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How to Unblock Websites From Anywhere

Simon Migliano

Simon Migliano is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times and more.

Fact-checked by Callum Tennent

Our Verdict

The best way to unblock websites is to use a virtual private network (VPN). VPN services are cheap, easy to use, and hide your IP address – providing reliable access to restricted content on a range of different devices. To unblock websites without a VPN, you can use a web proxy, Smart DNS, or the Tor browser.

How to unblock websites

Websites can be blocked by governments, ISPs, copyright holders, website owners, and network administrators at school, college, and work.

Typically, these blocks are based on your IP address, geolocation, or local network.

Fortunately, there are dozens of different tools and methods you can use to unblock a website, should you need to.

We’ve tested over 20 different methods to find the best ways to unblock websites from anywhere in the world. Based on our results, the five best methods in 2023 are:

  1. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN): The best way to unblock websites overall.
  2. Use a Web Proxy: The fastest way to unblock a website without a VPN.
  3. Use a Proxy Browser Extension: A beginner-friendly, free tool for unblocking websites.
  4. Use a Smart DNS Service: The best tool for unblocking websites on smart TVs.
  5. Use the Tor Browser: A highly secure and anonymous way to access censored sites.

SUMMARY: How To Unblock Websites Using a VPN

  1. Choose a VPN service and install it onto your device. If you need help picking one, check out our recommendations for the best VPNs of 2023.
  2. Open the VPN app and select a server location. If you’re trying to unblock geographically-restricted content, then select a server in the location you require.
  3. Turn the VPN on. You can run a VPN leak test to check it’s working.
  4. Navigate to the blocked website you’re trying to access. The site will now be unblocked.

Based on our tests, a VPN is by far the most effective tool for unblocking websites and accessing restricted content online. VPN software reliably bypasses even the strictest website blocks, is very easy to set up on almost any device, and reliably delivers fast connection speeds.

Using a VPN is the best method overall, but it’s not the only method. In this article, we’ll explain how to unblock websites using all of the tools available to you in 2023. We’ve tested each one and will let you know when it works and, more importantly, when it doesn’t.

We’ll also explain which method you should use on different devices. We’ll cover how to unblock websites on Mac, Windows, iPhone, Android, Chrome, Firefox and your Smart TV.

Use the links below to skip to the section most relevant to you, or read on for an in-depth look at the five best methods overall.

EXPERT TIP: To bypass website blocks at school and college, check out our dedicated instructions for how to unblock websites at school.

The 5 Best Methods to Unblock Websites in 2023

Ultimately, the best method for unblocking a website will depend on the type of block in place and the reasoning behind it.

Here is a table summarizing the best methods for unblocking websites, along with their strengths and weaknesses:

Method Efficacy Ease Of Set Up Download Required? Connection Speed Privacy & Security Free or Paid?
VPN Very High Easy Yes Fast High Paid
Web Proxy Moderate Very Easy No Slow Low Free
Proxy Extension High Easy Yes Moderate Moderate Free or Paid
Tor Browser Moderate Difficult Yes Slow High Free
Smart DNS Moderate Difficult No Fast Low Paid

To help you find the best method for your situation, we’ve tested over 20 different methods to see how effective they are at unblocking websites and beating content blocks.

Overall, we found that using a VPN is the best way to unblock websites at home, at work, in high-censorship countries. It’s also the best way to access geographically-restricted content from outside of your country.

However, a VPN won’t be the best option in every situation.

For example, if you’re in a hurry, then the quickest way to unblock a website is to use a web proxy. If anonymity is your priority, it might be better to use the Tor browser. Ultimately, the best way to unblock websites depends on how it is blocked and what your priorities are.

In the rest of this section, we’ll take a more detailed look at each method.

1. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Pros Cons
Bypasses every type of website block Good VPNs charge a monthly subscription fee
Encrypts your web traffic You need to sign up and download the software before you can unblock a website
Offers a wide range of server locations Small impact on connection speeds
Protects all traffic going into and out of your device Low-quality VPN services may log your activity
Often includes dedicated customer support

A virtual private network (VPN) is a type of software designed to improve your privacy, security, and freedom online. According to our tests, it is the most effective and reliable way to unblock websites.

VPN apps are available on a range of different devices, which means it’s also the most versatile method. You can use a VPN to access restricted content on your phone, computer, or even your Smart TV.

ExpressVPN Streaming Channel 4

ExpressVPN unblocks Channel 4 on desktop, mobile, and home devices.

VPNs work by encrypting your web traffic and routing it via a remote VPN server. This has the effect of hiding your IP address and geographic location from the websites you visit.

It also prevents your internet service provider (ISP), government, and Wi-Fi administrator (e.g., at home, at work, or on public Wi-Fi) from being able to monitor your browsing activity.

VPNs are the most effective tool for bypassing website blocks for three main reasons:

1. VPN encryption unblocks websites that are blocked by URL or domain name.

ISPs, governments, and network administrators often block websites using a ‘blacklist’ of specific URLs or domain names. VPN encryption prevents these systems from seeing the websites you’re connecting to, which means they cannot block your connection.

VPNs are therefore excellent for unblocking websites at work and for bypassing online censorship in countries like China or Russia. Often, top VPNs come with obfuscated servers designed specifically for unblocking websites in restricted countries.

2. By hiding your IP address, a VPN unblocks geographically-restricted content.

Some websites host content that is restricted to certain geographic regions. When you visit these websites, they use your IP address to determine your location and then block you accordingly.

When you connect to a VPN server in a different location, you temporarily replace your IP address and spoof your geolocation. This lets you unblock websites that aren’t typically available in your region.

This allows VPN users to unblock geographically-restricted websites like HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, or Hotstar. You can unlock additional streaming material on sites like Netflix or Disney Plus, and bypass copyright restrictions on YouTube and Twitter

3. VPN apps can be downloaded onto almost any device.

You can easily use a VPN to unblock websites and streaming services on a laptop, cell phone, or tablet. Dedicated VPN extensions are also available for specific browsers, meaning you can quickly access restricted content on Chrome, Firefox, or Edge.

The main downside to using a VPN to unblock websites is the cost. A subscription to a good-quality VPN tends to cost around $4.00 per month. Free VPNs do exist, but they are often extremely limited, or even unsafe.

VPNs may not be the best option for unblocking websites quickly, either. The process of signing up and installing VPN software onto your device can take a few minutes, which isn’t ideal if you’re looking for immediate access to a restricted webpage.

EXPERT TIP: You may not have permission to install a VPN app if you’re using a public computer or a work device. In these cases, using a VPN is not the best way to unblock websites. Try using a web proxy or Smart DNS service, instead.

Use a VPN if you are:

  • Unblocking websites on a long-term basis (e.g. traveling).
  • Bypassing geographical restrictions (e.g. on streaming platforms).
  • Unblocking websites on a mobile device.
  • Generally worried about your online privacy and security.

Don’t use a VPN if you are:

  • Trying to quickly unblock a single web page. Use a web proxy instead.
  • Unblocking streaming services on a Smart TV or games console. Use Smart DNS, instead.
  • On a public computer or work device, where you don’t have the necessary permissions to download a VPN application.

How To Unblock Websites With a VPN

Demonstrating how to unblock websites using ExpressVPN.

Here’s how to use a VPN to unblock websites:

  1. Choose a trusted VPN service, like ExpressVPN (our top-rated VPN of 2023).
  2. Select your preferred payment plan. The longer the plan, the cheaper the monthly fee.
  3. Install the VPN. For most devices, you can set up a VPN by simply downloading the corresponding application.
  4. Open the VPN application. You may have to verify your account the first time you open it up.
  5. Choose a server location. Find a VPN server in a location that will unblock the website you’re after.
  6. Press connect. Your connection will now be routed through that VPN server. You’ll be able to unblock websites and browse privately.

2. Web Proxy

Pros Cons
Extremely simple to use Does not work for streaming content, including YouTube and Netflix
Requires no setup or manual installation Most proxies are unencrypted, so ISPs and network administrators can still see your activity
Free to use Won’t protect any activity outside of the browser tab you’re in
Works to unblock geographically-restricted, text-based content Known to inject adverts and sometimes even malware into your browsing session
Good proxy providers let you choose a server location Website owners and network administrators sometimes block web proxy sites
Slower than VPN services due to congestion

The fastest way to unblock a simple website is to use a web proxy. To do this, you simply enter the URL you want to unblock, press enter, and the restricted content should appear.

HideMyAss Web Proxy

HideMyAss’ web proxy service.

Like a VPN, a web proxy works by routing your web traffic through a remote proxy server on its way to your desired website.

This has the effect of temporarily replacing your IP address with the IP address of the proxy server, effectively hiding your physical location from the website you’re visiting.

Diagram of how a proxy server works

A proxy server hides your physical location.

You can therefore use a web proxy to unblock websites that are not available in your geographic region. Some web proxies even let you choose the proxy server’s location, much like a VPN service.

Another benefit is that you don’t need to download or install anything to use a web proxy – just navigate to the proxy website in your browser and enter the URL.

This makes using a web proxy the most viable option for unblocking websites on public computers, such as at work or in a public library.

Web proxies tend to be free to use, too. Unfortunately, this means they often come with some operational drawbacks that you should be aware of:

  • No Encryption: Most web proxies do not encrypt your connection. This means that governments, ISPs, and network administrators can monitor your activity and block your connection, if they choose.
  • Protection In One Tab Only: Unlike a VPN, a web proxy won’t redirect any traffic from outside the browser tab it’s being used in. That means you need to navigate to the web proxy URL every time you open a new tab.
  • Privacy & Security Issues: Some web proxies track your activity and sell that information to advertisers and other third-parties. Many also insert adverts into your browsing session, and some have been known to infect users with malware.
  • No Multimedia Content: A web proxy rarely gives you access to video or audio content. In our tests, we could not find a single proxy that unblocked restricted streaming material on Netflix or YouTube.

EXPERT TIP: It’s quicker to unblock websites with proxies because they do not require the installation of third-party software. However, don’t confuse this with faster connection speeds or load times. Our tests show that, on average, a VPN will load restricted content much faster than a web proxy.

Use a Web Proxy if you:

  • Are trying to quickly access a blocked text-based webpage, such as a newspaper article or wikipedia page.
  • Don’t have permissions to download software or browser extensions on the device you’re using, such as on public PCs, work computers or school chromebooks.

Don’t use a Web Proxy if you are:

  • Are sharing personal or sensitive information.
  • Want to access blocked multimedia content, such as video streaming websites.
  • Don’t want your work or school WiFi administrator to see what you’re doing online.
  • Are worried about your privacy and security online.

How To Unblock Websites With a Web Proxy

How to use HMA's web proxy to unblock the Orlando Sentinel.

To unblock websites using a web proxy:

  1. Navigate to a web proxy site in your browser. Popular options include, HideMyAss, and kProxy.
  2. Type in the URL you want to unblock.
  3. Select a proxy location. Pick a country where the website you’re trying to access is unrestricted.
  4. Click ‘visit anonymously’. The website should appear unblocked on your screen.

3. Proxy Browser Extension

Pros Cons
Usually free Weaker encryption than a ‘full’ VPN service
Convenient to use after the initial setup process Some proxy extensions display adverts
Can sometimes unblock streaming content Only protects your browser traffic
A range of server locations to choose from Extensions are not available on mobile devices
Available in Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge

A proxy browser extension is essentially a midpoint between a VPN service and a web proxy.

Rather than downloading software directly onto your device or navigating to a web proxy’s URL, a proxy browser extension involves installing an extension or add-on into your browser. You can then use the browser extension to access geographically-restricted websites.

Proxy browser extensions work in much the same way as a web proxy or a VPN. When turned on, your browser activity is routed through a remote proxy server, which has the effect of hiding your true IP address from the websites you visit. This unblocks sites that block you based on your IP address or physical location.

The main menu on CyberGhost's Chrome extension

CyberGhost’s Chrome Extension.

A proxy browser extension is therefore not as simple or as quick to set up as a web proxy, but we found them to be generally more effective and reliable at unblocking websites. For example, we found that most proxy browser extensions let you stream geographically restricted YouTube videos, whereas most web proxies do not.

On the other hand, proxy browser extensions are not as safe or secure as a VPN. Most proxy extensions use HTTPS encryption at the very most, which means the domains you visit may still be visible to third parties.

Moreover, many browser extensions are only free to use because they make their money by selling your browsing data or by injecting adverts into your session. Google claims to vet all of its Chrome extensions, but unsafe add-ons regularly slip through the net – such as the Hola VPN Chrome extension.

We therefore advise you not to use a proxy of any kind for sensitive activity that involves sharing financial, medical, or otherwise personal information – you can never be sure who’s watching.

That said, good-quality proxy browser extensions are available on Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. However, be aware that mobile users cannot download Chrome extensions. iOS users cannot get Firefox add-ons, either.

Use a proxy browser extension if you are:

  • Unable to download VPN software onto your device, e.g., on chromebooks or work computers.
  • Unblocking websites on a more long-term basis, such as when traveling.

Don’t use a proxy browser extension if you are:

  • Particularly concerned about privacy and security online.
  • Bypassing censorship measures in highly authoritarian countries.
  • Sharing personal or sensitive information.
  • Using Firefox on iOS or Google Chrome on a smartphone.

How To Unblock Websites With a Proxy Browser Extension

How to use CyberGhost's Chrome Extension to unblock The Baltimore Sun.

To unblock websites on Chrome with a proxy browser extension:

  1. Open Chrome on your device.
  2. Tap the More icon. On Mac, it’s the three vertical dots in the top-right corner.
  3. Under More Tools, click Extensions.
  4. Click the Hamburger icon. On Mac, it’s in the top-left corner.
  5. Select Open Chrome Web Store.
  6. Type in the name of the proxy browser extension you want to download. We recommend CyberGhosts’ and PIA’s Chrome proxies.
  7. Click Add to Chrome.You will then have to confirm the installation.
  8. Once it is downloaded, you can open the proxy browser extension by clicking on its icon in the browser. This should be next to your address bar.
  9. Choose a server location. You may need to register with the service before doing this.
  10. Turn the proxy on. This will connect you to the proxy server.
  11. Navigate to the blocked website. It should now be unblocked.

To unblock websites on Firefox with a proxy browser add-on:

  1. Open the Firefox browser on your device.
  2. Go to the Mozilla Add-Ons library.
  3. Search for a proxy browser add-on. We recommend Surfshark’s Firefox Proxy.
  4. Click + Add to download the add-on.
  5. Once it is downloaded, open the add-on by clicking its icon in the address bar.
  6. Choose a server location. You may need to register with the service before doing this.
  7. Turn the proxy on. This will connect you to your chosen server.
  8. Navigate to the blocked website. It should now be unblocked.

NOTE: We don’t recommend using a proxy browser extension to unblock websites on Safari. Apple offers limited support for third-party extensions. As such, most of the safe proxy extensions are not available to Safari users.

4. The Tor Browser

Pros Cons
Works unblock websites in highly-censored countries Extremely slow speeds
Free to download and useNot available on iOS devices Not available on iOS devices
Decentralized network maximizes user anonymity Can’t be downloaded on public PCs or work devices
Uses very strong encryption Associated with criminal activity

The Tor browser is a free, open-source web browser that was built to maximize users’ anonymity online. It is available to download on Windows, macOS, Linux and Android devices.

Tor works by encrypting your internet connection and then routing it through multiple volunteer-run servers or “nodes”, known as the Tor network.

Data passing through the Tor network

How the tor network reroutes your data.

Using Tor ensures that websites cannot see your real IP address or geographic location. Instead, they see your connection as coming from the location of the exit node.

You can therefore use Tor to unblock geographically restricted websites, provided the exit node is located in a country where the content is accessible.

Unfortunately, choosing the exit node’s location is not always straightforward. The browser offers some degree of control, but not as much as you get with a VPN, web proxy, or Smart DNS service.

We therefore don’t recommend using Tor to unblock streaming content, such as on Netflix or HBO Max. Not only is Tor incredibly slow, streaming typically requires much more precise geo-spoofing than the Tor browser can provide.

EXPERT TIP: If you’re concerned about your VPN not working, the safest option is to choose a more reliable VPN service. We recommend ExpressVPN, which uses AES-256 encryption and has never failed to pass our leak tests in over 5 years of testing.

Instead, you should use the Tor browser to unblock websites if you’re trying to bypass censorship restrictions imposed at the government-level, or to maximise your anonymity online.

Tor is designed with journalists and whistleblowers from authoritarian countries in mind. The airtight encryption and decentralized network architecture mean that governments, police and ISPs cannot track your browsing activity and so cannot block you from accessing certain information and websites.

In short, Tor is the most anonymous way to unblock websites that are blocked by your government.

Although using the Tor browser will almost certainly let you access websites blocked by your employer, you should be aware that your network administrator will see that you’re using the Tor network (even if they can’t see what you’re doing on it).

They may not approve of this, due to concerns about the safety of Tor. Indeed, some workplaces, colleges and schools actually block users from downloading the Tor browser on the local network. It’s also banned in certain countries, including China and Russia.

Use the Tor browser if you are:

  • Primarily concerned with anonymity.
  • Accessing information censored by your government.

Don’t use the Tor browser if you are:

  • Unblocking streaming content, or anything requiring fast connection speeds.
  • Trying to access sites restricted to a specific geographic region.
  • Unblocking sites at school or work.
  • Using an iPhone or iPad.

How To Unblock Websites Using Tor

You can only access .onion sites using the Tor Browser.

To use the Tor Browser to unblock websites:

  1. Go to the Tor Project’s download page. You can download it onto any Windows, Linux or macOS computer. There’s also an Android smartphone app.
  2. Select your operating system and download the corresponding .exe file.
  3. Open the file and select your language using the drop-down menu.
  4. If you’re happy with the recommended settings, press connect. Tor will set-up and you’ll be able to unblock websites and browse anonymously.

It’s important to remember that using Tor comes with risks. If you don’t configure your browser properly and modify your behavior, it’s incredibly simple to reveal your identity.

5. Smart DNS

Pros Cons
Specialized for unblocking geographically-restricted streaming content Doesn’t hide your IP address
Very fast connection speeds Won’t encrypt your web traffic
Works on a huge range of devices, including Apple TV and games consoles Requires a subscription fee, although it is usually cheaper than a VPN subscription
Setup can be complicated for beginners

​​Smart DNS is an effective tool for accessing websites that are blocked or restricted in your region. It is cheap, compatible with a wide range of devices, and commonly used to unblock streaming services due to its extremely fast connection speeds.

Smart DNS works by rerouting your DNS (Domain Name System) requests through a proxy server in a country of your choosing. It therefore differs from proxy and VPN services, which redirect all of your traffic through the proxy server.

How Smart DNS works

How Smart DNS works to unblock streaming websites.

By only rerouting your DNS requests, Smart DNS services are able to achieve much faster speeds than a VPN or a web proxy.

Speed is prioritized over security, however. Unlike Tor or a VPN, a Smart DNS tool will not encrypt your traffic or even hide your IP address. That means employers, ISPs and governments can see which websites you’re visiting, and so can still block you whenever they want.

It also means personal IP address bans, like those on Omegle, will still be enforced.

In this sense, Smart DNS services are only really useful for unblocking geographically restricted websites or changing your Netflix region. We don’t recommend using Smart DNS for bypassing censorship or accessing restricted websites at work.

Streaming US Netflix with MediaStreamer

ExpressVPN’s MediaStreamer unblocks US Netflix.

For unblocking streaming content, however, Smart DNS is often an excellent option. It is usually cheaper than a VPN, offers faster connection speeds, and is compatible with a wider range of devices. You can read more about Smart DNS vs VPN services in our dedicated article.

Use Smart DNS if you are:

  • Only interested in unblocking streaming services, such as Netflix, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer.
  • Streaming on a device that doesn’t support VPN apps, such as an Apple TV, Xbox One or PS5.

Don’t use Smart DNS if you are:

  • Trying to access non-streaming websites.
  • Concerned about your privacy and security online.
  • Reluctant to make manual configurations on your device.

How To Unblock Websites Using Smart DNS

How to use MediaStreamer Smart DNS to unblock HBO Max on Apple TV.

To unblock websites with a Smart DNS service:

  1. Subscribe to a Smart DNS service. Popular ones include MediaStreamer , Control D, Smart DNS Proxy, and Unlocator.
  2. Register your IP address with the provider. Your chosen provider will have instructions for how to do this on their website.
  3. Find the DNS server addresses for your desired server location. These should be under ‘My Account’.
  4. On your device, go to Network Settings > Advanced > DNS Settings.
  5. Enter in the Smart DNS server addresses. Click confirm.
  6. Restart your device. Your traffic will be routed through the Smart DNS service once you reconnect to the internet.

How to Bypass Less Sophisticated Website Blocks

The five methods listed above are by far the most reliable ways to bypass website blocks and access restricted material online.

However, they are not your only options. We’ve tested dozens of website unblockers and, in this section, we will list 10 alternatives you can also use.

These methods will not work anywhere near as consistently as the ones listed above, but we have verified that they do work on occasion.

Moreover, each method is free to try and takes a maximum of one or two minutes to complete. They’re therefore well worth trying out.

1. Change Your Firewall & Device Settings

Sometimes, unblocking a website is as simple as changing some device settings or browser permissions.

Below are some examples of how you can change your settings in order to unblock restricted sites on different devices and browsers.

EXPERT TIP: Changing your firewall or device settings can help to remove some sophisticated website blocks, bit it way also put your security at risk if the website you’re visiting is not safe to use. We only recommend using this option if you’re sure the website you’re using is trustworthy.


On Windows PCs, the built-in Microsoft Defender Firewall is an essential tool for keeping your device secure. It does this by blocking unauthorized traffic into and out of your computer.

Occasionally, the Firewall might identify a false positive, and block you from accessing a perfectly harmless website. If this is the case, then you can unblock that website by (temporarily) disabling the Microsoft Defender Firewall.

To disable the Microsoft Defender Firewall on Windows 10:

  1. Click the Start icon, in the bottom left corner of the screen.
  2. Select Settings, from the left-hand menu.
  3. Click the ‘Update & Security’ button.
  4. Select ‘Windows Security’, from the left-hand menu.
  5. Click ‘Firewall & Network Protection’.
  6. Select either ‘Domain Network’, ‘Private Network’, or ‘Public Network’. Choose the one you’re connected to, which should be indicated on the screen.
  7. Toggle the Microsoft Defender Firewall switch to ‘Off’.

To disable the Microsoft Defender Firewall on Windows 11:

  1. Click the Start icon, which is along the bottom of the screen.
  2. Double-click the Settings icon.
  3. Select ‘Privacy & security’, from the left-hand menu.
  4. Click ‘Windows Security’.
  5. Select ‘Firewall & Network Protection’.
  6. Select either ‘Domain Network’, ‘Private Network’, or ‘Public Network’. Choose the one you’re connected to, which should be indicated on the screen.
  7. Toggle the Microsoft Defender Firewall switch to ‘Off’.

Turning off the Firewall leaves your device far more vulnerable to cyberattacks. We therefore recommend turning it back on as soon as possible. You can do this using the steps above.

In addition to switching off the Microsoft Defender Firewall, another way to unblock websites on Windows PCs is to check your ‘Restricted Sites’ list. If your desired website is on there, then you won’t be able to access it until it is removed.

To do this:

  1. Go to the Control Panel.
  2. Find the Security tab.
  3. Click the Restricted Sites icon.
  4. Check to see if your blocked website is on the list.
  5. If it is, remove it and reload the URL in your browser.

iOS & macOS

On iPhones, iPads, and macOS devices, one common source of website blocks is the Screen Time application. This is a productivity service, which lets you block or limit access to certain applications and websites.

If your content restriction has an error message that includes the phrases “Time Limit” or “Screen Time”, it’s likely due to this application. Fortunately, that means it’s very easy to unblock – if you have the permissions to.

To turn off Screen Time on iOS:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Screen Time.
  3. Select Content & Privacy Restrictions.
  4. To turn them off completely, toggle the Content & Privacy Restrictions switch.
  5. To access a particular website, go to Content Restrictions, then Web Content, then Add Website, and enter the URL you want to unblock.

To turn off Screen Time on macOS:

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Double-click the Screen Time icon.
  3. Click Content & Privacy, from the left-hand menu.
  4. To turn restrictions off completely, click Turn Off.
  5. To access a particular website, select Customize under ‘Allowed Websites Only’, then press the ‘+’ symbol, and then input the URL you want to unblock.


The permission settings in your Chrome browser can also cause websites to be blocked. The following steps will let you change permissions and possibly regain access to a restricted site.

To change Chrome browser permissions on desktop PC:

  1. Open the Chrome browser on your computer.
  2. Click the three vertical dots in the top right corner of the browser.
  3. Select Settings from the drop-down menu.
  4. Click Privacy & Security on the left-hand side.
  5. Under Security, you can turn off Safe Browsing protection, which may have been causing a website to be blocked. We only recommend doing this if you’re certain the site is not a security risk. We also recommend turning protection back on as soon as possible.
  6. Under Site Settings, you can see your current permission settings. You can change any that would be causing content to be restricted.

To change Chrome browser permissions on Android:

  1. Open the Chrome browser application.
  2. Navigate to the blocked website you want to access.
  3. Tap the Lock symbol on the left of the address bar.
  4. Press Permissions.
  5. Select Reset Permissions or change the permission causing the site to be blocked.

To change Chrome browser permissions on iPhone or iPad:

  1. Open the Chrome browser app.
  2. Tap the three horizontal dots in the bottom right corner.
  3. Scroll right and press the Settings button.
  4. Under Content Settings, you can change any permission settings that may be blocking the website.
  5. Under Privacy & Security, then Safe Browsing, you can also switch to No Protection if you think the iOS Safe Browsing feature is blocking your desired website. We only recommend doing this if you’re certain the site is not a security risk. We also recommend turning Safe Browsing protection back on as soon as possible.


Similarly, you can sometimes unblock a website that is blocked in the Firefox browser by changing your permission settings. To do this:

  1. Open the Firefox browser application.
  2. Enter the URL of the blocked website into the address bar and press enter.
  3. Click the Lock symbol on the left of the address bar.
  4. Click the Right Arrow, on the right-hand side of the ‘Site Information’ box.
  5. Click More Information.
  6. Under the Permissions tab, you can change any permissions that may be causing your desired website to be blocked.

2. Switch to Mobile Data

Your smartphone uses mobile data to access the internet whenever you’re not connected to a nearby WiFi network.

You can therefore switch to mobile data in order to unblock websites that are blocked on your local network. This is useful for bypassing content blocks and firewalls imposed by your employer, college, school or home WiFi administrator.

To switch to mobile data on your smartphone:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Select WiFi.
  3. Toggle the tab to switch WiFi off.
  4. Look for a 3G, 4G or 5G symbol on your home screen. It signifies you’re now connected to mobile data.
  5. Navigate to your desired website. It should now be unblocked.

If you want to access the restricted site on a PC or other device, you’ll need to turn your smartphone into a personal hotspot and then connect to that. Here’s how:

  1. Open Settings on your smartphone.
  2. On iPhone, select Mobile Data and then Personal Hotspot. On Android, select Network & Internet and then Hotspot and Tethering.
  3. Turn on Personal Hotspot and, if asked, change the password to whatever you want.
  4. On your desktop (or other device), search for available WiFi networks.
  5. Your smartphone should appear as one of the options.
  6. Connect to it and you’ll start using mobile data for your internet session.

This method lets you quickly and easily bypass network-level website blocks because you’re no longer using that network to connect to the internet.

You also get assigned a different IP address when you switch from WiFi to mobile data. That means you can use this method to overcome personal IP address bans, which can be common on gaming sites.

Remember, the new IP address will still identify you as being in roughly the same physical location. Therefore, switching to mobile data won’t let you unblock geographically restricted websites or access foreign streaming content.

You also won’t be able to bypass government censorship. That’s because these content blocks are typically applied by every ISPs in the country, including your mobile carrier.

3. Use a URL Shortener

A URL shortener is another free tool that can help you access blocked websites. It works by replacing a website’s long URL address with a shorter one.

URL shorteners let you access a restricted website whenever a URL-based block is in place. This is when the URL is what triggers the connection to be blocked rather than, say, the website’s IP address.

URL-based blocks are mostly found in schools, businesses and public WiFi networks.

TinyURL is an example of a URL Shortener

TinyURL can be used to bypass URL-based blocks.

In these cases, using a URL shortener to change the URL (without changing the end destination) will let you bypass the block and access the restricted content. Some popular URL shorteners include Bitly and TinyURL.

To use a URL shortener as a website unblocker:

  1. Navigate to the website you want to unblock in your browser.
  2. Copy the website’s URL.
  3. Go to a URL shortening website, such as TinyURL.
  4. Paste the URL into the Enter a long URL to make a TinyURL field.
  5. Click Make TinyURL!.
  6. Copy the shortened URL that is generated.
  7. Paste the shortened URL into your browser’s address bar and press enter.

4. Use an IP address

Another quick and easy way to bypass URL-based blocks is to search for the IP address of the restricted website, rather than using its URL (or a shortened version of its URL).

Everyone knows that web pages have an associated IP address. However, it’s less well-known that you can actually access a webpage by directly entering its IP address into the address bar of your browser.

Geotek's IP Checker tool with IP address displayed

Geotek’s IP Checker tool.

For example, Google’s homepage has the IP address Typing this into your browser has the same effect as typing

You can use this trick to unblock a website if you suspect that the block is URL-based. As mentioned, this type of block is most common on local networks, such as at school, college or work.

To use an IP address to access restricted content:

  1. Go to an online IP lookup tool, such as Geotek’s IP Checker.
  2. Enter the URL of the blocked website you want to access.
  3. Click Check.
  4. Under DNS Lookup, highlight and copy the displayed IP address.
  5. Paste the IP address into your browser address bar and press enter. If the block is URL-based, the website should load unblocked.

It should be noted that some websites prohibit direct IP access.

In other cases, a website might be built on an IP which directs you somewhere other than their website. YouTube, for example, has the IP But if you input that into your address bar, it will take you to the Google homepage.

Using an IP address would therefore not enable you to unblock these websites.

5. Use Google Cache or Wayback Machine

One way to view restricted material online is to find copies of it elsewhere. That way, you can access the content without actually needing to unblock the website that hosts it.

Two excellent tools for this are Google Cache and the Wayback Machine. Both services store old versions of web pages and make them freely accessible.

Wayback Machine Internet Archive

The Wayback Machine Internet Archive.

Google stores back-ups in order to improve its loading speeds, whereas the Wayback Machine – created by – is an attempt to establish a comprehensive internet archive.

You can use either tool to find old versions of almost any web page on the internet, without ever having to access the site itself. You can therefore use these tools to unlock restricted content.

To use Google Cache to unblock websites:

  1. Find the blocked web page on Google search results. But don’t click the search results link.
  2. Select the drop-down icon next to the site’s URL.
  3. Click the ‘Cached’ option. You should be taken to a stored version of the site, even though you’re blocked from viewing its current iteration.

To use the Wayback Machine to unblock websites:

  1. Go to
  2. Enter the blocked website’s URL into the search box. Hit your enter key.
  3. You will be shown a calendar with all versions of the website that are stored on the Wayback Machine.
  4. Select the most recent version by hovering over the date and clicking on the snapshot time-stamp. The restricted content should appear on your screen.

Both of these methods are great for accessing censored information – although be aware that both Google and Wayback Machine are currently blocked in China.

It’s also worth noting that this trick isn’t very helpful for web pages that update regularly or require real-time data processing. You won’t be able to access any information that requires log-in credentials, either.

NOTE: Google Cache only stores text-based features of a page, whereas the Wayback Machine often supports text, audio and video. So use the Wayback Machine if you’re unblocking multimedia content.

6. Use an HTML to PDF Converter

An HTML to PDF converter is another tool you can use to access censored content without needing to visit the blocked website. It is free, easy to use, and doesn’t require any installation or setup.

SodaPDF is an example of a HTML to PDF Converter

SodaPDF is an example of an HTML to PDF Converter.

The tool works by taking the site’s URL and then converting its contents into a PDF document for you to download. You are then able to see the text and images as they appear on the page, but you won’t be able to interact with it or actually visit the website.

Streaming video or audio content is not possible, either.

To use an HTML to PDF converter to unblock a website:

  1. Navigate to an online HTML to PDF Converter tool. Popular ones include SodaPDF and Sejda.
  2. Paste the URL of the website you want to unblock into the search field.
  3. Click “Get PDF”.
  4. Once it loads, click “Download File”.
  5. Open the PDF file. It should contain the censored material.

You may have to try a few different HTML to PDF converters in order to find one that has access to your URL.

7. Access a Mirror Site

A mirror site is an exact duplicate of a website, hosted on a different server. Often, they are purposefully created to help users overcome censorship and website blocks.

The mirror site has a different URL and a different IP address than the original blocked website, which means it’ll usually be accessible when the original website is not.

Many well-known news websites use mirror sites to try and beat censorship measures in countries like China, where their main website is blocked. For example, the BBC recently launched a mirror site that is only accessible through the Tor network.

VPN services also use mirror sites to help users download their product in highly-censored countries. ExpressVPN, for example, has expressvpn[dot]xyz, for customers in China.

To use a mirror site to access restricted content from a blocked website:

  1. Find a mirror URL for the website you want to unblock. These are usually posted online, so you can simply google ‘ + mirror site’.
  2. Copy and paste the URL into your address bar.
  3. A duplicate version of the website should load.

You may need to try a few different mirror URLs before you find a working one. That’s because governments can easily identify and block new mirror sites, due to their URLs being published online. A mirror site is often only ever active for a short period of time.

Overall, though, mirror sites are a quick and easy way to bypass censorship measures. They also work for unblocking websites at school and work, due to the change in URL and IP address.

8. Use Google Translate

Sometimes, even Google Translate can help you access a blocked website.

Whenever you use the service to translate a URL into your preferred language, Google provides a link to a ‘translated’ version of the web page.

Screenshot of Google Translate

Google Translate can be used to unblock websites.

The translation works as a makeshift proxy and, on occasion, it will enable you to unblock a website.

To use Google Translate to unblock a website:

  1. Go to Google Translate.
  2. Copy and paste the domain name of the blocked website into the left-hand box.
  3. Change the source language (left box) to anything other than English (or your desired language).
  4. Change the destination language (right box) to your desired language.
  5. Follow the link provided in the translation. The page should load unrestricted.

To be clear, this trick only works occasionally, can only be done on a PC, and will only let you view a text-version of the page. However, it does sometimes work.

9. Change the Network Proxy

Some institutions – especially libraries and colleges – use transparent proxies inside their network. These proxies inform the target website that they are a proxy, and pass them the user’s true IP address.

Transparent proxies are used to channel the traffic from every device on a network (e.g. all of the computers in a library) through a single server. This helps the administrator carry out content filtering or activity monitoring. Public WiFi networks regularly use transparent proxies to stop users accessing high-bandwidth content.

Screenshot of advanced system preferences on Chrome

Go to Settings > Advanced > System to find your network proxy settings.

Often, these networks will make use of more than one transparent proxy. As such, a website block might exist on one of the proxies and not the others.

It is therefore possible to unblock a website by just switching between the network proxies in your browser — a process known as ‘proxy surfing’.

The problem with proxy surfing is you need to know the IP address and Port Number of the alternative proxy server in order to switch to it.

Use the following steps to unblock a website by changing your network proxy. (We’re using Google Chrome on macOS, but they can be easily adapted for other web browsers):

  1. Select Preferences (sometimes labeled Settings) from the Chrome drop-down menu.
  2. Click Advanced on the left-hand panel of the page.
  3. Go into the System tab and then open your computer’s proxy settings.
  4. Check the Web Proxy box and input the alternative proxy server’s IP address into the box on the right. Type the port number into the box after the colon.
  5. All of your traffic will now be routed through that proxy instead.

Proxy surfing won’t allow you to bypass geographic restrictions because your IP address remains in the same physical location.

10. Use HTTP Instead of HTTPS

One final way to try and unblock your website is to change the URL from “https://” to “http://”, or vice versa.

This method will only work if the block is URL-based and the firewall has been mistakenly set up to only target the secure, HTTPS version of the site. It’s therefore unlikely to work, but is worth a try given it only takes a few seconds.

If it does work, it is important to know that HTTP versions of a website are less secure than their HTTPS counterparts. Your connection is not encrypted, meaning you’re vulnerable to eavesdroppers and hackers.

You definitely should not use this method if you’re going to be entering any personal or sensitive information on the site, including passwords and log-in information.

How to Unblock Websites on Different Devices

Unless you can quickly fix the problem by changing your device settings or switching to mobile data, the overall best way to unblock a website on almost any device is to use a VPN.

This is certainly the case for devices where native VPN apps are supported, such as on macOS and Windows PCs, iPhone and Android smartphones, and on some streaming devices like the Amazon Firestick. Not only is a VPN the most effective option for these devices, it is also extremely easy to set up and use.

For devices without native VPN support – such as Chromebooks, Roku, Xbox One, PS5, and most Smart TVs – the simplicity of other methods may outweigh the efficacy of a VPN.

On games consoles and Smart TVs, for example, a Smart DNS tool will work to unblock most geographic restrictions without the hassle of having to set a VPN up on your router.

Below is a summary of the best methods for unblocking websites on different devices:

Device Unblocking Method
iPhone and Android VPN App
Chromebook Proxy Browser Extension
MacOS or Windows PC VPN App
iPad and other tablets VPN App
Amazon Firestick VPN App
Apple TV and other Smart TVs Smart DNS
Roku VPN Router
Xbox and Playstation Smart DNS

Ultimately, which method to use depends on your own personal preferences. You’ll have to balance efficacy, ease of use, privacy, security, and anonymity. The information in this guide should help you make that decision for yourself.

Why Are Websites Blocked or Banned?

Websites are blocked using a variety of different technical measures, for lots of different reasons.

Some blocks are entirely legitimate, such as preventing children from viewing obscene material online. Others are more questionable, such as government-endorsed internet shutdowns that threaten citizens’ safety or freedoms.

Website blocks tend to originate from three main groups:

Governments and ISPs

Most governements censors their citizens’ internet usage to some degree. In most countries, this means stopping children from accessing harmful websites, and upholding national law, such as intellectual property rights or gambling regulations.

However, some governments also use internet censorship for political reasons. This can range from controlling the information citizens can access online, to full-scale internet shutdowns during moments of civil unrest and political instability.

These forms of government censorship are most commonly enforced through the country’s internet service providers (ISPs), which are the telecommunication services that connect your device to the internet.

When compelled to do so by law, these ISPs will set up firewalls in their network, which scan your traffic as it passes through. The firewall then blocks your connection if it detects activity that fits a certain description.

Firewalls can be set up to detect particular URLs, IP addresses, port numbers, protocols,and even certain types of website content (using a method known as Deep Packet Inspection).

We recommend: To overcome censorship by your ISP, use a VPN. It will hide your IP address a nd encrypt your connection, so your ISP can no longer see the websites you’re visiting.

Network Administrators at School, College, or Work

Schools and businesses often place restrictions on the internet use of their students and employees. The same is true for parental controls and other restrictions on home WiFi networks.

This type of website block is usually intended to reduce distractions and increase productivity, although they might also be used to protect children and prevent malware.

Typically, blocks at work and school apply to gaming and gambling sites, social media platforms, adult websites, and video streaming services. In theory, they can apply to any website the administrator decides to censor.

These website blocks tend to be implemented in the form of URL-based or IP-based blocklists. If you try to access a blacklisted URL or IP address while connected to the local network, your connection gets blocked.

We recommend: If you’re using a personal device, you can easily overcome local network-based website blocks with a VPN or a proxy server. Iif you’re using a work or school-issued device, try using a web proxy or proxy browser extension.

Be aware that your network administrator may have implemented the website blocklist onto the device itself. If this is the case, your only option is to use a method where you don’t actually visit the site directly, such as a web proxy or a mirror site.

Website Owners and Copyright Holders

The final type of website block comes from websites themselves. There are many reasons why a website might choose to prevent you from accessing it, including operational costs and GDPR compliance, but by far the most common is to do with copyright laws and licensing regulations.

Streaming websites such as Netflix, YouTube, or HBO Max have to block visitors from countries where their content is not licensed, in order to comply with the law.

To do this, these websites use your IP address to determine your physical location and then block you accordingly. This is referred to as a ‘geographic restriction’.

This is also how some websites impose personal bans on users. Common on video-sharing and gaming websites, personal bans target users who have violated the website’s Terms Of Use in some way.

We recommend: To overcome geographic restrictions on your computer or phone, use a VPN service. On devices that do not support native VPN applications, use Smart DNS. For general browsing and for bypassing personal IP bans, it is best to use a VPN.


What’s the Best Way to Unblock Websites?

Generally, the best way to unblock websites is to use a VPN. They are the most effective tool for the job, and offer an unparalleled mix of privacy, security, and performance.

With a VPN, you can easily bypass geographic restrictions and access censored websites at school, home and work. The only downside is the cost, but with an average price of $4.00 per month, it’s unlikely to break the bank.

How Do You Unblock Websites Without a VPN?

The best way to unblock websites without a VPN is to use a web proxy or a Smart DNS tool.

A web proxy is the easiest way to unblock a website, but it will only work for text-based content and isn’t a safe option for private or sensitive browsing.

Meanwhile, a Smart DNS tool is the best way to unblock streaming services, but you won’t be able to use it to bypass government censorship or any other type of content block.

Is It Legal to Unblock Websites?

In the vast majority of countries, unblocking websites is completely legal.

However, keep in mind that you may be breaking school or workplace policies by accessing restricted websites.

Using a VPN to unblock Youtube, Netflix and other content platforms is also legal, although you could be breaking the service’s Terms of Use.

The situation is not as clear in high-censorship countries, though.

In some countries, such as China and Russia, VPN use is restricted and using Tor is banned. We advise researching local laws before using any method to bypass government internet filters.