The topic of ‘companies blocking websites’ came up recently, so I thought I’d post a couple of workarounds, along with a nifty site to make you look productive…
First, the disclaimer. If your workplace is blocking websites, it’s for a reason (probably related to employee productivity!) so you should think twice before employing these methods. Check your workplace policy on personal internet use and only surf in your own time if permitted.
That said, onto the workarounds! For simplicity, I’ll assume you can’t install software to help out (such as to access the Tor network) and that you don’t want to modify how your browser connects to the net.
You basically have two easy methods that might work.
1. Use the IP address instead of the site name
Every website can be accessed by its unique IP address. For example, http://www.trademe.co.nz is the same as http://22.214.171.124. Connecting this way may work if simple address filtering is being used (at least until the IP is also blocked!) To find a website IP number, visit selfseo.com or iwebtool.com.
2. Connect to the website via a ‘proxy’ site
This basically involves your browser requesting a website via a different site that forwards on the pages. The trick here is that the forwarding site (the proxy) doesn’t list the site name you want to visit in the address bar so again simple filtering will be bypassed. To get started, visit proxify.com or a1proxy.com and enter the site you want to visit there. If you need a different proxy site, try one from this mega list.
A proxy warning – I strongly recommend you DO NOT login to sites (eg webmail) or purchase with a credit card through sites via a proxy server. ALL your communication goes via the proxy server and you can’t be 100% sure that the passwords and credit card details won’t be logged and/or abused.
Look productive while surfing
Here’s a nifty trick that works well for news sites or blogs where you’re only interested in the text content. Visit workfriendly.net, enter a site name and you’ll have the website disguised in a window that looks like Microsoft Word! 😉 Note the mouse-over “Boss Key” button that switches to different content…
Finally, be careful out there. Remember, ALL your internet activity (websites visited, email sent) is able to be scanned, viewed and/or logged by your IT department. Use secure webmail (eg Gmail) for personal emails and browse sensibly.
A couple of other methods are worth adding to this post – both centring on the use of search engines which offer you the content you want, but via a different URL in the address bar.
– View the page via a search engine’s cache
When searching for a webpage, or even searching for a specific URL, you may be able to view a cached version of the page from the search engines database. For example, do a search at Google and look for the “Cached” link. This might be OK for sites that don’t update often, but may not be very useful for regularly changing sites, eg news. You’re relying on the fact that the search engines spider or bot has recently visited and indexed the page. Eg. here’s trademe.co.nz via Google’s cache.
– View the page via a translation service
There are several free webpage translation services on the net, including Google Translate and Altavista’s Babelfish. While Google doesn’t permit english to english translation, you could simply request a spanish to english translation which will simply render an english page in readable english (there may be minor changes however). You can do the same via Babelfish, but even better you can modify the resulting URL and force an english to english translation. Eg. trademe.co.nz via Google spanish to english, and trademe.co.nz via Babelfish english to english. Both of those links/URLs can be easily modified for a different page of your choosing.