You're at work or school, but you want to check social media, check out adult activities (e.g. gambling), or watch something on YouTube.
Unsurprisingly, everything interesting is blocked. But you're not out of options. You just need to learn how to bypass blocked sites at work, school, or home.
Note: Sometimes, sites are blocked for security purposes, i.e. they pose a threat to your device. Research the content you intend to access thoroughly before attempting to get past the blocks.
1. Bypass Blocked Sites With a VPN
The best thing you can do is use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). You've probably heard a bit about them, but they're not as complicated as they initially sound.
VPNs add an additional layer of security and privacy using encryption. That's useful if you're entering sensitive information and are worried about hackers. In this case, however, VPNs can be used to bypass blocks. These networks connect you to a website via a "tunnel", which scrambles data travelling through it either way.
Some security suites offer VPNs as part of a bundle. Some are free. And others cost. It's worth shopping around, of course, but we've got plenty of VPN recommendations on MakeUseOf.
Any software monitoring your browsing activities only sees that you're using a VPN. Individual URLs can't be tracked without considerable work. There's a chance that cybercriminals will put in the effort to view your data, but it's doubtful your employer or educational institution ever will.
VPNs are great when you need to access region-blocked media on your device too.
2. Bypass Firewalls Using Proxies
Most treat VPNs and proxy servers as interchangeable. But proxies lack the encryption software that protects a lot of your data. That's certainly not to say they're useless though!
Proxies hide your Internet Protocol (IP) address---which anyone can trace back to your computer---making your searches anonymous by instead displaying another server's IP.
There are literally thousands of proxy sites to help you bypass firewalls. Search online and you'll be bombarded with results for free services and paid-for ones. The former is acceptable for occasional use. But if you intend to use it regularly (and want something more secure and anonymous), consider whether it's worth paying.
Don't be put off. It's not difficult to set up a proxy server to get past restrictions, no matter what browser you use.
3. Use Cached Pages to Bypass Blocks
Search engines cache content when indexing websites. Think of it as a carbon copy of a webpage.
Just enter the page you're looking for into a search engine and click on the downward arrow by a site's name, then on Cached. Alternatively, type cache: into the search box then the URL you want to access.
There are limitations: formatting is generally lost and videos might not play. Nonetheless, this is a good way of getting around blocks.
Instead of a normal URL, cached content will be listed as something like "https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache", followed by the website name.
This won't work on all blocked sites and many admins will have also restricted cached material from questionable sources. However, it might work to get around blocks in schools, for instance, when conducting research. Some institutions use automated blocks which might pick up content through normal addresses but not necessarily related URLs.
4. Access Blocked Content With Remote Access
Remote access has negative connotations. Often you immediately think of hackers, taking control of your device for malicious purposes. Or you may recall the last time you've had to phone a computer helpline to get someone else to sort out an infuriating PC problem. But it's not all bad.
Remote access means taking control of your home computer without actually sitting in front of it.
To do so, you'll need to download a handy bit of software: it doesn't really matter whether you use popular remote connectivity programs like LogMeIn or one of the lesser-known ones.
The important thing is that you can now browse the internet at your leisure---by using your own computer remotely! You might experience a lag, but it works, and means you can further use any software on your computer, not just your browser.
5. Use RSS Feeds to Bypass Blocks
RSS feeds send web pages directly to your email address.
These are typically syndicated editions of pieces regularly collated and distributed to email addresses and RSS Readers. They save users the time spent visiting individual sites: you get the best content sent directly to you.
So if a site you frequent is blocked, you can either subscribe to an RSS feed or create one. You bypass blocks because you're looking at RSS apps, not the sites themselves.
It used to be the case that you couldn't view videos through RSS feeds. Fortunately, most services have amended this issue. That's not always the case; some have issues with images too, but will should allow you to get around blocked sites.
If you can't find a way to easily subscribe to a feed, check out some of the free services that allow you to create one:
Similarly, signing up to newsletters or following blogs via WordPress, Blogger, and similar platforms means you get curated content sent straight to you. However, you do surrender some privacy by submitting your email address to sites when joining newsletters. It may be worth the relatively small risk.
How Do You Bypass Restrictions?
You'll likely get in a heap of trouble if you're caught bypassing a block. That could mean a warning and enhanced monitoring at work. If you've attempted to get around a school firewall, you could face detention or in more extreme cases expulsion from class.