Security, PKI, sys and network admins

How to unblock sites without using VPN

How to unblock sites without using VPN (Virtual Private Network) - editing "hosts" file

People find themselves not being able to access different blocked websites (like Facebook, Instagram, etc.). This is because of the restrictions their local network administrator has configured. Usually, corporate or public institutions reinforce this type of network restrictions in order to eliminate any distractions for their employees.

There is, however, a possibility to learn how to unblock sites without using VPN (Virtual Private Network). Let us begin.

  1. Search for “hosts”
  2. Open your Windows Explorer (Windows + E) and navigate to “C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc”. There, look for a file called “hosts”.

    How to unblock sites without using VPN (Virtual Private Network) - search for the "hosts" file

    How to unblock sites without using VPN (Virtual Private Network) – search for the “hosts” file

  3. Edit the “hosts” file
  4. Open/edit the “hosts” file. You can edit the file by right-clicking on the “hosts” file and choosing a text editor like Notepad or Notepad++, for example.

    How to unblock sites without using VPN (Virtual Private Network) - editing "hosts" file

    How to unblock sites without using VPN (Virtual Private Network) – editing “hosts” file

  5. Find the IP address of your blocked sites
  6. In order to unblock a certain website through the Windows “hosts” file, you will need to find the IP address (or addresses) for that domain.

    For example, if you want to unblock Facebook.com on your current network, continue following these steps:

    1. use a WHOIS IP lookup tool and get its IP address:
    2. How to unblock sites without using VPN (Virtual Private Network) – WHOIS IP lookup tool

    3. ping blocked address (domain):
    4. Sometimes, due to the network configuration, it’s not enough to just use the IP resulted in a WHOIS query. For this reason, it’s recommended that you also ping the blocked address (domain) and take a note of the resulted IP (which might be different from the one resulted using the WHOIS IP lookup tool).

      1. Press Win + R
      2. Type “cmd” and hit “Ok”
      3. How to unblock sites without using VPN (Virtual Private Network) - pressing Windows + R

        How to unblock sites without using VPN (Virtual Private Network) – pressing Windows + R

      4. Ping your blocked address (domain)
      5. Once CMD has opened, type the following command:
        ping facebook.com

        How to unblock sites without using VPN (Virtual Private Network) – pinging Facebook

        How to unblock sites without using VPN (Virtual Private Network) – pinging Facebook

  7. Add the resulted IPs to your “hosts” file
  8. Remember the resulted IP addresses from our WHOIS query and from pinging the blocked address? Well, now it’s time to add them both in the “hosts” file using the following format:

    IPspacedomain.tldspacewww.domain.tld

    Here’s how the final version of the “hosts” file and how it should look like:

    How to unblock sites without using VPN (Virtual Private Network) – Windows hosts file

    Once finished, save the “hosts” file (administrator rights might be required so if a window pops-up asking for admin rights, make sure you allow it).

  9. Clear cache
  10. Press Windows + R again, type cmd and hit OK. Now that the CMD window has opened, we need to type in the following command so we can the clear the browser’s cache:
    ipconfig /flushdns

    How to unblock sites without using VPN (Virtual Private Network) – clearing cache

  11. Restart your browser
  12. Restarting your computer’s browser was the final step for successfully unblocking a website address while using a different network than your personal one (from home, perhaps).

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