12 Free Ways to Unblock Websites on School, Work, or Home Networks

Breeze past web filters and dive into the world of unrestricted browsing with these clever, free tools for unblocking websites — no VPN required.
We may receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

Being unable to bypass geo-restrictions and watch out-of-market YouTube videos or Netflix movies at home can be frustrating. Likewise, a student or employee on a school or work network may experience website blocks when trying to access certain content. Unlocking access to restricted news sites behind paywalls gets tricky, too.

So why are websites blocked in the first place? Workplaces and schools often use content restrictions to boost productivity and ensure online safety. At home, parental controls with permissions settings safeguard minors from unsuitable sites. Internet service providers (ISPs) also impose geo-restrictions based on your IP address, limiting regional access.

The quickest way to navigate these blocks is via a premium VPN service, but there are many free tools you can use. Learn why unblocking a website is sometimes crucial and the various methods you can use to access restricted content.

In this article
12 free ways to unblock websites without a VPN
How to unblock websites at school
How to unblock websites on a work laptop or administrative network
Why use a VPN to access restricted content
Unblocking Websites FAQs
Bottom line

Why unblock websites on school, work, or home networks?

At school, it’s essential for students doing research to unblock websites that contain educational content, even those on social media sites or streaming services like Netflix. Districts may block specific URLs due to broad firewall policies or to prevent network congestion and manage network bandwidth efficiently.

Broad firewall policies in the workplace are implemented to secure the company network, often preventing employees from accessing websites for market research or industry news. Certain restrictions can limit access to vital information needed for project success. At home, the challenge is different; parental controls and ISP restrictions, especially in regions like China, can excessively limit access to various content, including international news and entertainment.

While there are diverse reasons why blocked websites need to be accessed, we’ll first uncover a dozen methods for how you can unblock a website without using a virtual private network (VPN).

12 free ways to unblock websites without a VPN

The fastest and most efficient way to unblock websites and bypass geo-restrictions is often to use a paid VPN service. Paid VPNs typically have faster speeds, higher bandwidth capacity, more security, strict no-logging policies, and greater availability of server locations around the world.

While free VPNs are also a great starting point, they can come with limitations such as slower speeds, lower data caps, fewer server options around the globe, less security, more in-app advertising, and weak privacy policies. China-based businesses also own the majority of free VPNs.

1. Navigate with the Tor browser

The Tor browser encrypts your web traffic and bounces it through multiple servers, hiding your identity and location.

First, download Tor, which is an acronym for The Onion Routing, directly from its website at https://www.torproject.org/download/ and choose an option that is compatible with your operating system, whether it’s Windows, macOS, Linux, or Android.

A screenshot of the Connect to Tor landing page

Next, click on Connect to begin browsing anonymously. Tor uses the DuckDuckGo private search engine.

A screenshot of the Tor browser Explore Privately page

Enabling Onionize in Tor switches a website to its “.onion” version. This allows it to stay within the Tor network for added privacy and has less tracking risk.

2. Employ a web proxy

Consider using a web proxy like CroxyProxy for discreet web browsing. Web proxies mask your IP address, making your online activities less traceable.

To use one, look up free web proxy in a Google search and select one. In this case, we found CroxyProxy and visited its website at https://croxyproxy.com.

In the CroxyProxy web app, we typed in https://owasp.org in the search box and clicked the Go! button to visit the site.

A screenshot of CroxyProxy free web proxy home page

The proxy will automatically load the web page you want to view.

A screenshot of CroxyProxy free web proxy launching

After unblocking a website through CroxyProxy, you may notice the proxy's IP address is displayed in the address bar rather than the website's URL. This indicates your browsing activity is being rerouted to mask your location.

A screenshot of CroxyProxy free web proxy IP address displayed in the address bar.

While proxies can bypass content filters, they might not provide the same level of privacy and security as a VPN. Moreover, some sophisticated network restrictions might detect and block access to these proxy sites themselves.

3. Install a browser extension

Easily access blocked websites by adding a free proxy or VPN app to your browser as an extension.

Here's how to do it in Chrome:

Search for a web proxy, such as CroxyProxy, via the Chrome Web Store.

A screenshot of locating web proxy browser extensions in the Chrome Web Store

Choose your preferred proxy extension from the search results. You can filter the results by ratings and featured or established extensions.

A screenshot of various free web proxies available for download in the Chrome Web Store

Next, click Add to Chrome to install it in your browser.

A screenshot of adding CroxyProxy free web proxy as a browser extension to Chrome via the Chrome Web Store

Once installed, pin it for quick and easy access by clicking the jigsaw puzzle icon in your Chrome toolbar, selecting your extension, and clicking the pin icon. This adds the browser extension right beside your search bar.

A screeshot of how to access the recently downloaded free web proxy browser extension CroxyProxy

4. Leverage a URL shortener

Platforms like Bitly, TinyURL, or linktr.ee offer the functionality to shorten URLs, a handy trick for bypassing basic web filters that target specific web addresses. While easy to use, you might need to sign up for a free account or paid service.

For instance, on Bitly.com, we shortened the link for Instagram.com. 

A screenshot of the bitly URL shortener main page

The process was a straightforward, two-step process: sign up, paste the original link, and voilà — a shortened Bitly link appeared, ready for use.

A screenshot of successfully using the URL shortener tool bitly

5. Try switching protocols

Shifting between HTTPS and HTTP is a simple website unblocker tactic. Edit the URL in your web browser to remove the S from https:// to http:// in the address bar and check if the site opens.

We changed to the HTTP version of http://www.example.com from the secure HTTPS version. The site loaded, but be aware that HTTP is not a secure protocol, unlike HTTPS, which encrypts your data. When visiting HTTP websites, be careful not to enter sensitive information.

A screenshot of HTTP conversion to a nonsecure browser

Switching back to HTTPS is advisable for secure browsing.

A screenshot of converting back to HTTPS from HTTP

6. Access Google Cache

Google keeps copies of web pages, letting you see a site's cached version (if available) when the original site is blocked.

To view a cached version of a web page, search for the site on Google and then click the three vertical dots beside its URL.

A screenshot highlighting the three dots in Google that signify how to view the web page's cached version

Clicking these dots reveals a Cached option, allowing you to view a stored version of the page. Note that this feature works smoothly in Google Chrome, especially in its Beta version.

A screenshot of how to locate Google Cache on a mobile device

If you’re unable to view the cached version of a web page via the suggested method, try using the Google operator:

A screenshot of how to use a Google operator to locate a website's cached version

7. Use Google Translate

Employ Google Translate as a makeshift proxy to unblock websites that are restricted. Start by visiting the Google Translate web page and entering the URL of the blocked site.

A screenshot of Google Translate

Above the search bar, choose Websites; under that, select Detect Language on the left and your chosen language (e.g., English) on the right. Next, click the blue arrow to translate it.

8. Utilize a dynamic IP address

Changing your IP address can help evade blocks tied to specific IPs. A dynamic IP address helps solve this. In most cases, your connected network will assign you an IP address. So if you’re on a work network, your assigned IP address will reflect any restrictions placed on that network. However, if you change your network, you can change your IP address, thereby circumventing any network restrictions.

First, restart your router and connect to another network to potentially receive a new IP. Then, wait for the IP change to take effect.

9. Enter an IP address instead of a URL

Dodge URL-specific blocks by typing the website’s IP address directly into the search bar instead of its URL domain name.

You can find a website’s browser in a handful of different ways, like by using DNS Checker, NsLookup.io, or Google's Dig tool. You can use any browser to look up the site’s Domain Name System (DNS) — which basically means the translation of our readable website name into its machine readable IP address.

10. Convert from HTML to PDF

Websites like webtopdf.com and others designed to convert HTML to PDF let you convert web pages into PDFs, useful for offline viewing. This method comes in handy for accessing content on sites you can't directly visit.

11. Utilize a private browser

Browsers designed for privacy, like Avast Secure Browser, offer more than just incognito mode. They conceal your digital identity while including a built-in VPN to encrypt your connection.

Avast's free browser is also mobile-app friendly being available for iOS and Android.

A screenshot of Avast Secure Browser for private browsing

12. Modify DNS server settings

This method is more complicated and only recommended for advanced users, but altering your DNS to a service like Google Public DNS can overcome censorship and network restrictions. Go to your device's network settings, select your connection, and update the DNS entries to bypass blocks imposed by your standard DNS.

How to unblock websites at school

While free VPN services are available and easy to install, schools may restrict the installation of a VPN on a school computer for a number of reasons. VPNs can bypass filters and network firewalls, allowing students to access inappropriate sites while exposing the school network to potential threats on the web. Also, they can consume too much network bandwidth and are often not in compliance with school policies.

As a result, there are options to get around this:

  • Install a VPN extension on the school computer’s browser.
  • Enter a URL in Google Translate or Google Cache to view a web page.
  • Run a mobile VPN on your mobile device connected to the school network.
  • Surf the web with the Tor browser (although this may not be the best for averting administrators).
  • Try a URL shortener to bypass the school administration’s blacklist of URLs.

In the following sections, we will uncover the most popular ways to access blocked sites on a school network and the most effective ways to unblock them.

How to unblock websites on a school Chromebook

These are three simple methods for unblocking websites on a school Chromebook:

  • Chrome VPN extension: Google Chrome users can easily download browser extensions, like NordVPN, to browse the web anonymously. Other browsers compatible with Chromebook may have extensions available, such as Firefox.
  • Web proxy server: Another quick solution is utilizing a web proxy server. They are publicly available on the internet or as a browser extension.
  • Personal hotspot or mobile data: Try switching to your own network via a mobile hotspot to avoid school Wi-Fi restrictions.

How to unblock websites on a school computer (e.g., in the library)

The simplest way to access websites on a school library computer or those in the computer lab where you can’t install software or change its network settings is to employ a web proxy server.

We recommend visiting a free web proxy site such as CroxyProxy, where you can easily type in the URL of the blocked site you want to visit.

How to unblock websites at school using your personal device

Unblocking websites on your personal device, like an iPhone or Android smartphone, is convenient. That’s why using a popular virtual private network is a game-changer.

  • VPN app: For iOS users and Android users, finding the right VPN is key. A popular VPN app like NordVPN is effective at bypassing geo-restrictions for streaming services due to its wider range of server locations.

Explore our top picks for the best VPNs for iOS and the best VPNs for Android, ensuring seamless access to restricted sites.

How to unblock websites on a work laptop or administrative network

Some companies may have strict firewalls in use on their computers or networks. If the use of a VPN or the Tor browser isn't an option to unblock websites or access cloud-based tools blocked by a strict firewall, try these options:

  • Web proxy servers: A web proxy, essentially acting as a proxy site, conceals your internet traffic, so you can access blocked sites without installing any software.
  • Browser extensions: Some extensions, like a web proxy, can unblock sites without the need for a VPN. However, VPN app browser extensions are more effective at accessing geo-blocked content while avoiding bandwidth throttling by your ISP than free proxies.

If you can use a VPN on a work laptop that’s connected to your home network or public Wi-Fi, consider the best VPNs for Windows or the best VPNs for Mac.

Why use a VPN to access restricted content

A VPN is a key tool for accessing blocked or region-restricted content. It diverts your online data via alternate servers, effectively concealing your real IP address and enhancing data security. This approach is especially useful for getting around regional blocks on streaming platforms.

The best VPNs to unblock websites

NordVPN, Surfshark, and ExpressVPN are our top three picks for the best VPNs for unblocking websites.

  • NordVPN: With over 6,000 servers in 61 countries around the globe, NordVPN easily stands as a giant in the VPN market. With its use of strong security protocols like its proprietary NordLynx built around WireGuard and advanced privacy features, you can’t go wrong with this choice.

    Get NordVPN | Read Our NordVPN Review

  • Surfshark: An excellent VPN option for large households or anyone owning multiple devices, offering simultaneous connections on unlimited devices. With its WireGuard secure protocol, 3,200+ high-speed servers available in 100 countries around the globe, and its user-friendly dashboard, it's perfect for new beginners.

    Get Surfshark VPN | Read Our Surfshark VPN Review

  • ExpressVPN: A trusted VPN veteran in the industry since 2009, ExpressVPN offers its very own Lightway protocol, including a wide range of fast servers to choose from in 106 countries. This easily makes it the go-to choice for bypassing geo-blocking and accessing blocked streaming content on platforms like Netflix.

    Get ExpressVPN | Read Our ExpressVPN Review

Why do websites get blocked?

Websites can be blocked for a variety of reasons, often related to compliance with international laws, network policies, and geo-restrictions. Internationally, laws vary significantly, leading to content being restricted in one country while freely available in another. This is common with streaming services like Netflix, where content availability is dictated by regional licensing agreements and enforced via IP address tracking.

Internet censorship plays a major role, particularly in countries like China, where the government restricts access to content that contradicts its policies. An internet service provider (ISP) can also enforce blocks, often for security reasons, filtering out content deemed harmful or in violation of local laws.

In educational and professional environments, network administrators use firewalls and DNS configurations to limit access to non-essential sites, such as social media sites or streaming platforms, to ensure productivity and maintain a safe digital environment. This is particularly evident in settings like schools, where Chromebooks and other devices are configured with restrictions.

Websites may be blocked due to geo-restrictions, censorship, ISP restrictions, or content restrictions at school and work.

Geo-restricted content

Geo-restrictions, also called "geo-blocking,” occur when you can’t access restricted websites on the internet due to your physical location, often due to regional copyright or licensing policies.

Censorship

Censorship may occur in countries where the government restricts or blocks material that challenges its political and cultural views and, sometimes, religious norms.

ISP restrictions

Internet service providers (ISPs) might block content deemed harmful or illegal. This could include web pages infested with malware or websites violating local laws.

School and work restrictions

School and work restrictions often focus on network security to maintain the productivity and online safety of students and employees. Schools, especially, must adhere to the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and may block access to inappropriate websites or streaming services via permissions on school Chromebooks, for example.

Unblocking Websites FAQs


+

Is it legal to unblock websites?

Generally, unblocking websites is legal in most countries. Just remember, in places like China or Russia, using tools like VPNs might not be allowed. Schools must also obey laws like the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), so some websites can’t be unblocked. Always unblock websites responsibly, respecting your local laws.


+

Which browser is the best for unblocking sites?

Opt for the Tor browser for enhanced privacy and unblocking capabilities. Alternatively, private browsers like Avast Secure Browser, integrated with VPN technology, offer secure and discreet browsing to access restricted sites.


+

How do I unblock websites from different countries?

Using a VPN lets you unblock websites from different countries by enabling you to choose a server in a different location, bypassing geo-restrictions. By changing your IP address, a VPN lets you access shows from platforms like Netflix globally.


+

What is the best way to unblock a website?

Although there are various ways to unblock a website, the best approach is to use a reliable, paid virtual private network (VPN) service. Premium VPNs effectively bypass various internet filters and firewalls and are more secure than free VPNs.


+

What is the difference between using free and paid VPN services to unblock websites?

Free VPNs are handy but often come with limitations like data caps and fewer server options. Major concerns with using free VPNs include data privacy and digital security. Paid VPNs offer enhanced speed, advanced security features, and a broader selection of servers, making them ideal for efficient website unblocking.

Bottom line

Gaining access to a restricted or blocked website on a school, work, or home network doesn’t need to be challenging. Although using a paid VPN service is the fastest and most efficient tool to unblock websites, there are plenty of free tools available to bypass website blocks, such as a web proxy, a URL shortener, or clever workarounds like Google Translate and other smart methods.

Keen to dive deeper? Check out our curated list of the best VPN services that give you the keys to unlock a world of unrestricted content.

Limited-time offer: Up to 67% off
4.9
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On NordVPN's website
VPN
NordVPN
  • High-quality VPN offering safety and speed
  • Loads of servers for multiple connection options
  • Works with popular streaming services, including Netflix
  • Too many confusing plans

Author Details
Mars is a cybersecurity professional and writer based in California. Currently pursuing a B.S. in Cybersecurity, he serves as an Advisory Board Member for WEBGAP, specializing in browser isolation. With an interest in OSINT, ethical hacking, and threat intelligence, Mars enjoys writing security content and has experience as a Security Researcher, Cybersecurity Analyst (WEBGAP), and Editor-in-chief (Secjuice).