It is becoming more common every day for various organizations to block access to websites for either security or productivity reasons. As a result, end-users will often find themselves in need of figuring out how to unblock websites. By unblocking a website, the action of obtaining or gaining access to a website that is currently blocked by some means on the network the individual is using to access the site is achieved. Of course, not only do networks block access to websites, but some individual sites may choose to block users for various reasons such location or individual IP address.
What Is the Most Common Way Websites Block Users?
The most common way websites block users from accessing them is by blocking the individual’s computer IP address, an IP address range or even subnet. The workaround can be as easy as resetting one’s modem if the ISP using a dynamically assigned IP address. If a more sophisticated website blocking, it may require using proxies or a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to unblock the website.
Unblocking Websites That Are Blocked on the Network
There are various reasons why a network administrator would block a specific or multiple websites based on school or organization policy. These types of site blocks are most commonly found in corporate and educational environments with the Internet destinations most commonly blocked being social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. Many network admins also make use of content filters to block access to groups or families of websites such as pornography, violence, gaming, drugs, politics, or religious topics.
Blocks such as these are called content filters because they block access to sites that are deemed undesirable by the institution managing the network. Content filters can work in a few ways, depending on the specific filter technology being employed. A common filter option is to block a website by URL (for example FaceBook.com). Another option is to block access to a sites IP address or range of IP addresses. A third choice is to use a keyword or key phrase content blocking filter to prevent users from either viewing results on a given search term or viewing websites displaying content that matches filter keyword criteria.
Unblocking websites from keyword filters is hardest because even if the proxy or VPN is used, the filter can still prevent the web surfer from navigating to the website by blocking the data as it is returned to the proxy or VPN. If a keyword filter is installed on your network, then it may prove too difficult to unblock a website that triggers a banned category of website.
How to Unblock Specific Websites Blocked on the Network
The most well-known example of content filtering within a specific network is the Great Firewall of China. The firewall, or content filter, is used to censor the Internet and effectively delete any content that the government of the People’s Republic of China doesn’t approve. Most institutions that use content filtering in free societies do not normally censor specific content, but rather block access to the sites the management has deemed undesirable.
How to Unblock Websites Using Proxies
A proxy is a third party between the person (or computer) that is attempting to access a website and the site’s server. For now, consider a proxy as a bypass route between a straight line which is the connection from your computer and the web site. By using a proxy outside the network your computer is on, many content and website filters can be bypassed permitting unrestricted website surfing.
Using web proxies is one of the easiest ways of unblocking website; however, they do require some research on the part of the end-user. While it is relatively easy to find a proxy that is functional, they can also pose a security risk to the web surfer. Because a proxy works like a bypass, any traffic that’s traveling between your computer and the website you’re visiting goes over the proxy. As a result, the owner or manager of the proxy website can capture or save all of the information sent or received over the proxy. While most proxy owners likely do not partake in this activity, caution is advised when sending any information that the user wants to keep private. A nefarious proxy owner is not the only risk in this case; however, as rogue hackers could also take advantage of known security flaws in proxy scripts to hack a proxy website in order to steal the information of the site’s visitors.
When looking for proxies, end-users should always seek out those which leverage the HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) protocol. Unlike websites or proxy sites that use the standard Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), the data sent between the user’s computer and the server is encrypted. This helps prevent third parties that have access to the information being sent to or from the proxy server from being read in the clear. Unfortunately, the majority of public proxies found on the Internet make use of the unsecure HTTP protocol which can make it easier for individual information to be placed at risk.
There is also another very useful function that comes with HTTPS when trying to unblock websites. If using a proxy supporting the encrypted connection, many content filters will be unable to detect the information or type of website being visited due to the closed nature of HTTPS. Before quitting on one’s attempts to unblock a website using standard proxies, attempting to connect via secure means should be tried before giving up on accessing the desired website.
The Best Proxy to Unblock Websites
The best proxy to unblock websites is one with at least two layers of security. First, it should be a HTTPS proxy. Since all of the data will be encrypted it will not only be safer against theft from potential hackers, but also make it easier to bypass basic content filters used by many network administrators.
The second layer would be using a reputable or trustworthy proxy. These come in two categories: 1 – Paid, or 2 – Private proxy networks. Paid proxies typically cost a few dollars a month to use and can be vetted with other like-minded people. A private proxy network will normally cost individuals more money to setup, but can remain relatively unknown by network administrators at-large if kept out of the public view. The majority of average computer users will make use of private proxies to avoid the costly setup of a private network.
Where Can You Find Free Proxy Websites?
The first place that consumers turn to when seeking proxy websites is to a major search engine such as Google or Bing. Unfortunately, many network administrators also use these resources to seek out proxy websites to filter. As a result, Tech-FAQ publishes a free proxy list that is updated daily with fresh proxies to benefit the end-user. The list is updated both online, or if this website is filtered on your network, the list is also pushed via RSS feed, email, and Twitter.
How to Unblock Websites that Block by Location.
Sometimes, an end-user’s network is not blocking a website. Rather, the desired website to visit is blocking your location or is only allowing visitors from a country such as the United States. To defeat a location-based filter, choosing a proxy based in the desired country will defeat most filters. If you are trying to unblock country-specific multi-media content such as Netflix, ABC online, CBS, NBC, or FOX television shows, then a country-specific VPN may be required to support the video and audio playback.
As a word of caution; however, when an individual unblocks a website that has location specific limitations it typically violates the terms of services of the website. In many countries, a violation of a site’s terms of service in these cases can result in breaking the law and potentially result in legal action being taken against the individual who worked around or unblocked the country-specific filter.
How to Unblock Websites That Are Blocking YOU
There are certain kinds of websites, the most usual ones being forums that tend to block a specific user for one reason or another from accessing the site. This is called an IP ban. The Internet is a lot like a telephone network, in the sense that each Internet user has a unique address called an IP address (similar to a telephone number). Site admins can block IP addresses (or blocks of addresses) from accessing their site. To unblock websites that banned your IP address you need to change your computer’s IP address.
There are two ways you can go about doing this. The first and simplest way is just by restarting your modem. Most Internet users get so-called dynamic IP addresses which change each time you restart your modem. But there also some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that assign a dedicated IP address to each user and if you have one of those you can restart your modem as many times as you want but the IP won’t change. If your computer has a static IP address, you can either call your ISP and ask them to give you a new IP address or try using a proxy server. When accessing a website through a proxy, the desired site sees the IP address of the proxy server instead of the IP of the computer. This happens because all the data travels from your computer through the proxy and then finally reaches the server and vice versa.
Alternative Methods for Unblocking Websites
Some basic, yet sometimes effective methods for unblocking websites also include: using another web browser, Google Mobile Search, Google Tools, surfing by IP address, and using URL redirects.
Using an Alternative Web Browser
Many times, a specific browser’s security settings will be modified by the network administrator to preclude visiting an undesirable website. If this is the case on your network, then try shifting to Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox (if available on your network) to visit the website. If an alternative browser is not an option, attempt changing the security settings on the web browser located under “Internet Options, Security” on most versions of Internet Explorer.
Google Mobile Search
When using Google Mobile Search, Google will translate standard HTML pages into a mobile page. During the process, some of the page will be removed and the size of the page or site will be reduced. As a result, many blocking software applications will not recognize the page and fail to block it.
Use Google Tools to Unblock Websites
Search for the site that is currently blocked through Google. Then, click the “Cached Copy” of the website to retrieve the webpage which is currently blocked. This will not typically work for sites such as Facebook; however, is a good method for sites that host static content which is being blocked.
Surf Using IP Addresses
Enter the website’s IP address instead of the URL as a basic work-around the site block. If the software being used to filter the network is capable of mapping domain names to IP address, then this method will fail.
Unblock Websites Using URL Redirects
URL redirect services can be used to create a fresh URL for a site that is currently blocked. When creating a redirect, use the new URL when on the computer or network that is being blocked, and the redirection service will load the desired website. Tinyurl is the popular service in use by consumers.