Picture the scene. You’re at work or school, and in your downtime, you want to peruse a website. Maybe you want to check your social media feeds or need to watch YouTube for research purposes… but it’s blocked.
You could turn to a proxy service or try a VPN — except the former are often blocked too, and the latter requires a bit more effort than you might like if you are just trying to sneak a glance at a censored site The Internet Isn't Really Free - Who Is Censoring It & Why The Internet Isn't Really Free - Who Is Censoring It & Why In any free, democratic society, citizens take pride in the fact that they have free access to information. This is true in many countries, where citizens have won hard-fought battles for independence. It is something... Read More now and again.
Fortunately, you still have options.
1. Try the Short Link Versions
This is a hugely popular method because it works in most cases. However, that also means administrators are getting wise to it. Still, it should definitely be your first port of call.
Shortened URLs became prominent due to Twitter: back when addresses counted towards the character limit Why Are Tweets Only 140 Characters Long? Why Are Tweets Only 140 Characters Long? What's the story behind Twitter's famous 140-character limit on tweets? Read More , using short links was a way of condensing a tweet. It’s incredibly easy to do. You just copy a URL into a service like Bitly, TinyURL, or goo.gl and it’ll give you something like
Insert it into the address bar, and you should be redirected to where you want to go, bypassing any blocks that might be in place — fingers crossed.
2. Try HTTPS
Though it acts against the very purpose it exists, the HTTPS often goes unnoticed What Is HTTPS & How To Enable Secure Connections Per Default What Is HTTPS & How To Enable Secure Connections Per Default Security concerns are spreading far and wide and have reached the forefront of most everybody's mind. Terms like antivirus or firewall are no longer strange vocabulary and are not only understood, but also used by... Read More in a URL. The “s” means it’s a secure connection, verified using SSL certificates What Is an SSL Certificate, and Do You Need One? What Is an SSL Certificate, and Do You Need One? Browsing the Internet can be scary when personal information is involved. Read More . It results in that padlock appearing in the address bar, and means peace of mind when visiting sites How Web Browsing Is Becoming Even More Secure How Web Browsing Is Becoming Even More Secure We have SSL certificates to thank for our security and privacy. But recent breaches and flaws may have dented your trust in the cryptographic protocol. Fortunately, SSL is adapting, being upgraded - here's how. Read More that require any sensitive information. Think Amazon, PayPal, or, these days, Facebook.
Aside from being a great security measure, it also comes in handy when trying to access blocked sites. This is because quite a few schools block themore common port 80 Open Router Ports & Their Security Implications [Technology Explained] Open Router Ports & Their Security Implications [Technology Explained] Read More , which is the endpoint for HTTP traffic — leaving the secure connection, port 443, open for exploitation.
I just leveled up! https
— Wasif Khan (@wasifkhan869912) February 16, 2017
It’s not always going to work, but it’s certainly worth a try! Some sites, including Facebook, YouTube, and email providers, automatically redirect to the HTTPS option, so in turn remove the extra effort on your part, or have reminded administrators to block the port.
3. Translation Services
You’re probably pretty familiar with services like Google Translate or Microsoft Translator: their standard offering is changing one language into another Travelling With Google Translate? 4 Tips To Improve Your Experience Travelling With Google Translate? 4 Tips To Improve Your Experience If you plan on travelling to a foreign country anytime soon, Google Translate can really help you, but it has its limitations. Here's how to best make use of this wonderful app. Read More , so you can convert any sentence from English to Japanese, Urdu, Gaelic, et al. and back again. In school, you could’ve used it to find out what your French teacher meant when she said “merde” under her breath.
It also translates whole websites 10 Uses Of Google Translate To Cross The Great Language Divide 10 Uses Of Google Translate To Cross The Great Language Divide Language is such a cultural totem that its translation doesn’t cover all the corners. When we talk of machine translation, the name without surprises that comes to mind is of Google Translate. Perhaps, most of... Read More … whether you actually need them translating or not. And that’s why it’s helpful here too.
— Tiffanie Whipple (@TiffanieWhipple) February 18, 2017
Whatever the site, simply type the URL into the text box and click on the link in the translation output. You’ll be redirected to it, but chances are that the blocks used otherwise will miss the page as it’ll appear under a different address, namely something like
translate.google.com , followed by various seemingly-random digits.
It’s not perfect. It’ll struggle with video streaming and social media sites, for example, andresponsive pages Create a Responsive Site In Minutes With Striking.ly Create a Responsive Site In Minutes With Striking.ly Having a responsive site is a must now for anyone who wants to cater to a wider audience, no matter what device they're happening to be on at the time. Responsive themes detect the device... Read More won’t be as smooth as they’re intended to be. Just check out the warped elements on the usually-beautiful MakeUseOf homepage.
Still, if it’s an article you need to read for research reasons, it’s ideal.
Similarly, you could search for the page you want to read then click on its cached version Everything You Need to Know About the Browser Cache [MakeUseOf Explains] Everything You Need to Know About the Browser Cache [MakeUseOf Explains] Whenever you have an issue with a website, one of the first suggestions you will hear from IT support is "try to clear your browser cache" along with "and delete your cookies". So what is... Read More , which, again, should show up under a different URL that won’t be blocked. Simple. Effective.
4. Convert to PDF
You’ll generally need to sign up for this one; however, it’s worth it, not just for reading censored pages but also creating content that’s easy to share anda pleasure to read PDF Reader vs. Browser: Which PDF Viewer Is Best for You? PDF Reader vs. Browser: Which PDF Viewer Is Best for You? A PDF reader is often one of the first tools people install on their new computer. It's not glamorous or sexy, but it's a vital tool in your productivity arsenal. Or is it? Read More .
There are plenty of services available online which’ll convert websites into PDFs: you just have to choose whether you want to pay for it or not. Take Five Filters’ PDF Newspaper for instance, a free PHP app which transforms articles into, effectively, a personal publication. You can read output from all your favorite sites in printable A4 or A5 sheets 7 Best Tools to Print to PDF 7 Best Tools to Print to PDF Not a single version of Windows comes with a native print-to-PDF solution. So what’s the best alternative? We checked 8 of the most popular options to find out. Read More that are more aesthetically pleasing than RSS feeds.
I use it to keep physical copies of online articles I’m particularly proud of, filed away in a portfolio The Best Website Builders to Create a Clean Online Portfolio The Best Website Builders to Create a Clean Online Portfolio Having an online portfolio is critical for today's digital worker. Which free website builder is best for your portfolio? We help you pick out the suitable one from the ten contenders. Read More . You could use it to bypass blocks because Five Filters does the work of scouring a webpage for you.
It goes without saying that it’s useless for YouTube and Twitter, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Of course, you’ll need to know the exact addresses for articles, as you can’t peruse a site.
Further alternatives include PDFMyURL , ToPDF.org , and WebToPDF (which lets you view the results in your browseror via email How To Use Gmail & Google Docs Instead of Adobe Reader How To Use Gmail & Google Docs Instead of Adobe Reader Read More ).
5. Tether to Your Phone
You want to view a blocked site. You’re clearly a rebel who doesn’t play by anyone’s rules but your own. In which case, you won’t have any grievances with using your phone when you possibly shouldn’t.
The idea here is that you use the internet via tethering your smartphone Tethering: How To Use Mobile Internet On Your PC Tethering: How To Use Mobile Internet On Your PC Want to share your phone's data connection with your computer? Here's exactly how to do it, how fast you can expect it to be, and how it will affect your battery life. Read More , so yes, you’ll need a quality data plan to do this. It’s not worth it if you just want to read something from a censored site, but if you want to watch YouTube and nothing else is working,this should work 3 Foolproof Ways to Create Your Own Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot for Tethering in North America 3 Foolproof Ways to Create Your Own Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot for Tethering in North America Do you want to give multiple wireless gadgets on-the-go internet access? Are you sick of getting ripped off by wireless hotspot tethering? There’s a variety of technologies that can help you – the two most... Read More … though it’s likely to be slow.
Go to Settings . From there, the method will vary slightly depending on your operating system How To Tether Your Smartphone In Linux How To Tether Your Smartphone In Linux Our smartphones are amazing tools as they receive Internet service almost wherever we travel, unlike most laptops which are limited to whatever WiFi hotspot they can find. While some carriers place limits on the amount... Read More . On iOS, just turn on Personal Hotspot and note the password. It’ll give you the option of connecting through Wi-Fi, USB (if you were really prepared!), or Bluetooth. From there, just follow the instructions in that section.On Android How to Get a Tethered Android Connection On Any Carrier, Anytime How to Get a Tethered Android Connection On Any Carrier, Anytime There are ways to tether on any Android phone, even if your carrier has disabled tethering. The first method we'll be covering here doesn't require root (though rooted users have more options). Read More , in Wireless & Networks , tap More > Tethering & portable hotspot > Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot > Set up Wi-Fi Hotspot and make note of the password.
This should really only be in emergencies, however, as you risk substantial bills if you go over your data usage limits. And be aware that your organization’s IT department might have blocked connection to new Wi-Fi networks.
Bypass the Blocks?
Not everyone has the know-how to effectively use VPNs or proxy sites 6 Reasons You Should Be Using an Anonymising Proxy Server 6 Reasons You Should Be Using an Anonymising Proxy Server Online privacy is important, but you don't have to remain exposed. You can use an anonymizing proxy server to remain hidden from prying eyes, granting you a little more security in your online affairs. Read More , but using these techniques, you should be more than capable of bypassing any blocks you encounter without jumping through too many hoops.
How else do you get around censors? Do you just rely on VPNs 5 Great Free VPN Services Compared: Which Is Fastest? 5 Great Free VPN Services Compared: Which Is Fastest? If you've never used a VPN before, you may want to reconsider. A VPN routes your internet connection through an encrypted third-party server, securing your data. But which VPN service is faster? Read More or do you prefer easier alternatives?
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