It is not a secret that schools restrict access to many websites. Those can be entertaining sites, social media, messenger services, video streaming platforms, online games, etc. School administrations also blacklist web recourses that host content young audience should avoid including gambling, nudity, violence, and propaganda websites. Although the latter category of websites is undoubtedly harmful, it won’t hurt to take a nice break between lessons to watch funny videos on YouTube or chat with friends. You will surely benefit from learning how to unblock websites at school, that’s why we reveal some handy solutions you might want to give a try.
Why Some Websites are Blocked in My School?
There are four main reasons schools block access to certain websites:
- To make students focus on studying;
- to prevent youth from accessing harmful or shocking content;
- to stop high bandwidth usage;
- to make sure a school network doesn’t get infected with malware.
Restricted access is implemented through firewalls that are enabled on school WiFi networks. If a student uses mobile data on his or her phone or tablet, websites will become accessible unless there are content filters set up through parental control software. Firewalls and filters blacklist websites by their domain names and IP addresses. Also, they can deny access to certain ports to block Internet traffic. No matter how banning is carried out, you can restore access to your favorite websites with one of the methods we listed below.
Free Ways to Unblock Websites at School
There are dozens of solutions to gain access to blocked websites. Some of them are free and relatively simple. You don’t even have to be a tech-savvy person to try some of the methods out:
Unblock with Google Translate
It is unlikely that Google translate is forbidden in your school or college so you can make use of its unblocking capabilities. So, open Google translate, put a link to a website you wish to visit in the left box and you will receive a ‘translated’ link in the right box. Just click it and a website should open. This method will not work for every website (for instance, you won’t be able to watch YouTube with it). Also, some schools might block Google translate altogether, if that’s the case, then try one of the other methods we talk about in this post.
HTTPS instead of HTTP
Sometimes, network administrators blacklist websites by their domain name with http, for instance, http://website.com. However, many sites are also available with the secure https protocols. You just have to type in https://website.com to gain access. In fact, you don’t even have to add ‘s’ at the end of http manually if you install this browser extension.
This solution helps when your school forbids file transfers along with website filtering. All you have to do is download a portable browser (for instance, Firefox Portable) on your USB thumb stick and use it on a school computer instead of a native browser. By itself, it doesn’t guarantee unblocking but you can complement it with the third-party unblocking software (browser extensions, proxy, VPN – we will describe these methods below).
This service makes archive copies of pretty much every website on the Internet. If you type in a domain name of a website you’d like to open into a Wayback’s search box, you’ll see a calendar with all saved versions. The downside of this method is that Wayback Machine might not have the current updates of that site. On top of that, you can only view content but can’t log in to your account or post anything.
All these methods don’t require any technical skills and they are absolutely free. The problem is that website unblocking is not exactly their purpose; rather, it is a side effect. That’s why none of these free tools guarantees any success with accessing blocked websites at school. Even if they work, they are time-consuming, and simply inconvenient for bypassing bans.
The Best Way to Unblock Websites at School
If the above-mentioned methods are not for you, you should consider using the real thing – software designed specifically for website unblocking:
With a VPN – Recommended Method
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a service created specifically to bypass Internet filtering and firewalls. When you use a VPN, it builds a virtual tunnel between your device and the Internet. Your school can see that you are connected to IP address of a VPN server but it doesn’t know what websites you access with it. A network administrator can block certain VPN IP addresses but it can’t blacklist them all because there are too many of those and are easy to switch.
If a VPN server is in a different country, it will appear like you’re located in this country, too. The other key benefit of this software is that it encrypts your traffic so that nobody can tell for sure what you do online.
There are both free and commercial VPNs. We recommend using only paid options since they are secure, reliable, and more advanced. Here are the top three trustworthy VPNs you should consider:
As a student, you probably don’t have much money to purchase a VPN. Getting something for free surely sounds more appealing. However, we must warn you that free VPNs are not the best alternative. Not only are they slow, buggy, and limited on bandwidth but also harmful for your privacy. Most of these providers collect information about your browsing history, websites you visit, and data you share. Then, they sell these details to whoever is ready to pay. When you use free VPN apps, you are exposed to dozens of ads, some of which are just annoying while others can actually infect your device with malware. There are too many security risks associated with free VPNs that may pose a threat to your privacy. That said, some providers truly intend to protect their users that’s why they put aside harmful data logging practices. Windscribe is one of the safest free VPNs, although it is not the fastest.
Here’s How to Unblock Websites at School with a VPN
When it comes to unlocking websites blocked by your school network, VPNs guarantee 100% result. After all, this is what they are made for. Besides, they are more straightforward than other methods we described in this guide. Just follow the steps below to easily bypass school network restrictions:
- Sign up for any VPN provider you see on our list.
- Install its application on your device.
- Launch the VPN and log in to your account.
- Connect to a VPN server in a preferred location.
- That’s it! Now you can visit any website you want at school, and nothing can stop you.
You can also configure a VPN on a school computer or laptop. For this, you should download install files on a USB drive and transfer them to this device.
Other Solutions to Access Blocked Websites at School
A VPN is the most comprehensive and powerful unblocking tool but it has many decent competitors. Take a look at other methods that can help you bypass school firewalls:
Using a Proxy Server
Proxy servers are similar to a VPN but the connection doesn’t provide any encryption. What these servers do is change your IP address to allow you to pretend that you access the Internet from a different location. Normally, paid proxies ensure slightly better connection speeds than VPNs because encryption makes data transfer slower. However, if you use a free proxy, don’t expect any fast connection due to heavy server usage.
With a Smart DNS
Unlike proxies and VPNs, smart DNS don’t change user IP addresses. Instead, they mask your DNS address. When you’re connected, traffic is routed through a DNS server of your provider. For websites you access, it looks like you are from a different country than you really are. Smart DNS services, such as Unlocator, offer no encryption so the connection speed stays the same as on your network. These solutions are less anonymous than VPNs because your original IP address is visible on the network.
You can complement your browser with an anonymizing plugin or add-on, for instance, Ultrasurf. They change user IP addresses and route traffic through their own servers. The downside of this method is that it is slow. Besides, these plugins may log user activities and distribute this information among the third-parties.
Using the Tor Browser
Tor browser is created for anonymous surfing. Its network is comprised of thousands of computers spread out around the globe. When you are connected to Tor, your traffic is encrypted and it goes through at least three different computers until it reach the destination. The downside of using Tor is extremely slow connection speed.
Despite the fact that Tor is recognized as a solid online privacy solution, it has certain vulnerabilities, so its not the best tool to use.
The Bottom Line
All the methods we reviewed in this post have their pros and cons in terms of unblocking ability and security. If you require a foolproof way to access blocked websites at school, there is nothing better than a trustable VPN service. With a VPN, you will effortlessly bypass school internet restrictions while keeping the browsing history secret from network administrators.
Do you know other methods to get past school network firewall? Please share your experience with us in the comments.