You can bypass VPN blocking by switching ports and protocols, using Tor and web proxies, changing the DNS settings, using obfuscated VPN servers, and a host of other methods that I’ll discuss in this guide.
But how can you tell that a VPN is blocked and not just acting up?
Besides connection error alerts, I’ll detail other telltale signs.
So read this to the end to find out why VPNs get blocked, the types of VPN blocking methods, and how to bypass them.
Why Is Your VPN Blocked?
If you can’t connect to the internet via a VPN, chances are it’s blocked.
The two biggest reasons are usually copyright issues and geographical restrictions.
Thus, it shouldn’t surprise you when you fail to access some websites, even with a VPN.
Here are the reasons your ISP or institution can block VPN connections.
School and Workplace Policy
There are several reasons schools and workplaces might block VPNs.
First, VPNs can bypass network restrictions. For example, if a school blocks access to certain websites, students could use a VPN to connect to those sites.
Second, VPNs can hide someone’s identity. This could be used for malicious purposes, such as accessing banned content or committing cybercrime.
Finally, some schools and workplaces believe that VPNs reduce productivity.
Ask your network admin if you’re unsure whether your school or workplace has a policy against VPNs.
Heavily restrictive governments are known to block VPNs since they can be used to bypass all types of government censorship. One recent example of this occurred in China. The government began cracking down on VPN use in early 2017.
This led to the blocking of several popular VPN providers.
It made it much harder for people in China to access banned sites like Facebook and Google. While there are still ways to get around these blocks, it requires more effort and is often less reliable.
A VPN can be blocked due to copyright restrictions. Countries with strict copyright laws usually demand VPN providers to block access to certain websites or services. Of course, reputable VPNs can’t concede to these kinds of demands, and once they refuse, they get blocked.
A VPN can also get blocked if a website or service is only available in certain countries due to copyright law. This is a tactic used by streaming platforms, like Hulu and Netflix. Hulu, for instance, is only available in the US, Puerto Rico, and US military bases.
In the wrong hands, VPNs can be used to commit fraud.
This comes in the form of unscrupulous VPN providers selling sensitive information to the wrong people. Another risk is hacking. Hackers can get hold of your VPN traffic and credentials.
This is especially common when you’re using a free VPN.
They can use your information to steal from you or commit other forms of fraud in your name. And since VPNs hide traffic, even your firewalls and antivirus programs won’t detect anything malicious. This is an underlying reason that leads to VPNs getting blocked.
Types of VPN Blocks
There are countless types of VPN blocks. Each is designed to deal with specific areas of the VPN for effective restrictions. Some of the most common ones include the following.
Firewall rules are sets of instructions that determine the traffic that’s allowed or blocked through a firewall. These rules can further be refined to allow or block specific types of traffic, such as HTTP or VPN traffic.
For blocking VPNs, these rules target specific protocols that VPNs use.
This will prevent devices on the private network from connecting to the VPN.
|Example||A school network that blocks access to Facebook and Snapchat but allows access to websites with learning resources.|
|Quick Solution||Change the VPN protocols until you find one that isn’t blocked by the Firewall. Consider using obfuscated servers that the firewall rules can’t identify as VPN traffic|
This is a method of blocking access to a computer or server by closing the specific port that the target is using. This can be used to block incoming and/or outgoing traffic from/to a particular host. By going after the specific port that the VPN uses, this method effectively blocks the VPN in question.
|Example||If you’re using OpenVPN on port 1194 UDP and it gets blocked, your connection will fail.|
|Quick Solution||Switch ports until you find one that works. This can be done directly from within the VPN.|
Protocol blocking is a security measure that blocks traffic based on the type of protocol used. There are a few different ways to go about it.
One is to block specific ports that are commonly used by VPNs.
Another is to use application-level filtering. This looks at the traffic being sent and blocks it based on the set criteria.
|Example||If you’re using Surfshark and the Firewall blocks WireGuard and OpenVPN, your VPN connection will fail.|
|Quick Solution||Keep changing the protocols of the VPN you’re using until you find the one that works. Most VPNs come with over 4 protocols, and the switch can be made from the settings.|
DNS filtering entails blocking access to certain websites by preventing the resolving of their DNS names. This is accomplished by either blacklisting the target DNS name or IP address. A DNS blacklist is a list of DNS names or IP addresses that aren’t allowed to be resolved, like a VPN IP.
When a DNS server receives a request for one of these blacklisted addresses, it will refuse to resolve it.
VPN blocking can also be achieved by whitelisting only the DNS names and IP addresses approved for use. So anything outside the approved DNS names and IP addresses is ignored and blocked, including VPNs.
|Example||Despite your VPN unblocking Hulu in the past, you suddenly lose access to it due to your VPN DNS address (or the VPN itself) getting blocked.|
|Quick Solution||Change to another server to get a new virtual IP address. VPNs with a higher number of servers will work better.|
IP Address Blocking
IP address blocking is a technique used to block access to a website or online service.
To block VPN traffic, ISPs can simply block all traffic from known VPN servers. They may also inspect packet headers to identify and block VPN traffic.
And they can use deep packet inspection to examine the contents of encrypted VPN traffic and promptly identify and block it.
|Example||The unique IP address your VPN assigns is blocked, stopping you from accessing certain websites like those outside your region.|
|Quick Solution||Try changing servers and see if that works. Another possible solution would be using obfuscated servers if the VPN supports that feature. These servers will hide your VPN traffic and pass it off as a regular connection.|
Geolocation-based blocking is a technique used to block access to a website or online service based on the user’s geographical location.
This can be done using several methods:
- IP Address Geolocation. This method uses the user’s IP address to approximate their location. It isn’t always accurate, but it’s a quick and easy way to approximate the user’s location.
- GPS Tracking. This method uses the user’s GPS signal to determine their exact location. This is more accurate than IP address geolocation. But it requires the user to have a GPS-enabled device.
- WiFi Triangulation. This method uses the strength and direction of the user’s WiFi signal to determine their location. It’s more accurate than IP address geolocation and doesn’t require a GPS-enabled device. But it only works if the user is in range of a WiFi network.
|Example||You’re unable to access streaming platforms like Hulu or Disney Plus if you’re outside the US, even with a VPN.|
|Quick Solution||Switch to servers found in regions where restrictions aren’t active. This will give you a new IP address that won’t be part of the blacklisted locations.|
Content filtering identifies and removes material that’s deemed inappropriate for a given audience. This can be done manually, through editorial review, or automatically, using technological tools.
|Example||You get error messages when you try accessing content that’s age-restricted or inappropriate through a VPN. This is to protect children.|
|Quick Solution||Use Tor or web proxies to access the same websites if the VPN can’t get you through. They’ll keep you anonymous and free of any content filtering monitors.|
Traffic shaping is the deliberate control of internet traffic.
Specifically, VPN traffic can be shaped by ISPs to prevent congestion on their networks. They can also use this to throttle certain types of traffic.
This can result in reduced speeds and increased latency for VPN users.
|Example||Your internet is suddenly slow or stops working altogether the moment you switch to a VPN.|
|Quick Solution||You can try changing the server locations and see if it works. Changing the protocols you’re using is another possible solution. Try using Tor or a web proxy if the VPN fails completely.|
Data Packet Inspection
Packet inspection involves examining the data in a network packet to determine its purpose. This information can be used to block a VPN connection.
Since VPN traffic is encrypted, it can be difficult for ISPs or any other party to inspect and shape it how they want. They may resort to using deep packet inspection (DPI) to examine the data further. This determines the exact type of traffic and whether it can be throttled or blocked.
DPI is a controversial practice, as it can be used to throttle or block legitimate traffic.
It can also be used to spy on users, violating user privacy. Check with your ISP provider to see if they're aware of any issues with throttling or DPI in your area.
|Example||You’re unable to use a VPN the moment you connect to your work or any external network. DPI actively monitors all incoming and outgoing traffic to ensure that nothing unauthorized gets through.|
|Quick Solution||DPI is quite thorough, so using obfuscated servers could be the only way out if you insist on still using a VPN. Other options you can try include Tor and web proxies.|
How to Bypass VPN Blocks?
Having determined how VPNs can be blocked, it’s time to find out whether you can bypass these blocks. The good news is that there are ways you can get around these restrictions. Let’s discuss.
Use a Web Proxy
If your work, school, etc. blocks VPN access, you can use a web proxy to bypass these restrictions. Here are a few of our favorite web proxy services:
- Proxify: Proxify is a simple, fast, and reliable web proxy. Enter the URL you want to visit and click “Go.“
- KProxy: KProxy is another great option for bypassing VPN blocks. Enter the URL you want to visit and click “Surf Anonymously.“
- Hidester: Hidester is a fast, reliable web proxy with servers in several countries. Enter the URL you want to visit and select a server location.
Use a VPN Extension
You can also use a VPN browser extension to route your traffic through different IP addresses and ports. However, this method may not work in all cases.
For example, if the IP address blocks a website, then a VPN browser extension won’t bypass that block.
Tor is free software that lets you access the internet anonymously.
It can allow you to bypass online content that a blocked VPN can’t get you through. To use it, download and install the Tor Browser on your PC.
Open it and browse the web anonymously.
However, note that your internet connection will be slower than usual because your traffic is being routed through multiple servers.
Connect to a Different VPN Server Location
Another way to get around VPN blocks is to try a different server location.
If the block is based on an IP address, connecting to a different server may give you a new IP address that isn’t blocked. Or, if the block is DNS-based, connecting to a different server may give you access to new DNS servers that aren’t blocked.
Use Obfuscated Servers
If you’re looking to bypass VPN blocks to access blocked websites, one route is to use an obfuscated server. This involves connecting to a server that uses deliberately obscured protocols and ports that mask your VPN traffic as regular internet traffic.
NordVPN is a great example of a VPN that offers this feature.
However, note that this isn’t a foolproof method. If a firewall is sophisticated enough, it can still detect VPN usage and block it.
Switch VPN Ports (Port Forwarding)
A lot of VPN blocking methods target ports. Once a VPN port is restricted, the flow of data and browser traffic stops immediately. The only way out of this is to change the port.
However, you may have to try several combinations until you get one that works.
Common ports that you can migrate to include TCP Port 443.
It’s a port that’s hard to detect or block. Another is TCP Port 80.
This is used by almost every website.
Use a Dedicated IP Address
You can bypass VPN blocks by using dedicated IP addresses.
This makes things hard for the blocking institution to know that you’re using a VPN in the first place.
To get a dedicated IP address, you need to sign up for a Virtual Private Network service that offers this feature (not all have it). Once you’ve done so, you can connect to the internet using your VPN without any restrictions.
Switch to Mobile Data
Mobile data isn’t subject to the same restrictions as VPN traffic.
So by switching to mobile data, you can bypass any blocks preventing you from using your VPN app. However, you’ll need a data plan with enough data to support your VPN usage as they’re bandwidth-intensive.
Use a Different VPN Protocol
Switching to a different VPN protocol is another solution you can try to beat a VPN block. Different security protocols offer different levels of security and encryption.
So depending on your needs, you may want to experiment with a few options to find the one that works best for you. Some common protocols include PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP, IKEv2, and OpenVPN.
Try a Self-Hosted VPN Service
You can host your own VPN to bypass blocks that would otherwise work on normal VPNs. Creating a self-hosted VPN service is beneficial.
You’ll be free of the pesky issues like having your details with third-party entities while enjoying the benefits of a VPN.
Use an SSL/SSH Tunnel
An SSL/SSH Tunnel is an encrypted channel used by secured HTTPS traffic.
SSH Tunneling is used for activities that involve private information, like when you’re handling online banking. A lot of premium VPN software has this feature by default. It hides all traces of VPN use to the point where it can even fool and bypass any VPN blocks.
Change DNS Settings
Another quick way of countering a VPN block and bypassing the restriction is changing your DNS settings. You can even use some popular DNS providers like OpenDNS, Google, and Cloudflare.
If you want this to be effective without compromising the encryption of your data, consider activating your VPN’s Smart DNS. Popular VPN clients like Surfshark, NordVPN, and ExpressVPN offer this feature.
Contact Your VPN Provider for Help
If all fails, your last resort is to get in touch with customer support to find a solution that works. There’s a high chance they may not have a magic bullet that gets you around the VPN restrictions, but it never hurts to try.
What Are the Best Undetectable VPNs?
Sometimes using a VPN isn’t enough. To effectively counter VPN blocking, you need a VPN service that’s hard to detect. It should even beat the most rigorous Data Packet Inspection procedures.
Here are the best VPNs for bypassing blocks placed by internet service providers.
NordVPN has obfuscated servers. They can hide all traces of VPN activity from your connection. This makes it hard for any ISP or institution to detect and block you. If that doesn’t work, you can purchase the dedicated IP add-on.
You also get over 5,400 servers that you can quickly switch to with a click of a button. Additionally, NordVPN comes with several protocols to choose from if the network block is protocol-based.
Surfshark features Camouflage Mode, its version of obfuscation.
It expertly hides traces of VPN from your traffic. This fools any ISP into thinking you’re on regular networks. On top of that, you get the MultiHop feature (Double VPN). It allows you to connect through two separate servers.
This makes it hard for any VPN blocker to pinpoint exactly where your traffic is coming from.
ExpressVPN also features obfuscation on every server with any protocol.
This makes it hard for anyone trying to block the VPN.
ExpressVPN also features RAM-based servers. They automatically wipe all the data when the servers are powered off. It would be a miracle even for the best DPIs to catch anything that may indicate you’re using a VPN.
How Do I Know if My VPN Is Blocked?
The most telling sign that your VPN is blocked is a connection error message.
This is usually displayed on your screen when you try to connect to the internet.
You may see the text “Whoops, something went wrong…” This appears even when you have a working internet connection. Try switching off the VPN and then open the same websites again. If they load without issues, that’s confirmation that your VPN was blocked.
Is It Illegal to Bypass VPN Blocks?
Whether bypassing VPN blocks is illegal depends on the situation.
If VPNs are banned in your country, you could face fines or prison time if caught. Additionally, while bypassing VPN blocks at school or work is legal, you may incur costly punishment if you’re caught, like losing your job or getting suspended.
Can I Unblock Sites Without a VPN?
You can unblock sites without a VPN by using web proxies.
Just enter the URL of the blocked website, and the proxy unblocks it for you. You can also use the Tor browser, though it’s heavy on bandwidth, which could slow your internet speeds. Furthermore, you can create a hotspot and tether your phone to create a new network that bypasses the blocks.
How to Get Around Netflix VPN Block?
You can get around a Netflix VPN block by using a VPN with servers in regions where Netflix is available. You’ll need a streaming device that’s compatible with the VPN in question. Then, connect to your preferred server and unblock Netflix.
How to Get Around Roobet VPN Block?
You can get around Roobet VPN blocks by switching ports and protocols until you find one that works. You can also change the DNS settings on your device or ditch the VPN and switch to Tor and web proxies.
How to Get Around Hulu VPN Block?
If your VPN typically unblocks Hulu, try deleting your browser cache, changing VPN protocols, or using a dedicated IP address.
Otherwise, look for a more reputable VPN for unblocking Hulu, like ExpressVPN.
A blocked VPN isn’t the end of the line for you. Before pulling the plug, go through the recommended solutions above and fix the issue.
You can read more on VPNs on our website and even grab fantastic discount deals on popular VPNs like NordVPN, CyberGhost, Surfshark, and ExpressVPN.