Having trouble accessing your favorite websites? The issue could be related to your internet service provider (ISP) blocking content on your Wi-Fi connection. ISPs around the world run firewalls to filter a variety of websites and services from local users. This prevents people from using Skype, getting on Facebook, visiting certain news or information sites, and even searching on Google.
The good news is it’s easy to access sites blocked by ISPs on Wi-Fi or a wired connection using a reliable virtual private network (VPN). These handy services run as apps on your devices to protect your identity and unblock censored content around the world. Whether you need to step around geo-restrictions on local content or break through a firewall in China, the right VPN can get the job done in an instant.
Below we cover how to access blocked sites by ISP on Wi-Fi using any device in your home.
VPNs are the best way to access blocked sites
It’s not always an easy task to unblock certain websites, especially if you have a restrictive ISP. There are many different kinds of firewall barriers that might keep you from getting online, each one more difficult to overcome than the last. Fortunately, VPNs can handle the vast majority of these blockades, and you barely even have to lift a finger to use them.
Why you need a VPN
It’s never been more important to keep your data secure when going online. Mass surveillance efforts harvest information, ISPs collect data and sell it to the highest bidder, and censorship firewalls keep you from accessing the open web. Using a VPN encrypts your traffic so no one can see what you’re accessing on the internet. They also cloak your identity to help keep you anonymous each time you get online, making them the perfect tools for basic web privacy.
In addition to accessing blocked websites, using a VPN will give you the following abilities:
- Bypass throttling efforts against certain services enacted by governments or ISPs.
- View social media sites, forums, blogs, and foreign news sites blocked by ISPs.
- Keep your identity and activity completely safe and private.
- Stream videos otherwise unavailable in your area.
VPN features you need
When it comes to accessing blocked sites by ISPs on Wi-Fi, not all VPNs are the same. Below are the most important features you should consider when researching a VPN.
- Reputation – Can you trust your VPN? Using well-established services thousands of users recommend is a good starting point for keeping data secure.
- Strong encryption – 256-bit AES encryption is the industry standard for securing online communications.
- Logging policy – VPNs can store logs of your activity, just like an ISP. To ensure this doesn’t happen, go with a service that has a strict zero-logging policy.
- Software availability – You need to run VPN software in order to access the service’s features.
- Security extras – Does the VPN offer an automatic kill switch? DNS leak protection? These help keep you hidden online.
Do I need special software to unblock on Wi-Fi?
Wi-Fi internet connections work in much the same way as plugging your computer directly into the modem. This means you can use a VPN to access blocked sites on Wi-Fi just like you would if you were using a wired connection. VPN software treats all traffic the same, encrypting and protecting it silently in the background while you surf. You do not need any special software or configurations to access sites blocked by your ISP on Wi-Fi.
Best VPNs to access ISP blocked sites via Wi-Fi
We used the criteria listed above to determine which VPNs work best to unblock sites blacklisted by your ISP. They’ll work on Wi-Fi or wired connections and should run on just about any device you own, including smartphones and PC.
Here are our top four VPNs for unblocking nearly any website:
1 – ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN is one of the fastest and easiest to use VPNs on the market, and it’s also one of the most popular, too. Anyone can use it ExpressVPN to stay safe and secure on just about any device, all with a few clicks. You can get started with ExpressVPN and unblock thousands of sites worldwide on PC, Mac, iOS, Android, and more, and you never have to worry about complicated configurations to get the job done, either. With ExpressVPN, you can take back the free and open internet in a matter of seconds.
ExpressVPN offers a strong range of privacy features to help keep you safe on the internet. Data sent to and from your device is always secured with military-grade 256-bit AES encryption. It’s also backed by a strict zero-logging policy on all traffic, DNS requests, and IP addresses and is protected by an automatic kill switch and DNS leak prevention features. All of these work with ExpressVPN’s huge network of over 2,000 servers in 94 different countries, giving you a fast and secure connection anywhere in the world.
As a bonus, ExpressVPN also offers router installs so you can encrypt your entire home Wi-Fi network. Any device that connects to the router wirelessly will instantly be protected from online dangers and can unblock websites around the world.
For more info about this VPN and its amazing features, check out our ExpressVPN review.
2 – NordVPN
NordVPN is a fast, secure, and popular VPN with a large network of servers and apps. As soon as you join NordVPN you get unlimited access to well over 5,000 servers in 62 countries, one of the largest networks in the VPN business. This huge amount of variety delivers incredible speeds no matter where you connect from, ensuring you always have a fast connection in the region of your choosing. It also allows NordVPN to offer unique click-to-activate features like double encryption, protection from DDoS attacks, and onion routing over VPN.
NordVPN comes with everything you need to stay safe online, from 256-bit AES encryption to DNS leak protection, an automatic kill switch, and a zero-logging policy that covers time stamps, DNS requests, IP addresses, and traffic, and so much more. It’s extremely easy to use on any device, as well, offering lightweight yet powerful apps for PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, and other platforms. When you need solid, fast protection, and unparalleled unblocking features, go with NordVPN.
NordVPN is easy to install to your router, encrypting and protecting all Wi-Fi traffic that passes through your home network.
Learn more about the NordVPN experience in our full NordVPN review.
3 – CyberGhost
CyberGhost delivers one of the all-around best VPN experiences. It’s fast, easy to use, surprisingly secure, and it can run on nearly every device, including iOS and Android, smartphones, desktop PCs, tablets, and laptops. Users are able to freely access CyberGhost’s huge network of over 2,400 servers in 60 countries, all with unlimited data and no restrictions on speed or server switching. All of this takes place using smart software that runs quietly in the background, as well.
CyberGhost’s privacy features keep users secure with incredibly strong 256-bit AES encryption on all data, a zero-logging policy on traffic, time stamps, and IP addresses, and both DNS leak protection and an automatic kill switch. These features hide your identity each time you go online, allowing you to connect with fully encrypted data no matter where you go.
Want to protect your entire home wireless network? CyberGhost can be configured to run on your router for instant encryption on all of your Wi-Fi enabled devices.
Learn more about CyberGhost’s fast speeds and great privacy features in our complete CyberGhost review.
4 – PrivateVPN
On the surface, it might seem easy to discount PrivateVPN in favor of larger providers. However, doing so would deprive you of what we consider to be one of the best-rounded services on the market. What’s more, if the website you’re trying to unblock is a streaming site, like Netflix or Hulu, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better VPN. Just fire up PrivateVPN, navigate to the server list (totaling 80+ nodes across 57 countries), look for a server which has been flagged as able to unblock the site you want, and voila!
True to its name, PrivateVPN excels at keeping your Internet connection extremely private, with 256-bit AES encryption over OpenVPN (among other common choices). Your history and identity are further kept safe behind a comprehensive no-logging policy. Rounding out the package is DNS leak protection on all versions of the software (including desktop PCs, laptops, smartphones, tablets and more), plus an automatic kill switch function to ensure not a single packet of unencrypted data leaves your device.
Check out our PrivateVPN review to learn more.
Setting up a VPN to access blocked sites
Now that you’ve chosen a VPN, your next step is to get everything set up and ready to go. Follow the steps below to get your VPN installed and use it to access blocked sites.
The first thing you’ll want to do is download and install VPN software on your device. Create an account with one of the recommended providers above, sign into your VPN’s website and download the right app. (You may have to go to a separate app store to complete the download. Make sure you use the VPN site’s official links to do this.) Install the software and launch it, then enter your login credentials to activate the connection right away.
VPN apps usually connect to the fastest server as soon as you sign in. This is ideal for the vast majority of users, as it ensures the best connection with a minimal delay. For unblocking ISP filtered websites, you most likely will not need to change these settings. However, it’s a good idea to check the server browser to make sure the VPN defaults to a friendly region, just to be on the safe side.
Open the server browser on your VPN app and find a fast connection in a country like Canada, the UK, Germany, Switzerland, or the United States. You can use other countries if you like, but these areas are generally well-populated with fast servers and are not known for being particularly unfriendly to encrypted traffic. Wait a few moments for the connection to resolve, then you’re set. Minimize the VPN app and let it run in the background.
If you’re a first time VPN user, or if you’re using a new VPN to unblock ISP websites, it’s a good idea to verify your IP address to make sure the VPN is working correctly. This process only takes a few seconds, and it ensures you’re receiving the privacy and unblocking abilities promised by the VPN.
With your VPN active and connected, open a web browser on the same device and go to ipleak.net. Wait for the page to load and it will automatically run an IP address lookup. When it completes, look at the box beneath where it says Your IP address. It should show a country other than your own, meaning the connection is active and you can access blocked sites right away.
It’s worth pointing out that accessing sites blocked by your local ISP may constitute violating certain laws. Addictive Tips does not condone any action that may break the laws of any country. A VPN does not give you license to do as you please on the internet, nor will it provide complete protection if legal action is taken against you. Always consider the consequences of unblocking websites before opening your VPN, and do your own research to make sure you are not violating local laws.
Defeating different types of site blocks
In most cases of blocked websites, you can regain access simply by installing a good VPN. Sometimes firewalling methods are more sophisticated, however, especially in the case of ISP blocks. Below are the most common types of site blocks along with our suggestions for breaking through the barriers quickly and easily.
Region locked content
A great deal of websites and online services are blocked by the sites themselves. Preventing access to content based on a user’s location is both a common and a legal practice around the world. It’s especially frustrating when using Netflix or Hulu, as both of these companies filter out tons of movies based on where you live.
Even though it’s not the ISP blocking access to these sites, you can still use a VPN to smash through the barrier. VPNs provide encryption that wraps data in unbreakable cryptographic code. They also remove your local IP address and replace it with an anonymous one. So, if you can’t access the best movies on Hulu from your home, try opening VPN software and connecting to a foreign server. Reload the page and suddenly the site will show up, all thanks to virtual IP addresses!
Businesses, universities, and large companies block access to certain websites on their internal internet. This can include content such as pornography and gambling, but it frequently extends to other sites, including social media outlets like Facebook and Reddit. Most of these firewalls are simplistic in nature, meaning you can access them without a lot of extra effort, even though they don’t involve ISP blocks.
Once again, VPNs are here to save the day. A virtual private network scrambles the contents of your data and hides your identity. This means you can use a corporate or university internet connection without divulging private details. When trying to access an otherwise blocked site, the VPN ensures the local filtering mechanisms remain blind to your efforts, giving you instant and complete access every time.
One of the more aggressive forms of website blocking comes in the form of government censorship. These efforts are often carried out by local service providers acting under direct orders from lawmakers. Countries like China, Russia, Cuba, Turkey, and Iran are famous for their tightly controlled web access, and other regions are starting to experiment with their own forms of online censorship.
A VPN can usually bypass government censorship walls enacted by ISPs, even on Wi-Fi. By taking advantage of encryption and location obfuscation, you can keep your private details hidden while accessing a world of uncensored content, all from the comfort of your own home.
Other ways of accessing blocked sites
VPNs are great all-purpose tools for accessing most blocked websites, but they’re not the only way to go about it. Below are a couple of other methods commonly used by privacy experts and web surfers.
Proxy services are simple traffic re-routers that take content from one location and bounce it to another. In the process of doing this, a proxy service will replace your local IP address with one of their own anonymous ones, allowing users to sneak past censorship and website blocks by pretending to be elsewhere in the world.
Proxy services share a lot of similarities with VPNs, but they’re notably less effective in keeping your data secure. Proxies only change your IP address, they do not provide any sort of encryption or other forms of protection. For this reason, most privacy experts recommend VPNs over proxies.
The Tor Browser can break through almost any website block, whether it’s enacted by an ISP, government agency, or local firewall. It’s as easy to use as downloading a standalone browser and opening it on your device, and it’s pretty much guaranteed to hide your identity and give you access to the world wide web without restriction.
There are some major drawbacks to using the Tor Browser to access blocked sites, however. The main one is that you’re severely limited in the types of content you can download. Since Tor is so sharply focused on privacy, it doesn’t allow you to access online technologies that may compromise your identity. This includes video content and certain web scripts. You’ll be surprised at how many common services are inaccessible via Tor.
Another drawback to the Tor Browser is how slow it is compared to standard internet connections. The nature of Tor requires bouncing encrypted traffic between anonymous nodes around the world. This adds a lot of time to even the most basic of website downloads, creating a sluggish experience.
If you’re interested in trying things out, check out our feature How to Use Tor: A Guide to Getting Started to start using Tor.
Accessing sites blocked by local ISPs on Wi-Fi is pretty easy to do once you have the right tools. VPNs are by far the best way to bypass these types of barriers. By following our recommendations and instructions above, you can access just about any blocked site around the world, all with just a couple of clicks.
Got a favorite website you’re itching to unblock with your new-found VPN powers? Share your thoughts in the comments below!