How to bypass URL filtering

URL filtering is usually used in workplaces, schools and other institutions where free and open access to the web should be restricted. The best URL filtering software (opens in a new tab) is effective and simplifies this process.

However, there will be times when you will need to access restricted URLs for one reason or another. The good news is that you can easily bypass URL filtering with a little background knowledge. In this article, we describe exactly how to do this and what you need to be aware of during the process.

How to bypass URL filtering: preparation

Before you begin, make sure your computer has sufficient backup battery and is connected to a stable internet connection. Be prepared to download software (if possible) and make sure what you are doing is not illegal or against company policies.

We also suggest that you take some time to learn how to bypass URL filtering. If you have an hour or two to spare, it’s time to jump right in!

Step 1: Try using a VPN

If you can install and use a VPN, you should be able to easily bypass most URL filtering software and access websites wherever they are in the world. To get started, you’ll need to install a VPN, and there are plenty of free options on the market. If your employer’s system administrator has blocked software installations, you will need to try another method.

If you manage to install a VPN, you can simply set the location to another country to access the blocked content. This usually works because URL filtering is done at the country level and a VPN routes your traffic through an international server.

For example, if there is a blocked .com version of a website, you can set your VPN on Australia to access the Australian version instead.

Step 2: use a proxy

Proxies have been around for years and have long been a favorite of schoolchildren for accessing blocked websites. They can also be very useful for bypassing URL filtering.

Like VPNs, proxies route your browsing through a different server. They are typically application specific and work by changing your IP address, so it looks like you are in another region.

The downside is that proxies aren’t the safest way to bypass URL filtering. They don’t always use encryption and free proxies can place ads and collect user data. If you decide to use a proxy, be sure to use a reliable option.

Step 3: Access international versions with Google Translate

An innovative way to get around URL restrictions is to use Google Translate. Put simply, you can trick it into running it as a proxy server, routing your traffic to an international version of the website you want to see.

To get started, copy the URL you want to visit and paste it into the left window of the Google Translate tool. (You must use the version, not the one integrated into the Google search engine.)

Then, change the language in the right panel, hit the Translate button and click the generated link to visit the filtered website. This method doesn’t work for all sites, but it’s worth a try if you’re having trouble.

Step 4: Install the Tor browser

If you’re having trouble getting a VPN or proxy to work, the Tor (opens in a new tab) browser may be your only option. Allows anonymous browsing through the Tor network, routing your traffic through numerous servers to bypass URL filtering.

To get started, install the Tor browser. If possible, use it with a VPN for best results, even if this isn’t strictly necessary. It is completely free to install and allows you to browse the deep web alongside standard sites.

The downside is that you won’t be able to use Tor unless you are able to install new programs. It’s also slow, which can make it frustrating to use. However, it will work, and if you can install it, it will almost certainly allow you to bypass URL filters.

Step 5: Consider using an SSH tunnel

Using an SSH tunnel allows you to bypass blocked URLs in a similar way to VPNs. However, they can be expensive to set up, require more technical knowledge, and offer no real advantages over VPNs in this context.

However, you may prefer to use an SSH tunnel if you are tech savvy and already have an SSH server. To get started, you will need to connect to it remotely. Configure tunneling to route navigation traffic. This will allow you to log into websites as if you were in the same physical location as your SSH server. This way, you can access international versions of the filtered URLs.


While businesses, schools, and other institutions usually set up URL filtering for a good reason, there are times when you will want or need to bypass it to access specific websites. In this article, we have outlined several ways to do this.

Using a VPN is often the simplest option, but it’s not the only one. Proxies are versatile and beginner-friendly tools, and you may even be able to use Google Translate to bypass filters. Using the Tor browser or SSH tunneling requires a little more technical knowledge and should be a last resort for most people. However, they are both effective.

To learn more, read our guide to the best VPNs (opens in a new tab)the difference between a VPN and a proxy (opens in a new tab)and our list of best URL filtering software (opens in a new tab) on the market. You may also like to read why your organization should use URL filtering (opens in a new tab).

The techniques used in this article should never be used for illegal purposes or to access illegal content. They all offer legitimate ways to bypass URL filtering, but it’s important to be careful how you use them.