you have on IT lockdown. Therefore, it doesn’t look suspicious and you don’t need to have two different browsers open at the same time. Once you close UltraSurf, it erases your history and cookies.

Its main purpose is altruistic. UltraSurf was developed to get around the so-called Great Firewall of China How To Quickly Check If Your Site Is Visible Behind The Great Firewall Of China How To Quickly Check If Your Site Is Visible Behind The Great Firewall Of China The Great Firewall of China, officially known as the Golden Shield project, uses a variety of methods to block foreign websites that the Chinese government doesn’t like. The Chinese government doesn’t publish a list of... Read More . However, many have complained about pop-up ads, and some security suites 4 Things to Consider When Buying a Security Suite 4 Things to Consider When Buying a Security Suite McAfee, Kaspersky, Avast, Norton, Panda - all big names in online security. But how do you decide which to choose? Here are some questions you need to ask yourself when purchasing anti-virus software. Read More take issue with it. You also have to make sure you’re using the authentic version: otherwise, “exe” files are often used by hackers How to Spot & Avoid 10 of the Most Insidious Hacking Techniques How to Spot & Avoid 10 of the Most Insidious Hacking Techniques Hackers are getting sneakier and many of their techniques and attacks often go unnoticed by even experienced users. Here are 10 of the most insidious hacking techniques to avoid. Read More to add malware to your device.

4. Remote Access

The idea of remote access might have negative connotations — either you immediately think of hackers How To Simply and Effectively Deal With Remote Access Trojans How To Simply and Effectively Deal With Remote Access Trojans Smell a RAT? If you think you've been infected with a Remote Access Trojan, you can get easily get rid of it by following these simple steps. Read More , or you recall the last time you’ve had to phone a computer helpline to get someone else to sort out an infuriating PC problem How to Use Remote Desktop Connections Like an IT Pro How to Use Remote Desktop Connections Like an IT Pro If you work in the IT department of a company that has an internal network, the odds are pretty good that you've had to make use of Remote Desktop once or twice. Remote Desktop is... Read More .

But it’s not all bad.

Essentially, remote access is taking control How to Use Remote Access Efficiently, Safely & Securely How to Use Remote Access Efficiently, Safely & Securely Read More of your computer without actually sitting in front of it. To do so, you’ll need to download a handy bit of software: it doesn’t really matter whether you use popular remote connectivity programs 3 Tools to Control Your PC from A Distance Using Remote Access 3 Tools to Control Your PC from A Distance Using Remote Access Read More like LogMeIn, or opt for one of the lesser-known ones 12 Excellent, Free Screen Sharing & Remote Access Tools You Haven't Heard Of Yet 12 Excellent, Free Screen Sharing & Remote Access Tools You Haven't Heard Of Yet Are you constantly being asked for computer help? Or perhaps you’re the one doing the asking. Either way, seeing and controlling screens remotely can save time and confusion on both ends. Remote access programs aren’t... Read More .

The important thing is that you can now browse the internet at your leisure — by using your own computer remotely!

It might lag a bit, but it works brilliantly!

Of course, you’re then not confined solely to the web; you can use remote access to use any software on your computer, too.

5. Use RSS Feeds

There used to be a great way of getting any web page direct to your email address: in response to a URL in a subject line, WebToMail emailed you the contents of a webpage.

Image Credits: Orin Zebest via Flickr.

Sadly, that no longer works. Fortunately, you can still get articles and the like in your Inbox using RSS feeds What Is RSS and How Can It Improve Your Life? What Is RSS and How Can It Improve Your Life? Read More . These are syndicated editions of pieces regularly collated and distributed to email addresses and RSS Readers, saving users the time spent visiting individual sites. It also affords some privacy by not forcing them into subscribing to email newsletters.

Not every site has one, but that’s okay because you can easily create one How to Turn Any Website into an RSS Feed How to Turn Any Website into an RSS Feed Many websites do not offer RSS feeds, but there's still an easy way to get automatic notifications whenever a site updates! Read More !

There are limitations, naturally — you won’t be able to scour YouTube, for example. Still, you definitely shouldn’t discount the usefulness of these feeds for other sites you frequent but don’t have access to otherwise.

How Do You Bypass Restrictions?

Don’t forget: you’ll likely get in a heap of trouble if you’re caught bypassing a block. That could mean a warning or monitoring at work, or expulsion from class detention at school.

But how do you bypass blocked or censored websites? Have I missed the best? What do you think?

Image Credit: one photo via Shutterstock.com

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