We live in interesting times. While the 90s and 2000s were the wild west years of the web, things have gotten a lot restrictive lately. Whether it is a good old block on a website that you want to visit, ISP content filters, government censorship, or annoying age verifications, it’s hard to access certain content.
Fortunately, there are several ways to get around these blockades, bypass restrictions, and unblock websites on Windows 10, while keeping you and your family safe and protected.
We’ll be taking a look at them right below.
Buckle up your seatbelts!
Back in the good old days, rarely anyone bothered to block access to websites, content, or resources on the web. Now, though, there is a stringent approach to who gets to see what on the Internet. And it’s not just limited to schools and companies — governments across the globe have started playing nanny.
While protecting your children from inappropriate content is as important as ever, the picture gets a little blurry when ISPs, organizations, and state actors start restricting your access to certain sites.
Take the Digital Economy Bill 2017 over the in the UK, for instance.
This is a new system that will be regulated by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), who will now have the power to order internet service providers to block sites that don’t verify their user’s age. This new measure has been widely criticized, and seen not just as a form of state censorship, but also a threat to online privacy.
And that’s not even talking about other, tougher restrictions in place in certain parts of the planet.
How to Unblock websites?
We list below some of the best ways to unblock websites when you are using a Windows 10 PC. Many of these bypasses work on older versions of the operating system as well, or even on other platforms like Linux, macOS, even mobile.
And some are so simple, you will be left scratching your head why you did not think of them before!
Use the IP address of the site
If you can’t access a website by typing its name, it may be worth a try to access it via its IP address. Admittedly, if the URL of a site is blocked, its IP addresses will probably be too. But this trick is worth a try, in case it isn’t.
The easiest way to find the IP address of a website is by firing up the Command Prompt, and then typing ping <domain name>, whereby you replace the words in the bracket with the actual domain name of the website. You can also find these digits by typing IP address into Google with the site’s name.
Change default DNS server
As you may be aware, DNS (Domain Name System) is the service that translates sites names into IP addresses for web servers and routers on the Internet to understand. Whenever you type a website name into your browser, the DNS server of your internet service provider looks up the linked IP address.
This is what allows the right website to be loaded in your browser.
You can get around this restriction to access sites blocked by your ISP, by changing the DNS server on your PC. While some modern routers allow you to change the DNS server directly, most don’t. You can either change these settings manually yourself, or use a free program like DNS Jumper to change your default DNS server.
Use HTTPs instead of HTTP
This is perhaps the easiest way to get around website blocks. And surprisingly, it still works quite a lot. That is because ISPs often only block the HTTP version of certain websites. Just swap the HTTP at the top for HTTPs and see what happens.
With luck, the secure HTTPS version of your website will load just fine. This is all the truer these days, as most websites have made the switch to this protocol.
Try the URL shortener trick
One trick worth trying to get around website blocks is to use a redirection service like Bitly or TinyURL to shrink down the URL of your site. Then simply paste the short link into the address bar of your web browser, and try your luck.
If the trick works, your blocked website will open. If not, well, it only took a few seconds to confirm.
Use Google Translate
A really old trick, and one that still works surprisingly well. Go to Google Translate, and type in the address of the website you are trying to reach. Next step is to simply change the language to something other than English — a popular one like Spanish or French. Then just ensure that English is selected as the translation language on the right, and click the link to load the site.
You probably will not be able to view every page on a blocked website this way. Particularly, responsive pages and video streaming websites will not display well. But this is still a great solution for simple, single pages that you want to access.
Convert the page to a PDF
Again, this is another trick that will not work on video or music sharing websites, or pages with heavy elements that you need to interact with. But if you just want to read the content of a blocked website, then converting it to a PDF document may be worth a try.
Use your mobile broadband connection
If you know that your ISP is blocking a certain site, you may be able to view it using the network on your mobile phone. Turn your device into a personal hotspot, and connect it using your PC, just as you would any network.
Worth a mention that accessing the Internet this way can not only be a little slow, but it will also be expensive, as it will eat into your data allowance. Be warned!
Use a web proxy
If you have been wondering where the use of a VPN is, then rest easy, for it’s coming up next. But before that, if you just want to quickly unblock a website or specific webpage, then you might also want to give web proxies a try, like HideMyAss, CroxyProxy, and Hidester Proxy.
These are basically, services set up with a proxy backend. And they allow you to enter in a URL and browse the website without configuring a proxy server on your computer yourself. Of course, this tip is only worthwhile for browsing simple sites. You will run into speed issues when using a web proxy for media heavy website, and privacy issues when opening your social accounts.
Access blocked sites using a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) is the longer route to take to get around website blocks, but a much better guarantee that you will be able to bypass them. Of course, services like Netflix and iPlayer don’t want traffic from outside their local market for copyright reasons. You can check out dedicated VPNs for streaming in that case.
As for the VPNs, themselves, there are countless providers that you can choose from. Our favorite is Windscribe, which gives you a generous 10GB of data a month for free, and access to servers in more than 10 countries, including the US.
Most countries already block a huge number of websites, whether for copyright and trademark infringement, or due to the content they host. There are numerous ways around these blocks. And while many of them definitely work, others may be partially successful depending on how you access the web.
Others still, can only be applied to specific sites.