Key Takeaways: How to Unblock Websites With a VPN
- Download and install a VPN, such as ExpressVPN — the best VPN for unblocking websites.
- Connect to a VPN server in a country where the website isn’t blocked.
- Open the website you want to access — it should now be unblocked.
Updated the article to reflect ExpressVPN’s expansion of server presence from 94 to 105 countries.
You may have noticed by now that you can’t access some websites on the internet. Many schools and offices blocklist several sites, and streaming services usually geoblock content. Even worse, some governments censor the internet in their countries. If you’re wondering how to unblock websites, the answer is simple: Use a VPN.
Short for “virtual private network,” a VPN can change your online location, making it seem to your internet service provider and any websites you visit that you’re elsewhere. That way, you can access websites unavailable in your physical location. However, not all VPNs are good at changing your location or hiding the fact that you’re using a VPN.
We’ve tested numerous VPNs against all kinds of blocklists and restrictions. In this guide, we’ll show you some of the best VPNs for unblocking any site. If you want a head start, ExpressVPN is the best VPN to unblock any site, owing to its wide range of IP addresses, obfuscation features, and solid security and privacy features.
ExpressVPN is the best VPN to unblock websites because all of its servers, in 105 countries, are equipped with metadata obfuscation.
A VPN can unblock any website at your school by accessing websites as though you’re in another location.
You can unblock websites on your school Chromebook using a proxy server, Tor browser or even by typing in the website’s IP address instead of the domain name.
Top VPNs For Unblocking Websites
Average speedDownload Speed92 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency5 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, PaymentWall
Average speedDownload Speed94 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency6 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Google Pay, AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, Cash
- : 6
Average speedDownload Speed95 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency200 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Google Pay, Amazon Pay
- : Unlimited
How to Unblock Websites the Easy Way: Use a VPN
The best way to unblock a website is to use a VPN. VPNs are secure, easy to use and pretty much foolproof when it comes to unblocking websites. For this guide, we’ll be using ExpressVPN because of its unmatched unblocking ability, but the steps should work for any VPN. Here are three easy steps that will get you past any blocked websites in no time.
- Download and Install a VPN
Sign up for an account on the ExpressVPN website, then download the app for your device and install it. You’ll need to log in to the app once it’s done installing.
- Connect to a VPN Server
Next, click the large power button to connect to a VPN server. This will connect you to the fastest server available. If you want to choose your own server, click on the three-dots menu highlighted in the image and select a different location before connecting.
- Access the Unblocked Website
If you’ve done the previous two steps, all websites should now be unblocked, including Netflix U.S. Enjoy your block-free browsing.
Other Methods to Unblock Websites
There are a few ways to unblock websites aside from a VPN. We’ll highlight three of the most popular ways in the paragraphs below. However, none of them are as effective at encrypting and hiding your traffic as a VPN is.
1. Use a Proxy
A proxy server acts as a middleman between you and the website you want to visit. Ordinarily, when you enter the URL of the website you want to open, your information, including your IP address, is sent to the website’s servers. However, when you go through a proxy server such as HMA’s, the website you’re visiting sees the information of the proxy website instead of yours.
The downside of using a proxy server is that it doesn’t encrypt your internet traffic the way a VPN does. This means that your information might be revealed to ISPs, hackers and governments. Besides, proxy servers struggle to unblock some geo-restricted websites, and you might not have any luck with streaming services like Netflix.
That said, a proxy server might be a good option if you’re using a public computer that doesn’t allow the installation of VPNs, or if you need to quickly unblock a regular site without covering your tracks.
2. Browse With the Tor Browser
Another popular option for unblocking websites is the Tor browser. Short for “the onion router,” Tor routes your traffic through a network of anonymous nodes before reaching the website you want to access. As a result, the browser is able to hide your IP address and web traffic from the websites you open. It also gives access to non-indexed sites on the dark web.
In spite of the anonymity it offers, Tor has a number of issues. First of all, the network of nodes is run by volunteers, who can be cybercriminals or law enforcement agencies. A hacker could be running an exit node to steal user data or spread malware. Plus, you might have a hard time browsing since some websites identify and block Tor exit nodes.
3. Try the IP Address Instead of the URL
Aside from a domain name, websites have an IP address. Some blocking software restricts access to domain names, but not IP addresses. If you’re able to find the website’s IP address, you can access it even if the domain name is blocked. However, with this method, you won’t have any encryption or protection while using the internet.
One great website to use to find the IP addresses of websites is the Whois lookup tool. When you look up a domain name, it will give you a wide range of information about the website, including its servers and IP addresses. You can type the IP address into your browser, and if the IP address is not blocked, you’ll gain entry.
Why Are Some Websites Banned?
Some websites have been blocklisted because authorities consider them disruptive or distracting. For instance, a school might ban a social media site to prevent people from using it while studying.
Other websites have been geoblocked because of international copyright restrictions. For example, Netflix’s catalog differs from country to country because it doesn’t have the rights to show some titles in specific locations. That’s why the U.K.’s Netflix library is different from that of the U.S.
Finally, some countries have banned or censored certain websites, ostensibly to protect their citizens from misinformation and external influences. China and North Korea are classic examples of countries with internet censorship. Social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, don’t work there.
Why Are VPNs Blocked in Some Countries?
Certain countries have banned VPNs to ensure citizens can’t use them to access restricted sites. The bans differ from country to country. Some have banned VPN servers by blocking protocols and ports, while others have shut off specific VPN websites and apps.
To enforce the ban, some countries threaten people who use VPNs with penalties, including fines and even imprisonment. If you’re going to use a VPN in a restrictive country, we recommend choosing one with obfuscation. That way, the authorities in your country/jurisdiction won’t notice your VPN use and therefore won’t be able to penalize you for it.
The 3 Best VPNs to Unblock Websites
Now, let’s turn our attention to the five best VPNs to unblock any website on the internet. We’ll highlight their advantages and disadvantages, and explain why we chose them. ExpressVPN, our favorite VPN, is first on the list.
More details about ExpressVPN:
- Pricing: $6.66 per month (15-months plan)
- Provider website: expressvpn.com
- Unrivaled unblocking ability
- Large server spread
- Excellent security features
- Relatively expensive
In terms of unblocking, ExpressVPN is a cut above the rest. Pit it against any website or streaming service anywhere in the world, and you’re likely to get in with ease. Unlike other VPNs, ExpressVPN doesn’t have specialty servers optimized to access blocked websites. Instead, all of its servers are equipped with best-in-class unblocking capabilities.
ExpressVPN’s security and privacy credentials are also top-notch. It has IP and DNS leak protection, so your details will not be exposed. Plus, it has a kill switch (called Network Lock), which ensures you never unwittingly use the internet without VPN protection. ExpressVPN abides by a strict no-logs policy and has passed audits by reputed firms, including Cure53, KPMG and PwC.
Obfuscation on All Servers
ExpressVPN stands out because all its servers, spread across 105 countries, have obfuscation. For perspective, many other VPNs only provide a handful of obfuscated servers. Regardless of the ExpressVPN server you connect to, no third party will know that you’re actually using a VPN. There’s more in our ExpressVPN review.
ExpressVPN scores high marks in all but one area: price. It’s expensive compared to other VPNs. ExpressVPN’s one-month plan costs $12.95 per month, while the six-month offering is priced at $9.99 per month. However, the one-year plan drives down the price to $6.66 per month, and it includes three free months. All plans are covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
More details about NordVPN:
- Pricing: $3.19 per month (two-year plan + three months)
- Provider website: nordvpn.com
- Fast streaming speeds
- Specialty servers
- Many security features
- Server breached in the past
Coming in second is NordVPN, a privacy and security juggernaut that rivals ExpressVPN when it comes to unblocking sites. You get to choose between over 5,000 servers in 60 countries to access any platform. From our experience, any of NordVPN’s servers can get past geoblocks, whether you want to unblock websites on a school Chromebook or access Spotify at work.
Furthermore, NordVPN boasts fast download speeds and low latencies. It’s currently the best fast VPN on the market, making it the ideal choice for data-intensive activities like streaming Netflix in HD or 4K and playing Minecraft or Call of Duty. You can learn more about NordVPN’s features in our NordVPN review.
Enjoy a Suite of Specialty Servers
NordVPN is known for its collection of servers optimized for specific purposes. It has obfuscated servers, which mask your VPN use and help you get around network firewalls. It also has double VPN servers, which make it twice as hard for anyone to crack your internet traffic. You can get a dedicated IP from NordVPN to avoid blocklists and bypass CAPTCHAs.
On a monthly basis, NordVPN costs $12.99. The real savings are on the longer-term plans. If you purchase NordVPN for a year, it will cost you only $4.99 monthly. The best bang for your buck is the two-year plan, which costs $3.19 per month. You can test NordVPN for 30 days risk-free.
- Unlimited GB
- Unlimited GB
More details about Surfshark:
- Pricing: $2.49 per month (two-year plan)
- Provider website: surfshark.com
- Servers in 100 countries
- Affordable long-term plans
- Unlimited device connections
- High latency on faraway servers
Surfshark is often commended for its affordable pricing. However, there’s much more to this all-rounder than its cost. First, it has over 3,000 servers in 100 countries, more than any other VPN on this list. This means that you should be able to find a nearby server to unblock any site, regardless of your location.
Surfshark has two modes that you should know about. The camouflage mode, which is essentially obfuscation, ensures that no one can decipher your VPN use. The NoBorders mode automatically detects network restrictions and puts together a server collection that can bypass them. We dig deeper into Surfshark’s features in our Surfshark review.
Unblock Sites on an Unlimited Number of Devices
Some VPNs limit the number of devices you can connect to at one time. If you own several devices, including mobile devices (Android/iPhone), laptops, workstations, iPads and tablets, or have a family, one subscription will not be enough. However, Surfshark allows you to enjoy VPN unblocking on as many devices as you’d like.
As we already hinted, Surfshark is a low-cost VPN service. The monthly plan is priced at $15.45 per month, while the one-year plan cuts it to $3.99 per month. The most affordable plan is the two-year plan, which costs $2.49 per month and adds one month free. You can request a full refund within 30 days of purchasing a Surfshark subscription.
- Unlimited GB bandwidth, Unlimited devices, Secure VPN, Ad blocker, Cookie pop-up blocker.
- Unlimited GB
- Everything in Starter, plus Antivirus protection, Identity protection, Email Breach and Credit Card Alerts, Online Alias
- Unlimited GB
- Everything in One, plus Data removal
- Unlimited GB
Can a Free VPN Unblock Websites?
Free VPNs can unblock all kinds of websites. However, the results differ based on the free VPN you’re using. For instance, some free VPNs can unblock regular websites but struggle against streaming services like Netflix. Besides, free VPNs often have data limits. The worst free VPNs even sell user data and contain malware.
If you’re going to use a free VPN, we recommend choosing one of the best free VPNs. For general unblocking of websites, opt for Proton VPN. Although you only get access to three free servers, it should suffice if you’re looking to bypass a geoblock. Plus, Proton VPN’s free plan has a stealth VPN protocol for obfuscation and has no data limits. Learn more in our Proton VPN review.
Another free VPN worth using is Windscribe. Unlike Proton VPN, Windscribe limits user data to a maximum of 15GB of free data each month. This is enough for accessing regular sites such as business and news websites, but it may not be enough for streaming. It’s also reasonably fast. Discover more about this VPN service in our Windscribe review.
If you need to unblock any website, be it a regular website or a streaming service, there are various options available. A proxy server or Tor browser can help, but it won’t provide the kind of encryption and protection from prying eyes that a VPN does. VPNs are more reliably able to unblock most websites.
The best VPN for unblocking any website is ExpressVPN. It has a trove of obfuscated servers in 105 countries with top-notch unblocking ability on its apps or its VPN browser extension. NordVPN is a faster alternative with a suite of specialty servers. Surfshark is much cheaper but still offers reliable unblocking. Mullvad is extremely privacy-focused, while VyprVPN’s chameleon protocol makes it a good option.
Have you tried using a VPN to access a blocked website? Which VPNs did a good job, and which ones drew a blank? If you never have, which VPNs on this list are you interested in trying? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments section below. As always, thanks for reading.