Local network administrators at schools, workplaces, and even in some public WiFi hotspots use firewalls to block access to particular search results and websites. If you want to access social media, YouTube, Netflix, Minecraft, Fortnite – or anything else – you are going to need a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service.
A VPN encrypts your traffic while simultaneously making it seem like you are in a different location. The result? You can access content as if you were outside of the firewall created on the local network. To find a service that is perfect for unblocking restricted content, see the best VPNs for the USA.
A VPN is an online piece of technology, originally designed to provide privacy and security for data in transit over the internet. Businesses use VPNs to connect to office resources securely, so that they can access work data remotely without putting it at risk of eavesdroppers.
VPNs are also available for home users via subscription. These consumer-facing VPNs allow internet users to connect to a choice of servers located around the world. The purpose of these commercial VPNs is two-fold: Firstly, to provide privacy by encrypting the subscriber’s data. And secondly, to allow consumers to pretend to be in a different location; to bypass censorship, geo restrictions, or blocks implemented with a firewall on a local network (such as a school).
When you subscribe to a reliable VPN, you get custom apps for all your devices. Once it is installed, you can connect to a choice of servers provided by the VPN. Browsing the internet while connected to one of those servers makes it seem like you are in that remote location. As a result, any restrictions implemented on the school network (or censorship imposed by your ISP on behalf of the government) no longer affects you.
The VPN software also encrypts your data between your device and the VPN server. As a result, it is impossible for the school network administrator to know which websites you choose to visit. This privacy feature permits you to access websites that have been made unavailable – without your school finding out.
Of course, if a teacher walks up behind you while you are on Facebook or some other restricted website, you will get caught. So, there are limitations to the privacy your VPN can provide.
When you connect to the internet over the school’s WiFi, certain domains will have been black listed by the network administrator. Even web terms on Google may have been restricted, making it impossible to get a comprehensive list of search results. To access blocked website domains and improve your ability to make unfiltered searches, all you need to do is follow these steps:
- Subscribe to a VPN that has servers where you need them by clicking the link at the top of this article.
- Download the VPN software and install it on your device.
- Connect to a server (servers closer to your real location will be faster).
- Navigate to the website and use it as if you weren’t on campus.
Alternatively to a VPN, you could use a website or browser based proxy to bypass the blocks implemented by your school. Like a VPN, a proxy service will permit you to connect to a remote server to pretend to be in a different location.
However, while proxies can allow you to access restricted content, it is worth noting that they cannot provide the same level of privacy as a VPN. This means that the local network administrator may be able to easily detect the websites you are visiting. As a result, you could get in trouble for flouting the rules.
It is for this reason that a VPN is considered much more reliable. A VPN will always let you unblock content in privacy without the local network administrator tracking you.
Plus, a VPN is useful both in school and at home because once you have a subscription, you can use the VPN at any time to gain privacy online. As a result, you can access content from overseas that is usually geo-restricted, or websites that are blocked by your ISP due to the government. And when you unblock that content, your ISP will be none the wiser thanks to the VPN’s encryption.