If you want to view blocked websites, videos or content, here are a few ways to do it, even if you can’t download anything.
Nothing is more frustrating when you try to surf the web than when you find that the site you want to read is blocked by a filter, whether it is run by work, school, ISP, or even the government. Of course, there are lots of valid reasons to set up – and comply with – filters for internet access, but even the best filters go wrong sometimes, and block the wrong things.
Whether you’ve broken an overzealous filter that flags some content you shouldn’t have, or just want to work around a block that works as it should, like at school or work, there are ways to get around filters and access whatever content you like. want, be it a video, image, podcast, or a simple web page.
As always, be careful and smart, and we do not condone or encourage the use of these methods to access illegal content.
Access blocked websites with Google Translate
Yes, you read that right. Getting around content filters is actually very simple in most situations. This ‘hack’ will not work for everyone, and will not work to access sites or videos that are region-blocked.
But for school and office filters, it can be very effective.
First you need to know the URL of the website you want to visit. You can Google, then right click on the link and select ‘copy link address’ or similar – it will vary according to your web browser.
Now, go to translate.google.com, paste in the URL you just copied, or type in the full address of a website if you know it, like www.reddit.com. Choose a language, such as Spanish, and leave English as the target language (assuming you speak English). If you speak Spanish, set the opposite option.
Click the link on the right side, and the site will load, assuming your IT admin doesn’t know the trick yet and has blocked Google Translate too. If so, you may be out of luck.
You can now use the website almost as usual: links work, videos should play, but you may not be able to download any files.
Bypass web filters using a VPN
In some cases, you can’t download or install a VPN, such as at work or school. But if you are using your own device which is not restricted like that, you can install a VPN app.
This is one of the most popular and effective methods of bypassing web filters. It routes your internet connection through an online server, anonymously, allowing you to browse as if you were using different devices in different locations.
Unlike a simple proxy (see below), a proxy directs all of your internet access through this connection, not just your web browser. That may be more than you need to simply browse web filters, but there are other reasons for wanting a VPN.
There are dozens of VPN services you can use, including free ones. And in some cases, the free ones will do the job perfectly. But we recommend choosing a paid VPN like NordVPN which is not only affordable, but also offers the best overall service.
Another one we can easily recommend is Surfshark, a name that is not as famous as Nord, but is even more affordable and has continued to improve its service as we use it over the last few years. For more options, check out our roundup of the best VPNs.
Typically, you’ll download and install the app on your PC, Mac, phone or tablet, enter your username and password (as part of the setup process), then select the country you’re browsing from. Then you can go to the blocked site as usual, which will now give you access.
Access blocked websites with a proxy
Another way to get around web filters is to use a proxy service. Like VPNs, they route your traffic through other networks, but unlike VPNs, they tend to only work with certain applications (eg your web browser or torrent application) rather than your entire connection. . That might be fine if you just want to quickly scroll through the web filters, but for ongoing browsing there are some downsides to proxies.
You can check out our selection of the best browser proxies here.
Proxies are often used by people wishing to access region-locked content like Hulu or US Netflix, or iPlayer if you’re not in the UK, and they also offer some additional anonymity when browsing. However, this filter can also often be used to circumvent local content filters, hopefully you can browse the web freely.
The easiest proxies to use only run completely via a web page or browser extension, but that also means that only traffic from your browser will be routed through the proxy – not from any other application or service. You’ll also want to make sure you come across one that uses HTTPS encryption rather than SOCKS or HTTP – that’s the only way your traffic is encrypted.
There are free public proxies, but many have a bad reputation for collecting or selling user data, inserting advertisements into web pages, or removing encryption. With that in mind, we wouldn’t recommend using a proxy service for casual browsing – you’re better off using a VPN – but if you just want to browse web filters on a few occasions, a free proxy might be your choice. easiest option.
HideMyAss is one of the most well-known free proxies, and if you’re a fan, they also offer a VPN service (although we didn’t rate it very highly in our review).
Otherwise, if you find another proxy service, you can use this online Proxy Checker tool to cheaply check whether it’s a secure service, or one that manipulates your web traffic.
Use Tor to surf the internet anonymously
One of your other options is to use Tor, aka ‘The Onion Router’, to surf the web. Tor is the best-known example of an ‘anonymity network’, and uses layered encryption (hence the name) and a peer-to-peer network to bounce your traffic, allowing you to browse with near complete anonymity.
However, there is one major downside to using Tor: it’s slow. Getting your traffic around the world multiple times takes time, which means you’ll experience significantly slower speeds when exploring Tor. That’s the kind of trade-off you might want to make for increased privacy, but it’s not necessarily worth it if all you want is to bypass the filters – especially since slower speeds will make it harder to stream any HD video.
There is also a concern that it is not 100% as secure as one might think, especially if the site you are trying to browse is not using SSL. And depending on how paranoid you feel, you may worry that using Tor will put you on some sort of government watchlist, given how popular it is with political dissidents and whistleblowers.
On the other hand, it’s completely free, and we’d recommend Tor over any free proxy or VPN for long-term browsing (although paid VPN services still win – or do both!) – the added security and privacy are well worth the speed drop. connection.
Use an open proxy
Open proxies are more complicated, and we don’t recommend using them. As a side note, open proxy servers require you to configure your browser’s proxy settings. Since they don’t have to change web pages in transport, they tend to work universally. But it is a complex process that can leave you vulnerable to web-based attacks.
Some commercial companies will sell client-side software that sets up an open proxy server on your behalf, and places your connection over a virtual private network. The same caveat applies – it might work out fine, but you are taking a risk.
Beat web filters with Google Public DNS
One final way to get around web filters is to instruct your PC or laptop to use a different DNS table. Google Public DNS is a free global Domain Name System resolution service. Every time you visit a website, your computer performs a DNS lookup, changing the numeric address of that webpage to the site you are viewing. If web filtering is applied to your system and network, those domain names associated with the tainted site will be blocked from completing the page you expect. Using an uncontaminated DNS like Google can solve this.
Google Public DNS will speed up your browsing experience and increase your security. More importantly, it will allow you to see the results you expect from the URL without redirects.