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

Written by Nica Latto
Published on September 1, 2022

Whatever your reason for needing to unblock websites, there are several ways to do it. We’ve compiled a list of the 13 most effective ways to bypass blocked websites.

If you want to know why sites restrict content or the legality of getting around content blocks, skip down to our sections on why websites get blocked and whether it’s legal to unblock them.

This article contains:

    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.

    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:

    Now you need to set up your VPN on Windows or get your VPN set up on Mac — this is straightforward if you use a reputable and well-designed app.

    Turn on the VPN and select a server location. 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 Secure 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 Secure 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 a library or need to unblock websites at school, a VPN may not be the best option, because you need to download it.

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



    • Not free (most reputable VPNs aren’t free)

    • Requires downloading

    • Often slow — but, there are ways to speed up your VPN connection

    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 by volunteers. Another downside is that you usually can’t install Tor 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, open Tor and configure it (if necessary).

    You can download the Tor browser for private online browsing.

    After that, 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 probably can’t 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 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 need a website unblocker for school — often for Chromebooks, which run Android apps — and you can’t 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 or Chromebook is easy when you use a web proxy. To use a proxy server, go to 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. It can be a little annoying and generally isn’t great for streaming content online. And, 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 trusted website 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 and school Chromebooks

    • Often free

    • Can bypass basic content blocks


    • May break some website functionality

    • Doesn’t safeguard 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 browser extension

    A proxy extension is like a more convenient web proxy, 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 whenever you want to access blocked content.


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

    • Usually encrypts your browser connection

    • Can choose your server location

    • Usually free

    • Won’t disrupt any of your other chrome security extensions


    • Requires installation on your computer

    • May show ads

    • May not be optimized for streaming content

    If you can’t download a VPN or Tor (maybe your school or business forbids it), and don’t want to use a proxy, but still need to unblock something quickly, there are some other 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 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 it works:

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

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

    URL shorteners can help you get around very basic content blocks.URL shortening sites can help you bypass basic content blocks.

    Copy your new, shorter URL and paste it into your computer browser. If you’re lucky, you’ll successfully bypass the website access 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 to unblock sites

    • No security

    6. Try switching protocols

    If your school or work network uses a 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 to unblock sites

    • 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 restricted website.

    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, then click 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 for all blocked content

    • May display outdated content

    • No security

    8. Use Google translate

    Another Google-based workaround is to use Google translate to unblock websites. This method for accessing restricted sites 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 hopefully 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 as a true website unblocker

    • 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 that includes your IP address, you won't be able to visit that website.

    A dynamic IP address — one that changes with each use — will let you bypass this restriction. It’s the same trick phone spoofers use to keep calling you from different phone numbers.

    Most ISPs use dynamic IP addresses, 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 your 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, then 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 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.

    Pinging avg.com on macOS to get the IP address.


    • Easy and fast

    • Free


    • Not guaranteed to bypass restrictions

    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 visit the actual site, you can use a PDF converter to convert the HTML source code into a readable PDF.

    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 not work with every blocked website

    • No interaction

    • You can’t visit the actual site

    12. Use a private browser

    One of the easiest ways to unblock sites and view blocked content is to use a web browser built for privacy and security. Not only will a private browser help prevent unwanted tracking while you browse, it can also help you access blocked websites without much work.

    One such browser is AVG Secure Browser, which includes built-in access to AVG Secure VPN — together, they can help you bypass website access restrictions, while also encrypting your connection and concealing your online activity.

    To start accessing blocked websites, first download and install AVG Secure Browser here:

    Open AVG Secure Browser and click the green shield in the top-right corner to open the Security & Privacy Center. From there, you can activate multiple privacy features — including Secure VPN — to help hide your presence from blocked websites and start accessing restricted content.

    AVG Secure Browser includes a built-in VPN to help you access blocked websites.AVG Secure Browser includes built-in access to a VPN, so you can stay private and secure while accessing blocked websites worldwide.



    • Requires extra installs to access all premium features

    • Requires browser installation

    13. Change your DNS server

    Changing your Domain Name System (DNS) server — either manually or via a smart DNS proxy server — also allows you to access geo-blocked content, by tricking a website into thinking you’re in a different location.

    You can change your DNS server on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS (iPhone or iPad). Or, you can change the DNS server within your browser or via your router. The biggest difference between a smart DNS proxy and a VPN is that your IP address is still visible if you use a smart DNS proxy alone.


    • Free website unblocker

    • Doesn’t require installation

    • Doesn’t sacrifice speed

    • Works on all device types


    • Doesn’t hide your IP address or provide encryption

    • Setup can be intimidating

    Now let’s review all the website unblocker methods described above and rate them across a variety of factors — ease of use, speed, security, and more. Green dots mean the method works well, while a red dot means things may be more difficult.

    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; red dots mean more obstacles.

    Why do websites get blocked?

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

    Websites also detect data stored in browser cookies. If you’re trying to access a subscription site or paywalled content, the page will be blocked unless the site can verify that you’re logged in and have a subscription.

    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 can let you access blocked websites.

    Geo-restricted content

    Geo-blocking is common for streaming services — such as Netflix, Disney+, and Spotify — that 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 usually see a different collection of content than in another country. That’s why many people traveling abroad use VPNs to unblock websites and content 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 accessing news sites, that’s another story. Generally, your school or work is worried about productivity and bandwidth, and streaming 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 censor the open web, their citizens often find ways to unblock censored websites.


    Internet service providers (ISPs) typically block websites for legitimate reasons — URLs known to contain or traffic illegal or pirated content are often blocked by most ISPs. If you live in a country with strict censorship laws, ISPs may be required to block websites according to local regulations too.

    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 Max or Netflix isn’t illegal — but it may be against their terms of use.

    The easiest way to access blocked sites on any device

    A VPN is the most reliable way to access blocked websites 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 an array of 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. Try it free today.


    If you’re still unsure about the best way to unblock websites, here’s some more information you should know:

    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 unblocking sites at work?

    If you have a fixed workstation or can 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. At that point, a web proxy or browser proxy is your best option.

    Is there a free VPN?

    It’s possible to get free VPNs, but their features won’t be as comprehensive as premium products. And unreputable VPNs might even monetize your browsing activity by selling it on to data brokers or other third parties. You can try AVG Secure VPN for free with a 7-day trial.

    Can I unblock websites on my phone, too?

    Yes, you can unblock websites on your iPhone or Android using the most common methods for unblocking websites on a computer. But, fiddling around with a web proxy or Tor might not work well due to 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. 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?

    Here’s how to unblock sites on Chrome: Open Settings and change or reset permissions while you’re on the website you want to visit — this will help you get around content blocks on Chrome immediately. Tor is a separate browser, but it also has an extension for Chrome. Both VPNs and web proxies work well on Chrome too.

    How do I unblock a website without a VPN?

    It is possible to unblock websites using alternative methods such as the Tor browser or proxies, but there are downsides to both. Using a VPN not only lets you quickly and easily access restricted content, but it fully encrypts your data for maximum privacy and security.

    How do I unblock sites on my laptop?

    A VPN is the best and most convenient tool for unblocking websites on a laptop. As well as being able to quickly and easily watch TV online and bypass other content blocks, you’ll enjoy the full range of benefits of a VPN such as lightning-fast connections, a choice of optimized server locations, and full encryption that stops your activity being tracked.

    How do I unblock websites on a Chromebook?

    You can unblock websites on a Chromebook with a VPN, as long as the VPN has an Android-supported app. If you need a website unblocker for a school Chromebook, your best bet is through a web proxy server — though you may have to search for one that the IT department hasn’t restricted yet.

    Unblock content and stream freely with AVG Secure VPN

    Free install

    Unblock content and stream freely with AVG Secure VPN

    Free install
    Nica Latto