How to access blocked websites – Top 10


Before you try out any of the methods listed here, I suggest you install Firefox browser. For faster and smoother internet access, Firefox is the best browser available out there. When you are accessing proxy sites or similar sites ensure that you use Firefox not Internet Explorer.

Internet CensoringInternet censoring is now everywhere. In my office Orkut is blocked since there was an Orkut virus scare. Countries such as China, Saudi Arabia etc. routinely block many websites. Interestingly entire blogger.com and similar blog sites were banned in India not long ago. So it is no wonder that many of us are looking for ways to access blocked websites.

Last week I did an investigation into the various methods available for bypassing website access restrictions. I have shortlisted them below as ” Top 10 methods to access banned websites”.

Top Ten methods to access banned websites

1. Use IP address – This is the simplest way to bypass domain name based access restrictions. Instead of the domain name such as www.webstuffscan.com use the direct IP address. To find the IP address use one of the free host to IP online conversion tools such as this.

2. Use Google cache – If you are not bothered whether the content is latest on a site, Google cache is best. Do a Google search for the site and then click on the cached link below the search results.

3. Use an Anonymizer – In this method you access a third party site which in turn routes your request to the required server. Some services provide URL encryption also. The problem is that most of these servers are no longer free. Do a google search for the latest list as this is a very dynamic area Following are some services which still works(free!),

Daily Best Links – Hides original URL and provides an array of access of options. The is one of the best free servers.
Anonymouse – This works, but URL is visible and hence may be blocked by the filtering software.

4. Use Online Translation Tools – In this method, we can use the translation service as a web proxy. Following are the best links I know of. Again Google is your best friend for more resources.

Altavista Babel fish – In the above replace www.webstuffscan.com with the site you want. You can also visit Babel fish site.
Google Translate – Similar to Babel fish.

5. Use Google Mobile search – Google mobile search works, but output may not be optimal. This is very similar to using a Web proxy.

6. Use a public Proxy server – There are many free proxy servers out in the Web. Note that in order to use these you have to change internet connection settings in Internet Explorer or whatever browser you use. This is one such list.

7. Get web pages via email – This is useful if you need a single Web page. Obviously accessing large files is not possible. Given below are some examples.

You can use SEND http://www.yahoo.com/ in the body of the message and send it to [email protected] to retrieve yahoo.com home page.
You can also check out services at web2mail which includes web page subscriptions.
G.E Boyd has an extensive list of servers. Note that many in the list are no longer working.

9. Use Tor Distributed Proxy – Tor is an advanced proxy server using multiple anonymous servers for a single Web request. This requires an application to be downloaded and installed.

8. Your own proxy server – This is an advanced technique and is probably the best. This requires your own proxy server hosted either at your home or at a hosting service provider. You can enable SSL encryption and prevent any snooping on the content as well. Also put some access control, otherwise someone can find the service and misuse it (Trust me, there are many who are looking for such an opportunity!).

Use Apache Web server as proxy server – A bit complex setup.
Use Privoxy – – This is the recommended approach. Please see this page for more details.
Use PHPProxy as a Web Proxy – You can use PHPProxy to setup a Web proxy.

10. Use alternate content providers – When everything fails, you can use alternate service providers. For example if Gmail is blocked at your place, you can take another obscure mail address and enable email forward at Gmail.

Important!
Be careful when you are using public proxy servers. It is possible for the guy who is hosting the service to snoop on the data that is passing through. So I wouldn’t recommend putting any important information such credit card details when you are using public proxy server method.

update 1 (Nov 26) – Sharjeel has got an impressive list of 300+ web proxies.

update 2 (Dec 22) – Check out my latest how to on running your own windows Http proxy server.

update 3 (Feb 01) – Please see comments below for some good tips. Also some of the sites mentioned in the article are no longer working.