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How to Unblock Websites URL & Access Restricted Content in 2023

Have you ever tried visiting a website only to be greeted by an annoying "Access Denied" message? As frustrating as it is, website blocking is extremely common worldwide due to government censorship, geographic restrictions, and filters put in place by schools, employers, or even ISPs.

The good news is there are ways to get around these limits and unblock access to websites and content that may be restricted where you live. In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll explain the leading techniques and tools you can use to bypass blocked sites in 2023.

Why Websites Get Blocked in the First Place

Before we get into the solutions, it helps to understand the main reasons websites and online services end up getting blocked:

Government Censorship

One of the top causes of internet blocking is government censorship. Countries like China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea are known for imposing strict censorship and using firewalls to block access to major websites and apps including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp, news outlets, and more. By censoring and controlling the flow of information, authoritarian regimes limit free speech and prevent access to content they deem unfavorable.

According to Freedom House, global internet freedom has declined for the 11th consecutive year. In 2020, 30 countries arrested social media users for political, social, or religious speech. Over the last decade, more than 50 countries have passed social media laws that repress user speech.

Copyright Restrictions and Geo-blocking

Popular streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, and Spotify frequently use geo-blocking technology to enforce copyright rules and licensing agreements across different regions. This prevents you from accessing content if you try to stream or view it from outside your approved country.

For example, if you travel abroad, you may find that your favorite shows on Netflix are suddenly unavailable due to geographic restrictions. Media companies do this to comply with regional broadcasting rights and agreements.

Workplace and School Web Filters

Schools, colleges, and workplaces commonly utilize web content filters to block categories like social media, news, entertainment, games, NSFW content, and more. The goal is usually to improve security, boost productivity, and prevent legal liability. But overly broad filtering can negatively impact learning and working.

In a 2022 survey of US students, 97% said their school blocked social media sites, 91% indicated blocked gaming sites, and 61% reported blocked LGBTQ+ resources.

ISP Blocking

In some rarer cases, internet service providers may block certain websites or online services entirely. This can occur due to court orders requiring an ISP to prevent access to pirated or illegal content. Some ISPs have also faced accusations of anti-competitive network interference blocking services that compete with their own offerings.

Geographical Licensing Restrictions

Even if a website or service itself isn‘t actively blocked, you may encounter geographic restrictions when trying to access specific content like videos, shows, live streams, or radio online. Certain sites limit availability based on the physical location you are accessing from. This is typically done to comply with regional licenses and distribution agreements.

Using a VPN to Unblock Blocked Sites

One of the most popular and effective solutions for bypassing regional blocks, censorship, and other limits is using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Here‘s an overview of how VPNs allow you to unblock and access restricted websites:

  • Encrypts all your internet traffic and routes it through a remote server in a location of your choice. This prevents tracking and censorship of your browsing activity.
  • Masks your real IP address, making it appear as if you are accessing the internet from the VPN server‘s location instead of your own. This allows you to bypass geographic blocks.
  • Allows you to virtually relocate your internet connection to another country or region. You can then access region-locked websites and content.
  • Prevents snooping on your internet usage and hides your traffic from ISPs, governments, hackers and anyone else trying to monitor or block your online activities.

There are many VPN services out there, but not all are created equal when it comes to effectively unblocking sites. For the best experience accessing restricted content worldwide, I recommend ExpressVPN.

Here are some of the key advantages ExpressVPN provides for unblocking websites:

  • 3,000+ high-speed VPN servers located in 94 different countries. This gives you plenty of location options to choose from when accessing region-restricted content.
  • Proven ability to reliably unblock popular streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, Twitch, and YouTube. ExpressVPN has a great track record for bypassing geo-blocks.
  • Excellent connection speeds for HD streaming and downloads. This ensures smooth performance even when streaming high-res video or using bandwidth-heavy apps.
  • Uses trusted AES-256 encryption to keep your browsing activity private. ExpressVPN has a strict no-logging policy and does not record your personal online activities.
  • User-friendly apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers and more. Easy to set up and get running on all your devices.
  • 30-day money-back guarantee so you can test it out risk-free. This gives you plenty of time to confirm it works for unblocking the websites and apps you want to access.

Step-by-Step Guide to Using ExpressVPN

Getting set up with ExpressVPN only takes a few minutes. Follow these steps to get started:

Windows 10

  1. Sign up for an ExpressVPN account and download their Windows app from the official site.
  2. Once installed, launch the ExpressVPN app and log into your account.
  3. Click "Choose Location" and select a VPN server location in a country that has the content you wish to access.
  4. Click "Connect" to link up with the VPN server. The app will show "Connected" when ready.
  5. Open your web browser, go to a blocked website, and enjoy unrestricted access!


  1. Install ExpressVPN from the iOS App Store. Open the app and log in.
  2. Tap the location picker and search for a server location that matches the content access you need.
  3. Tap "Connect" to activate the VPN connection. You‘ll see "Connected" appear when it is ready.
  4. Now open Safari or another browser and navigate to the previously blocked or restricted website to gain full access.


  1. Get ExpressVPN from the Google Play Store. Open the app on your device and log in.
  2. Tap Locations and select a server location suitable for unblocking the content you wish to see.
  3. Tap the Connect button. Once connected, you‘ll see a green check mark.
  4. Launch Chrome or your preferred Android browser. You can now visit websites or use apps that were previously inaccessible or blocked.

Alternatives to VPNs for Unblocking Sites

While VPNs are great for bypassing geographic blocks, censorship, and other restrictions, there are a few other tools that can also prove useful in certain circumstances:

Tor Browser

The Tor browser routes your traffic through multiple encrypted nodes making it extremely difficult to trace the activity back to you. The encryption provided by the Tor network can allow accessing censored content. Tor also grants access to .onion addresses on the dark web. Downsides are very slow speeds and some sites may block Tor entirely.


Proxies act as intermediaries that fetch web pages on your behalf. Public proxies can mask your IP address and appear to be in a different location. However, free proxies are notoriously slow and often unreliable. Paid proxy services like Luminati and Oxylabs offer faster performance, but routes aren‘t as varied or secure as VPN tunnels.

Smart DNS

Smart DNS services like UnoTelly operate by changing your device‘s DNS settings and rerouting traffic via different servers, allowing you to virtually switch locations. Helpful for streaming geo-blocked content but does not provide encryption. Easier to configure than VPNs but considered less secure and not as robust.

Browser Extensions

There are browser extensions and add-ons like like Browsec, Hola Free VPN, and SetupVPN that can alter your IP address within Chrome, Firefox, or Safari to appear in another region, albeit in a limited capacity. Useful supplements but not full VPN replacements.

Onion Sites

Onion sites with addresses ending in .onion represent anonymous websites on the dark web that can sometimes provide access to blocked content, but at greater legal risk given dark web uses. Requires Tor browser to access.

URL Shorteners

URL shorteners like Bitly can occasionally work to sneak blocked page links past filters by slightly modifying the URL. No guarantees and very limited capability, but in some cases may provide brief access.

Browse Freely and Safely

While no method is 100% effective all of the time, using solutions like reputable VPN services goes a long way in regaining access to websites, apps, and content that may otherwise be geo-restricted or censored based on your location. With the right approach, you can enjoy a less restricted internet experience.

When circumventing various blocks, always exercise caution and avoid accessing illegal content or downloading pirated material in violation of copyright laws. Responsible usage ensures these tools remain available in the future.

I hope this guide gives you a better understanding of how to safely bypass location-based censorship and access the open internet we all deserve. Feel free to reach out if you have any other questions!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.