Have you ever tried to gain access to a streaming portal or website and come across nothing but a black screen or warning saying you cannot access the site? If so, you have come across a blocked website, aka a geo-restricted or censored site. However, if you are met with blocks, there is a way to overcome them and this is by using a Virtual Private Network. Here we are going to show you how to unblock a blocked website with the help of a VPN.
Websites may be blocked by geo-restrictions or censorship
Websites can either be blocked due to geo-restrictions or censorship.
First, let us take a look at why websites are generally blocked and inaccessible due to geo-restrictions. Generally, this is due to copyrighted content.
By this, we mean content shown on TV shows are licensed for showing in certain countries. An example of this is US Netflix. However, only residents of the United States can access the full catalogue of content. Outside of the states, other countries access local versions of Netflix, with limited content. Even if you reside in the United States but travel outside of the US, you can only watch the local version of Netflix.
The same applies to other sites and other countries. Another example is the BBC iPlayer. Only people located in the United Kingdom can access content.
However, it is not only geo-restrictions that may leave you wondering how to unblock a site. Blocked websites can occur in countries with high censorship. In fact, many websites that people around the world take for granted are blocked. However, censorship can even apply in any country. For instance, firewalls in schools, colleges, hotels or at work can block access to websites, censoring what people can and cannot see.
For instance, if you want to use a social media app like Facebook in China you will find the site and app blocked. The same applies to many other sites in the country. The same may apply if you are trying to access social media sites or YouTube at work. After all you are meant to be working not chatting or watching videos.
Unblock censored websites
The key to unblocking censored websites is to take advantage of the fact that a VPN provides encryption. When behind a Virtual Private Network information is encrypted. Encrypted information cannot be seen by anyone, including firewalls. If the firewall does not know that you are trying to watch YouTube or go on social media platforms it cannot block access.
Unblock geo-restricted sites
To unblock geo-restricited sites the change of IP address that comes when connecting to a server helps you to get around the restrictions. If you connect to a server in the country whose content you want to watch, to anyone looking it seems as though you are located in that specific country. Regardless of the fact you might be many thousands of miles away on the other side of the world.
How geo-restricted sites are blocked
To understand how to unblock a blocked website you first have to understand how sites are blocked.
You know why sites are blocked but how are they blocked? Well, it all comes down to the IP address.
Each of the countries and states in the US has a range of IP addresses given to them. Therefore, if you try to visit Netflix.com you can only visit the site if your IP address falls within the range for the states.
Therefore, if outside of the states you are taken to the local version of the site matching the IP address of the country you are currently located.
So it all boils down to the IP address on your device, which comes from the ISP you are connected to in the country you are located.
To get around blocked websites you have to change your IP address and fool the site you are trying to visit into thinking you are located in a specific country.
For instance, if you want to watch US Netflix but are in the United Kingdom you would have to fool the site into thinking you were in the US and you can do this with the help of a Virtual Private Network.
How to unblock a blocked website with a VPN
So now we will move on to answer the question of how does a VPN work to unblock a website?
If you want to access a blocked website or streaming app you can follow the steps below.
1. Find a VPN provider who can unblock sites
The first step to how to unblock a site using a Virtual Private Network is actually find a VPN provider with the ability to unblock websites. Not all providers can do this.
2. Choose a plan
So, choose a Virtual Private Network provider, such as ExpressVPN, and sign up for a plan. ExpressVPN offer monthly or yearly plans. You can make great savings on choosing a yearly plan. If you compare the pricing to the monthly plan, you can save 49% and ExpressVPN offer three months free.
3. Apps for devices
You then have to download apps for devices that you will be using for accessing the internet.
Providers do support many different types of apps so you should be able to find one for the type of device that you use to browse the internet. So choose and download apps and install them onto your devices.
4. Launch the app and sign in
When you signed up for a plan with the provider, you will have chosen a user name and password. Launch the app on your device and sign in using that information.
5. Choose a server and connect
The final stage in this how to unblock a blocked website tutorial is to choose a server from the ones listed in the app.
We have chosen ExpressVPN in our example. If for example, you want to stream US Netflix abroad, you should choose a server in the United States. If you want to access blocked sites in China, choose a server from the United Kingdom or USA.
You mask your IP address by connecting to a server. Your IP address is now one from the countries server you connected to.
Therefore, the key to overcoming geo-restrictions is to choose a server from the country whose content you want to watch or choose a server outside of the country that is blocking websites. In the case of censorship the sheer fact that you are hiding your intentions online via encryption means you cannot be blocked.
Best VPNs to unblock sites
The simple answer to the question of how to unblock a website is to sign up for a plan with a Virtual Private Network provider and we have found you some of the best for overcoming geo-restrictions and censorship.
1. ExpressVPN is a premium all-around provider
One of the best all-round premium Virtual Private Network providers is ExpressVPN and so we put them top of our list.
ExpressVPN can unblock many websites, even US Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Therefore, the provider is also a great choice if you want to overcome censorship in countries where censorship and restrictions are high.
ExpressVPN provides users with access to many thousands of blazing-fast servers located in numerous countries around the world.
The provider offers state of the art encryption to ensure you and your personal details remain safe while achieving anonymity.
If you want to stream in HD, and want to gain access to restricted content the provider is a great choice as they offer unlimited bandwidth. This means no stuttering or buffering.
You get to choose from a wide variety of apps for various devices. ExpressVPN also supports routers.
Security measures include DNS leak protection, Kill Switch, split tunnelling and more.
Therefore, ExpressVPN is a good choice as the answer to how to unblock a blocked website.
Next on our list is NordVPN. The provider also provides access to many thousands of fast servers with servers located globally. NordVPN is a good choice for unblocking restricted sites. These include Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer and HBO Go, among others.
Plans from NordVPN come packed with many features. One is the ability for you to connect to double servers. This means that you first connect to one server and take on an IP address from that server then connect to a different server. Double VPN means double encryption and security.
If the connection is lost a Kill Switch protects you. 256-AES encryption, ad blocking, malicious website protection, DNS and WebRTC leak protection and access to a range of protocols are also included.
CyberGhost is a very apt name for a Virtual Private Network provider as it does allow you to literally become a ghost online. When connected to one of the thousands of servers located around the world even your ISP cannot see what you do online.
When you mask your IP address when you visit a website you take on the IP address of the server in the country you connected to and can access content in that country.
With plans from CyberGhost, you get unlimited bandwidth, which is great for anyone who wants to stream HD content. Not only can you unblock sites such as US Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, but you can also get access to Formula 1 live streaming on foreign TV channels simply and easily by choosing a server located in another country.
How to unblock a site on any device with CyberGhost is easy as the provider offers access to numerous apps for different devices. This includes Windows PC, macOS, Android, iOS, FireTV and many others.
Surfshark offers affordable plans with the best deals paid up-front. They may not offer as many servers as some of the other providers but the ones on offer are fast, and they will allow you to unblock a variety of websites.
Surfshark offers many features of some of the more expensive providers including connecting to multiple servers.
Other features include military-grade encryption, Kill Switch, Private DNS and leak protection and a security suite to guard against malware and ads.
IPVanish is the last provider on our list that provides the answer to how to unblock a blocked website and one that is deserving of its place.
The provider manages a network of over one thousands servers based in many different countries around the world. IPVanish manage servers so the risk of outside party involvement is less. This makes it better for security and anonymity.
The servers offered allow you to overcome censorship and geo-restrictions, ensuring you can access websites and streaming platforms from any country.
Other uses of a Virtual Private Network
A Virtual Private Network is not only the answer to how to unblock a site. A plan offers numerous benefits.
1. Security and anonymity
Your plan offers security by way of a virtual tunnel. This tunnel encrypts your personal information and data before it goes out online.
By masking your own IP address and taking on one from a server halfway around the world you remain anonymous online.
2. Stop your ISP from spying on you
When behind the protection of a Virtual Private Network even your own ISP will not know what you get up to online. This means you take back your privacy. Along with this, your ISP cannot store your personal information. ISPs use the information to build up an online file about you.
3. Torrent safely
If you torrent online your ISP will know what you are doing. With this in mind you may get a warning notice. With a VPN your internet activity remains hidden away from prying eyes.
4. Use free WiFi hotspots securely
When masking your IP address you are free to use WiFi hotspots. For example, in internet cafes, airports and coffee shops without risk of hackers gaining access to your personal information.
5. Save money on hotels and flights
You can also use a Virtual Private Network to help you save money. This includes such as hotels and flights when making comparisons online.
As you can see, there are many benefits to signing up for a plan with a Virtual Private Network provider.
We have shown you why and how websites are blocked along with how to unblock blocked websites using a VPN. The only decision now is which of the top providers you choose.
Alison has joined the team in the early stage because she wanted to share with us the experience she had while using VPNs over the last few years. As she’s travelled a lot, she tested many VPNs and wanted to share this with you. Alison cares about staying anonymous and not leaving any footprints on the internet. Therefore, you won’t have the chance to see her face ;).