Unblocking YouTube at Work or School

Here's why you have no access and what you can do about it

When you choose to access the internet via a network such as one provided at work, school, or a local cafe, you might find that some of your favorite websites are blocked; this is typically done to either preserve network bandwidth or discourage unproductivity. However, don’t fret, there're a few options for unblocking YouTube, or your other favorite site, and stepping back upon the road of freedom.

Unblock YouTube with a Web Proxy

The easiest and most accessible way to unblock your favorite websites in a pinch involves using what is known as a web proxy. Essentially, this process allows you to visit an unblocked site and have it request the blocked site for you. From the network’s perspective, you are accessing the unblocked website the entire time.

Screenshot of Hidester's free web proxy.
Using a free web proxy is an easy way to bypass a web filter.
  1. Begin by visiting a reliable web proxy website such as Hidester, Hide Me, ProxySite, or KProxy. You can discover more options by searching Google for ‘web proxies.’
  2. Once you have selected your web proxy, visit the website, and you will be presented with an address bar on the page – type in the website URL you would like to visit.
  3. Next, most proxies will provide a drop-down box to select what country you would like to appear as if you are surfing. If the option is available, you may choose your country of choice if the material you are accessing can only be obtained from that location.
  4. Finally, hit Enter and begin browsing your favorite website.

What to Do if a Web Proxy Doesn’t Work

Occasionally you may find that the web proxy that you opted to use is already blocked. Network administrators are well aware of individuals using web proxies to bypass filter systems and may already be one step ahead of you. If you find your web proxy of choice to be blocked, you can either continue searching the web for alternatives or try our next solution utilizing a virtual private network.

Unblock YouTube with a VPN

You may opt to utilize a virtual private network (VPN) to access restricted content instead of a web proxy. VPNs are similar to web proxies because they masquerade the actual website you are attempting to visit; they do involve a bit more setup, but also increase your overall security by encrypting your web traffic. Be sure to check out our recommendations for the best VPN service providers.

Tablet configured with a virtual private network (VPN)
A VPN might be the ultimate solution to accessing your favorite content. Prykhodov/Getty Images

Once you have selected a trusted VPN provider, you should begin by installing their required software. Due to the variety of options available, you will need to consult the support documentation that your provider issued when you signed up for their service. Once your VPN is installed, merely head to your web browser of choice and begin surfing the web free of roadblocks, while knowing that your data is fully encrypted from others on the network.

What to Do if a VPN Also Doesn’t Work

Many administrators pride their networks for security and reliability, and while this provides a safe and productive environment to work within it may mean that both web proxies and VPNs are inaccessible. As a result, your last option would be to try and entirely circumvent the network to access your desired content. You may not be able to unblock YouTube at school or work if their systems are well designed to fight against such rule breaking.

An alternative to attempting to unblock content on your work or school network is to obtain that content through your own private network. Many smartphones and their respective carriers now offer mobile data tethering, which allows you to connect your laptop or other devices directly to your cellular network via a hotspot. This method can cost quite a bit depending on your carrier, but it is a worthy option to consider if you must binge watch your favorite show on Netflix.

Why You Might Not Want to Unblock YouTube

Business people upset at their slow computer
Some websites might be blocked to keep your network from slowing down. JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images 

While it can be exciting to access content like YouTube or Netflix at work or school, they are probably blocked for additional reasons beyond your employer or teacher wanting you to focus on your work. Watching streaming video services can put a lot of pressure on a network’s bandwidth. That means you are potentially slowing down the network’s overall speed for everyone else. Additionally, some websites might require plugins that could pose a security risk to the system as a whole. So while you might not like your network administrator’s decision, it might be best to abide by their rule set.