How to Bypass VPN Blocks: 10 Tips That Work in 2023
- VPNs can be blocked by blacklisting the provider’s IP ranges, port-blocking, or scanning data packets with deep packet inspection.
- The most effective way to bypass a VPN block is by obfuscating your VPN traffic. Some providers offer built-in tools for it, but there are third-party ones as well.
- If stealth VPN tunnels prove ineffective, some alternate methods include the Tor Browser, SSL/SSH tunneling, and Shadowsocks.
VPN services are the best way to bypass Internet restrictions, unblock streaming sites, and boost your Internet freedom in general. Of course, schools, workplaces, streaming companies, and governments have unanimously agreed that Internet freedom is overrated, and started blocking VPN traffic. Learn how to bypass VPN blocks with these 10 useful tips.
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How to Bypass a VPN Block (Quick Overview)
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Here’s a summary of all the ways to bypass VPN blocks:
- Connect to a mobile network or hotspot.
- Switch to a different VPN server or provider.
- Change the protocol and/or port from the VPN app settings.
- Use a VPN with obfuscated servers (or stealth VPN protocol).
- Consider getting a dedicated IP address or custom VPN server.
- Use Tor Browser (but prepare for slower speeds).
- Try Obfsproxy to bypass VPN detection.
- Use Shadowsocks to evade deep packet inspection (DPI).
- Alternatively, create an SSL/TLS tunnel with STunnel.
- Another option is an SSH tunnel with PuTTy (or similar apps).
Stick around for more details on bypassing VPN blocks with each of the methods above. We’ll also offer some VPN recommendations later on that can bypass any kind of block.
How to Avoid VPN Detection (Full Guide)
Before we get into third-party methods of bypassing VPN blocks, let’s see what you can do without any extra setup.
1. Use Mobile Data or a Hotspot
Wondering how to torrent on college Wi-Fi or watch Netflix at work on a break without getting caught?
Rather than getting in trouble with the network admins (or worse), take the safe route and switch to mobile data instead.
VPNs work fine on mobile, and you get all the same benefits as you would using Wi-Fi or a wired connection. More importantly, you won’t have to deal with any annoying VPN blocks.
Just keep in mind that your mobile data usage will increase slightly. That’s because when a VPN encrypts your Internet traffic, it tacks on some extra data called “encryption overhead.”
To mitigate this, try using a more lightweight protocol (e.g. IKEv2, WireGuard, or NordLynx by NordVPN).
Unfortunately, the default OpenVPN protocol uses up most data. That said, it can also be a great option to bypass VPN detection, as we’ll see in a future section.
2. Switch to a Different VPN Server (or Provider)
Many websites blocking VPN services don’t bother with complex detection methods. Instead, they just partner up with IP-aggregating services (like MaxMind) to block the VPN’s IP address range(s).
This often results in collateral damage. For example, Netflix ended up blocking residential IP addresses, locking people out of their accounts even if they weren’t using a VPN.
Fortunately, IP blocking isn’t much of an issue. Just use a reliable VPN service with thousands of servers that frequently refresh its IPs. Switch to a different VPN server and you’re good to go.
Alternatively, contact the VPN’s customer support team for a recommendation. You can find out if they’re dealing with a VPN block like the one mentioned above, and which servers currently work for streaming and other activities,
If switching servers doesn’t work (because of a local network filter), try testing out a different VPN provider. Most premium subscriptions are backed by 30-day money-back plans for just such occasions.
Otherwise, head over to the next step.
3. Change the VPN Protocol or Port Number in the App Settings
Aside from IPs, online services may use port blocking to filter VPN traffic. For instance, OpenVPN works on ports 1194 and 443, and IKEv2/IPSec requires UDP ports 500 and 4500.
If any of those ports are blocked, VPN connections will simply not go through. Fortunately, most services let you switch between VPN protocols.
In the NordVPN app, just go to Settings > Connection and select your desired protocol from the drop-down menu. .
Others (like Private Internet Access) let you manually choose your port number. Try port numbers 2018, 41185, 443, or 80 to see if things change.
You can also do this with any VPN services that offer manual configuration files. However, we only recommend this for advanced users.
4. Use a VPN with Obfuscated Servers (aka Stealth VPN)
The best way to make your VPN undetectable is by using obfuscation. Before we get into how it works, we need a little bit of context
Deep packet inspection and similar detection systems can’t actually see your encrypted traffic. Instead, they check for common patterns used by various VPN protocols, much like a detective looking for fingerprints.
To bypass VPN blocks, an obfuscated server will mask your VPN usage to look like everyday Internet traffic.
Trying to evade censorship in countries like Russia or China? Don’t want anyone on your network to know you’re using a VPN app? Then obfuscated servers are the way to go.
Some VPN providers don’t need specialized VPN servers for the job. For instance, ExpressVPN has automatically enabled obfuscation on all servers.
One last thing to note is that using an obfuscated server will slow down your traffic a bit more than usual. That’s because of the extra processes involved in masking your VPN activity.
5. Get a Dedicated IP Address
If obfuscated VPN servers aren’t cutting it, there’s one last thing you can try to bypass VPN blocks. And that’s getting a dedicated IP address.
One way streaming services block VPNs is by checking for multiple incoming connections from the same IP. That’s a sure sign that multiple users are using a VPN.
This is also why you get CAPTCHA challenges while using a VPN. With so many users connecting from a shared IP address, web services may suspect bots are involved.
Now, while it won’t make your VPN undetectable, a dedicated IP address will help you avoid IP blocks in such scenarios. They are far less likely to pop up on any VPN block list.
They’re also useful for accessing home banking apps, PayPal, and similar services without raising any alarms.
Plus you can use them to provide a secure VPN connection for your work devices while excluding any unauthorized IPs from your network.
Their main downside is the extra cost and limited regional availability. You’ll also have an IP address associated with your email, making it a potential detriment to your privacy.
Still, it’s worth a shot if you have the budget and don’t want to bother with third party apps.
6. Try Tor Browser (Slow, But It Works)
Using a VPN is not the only way to avoid censorship, geo-blocks, and government spying. If VPN blocks are giving you trouble, you might want to try the Tor network.
All you need to do is install the Tor Browser, a modified version of Firefox that lets you access said network.
This browser provides several security enhancements, such as:
- Encryption (much like what you’d get with a Virtual Private Network)
- Preventing browser fingerprinting makes you much more difficult to identify online.
How it works is that your traffic passes through multiple relays (or nodes) before reaching its destination.
These nodes are volunteer-run computers located all around the world. Moreover, the nodes change every ten minutes, making it an excellent anonymizing tool.
That said, it’s not a replacement for a proper VPN connection. For one, you don’t get to decide which relays you connect to. Your IP address changes randomly and frequently.
What’s worse, Internet service providers and other organizations tend to frown upon Tor usage due to its negative image. It’s not unlikely for ISPs to block Tor at every turn.
Another disadvantage is the slow speeds (even slower than obfuscated servers). If you were hoping to unblock streaming services, we recommend using a VPN instead.
7. Bypass VPN Blockers with Obfsproxy
Obfsproxy is another obfuscation method created by the same people that brought you Tor. It helps you avoid deep packet inspection by wrapping your Internet traffic in a layer of HTTPS encryption.
This applies to any traffic, whether it’s from Tor or a VPN, so you can use it to bypass VPN blocks without relying on the Tor network.
You can apply Obfsproxy to your VPN connection while using OpenVPN or WireGuard.
Some VPN providers have an Obfsproxy built straight into the client. If not, you’ll have to perform a manual setup using command lines. A great option for advanced users that want to set up their own VPN server to bypass blocks.
8. Use Shadowsocks to Avoid Deep Packet Inspection
Shadowsocks is an advanced proxying technology based on the SOCKS5 open-source Internet protocol.
Unlike a VPN service, Shadowsocks uses a distributed network instead of a centralized one. This makes it more difficult for the Great Firewall of China and other filtering systems to detect and block Shadowsocks connections.
In fact, Shadowsocks was originally developed as an anti-censorship tool in China. Sadly, the original developer stepped down from the project due to pressure from authorities.
Still, enough volunteers have picked up and improved upon it that it has become a quintessential way to bypass VPN blocks.
Much like Obfsproxy, Shadowsocks uses HTTPS (along with SOCKS5) to mask traffic. However, it only works on TCP and UDP data packets.
Other types of traffic are left untouched, which may lead to data leaks if not properly configured. If your primary concern is privacy, using a VPN is the better option for less advanced users.
9. Shadowsocks Blocked? Try STunnel Instead
Neither obfuscated servers nor Shadowsocks are full-proof solutions to get around the strictest VPN blocks.
Since they’re fairly popular, restrictive regimes may focus their efforts on probing potential Shadowsocks servers. Not to mention improving their machine-learning algorithms to identify obfuscated traffic.
Fortunately, there are plenty of methods to mask your online activity nowadays. One of them is encapsulating OpenVPN traffic within an SSL/TLS tunnel with STunnel.
Once again, this is better suited for bypassing VPN blocks for light browsing/viewing censored content. You basically get triple encapsulation so your speeds on streaming platforms and other data-heavy apps will take a nosedive.
10. Create an SSH Tunnel with PuTTy (or Alternatives)
One last way you can avoid VPN blocks is with a Secure Socket Shell (SSH) tunnel. Here’s an official resource on how to set things up with the PuTTy client.
While both SSH and SSL help you create encrypted connections between two devices, the key difference is that SSH also lets you issue commands on the device you connect to.
It’s the difference between the average user connecting to an encrypted website, and the website admin connecting to the same website to make changes.
And yes, there’s the potential to do all manner of cool things with SSH, such as accessing your home media (music, videos), sharing photos, and more.
Alternative: set up a Raspberry Pi VPN server (the process uses OpenSSH).
Why Are Websites Blocking VPN Services?
The reasons for rampant VPN blocking nowadays are varied, though not all of them make sense. Here are some of the more common ones.
Due to Licensing Restrictions
Ever looked up how to bypass Netflix’s VPN ban? Then you might have wondered: “what do these sites even have to gain from blocking VPNs?”
The short answer is nothing, really. The long answer is that many streaming services have to honor licensing contracts for their shows.
For example, NBCUniversal may sell the rights to broadcast “The Office” to a local TV station. Until that contract expires, Netflix and other streaming sites need to geo-block the show in the region.
To get around such restrictions, people need to use a VPN (or Virtual Private Network) to change their IP address. This lets them spoof their virtual location and access any shows as if they were physically located somewhere else entirely.
Now, this spells trouble for streaming services that want to keep getting licensing deals. As a result, they use various methods to block VPN usage.
These include IP-blocking and port blocking, as well as using cookies, GPS data or deep packet inspection (DPI) to detect VPN traffic.
As an Anti-Fraud Measure
Financial institutions (such as banks or payment processors like PayPal) may resort to VPN blocking to prevent money laundering and similar crimes.
Alternatively, your home banking site may block foreign IP addresses as a security measure. These may include IP addresses used by your VPN provider as well.
After all, why would anyone outside the country want to access a local bank account? (Hint: it’s for accessing your funds while traveling abroad).
We don’t exactly recommend trying to bypass VPN blocks on such sites, as that may get you locked out of your account entirely.
If you understand the risk but still want to continue, we recommend a VPN service that provides dedicated IP addresses in your jurisdiction.
That way you won’t share the same IP address with any other user, thus increasing your chances of bypassing VPN detection.
Need a quick recommendation? Well, NordVPN is a reliable VPN choice that offers dedicated IPs in the US, Canada, Japan, the UK, the Netherlands, France, and Germany.
The Great Firewall of China is the most infamous example of a country-wide firewall that also acts as a VPN blocker. Even VPN websites are banned within the country’s borders, making it more difficult for people to access the free Internet.
Naturally, China isn’t the only country to limit VPN use. Russia, Turkey, Iran, the UAE, and several others either heavily restrict the technology, or make it completely illegal.
Why Do Schools Block VPN Traffic?
Schools block VPN connections for a few specific reasons:
- To prevent students from torrenting on their networks (both saving bandwidth and avoiding lawsuits in the process)
- So they can monitor your Internet connection
- To “boost productivity” by blocking social media, streaming platforms, and other distractions
You could make a case for VPN blocking as a bandwidth / cost-saving measure. But otherwise, any organizations that block VPNs to spy on students’ browsing activity or cut into their leisure time are doing themselves a disservice.
Of course, if you use school-provided laptops or tablets, then it makes more sense to not allow VPN apps or other third-party programs.
Can I Use a VPN to Bypass School Blocks?
Absolutely! Any quality VPN service will let you bypass firewalls at school or at work and unblock social media, YouTube, and various streaming services.
Is There a Free VPN Not Blocked by School or Work?
Free VPNs are easily blocked by many institutions, including schools and workplaces.
That’s because they have few servers (thus fewer IPs), usually lack obfuscation, or are poorly configured.
Free VPN IPs are also easy to obtain by IP-aggregating services. That’s why you never see free VPNs that work with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and other streaming sites.
If you need a temporary VPN solution, you can always try the best VPNs for school risk-free for 30 days. Take advantage of VPN service providers’ money-back plans and see if they can bypass VPN blocks at school.
Can I Open Blocked Websites without a VPN?
If you find that your VPN has been blocked, you can try out one of the methods we described above, such as:
- Switching to a mobile connection
- Using the Tor browser
- Trying Shadowsocks, STunnel, or PuTTy
This is less effective, but you can also change the DNS settings on your device or try a smart DNS service. In fact, top providers like NordVPN even incorporate smart DNS features into their apps to get around streaming website VPN blocks.
5 Best VPNs to Bypass VPN Blocks
Is your VPN blocked on your network? Then it might be worth testing out a different provider. Here are some of the best VPNs for bypassing blocks of any kind.
NordVPN comes with an impressive network of over 5,400+ ultra-fast servers and 60 countries to choose from. This gives you plenty of options to bypass IP blocks on your network.
More importantly, NordVPN has obfuscated VPN servers so you can stay under the radar. Keep in mind these only work over OpenVPN TCP, so expect slightly slower speeds than usual.
Just looking to avoid VPN blocks on Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and other streaming sites?
Then NordVPN has got you covered with their improved SmartPlay feature. It combines the best of smart DNS and VPN technology to make your VPN undetectable when streaming.
What’s more, NordVPN includes an advanced Threat Protection feature. It blocks ads and harmful trackers, filters malware and phishing sites, and even scans .exe files for malware on Windows and Mac.
Since some website VPN blocks are tracker-based, this can help you get around some of the sneakier VPN filters.
And as mentioned throughout the article, you can always get a dedicated IP to evade even the strictest VPN blocks.
Their apps are clean and intuitive and available on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux. All NordVPN subscriptions are backed by a generous 30-day money-back plan, so you can try them out risk-free. It also supports anonymous payments.
- Thousands of lightning-fast and well-optimized servers
- Unblocks all the major streaming sites
- Fully supports Torrenting and P2P
- Strict no-logs policy and RAM-disk servers
- Ad blocker and malware protection features
- Robust security features and military-grade encryption to protect you from DDoS attacks and other online threats
- 24/7 live chat support
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Only 6 simultaneous connections
- No free trial
Surfshark offers 3,200+ high-speed servers in a whopping 100 countries. You’ll have no trouble finding a local VPN server to bypass blocks on all manner of services.
You also get the aptly-named Camouflage Mode that acts as obfuscation to hide your VPN activity. Couple that with NoBorders mode which automatically detects network restrictions and recommends the best server for the job.
The VPN can unblock most geo-restricted services out there, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and more.
For stubborn VPN blocks on mobile, you can use Surfshark’s GPS spoofing on Android. As you may have guessed, this provides phone apps and VPN filters with fake GPS data to better hide your location.
There’s also CleanWeb which gets rid of annoying ads, trackers, and various online threats. And while they don’t offer dedicated IPs at the moment, their support page mentions that it’s on their product roadmap.
The Surfshark app is easy to use, and is available on all major operating systems, from Windows to Linux and mobile. Naturally, the provider comes with a robust 30-day money-back plan if you want to explore other options.
- A very affordable VPN provider
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Ad-blocking feature
- Unblocks streaming platforms
- Ad blocker and malware protection features
- A fast and light WireGuard protocol
- Allows split-tunneling and has a multi-hop VPN feature
- No-log policy and robust security features
- GPS spoofing on Android devices
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- No free version
- Does not allow P2P seeding
3. Atlas VPN
Atlas VPN provides 750+ servers in 45 locations around the world. And, it’s one of the few providers to bypass VPN blocks that also has a free plan. Note that it’s fairly limited, with a 5 GB/month data cap.
The free locations include Amsterdam in the Netherlands, as well as Los Angeles and New York in the US. The latter two are streaming-friendly, so you can unblock some of the more popular streaming options.
Of course, we recommend trying out their premium plans. Not only do you gain access to more streaming locations, but you get unlimited data, higher speeds, and access to SafeSwap.
SafeSwap is primarily a privacy feature that rotates your IP with every network request. Of course, this can also help you evade IP-based VPN blocks in some cases.
Next, you have the useful SafeBrowse, which is pretty self-explanatory. It blocks trackers and malicious domains to keep you safe at all times. While Atlas VPN works on all popular devices, SafeBrowse isn’t available for Linux yet.
As always, the provider has a 30-day refund policy in place, so you can test their apps against any blocks with no risks.
- Very affordable plans and it has a free version
- Fast Speeds
- Helpful against an ISP throttling your connection
- Unlimited device support
- WireGuard protocol, DNS leak protection, and strong security features
- Unblocks streaming services
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Limited Linux app
- Based in the US
- Not so many servers
PrivateVPN comes with a more modest network of 200+ servers in 63 countries. However, don’t let that fool you – as it’s still one of the best VPNs when it comes to bypassing blocks.
It’s one of the few providers that still work in China, all thanks to its Stealth VPN mode. It uses the Shadowsocks proxy to evade blocks, and you can use it anywhere with heavy censorship.
It supports the industry-standard OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard protocols, but also L2TP/IPSec, which has been largely dropped by other providers. If nothing else, it should give you an extra protocol option to try against VPN blocking mechanisms.
The VPN works surprisingly great with streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and others. We had no trouble unblocking all the popular options and getting decent speeds with high-quality video.
What’s interesting to note is that PrivateVPN offers free dynamic dedicated IPs in several locations. These are randomly assigned when using OpenVPN UDP on port 1194.
PrivateVPN works on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, and routers. And as always, you get a 30-day money-back guarantee for all their plans.
- Supports P2P traffic and allows port forwarding
- Unlimited bandwidth and great speeds
- Unblocks most streaming platforms
- Zero-logging policy
- Free Static IP servers
- A fast and light WireGuard protocol
- 10 simultaneous connections
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Not as many servers as other VPN providers
- No split-tunneling
ExpressVPN is one of the top VPNs for bypassing blocks and for good reason. First off, the service boasts 3,000+ lightning-fast servers in 94 countries.
It works in most censorship-heavy countries because it has built-in obfuscation on all its servers. Keep your activity a secret from even the strictest filters out there.
The VPN has no trouble unblocking most (if not all) streaming services. Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, Hulu, you name it. Naturally, you get top speeds to watch HD and 4K videos as well.
It also has a built-in Threat Manager to block online trackers and malicious sites. Works wonders against browser-based detection methods.
We really enjoy the simplicity of ExpressVPN’s apps (available on all platforms). In just one click or tap, your traffic is secured and masked against any VPN blocks.
Finally, you get the usual 30-day money-back guarantee no matter which plan you choose.
- Works with streaming
- Supports torrenting
- No-logs policy
- TrustedServer technology with RAM-only servers
- Premium security features
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Expensive subscription plans
- Only 5 simultaneous connections
Bypassing VPN Blocks – The Bottom Line
While there are plenty of ways to limit VPN use, you have just as many tools to get around them. Whether it’s changing servers, ports, or protocols, getting a dedicated IP, connecting to stealth servers, or using third-party obfuscation methods to mask VPN traffic.
How do you intend to make your VPN undetectable? Do you know of any other methods that can reliably bypass VPN blocks? Share your thoughts in the comments!