AVG Signal Blog Privacy VPN How to Unblock Websites & Access Restricted Content

Whatever your reason for needing to unblock websites, there are several ways to get the job done. We'll examine the most common methods across a variety of factors — ease of use, speed, security, and more — before discussing a few additional tricks.

If you’re interested in learning the reasons that websites restrict content, or the legality of getting around content blocks, skip down below to our sections on why websites get blocked and whether it’s legal to unblock them.

This article contains:

    A comparison of the best ways to unblock websites and their features.Comparing ways to unblock websites and access content. Green dots indicate strong performance, while red dots mean more obstacles.

    1. Unblock websites using a VPN

    Using a VPN is the easiest and most reliable way to get around content blocks and unlock the URLs you want. A VPN (virtual private network) routes your internet traffic through a remote server, letting you choose your virtual location.

    When you connect to a website with a VPN, the website thinks that the virtual location shown by your VPN is your actual location, which means your real location is masked and you can unblock content. And that’s just one of the benefits of a VPN — VPNs also encrypt your connection, securing your data and protecting any personal information like credit card details you enter when shopping online.

    Setting up and using a VPN is pretty straightforward, if you use a reputable and well-designed app. Here’s how to unblock websites with a VPN on both desktop and mobile:

    First, Download and install your VPN — get a free trial of AVG Secure VPN right here:

    Then, turn on the VPN and select a server location to browse from. If the content you want to access is location-specific, select a location where that content is available. If you just want to secure your traffic and hide your IP address, select Optimal location (or a similar setting) for the fastest speeds.

    AVG SecureLine VPN offers servers in 50 locations to chose from.A VPN lets you access blocked sites on mobile too.

    Now you’re browsing anonymously and securely from a hidden location.

    AVG SecureLine VPN hides your location and bypasses content blocks.VPNs let you unblock websites, protect your online privacy, and stay safe on public Wi-Fi.

    A VPN is the easiest, most comprehensive tool to bypass content blocks. But if you’re using a public computer at school or at a library, a VPN may not be the best option, because you need to download one.

    And some content providers have started blocking known VPN IP addresses, so your VPN might not work all the time with all the sites or services you want to use. Thankfully, when VPN providers realize that one of their IPs has been blocked, they usually open new addresses to provide more options.



    • Not free (we don’t recommend using free VPNs)

    • Requires downloading

    2. Unblock websites using Tor

    Tor is another option for getting around content blocks and bypassing geo-restrictions. Tor, or The Onion Router, routes your online traffic through many layers of encryption, hence its name. Tor lets you access the web anonymously and get around most content restrictions.

    While Tor offers strong online privacy, its downside is slow speeds. That’s because the Tor network and browser are an open-source project maintained mostly by volunteers. You also may not be allowed to install the Tor browser on a school, work, or public computer.

    Here’s how to unblock websites using Tor:

    Go to the Tor website and follow the directions to install the Tor browser. Then, launch Tor and configure it (if necessary).

    You can download the Tor browser for private online browsing.

    After that, you can connect and enter the onion to get anonymous access to whatever sites you need.

    The Tor browser runs slowly but privately.Tor is a good website unblocker, but you might not be able to download it at school or work.


    • Secure and encrypted

    • Free

    • Run by a non-profit, so no data mining

    • Lets you access the dark web

    • Works well to unblock many sites


    • Can’t bypass some specific blocks against Tor nodes, including Netflix

    • Slow speeds

    • Requires downloading

    • No customer service to help you configure Tor properly

    3. Unblock websites using a web proxy

    A web proxy works well for quickly unblocking content on public computers, or if you’re on a work or school computer that won’t let you download a VPN or Tor. You’ll connect to a proxy server first, and then on to your desired website — hiding your actual location in the process.

    Learning how to unblock websites on a school computer is easy when you use a web proxy. To use a proxy server, simply go to a particular website (called a proxy website), enter the URL of the actual website you want to visit, and press a button to access it.

    The downside is that before visiting the site you want, you need to navigate to the web proxy first — every time, in every tab. So it can be a little annoying and generally isn’t great for streaming content online. Also, though web proxies are usually free, they don’t provide the same privacy and security protections as a VPN or Tor.

    The HMA web proxy is a nice URL unblocker. Simply navigate to the HMA web proxy site, enter the site you want to access, choose your server, and go.

    Use the HMA web proxy to unblock websites at school or work.A web proxy is a quick and easy unblocker for school or work.


    • No installation required

    • Works on public computers

    • Often free

    • Can bypass basic content blocks


    • May break some website functionality

    • Doesn’t safeguard your private personal data

    • Not optimized for speed

    • Not guaranteed to unblock all sites

    • You have to open the web proxy every time you visit a new site

    4. Unblock websites using a proxy extension

    A proxy extension is like a web proxy, only more convenient, and it’ll get you around content blocks on a school computer very quickly. A proxy extension sits right in your browser, so you won’t waste time constantly navigating to the proxy — it’s ready anytime you want to access blocked content.

    There are many good proxy extensions out there. Here’s how to use the HMA proxy for Chrome:

    First, download the HMA browser extension for free from the Chrome store and install it.

    Select the donkey hat icon in the top-right corner and the proxy will open. Then click Turn On to activate the proxy. The Disguised as button lets you choose among several virtual locations.

    Using a proxy extension to unblock websites.

    Now you appear to be coming from your selected location, not your actual location, letting you unblock most blocked websites online.


    • Proxy extensions listed in the Chrome Web Store are vetted by Google for security

    • Usually encrypts your browser connection

    • Can choose your server location

    • Usually free


    • Requires downloading

    • May show ads

    • May not be optimized for streaming content

    If you can’t download a VPN or Tor (perhaps because your school or business forbids it), don’t want to use a proxy, but still need to unblock something quickly, there are some quick methods to access blocked websites that might work.

    The following methods for unblocking sites aren’t as reliable as the options outlined above, but they can be effective site unblockers that can help you in a pinch.

    5. Use a URL shortener

    If your school or work network is using a very basic blocking method, using a URL shortener might help. Services like TinyURL shorten a website’s URL, which will help you unblock websites without a proxy, VPN, or Tor. For example, if your school blocks Facebook, you can create a different (shortened) URL to access it. Here’s how that works:

    Go to a URL shortening site like is.gd, TinyURL, or Bitly.

    Enter the website you want to unblock into the URL field and click the button to shorten it.

    URL shorteners can help you get around very basic content blocks.URL shortening sites, like is.gd, can help you bypass very basic content blocks.

    Then copy your new, shorter URL and paste it into your browser. If you’re lucky, you’ll successfully bypass the restriction and get to the site you want.

    Try a shortened version of your desired URL to get around very basic restrictions.Using a URL shortener may help unblock sites.


    • No downloading required

    • Free

    • Quick and easy


    • May or may not work

    • No security

    6. Try switching protocols

    If your school or work network uses a very basic blocking method that filters out a simple list of URLs, you might be able to get around it by switching from HTTPS to HTTP (or vice versa). For example, if https://www.somewebsite.com is blocked, http://www.somewebsite.com might still work.

    But it’s important to note that HTTP is an unsecured protocol and should be avoided whenever possible. And never enter any personal information or passwords into a site using just HTTP, because of potential security vulnerabilities that can be exploited.


    • No downloading required

    • Free

    • Quick and easy


    • May or may not work

    • No security; HTTP protocol is unsecure

    7. Use the Google cache

    Caching is when a service like Google or your browser keeps a local copy of a commonly visited site so that it loads faster when you visit it again. That means you might be able to access the cached version of a website if the live version of that same site is blocked.

    To get to a cached version of a site, just type in cache: before the site address in the Google search bar. Click the down arrow and then click on Cached. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to bypass the content block by visiting the cached version of the site.

    Viewing the cached version of a site via the Google search results.Viewing the cached version of a site may help you get around content blocks.


    • No downloading required

    • Free

    • Quick and easy


    • May or may not work

    • May display outdated content

    • No security

    8. Use Google translate

    Another Google-based workaround is to use Google translate to unblock websites. This quick-and-dirty method might not show the page you want to view perfectly, but it may be enough to let you read the content you’re looking for.

    Here’s how to use Google translate to unblock websites:

    Go to Google Translate, choose a random language for the from field and English for the to field, and paste your desired website or URL into the box.

    Using Google translate can help unblock websites.

    Click the link, and ta-da — you can view it as an unblocked website. But be aware that some elements on the page may break.

    Unblocking a website using Google translate.Using Google Translate may give you access to unblocked sites.


    • No downloading required

    • Free

    • Quick and easy


    • May or may not work

    • May break some website functionality

    • No security

    9. Use a dynamic IP address

    Some websites block connections from certain groups of IP addresses due to spam or cybercrime concerns. If you happen to get caught in the net, you won't be able to visit that website.

    A dynamic IP address — one that changes with each use — will let you leapfrog around this restriction and avoid becoming collateral damage. It’s the same trick phone spoofers use to keep calling you from different phone numbers.

    Most ISPs use dynamic IP addresses, and so simply restarting your router may get you a new one. Otherwise, connecting to a VPN or proxy server is the easiest way to get a dynamic IP address.

    If you’re on Windows, you can also use the Command Prompt to change your IP. Open up Command Prompt by simultaneously pressing the Win + R keys, then type cmd, and click OK. In the window that opens, type ipconfig /release (including spaces) and press Enter. Then type ipconfig /renew (including spaces) and press Enter, and close the Command Prompt.


    • Increases your online privacy

    • If done manually, it’s free


    • May require a subscription

    • Can involve some technical know-how

    10. Use an IP address instead of a URL

    Some rudimentary types of website blocking only target URLs — which means that if you enter the site’s IP address directly into your browser, you may be able to access it. You’ll just need to find the IP address first. Here’s how:

    On Windows, open the Command Prompt and enter the command ping [website URL] or nslookup [website URL], replacing the placeholder text in brackets with the actual URL you’re trying to visit.

    Using Command Prompt to find a website's URL to unblock content.

    On Mac, open the Terminal and enter either of the same commands: ping [website URL] or nslookup [website URL].

    Pinging avg.com on macOS to get the IP address


    • Easy and fast

    • Free


    • Not guaranteed to work

    11. Use an HTML to PDF converter

    If you just want to read the contents of a particular webpage, and you don’t need to access the actual site, then another option is to use a PDF converter to convert the HTML code of the page into a readable, PDF format.

    HTML to PDF converter tools, like this one, will change the contents of any URL into a PDF document, including the text and pictures on the site. Then, you can either preview the PDF online or download it to read it later or print it.


    • Free and easy

    • No installation needed


    • May or may not work with every site

    • No interaction

    • You can’t visit the actual site

    Why do websites get blocked?

    Websites get blocked when they detect an IP address from a region that isn’t supposed to access the websites’ content. Your IP (Internet Protocol) address identifies your device on the internet, while also revealing your physical location. That’s what lets websites find your IP and block (or allow) your device.

    Content providers, schools and companies, and government authorities block websites for a variety of reasons, from commercial considerations to limiting the free flow of information. If you use a VPN it’s easy to hide your IP address so that it appears you’re coming from a different physical location, which lets you access blocked websites.

    Geo-restricted content

    Streaming services, such as Netflix, Disney+, and Spotify, have licensing agreements for the content they provide. Those agreements specify the films and tv shows they can deliver in each region they serve.

    If you use Netflix in the US, you’ll see a different collection of content than you would see in another country. That’s why many people traveling abroad use VPNs to unblock websites that are otherwise available in their home country.

    School and work restrictions

    Your school or workplace might not want you to access certain content. If they’re blocking “adult” content or unsafe websites, they may have a point. But if they’re preventing you from streaming music or getting your daily dose of cat videos, that’s another story. Generally, your school or work is worried about productivity and bandwidth, and streaming and videos may consume valuable resources.

    We showed you how to bypass blocked websites at school above, so hop up there for more details.


    Some countries censor online content within their borders, because of cultural, religious, or political concerns — in other words, to limit the flow of information or muffle dissent. China, with their Great Firewall, is probably the most notorious example, blocking lots of sites like Facebook and Twitter. When countries are this focused on censoring the open web, their citizens often look for ways to unblock censored websites.

    Is it legal to unblock websites?

    The legality of unblocking websites varies depending on location. Many countries (even China, to some degree) allow VPNs. For more details about specific countries, research what local laws say about VPNs. If you’re torrenting copyrighted media, that’s always illegal, whether you’re using a VPN or not.

    Bypassing content restrictions to access specific shows on platforms like HBO GO or Netflix isn’t illegal — but it may be against their terms of use.

    Frequently asked questions

    Still unsure about the best way to access restricted websites in a given context, or uncertain if a VPN or proxy is best? Let’s go over some best practices.

    Will any of these methods allow me to access blocked websites at school?

    Yes, some of the above methods to unblock websites will work at school. But, you may not be able to download a VPN or Tor. That means a proxy or one of the quick methods outlined above will be your best bet to unblock sites if you’re at school.

    How about at work?

    If you have a fixed workstation or are able to download any software you want on a laptop, a VPN is your best option to unblock websites at work.

    If that’s not the case — if you have a hot-desking setup or your employer restricts what you can download on your laptop — then neither a VPN nor Tor will work. In that case, a web proxy or browser proxy is your best option.

    Can I unblock websites on my phone, too?

    Yes, you can definitely unblock websites on your phone. Most of the methods we’ve described work on mobile as well. The only problem is speed. Fiddling around with a web proxy or Tor might not work well due to their decreased speeds. Setting up a VPN on mobile is the best way to unblock sites on your phone. VPNs are easy to set up, easy to use, and protect you on unsecured Wi-Fi networks such as those in coffee shops.

    Whether you use Android or iOS, AVG has you covered with a top-of-the-line mobile VPN app. Give it a try today.

    How can I unblock a website on Chrome?

    Luckily, it’s not hard to learn how to unblock a website on Chrome. Most of the methods above will help you get around content blocks on Chrome immediately. Tor is a separate browser, but it also has an extension you can add to Chrome. Both VPNs and web proxies work well on Chrome, as does the HMA proxy extension designed specifically for Chrome.

    The easiest way to access blocked sites on any device

    A VPN is the most reliable way to unblock content and stay anonymous online. VPNs offer online privacy to keep your browsing activity hidden from hackers, internet service providers, and even governments.

    AVG Secure VPN offers over 50 virtual locations to choose from, with dedicated streaming services to help you view your favorite content on the go. AVG Secure VPN also protects your internet traffic with military-grade 256-bit AES encryption, the same standard used by banks. So you’ll be fully hidden and free to bypass content blocks on your way to whatever sites you need to access.

    Unblock content and stream freely and privately with AVG Secure VPN

    Install free trial

    Unblock content and stream freely and privately with AVG Secure VPN

    Install free trial