1. Unblock websites using a VPN
Using a VPN is the easiest and most reliable way to get around content blocks and unlock the URL you want. A VPN (virtual private network) routes your internet traffic through a remote server, allowing you to choose your virtual location.
Then, when you connect to a website, the website thinks that the virtual location provided by your VPN is your actual location, which means your real location is masked and you can unblock content. A VPN also encrypts your connection, making you as hidden as Harry Potter in his invisibility cloak.
Our favorite VPN is AVG Secure VPN. But no matter which provider you use, the process to set up and use a VPN is fairly similar. Here’s how to unblock websites with a VPN on both desktop and mobile:
Download your preferred VPN. You can grab a free trial of ours right here:
Connect your device to the internet.
Switch on the VPN and select a server location to browse from. If the content you want to access is location-specific, make sure to select a location from which it’s available. If you just want to secure your traffic and hide your IP address, you can select Optimal location for the fastest speeds.
Now you’re browsing anonymously and securely from a hidden location. Hooray!
A VPN also gives you online privacy and keeps you safe on public Wi-Fi networks.
A VPN is the easiest, most comprehensive tool to bypass content blocks time and time again. But if you’re using a public computer at school or at a library, it may not be the best option (for that, we recommend using a web proxy).
Also note that some content providers have started blocking known VPN IP (Internet Protocol) addresses, so your VPN might not work 100% of the time with every site or service 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.
2. Unblock websites using Tor
Another option for sneaking around content blocks is Tor, which will help you bypass restrictions like a champion magician. Tor, or The Onion Router, routes your online traffic through many layers of encryption, hence its name. That allows you to 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, but you can give it a try.
Here’s how to unblock websites using Tor:
Go to the Tor website.
Choose your platform (Windows, Mac, Android, or iOS) and follow the directions to install the Tor browser.
Launch Tor and configure it (if necessary). Then you can connect.
You’re now in the onion! Enjoy anonymous access to whatever sites you need.
3. Unblock websites using a web proxy
Are you on a work or school computer that won’t let you download a VPN or Tor? A web proxy works well for quickly unblocking content on public computers. You’ll connect to a proxy server first, and then on to your desired destination — masking your original location as a result.
If that sounds complicated, don’t worry, it just means that to use a proxy server, all you have to do is simply go to a particular website (called a proxy website), enter the URL of the actual website you’d like to visit, and press a button to access it).
The downside? Before visiting the website you want, you’ll 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.
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 faster than Harry and Ron sneaking into the restricted section of the Hogwarts library. A proxy extension sits right in your browser, so you won’t waste time constantly navigating to the proxy — it’s ready and waiting anytime you want to access blocked content.
There are many good proxy extensions out there, such as the one offered by HMA for Chrome and Firefox. Here’s how to use HMA’s web browser extension for Chrome:
Download the browser extension for free from the Chrome store.
Confirm that you want to Add extension, and it will install.
Select the donkey hat icon in the top-right corner and the proxy will open.
Click Turn On to activate the proxy. The Disguised as button will let you choose your virtual location.
Boom! You now appear to be from your selected location, and you can anonymously view the content you want.
Other quick ways to access blocked websites
If you’re unable to download a VPN or Tor (perhaps because your school or business forbids it) and just need to unblock something quickly, there are some quick methods that might work. They’re not as reliable as the options outlined above but can help in a pinch.
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 is.gd, TinyURL, and Bitly 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 one of the URL shorteners listed above.
Enter the website you want to unblock into the URL field and click Shorten!
Copy your new, shorter URL.
Paste the new URL into your browser. If you’re lucky, you’ll successfully bypass the restriction and get to the site you want.
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.
However, HTTP is an unsecured protocol and should be avoided. You should never enter any personal information or passwords into a site using HTTP, because of potential security vulnerabilities that can be exploited.
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 site if its live version is blocked.
To get to a cached version of a site, follow these steps:
Go to google.com and search for the site you want to access.
Google will display the site with an arrow to the right. Click the arrow.
Select Cached and you might just bypass the restriction.
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 signals to websites that they should (or shouldn’t) block your device from accessing their web pages.
Content providers, schools and companies, and government authorities block websites for a variety of reasons, from commercial considerations to deliberately limiting the flow of information. Thankfully, 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.
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.
For example, if you use Netflix in the US, you’ll see a different collection of content than you would if you were 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 those cat videos may take up valuable resources.
Above, we showed you how to unblock websites at school, so hop up there for more details about using a proxy extension or check out our other quick ways to access blocked content.
Some countries censor what online content can be viewed within their borders, because of cultural, religious, or political concerns — in other words, to limit the flow of information or even 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 where you’re located. Many countries (even China, to some degree) allow VPNs. But for more details about specific countries, you should research what local laws say about VPNs. And if you’re torrenting copyrighted media, that’s always illegal, whether you’re using a VPN or not.
Frequently asked questions
Still scratching your head about the best way to access restricted websites in a given context? Not sure 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?
At school, 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.
How about at work?
If you have a fixed workstation or are able to download any software you want on a laptop, a VPN will be your best option to unblock websites at work.
If that’s not the case — if, say, you have a hot-desking setup or your employer restricts what you can download on your laptop — then neither a VPN nor Tor will cut it. That means a web proxy or browser proxy will be the simplest option for you.
Can I unblock websites on my phone, too?
Absolutely! 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. A VPN is the best way to unblock sites on mobile. 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 our top-of-the-line mobile VPN app. Give it a spin today with our free trial.
How can I unblock a website on Chrome?
Wondering how to unblock a website on Chrome, specifically? Most of the methods we listed 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, your Internet Service Provider, and even the government.
AVG Secure VPN offers over 50 virtual locations to choose from, with dedicated streaming services optimized 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.