If you’d like to access blocked websites at your home, office or college, then let’s check out in this post how to do so?
Use a Virtual Private Network
This type of network helps you remain anonymous on the web by keeping your internet session secure and hidden. If certain websites are blocked by a firewall or some other similar application, then a VPN can help you unblock those websites. Advantages of using a VPN are as follows:
- Whenever you connect to the internet, your ISP provides you with a unique IP address. A VPN service masks this allotted IP address and provides you with a brand new IP address (generally shared by lots of users on the web), so that you remain completely anonymous on the web.
- Establishes an encrypted connection between your computer and the server of various websites that you are visiting. This makes transfer of data packets completely secure.
- Your ISP can’t monitor your browsing session or activities.
- Helps you to do business oriented tasks like audio-video conferencing, desktop sharing and file transfer (download and upload) securely.
- Helps you to access block sites like Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, YouTube etc.
- Allows you to bypass proxies and content filters.
- Allows you to chat over Skype and other VoIP-based services.
- Protects your from DNS spoofing.
I am using FREE version of Hotspot Shield with multiple devices (PC, iOS and Android) from past many months and it’s my personal favourite VPN service. Let’s checkout a short review of the application: Download the application from here and install it on your computer (fully compatible with Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8/8.1 and Mac OS x). Once the application has been installed, launch the application and you will see Hotspot Shield in action in the lower right corner of your desktop:
Either the application will connect automatically with its VPN server or you will see its protection status as PAUSED. If you see its status as PAUSED, then you have to manually click on Start Protection button. Once the connection between the VPN server and the application is successful, you will see its protection status as green:
The status window will also show you total amount of secure data packets that you have uploaded and downloaded. You can also select your preferred virtual location from United States of America, Australia, Japan and United Kingdom, but this feature is only available in its paid version. In the free version, the default virtual location will always be USA:
When you click on setting’s gear icon, you will be able to configure following things for your client: Network detection The network detection tab allows you to set following:
- Whether you’d like to see a warning message when connecting to new or unknown networks.
- Whether you’d like to connect automatically to new or unknown networks.
- No warning messages and direct restoration of dropped connections.
Languages Following languages are currently supported by the application:
General General tab allows you to set following:
- Whether you want the application to start automatically after every reboot.
- Whether you’d like to see Hotspot Shield’s icon in the header.
- Whether you’d like to create a private user profile meant for advertisements displayed by the free version of the application. Enabling this option is recommended, as it allows you to remain anonymous from advertisers, as they can’t track your browsing behaviour by means of a cookie or direct access to your VPN profile.
- For how long you’d like to pause the connection between the application and the server?
Messages tab allows you to set whether you’d like to see the notifications in system tray. Whenever you try to visit a rogue NSFW site, the application warns you with following message in your browser: It will also generate a snapshot of the webpage you are trying to visit. Keep in mind, the snapshot generation process takes time.
Download and Upload Speed
I am using 2 Mbps connection of AirTel Broadband and following is my connection speed:
And, following is my connection speed with Hotspot Shield:
Following is a screenshot of successive speed tests performed using different VPN servers/IP addresses on an Android device (You will see very high value of ping in milliseconds, as the test server is located in India, while the VPN server is in USA):
Update: Following speed test was performed in Burlington, Ontario:
30.60 Mbps is the download speed offered by the ISP (Cogeco), while we got 21.47 Mbps as our maximum download speed with Hotspot shield!
Note: The free version of Hotspot shield has daily bandwidth limit of 750 MB for computer users and 256 MB for Android users. If you like the service, then you may want to upgrade to its elite version.
Big players on the web generally allow users to access their website via both HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) and HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure). Try accessing a website via HTTPS, if you are unable to access it over HTTP. For example, whenever I try to access uploaded.net via HTTP, I get following message:
This website/URL has been blocked until further notice either pursuant to Court orders or on the Directions issued by the Department of Telecommunications.
But when I try to access it via HTTPS, I can open it without any problem: Keep in mind, this trick will only work when your ISP/Network Administrator has forgot to block HTTPS URL of a domain. Also, if a web page served via HTTPS consists of HTTP elements in it, then you may see browser errors and/or broken webpages.
Use IP address
Suppose bbc.co.uk is blocked by your ISP/Network Administrator, then you can try accessing it using its server IP address. For example, I can easily access bbc.co.uk using its IP address which is 188.8.131.52:
How to find the IP address?
In order to know the IP address of any website, you can do any of the following two things: Get the IP Address from WHOIS record:
WHOIS protocol allows you to send queries to a database which stores information about people (name, phone number, address etc.) and their domain name/server (IP address, type of server etc.). Feel free to check out the server IP address of bbc.co.uk here. Ping the Website using CMD
Open Command Prompt on your computer (Start >> Run/Search >> Type cmd.exe) and ping any website whose server IP address you want to know. All you need to do is to type following line of command in it:
- If a domain has not been mapped with its IP address, then you will not be able to access the website. You can see an example screenshot here
- Webmasters keeps on changing their site’s IP address/server from time to time. IP address that you are currently using for accessing a site may not work after few months.
- Big websites generally have multiple access IP addresses.
Use Cache Feature of Search Engines
Bots of Google and Bing crawls the web continuously and keeps on taking snapshots of each and every webpage during the process. These snapshots acts like a backup webpage, in case a particular web page becomes unavailable.
Suppose bbc.co.uk is blocked at your office, but you’d like to access its homepage. For this, either you can use site operator (Example here and here) OR simply search for bbc.co.uk (Example here and here) on Google/Bing. When the search result appears, click on the small arrow pointing downwards just after the URL/breadcrumb and then click on cached/cached page:
The immediate next page will be a sub-domain of Google and Bing and you will be able to see the snapshot of BBC’s homepage:
Keep in mind, the above method has following limitations:
- May not work with dynamic webpages. However, it works great for static web pages.
- You can’t access webpages that are behind a login screen.
- If both Google and Bing (and their sub-domains) are blocked at your office, then this trick will not work.
- The information present in the snapshot might be outdated. You should always check the date and time written at the top, as the process is quite slow for most websites and new snapshots will not be generated unless Google and Bing bots re-crawls the website.
- Snapshots may appear broken or you may see lots of missing elements. Also, functionalities like logging in, uploading, downloading etc. may not work.
- If a webmaster is using NOARCHIVE in his site’s meta tag or in robots.txt, then search engines will not make a cache of such website and the cached page link will not appear.