How to Unblock Websites at School
If you use the Internet in some shared office, be it at your job, your school, the library, or any other public spot, you know that many of the more popular web addresses have been blocked. The most common complaints about blocked websites includes Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and any website that is a little bit on the “dirty” side. If you want to access the complete Internet on a computer that has blocks in place, the only way to do it is to “unblock” those web sites.
We’re not talking about “hacking” the admin password and literally unblocking the sites yourself — we’re talking about using loopholes in the Internet and on your computer to gain access to sites that are otherwise blocked from view. Want to know how web sites get blocked?
Blocking web sites happens in one of three ways — for the most part, blocked computers are running software that works with a computer’s Internet browser to control access to certain parts of the Internet. The administrator of this software has the ability to adjust the block options, and to allow or block specific web addresses. Similar to this kind of blocking is the old standby, blocking websites by hand using a computer’s built in security settings. The final method for blocking websites really only applies to bigger networks of computers, like at a business office or in a school. In these situations, something called a “firewall” is to blame for a website being blocked. The firewall blocks specific web sites chosen by the organization administering the firewall.
It takes the click of a mouse for an admin to block a web site — unfortunately, unblocking a web address is not as easy. Here are some tips to help you unblock websites at your school or office computer. Using these tips, you should be able to access any blocked site you want.
Change the Settings On Your Computer
If you are working on a non-networked (or individual) computer that is setup to block websites, you can simply change your own computer settings to unblock certain sites. If the computer you want to unblock connects directly to the Internet (rather than across a network), then you can simply alter the settings and gain access to the site you want. This method does not tend to work for firewalled computers.
If a web site is blocked because of a piece of software that controls Internet traffic, you should be able to alter the settings or disable the blocking software on your own. Check the security settings on the web browser you’re using to see if the browser is blocking — if so, you can change the settings manually. If this doesn’t work, try using a different browser.
If you can’t get around the block by changing your browser settings, you’ll need to disable the software itself. Try deleting the software altogether, or keep the software from loading the next time you start up the computer. How do you do this? If you’re on a Windows machine, press the CTRL, ALT, and DEL keys simultaneously and find the name of the software in the list that pops up. Disable that software and you’re in business.
Access A Site’s IP Address Instead of URL
Some of the time, computers with blocked web sites can still access those sites if you connect to that site’s IP address instead of their URL address. A URL is a web address in plain English (like www.netflix.com) and the IP address is the actual number address of a site. Every web site has a unique IP address, and they look like a list of ten numbers seperated by dots. Some web blocking software does not go so far as to block the site’s IP address. In this case, find the IP address of a site you want to visit (you can use a Reverse DNS Lookup tool for free on the Internet) and plug those numbers into the URL bar at the top of your browswer.
Use Google Cache to “Unblock” Websites
You may not know it, but Google offers a ton of little tricks that can help web users access blocked web sites. There’s no web filter software that blocks the Google main page, so even if your company firewall keeps you from using a site’s IP address, you can probably still gain at least partial access to your favorite blocked sites.
Google has a cool feature called “cache” that is sort of like a photograph on a web page. When you search for a web site in Google, a little link pops up underneath the link that reads “cached”. Since these copies of a web site are from Google’s database and can’t possibly be listed in your web filter software’s block list, you can still see your favorite blocked site, or at least look at a slightly old version of it. The trouble with using a cached copy of a site is that you won’t be able to interact live via a cached link.
Getting out from behind a firewall is tricky business. Here’s a sneaky high tech way you can avoid your computer’s web block software.
Using a proxy server will allow you to outwit the filters on the computer and even get around the firewall. Proxy servers are physical computers located outside the range of your firewall that you can access over the Internet. Proxy servers have their own IP address that you can use to move around the web on your computer. It works like this — you connect to a proxy server and the proxy server acts as the computer that connects with the blocked site you want to access. After that, you can view the web site through the proxy server, even though that site may be blocked by your company or school’s firewall. Think of a proxy server as an anonymous third party doing your web business for you.
When you need to access a web site that is blocked on your work computer, don’t lose hope. There are so many ways to get around an Internet block, it is a marvel that people even bother blocking web sites anymore.
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