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It doesn’t matter where in the world you live; there are times when you’re going to come across blocked sites and a restricted internet.
If you come across an internet block, don’t panic. Keep reading to find out more how to bypass barred sites and internet restrictions.
Why Do Blocked Sites Exist?
The possible reasons for the blocks are numerous.
Firstly, lots of services use geo-blocking tools to restrict access to their content in certain countries. The issue is perhaps most commonly associated with Netflix’s catalog. However, it can also apply to videos on social media (such as sports clips), news articles, and even entire services which are not available outside of their country of origin (like Hulu).
Secondly, governments often block access to sites to suit their agenda. The Twitter block in China is perhaps the most famous example, but in recent years we’ve also seen Turkey block access to social media in an attempt to quell protests in 2016 and Sri Lanka stop access to Facebook in the aftermath of the April 2019 terrorist attacks, supposedly to prevent the spread of fake news.
Thirdly, employers often block sites on their internal networks. Heaven forbid that you waste a few minutes of their time checking Facebook…
Lastly, some countries have odd laws that can restrict access to certain types of material. The UK’s controversial porn ban, which requires users to verify their age, and Germany’s crusade against YouTube are two of the most notable cases.
6 Ways to Bypass Blocked Sites and Restrictions
1. Use a VPN
The most popular way of accessing blocked internet sites is to use a high-quality paid VPN.
VPNs have many benefits, but from a blocked sites standpoint, it’s the technology’s ability to provide you with an IP address in another country that’s the most important. The foreign IP address makes it appear as though you are based in a different location. Thus, you won’t trigger a site’s geo-blocks and can circumnavigate restrictions.
Some services theoretically block access from VPN IP addresses. In practice, this has resulted in a massive game of cat and mouse, in which the VPN providers are generally victorious.
VPNs are incredibly easy to use: download the app onto your phone or computer, enter your login credentials, and choose the network that you want to connect to.
2. Use a Smart DNS
The recent clampdown on VPNs by services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer has resulted in a growth of smart DNS providers.
Smart DNS services have some pros and cons when considered in contrast to VPNs.
One of the most significant advantages is internet speed. Unlike VPNs, which route all your web traffic through a different network, smart DNS providers only need to reroute information about your location. This process results in a faster browsing experience.
On the downside, DNS services do not offer any of the same privacy benefits as VPNs. They do not encrypt your traffic, nor do they change your IP. If authorities in your location are likely to prosecute based on the sites you visit, a smart DNS provider is not right for you.
One of the best smart DNS providers is Getflix.
3. Use a Free Proxy
If you need to quickly access a blocked website on a one-time basis, a free proxy might be the way to go.
A proxy will hide your IP address, thus helping to disguise your location. It will not, however, encrypt your traffic. The lack of encryption means proxies are not as secure as VPNs; they are an excellent option to get around blocks on work and school networks but are not suitable for browsing which requires anonymity.
Proxies are typically much slower than VPNs. You’ll also find they often have issues with page formatting and images. Both of these problems preclude them from being a reliable long-term solution.
We’ve written about some of the best proxies for geo-blocked content if you’d like to learn more.
4. Use Google Translate
Google Translate is a less technical way of bypassing content restrictions. It doesn’t require any third-party apps or downloads, and there’s no need to worry about IP addresses and DNS servers.
Just head to the Google Translate homepage, enter the blocked site’s URL in the box on the left, and click on the hyperlink in the right-hand box.
The trick will not work if you try and translate English > English but will work if you set the source language as something different, even if the site is actually in English.
For example, in the image above, you can see I set the source to Spanish on the BBC homepage. As long as the output language is set to English, it will work.
Once again, it goes without saying that using Google Translate to bypass internet blocks offers no privacy protections.
5. Use a Site’s IP Address
When you think of web addresses, you probably think of the domain name (e.g., www.makeuseof.com) that you type into your browser’s address bar.
In practice, the domain name is like a veneer for the IP address. It’s the IP address that points at a server and directs your traffic. DNS servers are responsible for converting domain names into their associated IP addresses.
However, if you know a site’s IP address, you can enter it directly into your browser, and you will still end up viewing the site.
Because many networks only block domain name URLs and not their underlying IP addresses, this trick is often a great way to circumvent internet restrictions.
The same principle applies to short URLs. It’s unlikely that a small employer or school has blocked all the short URLs that point to a site. You’ll often enjoy some success if you try to use them.
You can find the IP address of a site by opening Command Prompt as an admin, they typing tracert followed by the domain name, for example, tracert bbc.com.
6. Use Tor
When you use the Tor network to browse the web, your traffic is taken on a long journey through thousands of nodes all around the world.
This process makes it almost impossible for a regular website to know where the request originated, so it’s unlikely to get caught in any blocking filters.
Be aware that Tor and the dark web is not completely anonymous. Government authorities can, and do, monitor persons of interest on the network.
Learn More About Using VPNs
Our preferred method for accessing blocked sites and bypassing internet restrictions on a regular basis is to use a VPN.