How to Unblock Websites at School
Updated: February 25, 2016
- Start by getting a VPN account setup
- Next, download and install the VPN software to the device(s) you want to unblock websites at school from
- Then open the software and connect to any server location (preferably a location close to your actual location)
- Once connected to the VPN, you will have successfully, privately unblocked all websites at school on your device
How to unblock websites at school in more detail:
School is for learning, right? Right. It's where you sculpt your mind and your knowledge to get you ready for the "big world" out there... but what better way to learn about the world than through the internet? That's my opinion, anyway.
I understand that some websites are blocked at school because students spend too much time on them and so blocking the websites keeps their focus on classwork and to what the teacher is saying. However, I think a far more valuable lesson to teach in school is to keep all websites accessible so that students can learn to show self-control and visit such websites a sensible amount throughout the school day, right? Right.
With that said, it is pretty clear that not one school in the world shares my logic on this. The crazy fast increase in web accessibility over the years has resulted with entire schools choosing to simply deny access entirely to websites that students use every single day.
So do students simply have to sit back and accept this, or is there a way for you to unblock all websites at school effectively and easily, on your devices?
The short answer is, yes! I figured out a solution on how to unblock websites at school that is 100% effective, secure and very quick to setup. Enjoy.
Why are Websites Blocked at School?
To start my research on finding a solution I briefly wanted to understand exactly why schools choose to block websites, just in case I actually agree with their reasons and thus chose not to find a solution in the end.
As you can guess -- I did not agree with their reasons. These essentially come down to teachers losing patience with trying to teach their students to pay attention and not browse the web during school hours; resulting in a complete blocking of whatever websites the school find most detrimental.
The only reason I had some empathy with was blocking websites in schools due to the amount of cyber bullying that might be happening on certain social media websites by students during school hours. I completely support this as a reason to block websites, however I would still rather the cyber-bullying was dealt with in a more personal "hands-on" approach, rather than denying entire schools' website access because of a handful of students that use the websites for negative-impacting reasons.
Anyway, ultimately I decided to continue my solution research, so next I will quickly walk through exactly how schools implement such website blocks -- as this will give you a proper understanding of why my solution is so effective.
How are Schools Blocking Websites?
School are blocking websites most commonly at the main server level of their intranet. You see, 99% of schools today have their own personal intranet set up with their own servers (rather than what you have at home, which is a router that connects to your ISPs servers like Virgin or AT&T or BT), which means they have complete control over the internet and all devices connecting to it.
This means that when you connect to the internet in school whether on a school computer, your personal laptop or even your smartphone; you are connecting to the school's servers, which have the website blocks placed on them. The result is that any device that is connected to the school's internet is automatically given the websites blocks.
When I discovered this I was happy. Why? Because this meant that it is the IP address you are given on your device when connected to the schools internet that actually blocks the websites from you. You see, every device is given a unique IP address when connected to any internet, and this IP address represents the server you are connected to at that moment.
You can actually use a very simple piece of software to bypass connecting to your school's server (and thus getting an IP address associated with it) by connecting to a remote server. You do this by using a Virtual Private Network -- or VPN for short.
How to Use a VPN to Unblock Websites at School
Step 1: Sign up for VPN
So as I mentioned at the start of the guide, there are a huge amount of VPN providers available today that offer different levels of service at different prices. Thus, I reviewed the best-rated providers out there and decided to go with ExpressVPN as it satisfied my needs and (modest) budget for this particular solution.
Therefore, using ExpressPVN as the example in these setup steps -- go ahead and go to the ExpressVPN website, choose the plan that suits your commitment preference best, then confirm your account setup.
You will notice that ExpressVPN offer a 30 day money back guarantee, which means you can try it out and if you don't like it for whatever reason; you will get a complete refund within a month. Pretty cool.
Step 2: Download & Install VPN
When you've confirmed you account setup you will receive an email confirmation that contains a link to the download area. So click on this and then click on the software download that matches whatever device you want to unblock websites at school on.
For example, I use a Macbook and an Android smartphone, so I downloaded the OS X software and then went to the Google Play Store on my Android device then downloaded and installed the ExpressVPN app there.
As you'll see, essentially any device you want to unblock websites at school on are compatible with ExpressVPN, which is great. Installation takes just a few seconds and starts automatically once you download the software onto your device(s).
Step 3: Connect to Any Server on VPN
Once you have downloaded and installed the ExpressVPN software, it should open automatically for you. If not, then just open it up manually and you will be presented with the main VPN interface. You'll see that it is super simple. You really do not need any "technical expertise" to use this.
All you do now is simply choose a server location to connect to. This is the part that actually changes your IP address, and connects you to your school's internet through a private server (rather than the school's server).
There is no specific location you need to connect to, although for best speeds it makes sense to connect to a server location that is the same as your current one or close by. For example, here is me connecting to a US-based (New York) server location while at NYU on my Macbook:
And then here I am connected to a UK-based (London) server location while visiting LSE on my android smartphone:
Step 4: Access Unblocked Websites at School
Then as soon as you are connected to your VPN, you will now be able to access any and every website that was just seconds ago completely blocked. So go ahead and enjoy a totally open world wide web at your school!
What is great about using a VPN for this specifically is that when you connect to a VPN, you are given a layer of very sophisticated privacy protection. Your data is encrypted, meaning that all of your online activity when connected is practically untraceable back to your identity and/or physical location. So you can rest-assured that your school will have no idea that you are accessing all the blocked websites.
This concludes my super quick guide on how to unblock websites at school. If you followed my quick steps then you will now be freely browsing a totally unblocked web on your device at your school.
Should you want to check out and try some other VPN providers, then here are the five best VPNs I narrowed down my choice to for this solution:
Each of the above VPN providers will effectively unblock websites at school in the same way I described in this guide. If you have any questions or feedback on this guide at all -- let me know in the comments section below and I'll be sure to help out in whatever way I can.