Unfortunately, we’re living in a day and age when governments are becoming increasingly restrictive and they’re censoring (or at least trying) the internet like never before. In the same time, internet has become almost ubiquitous and accessing it has become easier and cheaper than ever before.
Considering these facts, knowing how to access blocked websites, thus bypassing bans and restrictions imposed by big brother (or maybe your internet service provider, school or even the company you work for) should rank high on your priorities list, especially if you live in a country which enforces internet censorship enthusiastically, the likes of Iran, China, Saudi Arabia etc. (insert your desired oppressive regime here).
For example, China doesn’t allow Google to operate behind their Great Internet Firewall, and they also censor heavily social media, the likes of Twitter and Facebook (so does Iran, Saudi Arabia and others). YouTube restricts available content based on users’ geographical location, and the same goes for other video-streaming services, like Hulu or Netflix.
The good news is that today’s article will teach you a number of efficient and easy to employ methods on how to unblock websites, even if you were not born on the internet and you can’t tell the difference between good flan and bad flan (there is none).
1. Get Around Blocked Websites By Using a VPN (recommended method)
The VPN acronym stands for virtual private network and it works as per its name. If you connect to a virtual private network, all of the internet traffic coming from your laptop/smartphone/whatever device you’re using will be encrypted and redirected over the respective VPN.
For example, if you’re using a VPN located in the United States and you live in, let’s say Canada, all your internet traffic will be redirected to the US, and then sent/forwarded back to you.
Remember, the connection between you and the VPN server is encrypted, so nobody can tell for sure what you’re up to: not even your internet service provider, nor the government, that if the encryption level provided by the VPN service is good enough.
Since everything you’re doing on the internet takes place over a secured/encrypted connection, using a VPN service to bypass blocked websites or to stay completely anonymous on the web is the best method available today.
Why you should be using a paid VPN over free services?
In the world of VPNs, there are two alternatives: the paid service, also known as premium, and the free service. Truth be told, there are tons of both dirt-cheap and completely free VPNs to choose from, as capitalism and free markets usually work on the realms of the internet.
If you consider a virtual private network as your own personal and private lounge on the internet, you should pay extra attention to the differences between free and paid services, which can really make an impact in certain (as in extreme) situations.
For example, if you live in a country known for throwing the book at its citizens with regard to internet-excesses like copyright infringement or telling the truth on social media, you should choose a paid VPN, even if doing so would put a bigger or smaller dent in your bank account.
The thing about free VPNs is that they’re not as secure, nor as fast as paid services, for obvious reasons.
While free VPNs would still offer you a great deal of anonymity on the internet, as all that’s required from using such a service is usually just an email address, in the end you’ll only get what you paid for.
To begin with, the security of your data on a free VPN is, let’s say questionable, as most of the free VPNs will only provide the PPTP security protocol, which is very easy to break.
Also, free VPNs usually log your internet activity and sell your personal data to advertisers and so forth and so on.
Even worse, some free VPN mobile applications don’t even encrypt connections, so there you have it: if you treasure your life, liberty and pursuit of happiness on the internet, go for a paid VPN, which offers extra layers of security, such as rock-solid data encryption, more features/options, no-logging policies and significantly better speeds.
For example, you can hardly use a free VPN for video-streaming, as they’re usually slow and their IP classes are banned from video-streaming services like Hulu or Netflix.
Here are some of the best (paid) VPN services available on the market today:
ExpressVPN is a premium VPN provider based in the Virgin Islands (the NSA and GCHQ have no power there), which means they are taking internet privacy very seriously, as opposed to VPN providers based in the European Union or the United States, which are vulnerable to subpoenas from the Big Brother, meaning they can be easily forced to provide your personal data to the government/spy agencies in case SHTF.
ExpressVPN claim to be the fastest VPN service in the world, and truth be told, they’re really good in this regard, as they offer blazing-fast speeds, which are also consistent, solid security and encryption, a zero-log policy (they don’t log/record your internet activity on their servers, such as your IP address), an excellent live customer service, a very intuitive and easy to use interface and clean setup, lots of servers all over the world (94 countries and 1500 servers), and so forth and so on, but all these goodies come at a relatively hefty price compared to some of their competitors.
2. Private Internet Access
Also known as PIA, these guys are playing in the best bang for the buck category, as they offer plenty of features and servers together with decent security/encryption and an above average speed, all at an affordable price.
PIA has more than 3000 servers (which is a lot) in 24 countries (not so great), and they allow you to both sign up (you only require a valid email address) and pay (using Bitcoin or gift cards) anonymously.
Just like ExpresVPN, PIA boasts a no-traffic-logs policy and offers multiple VPN gateways and P2P support, along with rich security features. Private Internet Access VPN also allows multiple devices to be connected on a single account (up to five).
The downside is that they’re a US based company, which means they must comply to big brother’s demands at any time.
NordVPN is arguably one of the most popular VPN provider in the world, boasting a simple user interface and a very strong security policy.
NordVPN comes with state of the art encryption (2048 bit), double VPN and Kill Switch (your internet connection is severed instantly if the VPN fails for whatever reason) features, 3600+ servers in more than 61 countries and also allows multiple simultaneous connections.
Being a privacy oriented VPN service, NordVPN is based in Panama and comes fully featured, offering TOR over VPN (your computer connects first to the VPN server and then to the Tor network), Double VPN (your traffic is routed via 2 or more servers, which means double the encryption/double the security), VPN access via obfsproxy for China, dedicated IP (on request, for torrenting mostly), a smart DNS service, Socks5 proxies, P2P and DNS servers, among other goodies.
2. Free Proxy Websites
In case you want something simpler, you can bypass restricted access to a particular website by using proxy websites.
A proxy website acts like a third party between you and the (restricted) server site, thus allowing you to access it “via proxy”, as per its name.
Just perform an internet search in order to find a proxy website for basically anything. Let’s say Facebook is blocked by your company, so you can’t watch cat-videos during your working hours.
However, proxy websites can only be used for bypassing basic ISP restrictions and things of that nature, as they don’t encrypt traffic nor provide you with full anonymity on the internet. Also, forget about video streaming, it won’t work. This is why we don’t recommend our readers to use this method.
3. Browser Extensions
Another cool trick to access blocked websites is via free (or paid) browser extensions. Hoxx, ZenMate, ProxMate and Hola are just a few of them.
You must install these extensions in your browser, depending on what you use (Chrome, Firefox or whatever), and to make a long story short, they’ll act just like a regular VPN, but without the speed and privacy/security features of paid services like the ones I already told you about.
However, they still offer a decent amount of anonimity, as they encrypt your network traffic and allow you to access geo restricted services and websites such as Pandora, Vevo, Netflix or Spotify.
4. Tor Browser
Finally, there’s the TOR Browser, which is incredibly popular in some circles. If installed and set up properly, Tor can be of great use for dealing with blocked websites and also helps with staying anonymous on the internet.
Unlike premium VPNs, Tor doesn’t offer complete anonymity nor security or fail-safe encryption, and it’s also very slow compared to VPN solutions, whether free or premium.
Also keep in mind that despite the mythology on the internet, Tor is not impenetrable, as it all depends on whom controls the exit server/node. Which is usually the TOR Browser, and I am not kidding either.
Bypassing Blocked Websites: Conclusion
Bottom line, regardless of what you’re using, always remember that nothing is 100% private on the internet. The best tools for bypassing blocked websites and staying anonymous while cruising the “interwebz” are paid VPN services.
As usual, what you pay for is what you get, and free stuff is not actually free, i.e. if something’s free of charge, you (the user) are the merchandise. And that means your personal data, your internet search habits etc. Stay safe, invest in a solid VPN and tell us what you think in the comment section below.