Unblock a Blocked Website: Ten Different Ways

Illustration of hand coming out of computer with caution stop sign

erhui1979/Getty Images

 

Organizations and even entire countries block parts of the web. The reasons for this behavior vary from outright repression to good-faith concern about protecting legitimate computing resources. Many blocks can be worked around, however.

Circumventing a web filter isn't a good idea. If your employer blocks social-media sites, for example, finding a workaround to check Facebook is likely a violation of your work agreement and could see you disciplined. In general, it's preferable to respect filters — even if you disagree with them — than to risk sanction, penalty, or even arrest for breaking through them.

Sites Blocked in the United States

Most schools, universities, and workplaces block types websites for legitimate reasons — not just to cramp your style. Many schools and workplaces filter websites they deem inappropriate for school and work use, and sometimes, this approach tends to block sites that are perfectly reasonable in an educational or professional setting.

For example, a filter banning pornography might interfere with legitimate research about breast cancer.

Sites that in themselves might not be offensive on the merits, but tend to distract from business objectives, are often filtered by corporations. Many companies, for example, block social-networking sites as being potential employee time-wasters, and they block online file-storage services as being a potential security or data-theft risk.

01
of 10

Use an IP Address Instead of Typing the Domain Name

Downloading Firefox at Work (using firefox)
mjmalone/Flikr/CC BY 2.0

Instead of typing in a specific domain name, try typing in the IP address instead. An IP address is the signature address/number of your computer as it is connected to the internet. You can find the IP address of any site by using IP address tools such as Netcraft or Whois Domain Tools.

02
of 10

Use the Mobile Web

The double exposure image of the businessman using a smartphone overlay with source code and keyboard image and copy space. The concept of programming, cyber security, business and internet of things.

TimeStopper/Getty Images

You can sometimes access the mobile version of the site that has been blocked. Use the mobile web on your phone or computer (sites will look different than what you're used to on your computer, but you'll be able to see them).

If you're going to use a mobile device like a smartphone, disable Wi-Fi and use your own carrier's internet services to access the site. You won't experience the same web filtering routing through your carrier as you might when connected to local Wi-Fi. In fact, many companies with bring-your-own-device policies set these policies specifically to enforce the distinction between legitimate business purposes and personal internet access.

03
of 10

Use Google Cache to Find an Older Version of a Site

Google Archive

Jerri Collins

Google's cache of the way the web page looked when Google’s spiders indexed it is a great way to see a site that has been blocked. Visit Google's home page and use this search term:

cache:www.websearch.lifewire.com

This term will show you this site (or any site you want) as it looked when Google last looked at it, without triggering the filters that might block the site in real time. The only catch? You probably can't significantly interact with the cached version without having things break on the page.

04
of 10

Use an Anonymous Web Proxy

The Dark Web is the anonymous web.

Oomen/Getty Images

An anonymous web proxy hides your identity from the sites that you visit on the web. When you use a web proxy to visit a blocked site, your IP address is basically hidden, and the anonymous web proxy substitutes its own IP address for your own. This means that if you live in a country that restricts certain sites, you will be able to visit them with an anonymous web proxy's substitute IP address​ since it will tell the powers-that-be that you are actually in another country thus and no longer subject to their laws. Most free web proxies will also encode the URLs that you visit, making your search history virtually untraceable.

05
of 10

Use a Translation Service

Computer cursor selecting English with British flag

 

Daniel Sambraus / EyeEm /Getty Images

Most large sites have more than one language version of their content, sometimes with different domain names as a result. For example, Amazon.com might be blocked in the United States, but Amazon.fr may not be.

After you have found these sites, use a translation tool to translate the content on the page to your language, thereby bypassing the blocked site restriction and getting to where you need to go.

06
of 10

Use an Anonymous HTTP Proxy

Person using iPad/tablet near business folders filled with paper
Tetra Images/Getty Images

An anonymous HTTP proxy is similar to an anonymous web proxy: It's an actual server that acts as a go-between between searchers and the sites that they are trying to access.

When you use an anonymous proxy and enter the URL that you'd like to visit anonymously, the anonymous proxy retrieves the pages BEFORE they are delivered to you. This way, the IP address and other browsing information that the remote server sees does not belong to you — it belongs to the anonymous proxy.

There are many public-access anonymous proxy servers on the web that can be used by anyone who needs to unblock blocked sites. Simply type "anonymous web proxy" into your favorite search engine and several should come up; because of the nature of these proxies, their links change often.

07
of 10

Use a URL Redirect or Shortening Tool

HTTPS

KTSDESIGN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images

There are many URL shortening tools on the Web that will take a long URL and shorten it to something that's easier to copy and paste. Sometimes, these shortened URLs can be used as a substitute for the actual URL of the site that you're trying to access.

For example, if you use TinyURL to shorten the URL of websearch.lifewire.com, you would get this link: http://tinyurl.com/70we, which you could use to access this site (if it were blocked) rather than the actual URL. You may have mixed results using this approach; clicking a link on the site will open its actual URL, which will then be blocked, but in a pinch, it might work.

08
of 10

Try an RSS Reader

RSS Feed icon

cogal/Getty Images

Use an RSS reader to subscribe to the sites you'd like to see that are blocked if they have an RSS feed. You can search within a feed reader for the site's feed you're looking for. Most feed readers will also have a list of "Most Popular" feeds that you can browse through to see if the sites you're trying to access are there already.

This approach is best for sites with frequently changing content, like blogs.

09
of 10

Try Using Tor

Numbers filling into a trash can

 

erhui1979/Getty Images 

Tor is "a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the internet." It's a free software download that basically protects your activities on the web from being tracked, and will allow you to access blocked sites. You can read more about Tor at the Tor overview, and learn about how to install Tor at the Tor documentation page. Since Tor runs through several nodes and networks, it tends to make your browsing a bit slow; however, you can bypass that by only using Tor when you are trying to unblock blocked sites (try the Tor button addon to make this process even easier).

10
of 10

Seek Permission Instead of Forgiveness

The power of forgiveness
Getty

Especially in a work or school setting, asking the system administrator to unblock a domain for legitimate business or educational purpose makes more sense than trying to work around it.