How to Make a VPN Undetectable & Bypass Blockers in 2020
- Why Do VPNs Get Blocked?
- Types of VPN Blocks
- How to Bypass VPN Blocks
- Other Ways to Avoid VPN Blocks
- The Best VPNs for Bypassing VPN Blocks – Full Analysis (Updated July 2020)
- NordVPN – Best for Defeating VPN Blocks
- ExpressVPN – Best for Security Protocols
- Surfshark – Extra Privacy While Bypassing Blocks
VPNs work hard to keep you secure and anonymous every time you go online. But what happens when the thing that’s designed to keep you safe is detected and blocked itself? This is known as VPN blocking, and it’s a big problem.
Some ISPs, websites, online services, and even governments actively look for VPNs and block their connections. This can keep you from accessing content from around the world or even using your VPN for quick, anonymous browsing on public WiFi.
But with the right VPN service and a little know-how, you can get around these blocks without reducing your privacy or security. Keep reading to find out how VPNs are blocked and what you can do to stay undetectable.
- NordVPN – My #1 pick has everything you need to stay undetected, including obfuscated VPN servers, unlimited server switching, and unsurpassable security features.
- ExpressVPN – Exceptional speeds, a range of security protocols, and advanced privacy mean you can stay undetected from surveillance and streaming site proxies.
- Surfshark – Easily bypass VPN blocks with robust security and privacy features that are hard to find anywhere else. Unlimited connections mean you can stay undetected on all of your devices.
Why Do VPNs Get Blocked?
From copyright to censorship, there are many reasons why websites block VPNs. And if you’re in a region with tough digital surveillance, VPN blocking is even more intense.
In some areas, governments impose strict internet censorship. They may block websites that don’t support the culture and values of their country so that residents can’t digest info that’s contrary to a particular cause. Worse, these types of countries also often regulate the use of VPNs, blocking vendor sites and app stores so you can’t download these services.
The most obvious example of strict government censorship is China. Its Great Firewall restricts all kinds of sites, including Google, social media apps, YouTube, and even some news websites. China also blocks most VPNs so that you can’t get around its rigid control.
Other countries with digital restrictions include Turkey, the UAE, and Iran. Many social media and streaming sites are banned in these countries, as is the use of VPNs.
As you can imagine, finding a VPN that can somehow stay undetected from government censorship is hard. But don’t fret—I spent weeks researching hundreds of services and found three reliable options.
Streaming Location Restrictions
Ever tried to access the Netflix library of another country? You were most likely redirected right back to your own. That’s because streaming sites like Netflix lock down their content to specific regions. Netflix isn’t the only one, either. Many streaming sites only allow access in certain regions—BBC iPlayer, Hulu, HBO GO, and ITV Hub are just a few examples of platforms that employ these geo-restrictions.
While some sites are exclusive to a single area, such as Hulu in the US, other sites like Netflix offer different libraries depending on where you are. This is often due to broadcast and streaming licenses. So if you’re not in the country where access is allowed, you’re blocked from tuning in. And they don’t make it easy to get around these geoblocks; Netflix’s proxy error is one of the toughest to defeat.
Some internet service providers (ISPs) limit VPN use to stop copyright infringement. While many VPN users engage in P2P sharing to send and receive files like images or videos, others use torrenting for illegal piracy—they download copyrighted movies and songs.
Limiting VPN use blocks all VPN users, regardless of what they do online. But if your VPN can prevent your ISP from seeing that you’re using a VPN, the ISP can’t interfere with your online activities.
School and Workplace Restrictions
Most schools and workplaces introduce restrictions so you can’t access certain websites. This might include, for example, YouTube and social media sites. To stop you from accessing these sites, they may also block VPNs—at least while you’re connected to the institution’s WiFi network.
Types of VPN Blocks
There are many reasons why a VPN gets blocked. But have you ever wondered how exactly they’re blocked? Thankfully, the most common techniques are also the easiest to get around.
When you connect to your VPN, it masks your real IP address and displays the server’s IP address instead. This means that when head over to Netflix US while connected to a US server, Netflix will see a US IP address. Theoretically, this means any geo-restrictions should be easy to get around. But it’s not always as simple as that.
Many sites keep a log of identified VPN IP addresses. If you hop onto a server that uses an IP address on that list, you’re blocked straight away. This is the reason why many VPNs can’t access sites with tough geoblocks, like Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
Most VPNs use specific ports when they connect to the internet. These ports are identified by numbers and function as tunnels that internet traffic is routed through. For example, when you use the OpenVPN security protocol, your traffic is usually sent to port 1194.
It’s easy to block certain types of traffic when that traffic always uses the same port—all a website needs to do is monitor that port and block the traffic it doesn’t want. When that happens, you can’t get onto your favorite sites, VPN or not. Port blocking isn’t as common as IP blocking, but it’s still easy to get around by simply switching ports.
Deep Packet Inspection (DPI)
DPI is a highly advanced way of blocking VPN traffic. Rather than checking where the traffic comes from, sites look at the type of traffic instead.
When you use a VPN, your traffic is anonymous. But certain security protocols, like OpenVPN, use unique cryptography signatures that can be detected and blocked. OpenVPN is commonly blocked as most VPNs use this as their default protocol, which means sites block traffic because they think you’re using a VPN. Even though no one can actually see your traffic, they can see that it’s been encrypted.
This kind of VPN block is particularly tough to bypass. It’s a technique that the Great Firewall of China uses to restrict VPN use, and that’s one of the reasons why finding a VPN to use in China is difficult. But if you have a VPN that allows you to change security protocols, it’s possible.
How to Bypass VPN Blocks
Now that you know how and why VPNs get blocked, it’s time to think about how you can get around the restrictions. First of all, you need to make sure you choose a high-quality VPN that offers everything you need—I’ve rounded up my top recommendations of undetectable VPNs later in this article. There are a number of techniques you can try with your chosen VPN.
Obfuscated servers are advanced features that usually only come with leading VPNs. To understand how they work, first think about your standard VPN connection: When you connect to a VPN server, anyone who sees your connection—including your ISP, government surveillance agencies, and other third parties—can see that you’re using a VPN. These viewers can’t see your actual traffic, but they can see a signature that indicates VPN usage.
An obfuscated server hides your VPN traffic altogether. It scrambles your data to make your VPN traffic look like any other internet traffic, removing identifying metadata so anyone watching will think you’re just a regular internet user.
These servers add another layer of anonymity, so your browser traffic and VPN traffic are completely hidden simultaneously. Since your VPN appears as normal traffic, it makes it easier to bypass VPN restrictions. This feature is ideal for places with tough digital censorship, like China, where most VPNs are completely banned.
Obfuscated servers also scan for open ports to send your traffic through, instead of always using the same one, which significantly reduces the risk of you being detected. It’s unlikely there’s someone watching every possible port to potentially block VPN traffic. And it’s even less likely that your traffic will be blocked using obfuscated VPN servers since no one even knows you’re using a VPN.
Dedicated IP Addresses
Dedicated IP addresses are another great feature to have, and it’s something you should look for in a VPN if you’re worried about being detected. Usually, you can purchase dedicated IP addresses on top of your monthly VPN subscription.
VPNs tend to use shared IP addresses. This means that when you connect to a server and obtain an IP address, all the other users on that server will also have that same IP address. All it takes is multiple people with the same IP address accessing a platform like Netflix to make it easier for the service to spot the VPN usage. All Netflix needs to do then is block that IP address.
A dedicated IP address helps you get around this issue by assigning you a unique IP address that you don’t share with anyone else. So even though you’re using a VPN, Netflix will only see you with that IP address, no one else. As you’re not sharing that identifier with anyone else, the sites you visit are more likely to think you’re just a regular user accessing the internet from your device in your home country—and that means you won’t get blocked.
Sometimes you can solve VPN blocking by simply switching to another server in the same country. It’s not uncommon for servers to be blacklisted, but if a VPN has a large server network, you can just try disconnecting and connecting to another. Most leading VPNs offer regular IP refreshing, too, so sites like Netflix can’t possibly keep up with all the new IP addresses.
It’s important to choose a VPN with a higher server count so you have less of a chance of getting blocked, but you also need a VPN that offers unlimited server switching, too. That way, you’re free to connect to as many different servers as you like.
With ports being monitored, sometimes all it takes to avoid detection is to switch ports. You can find VPNs that already do this for you—many scan ports automatically when you connect so that you can evade blocks. However, you can manually change ports, too. These are the best ports to switch to:
- Port 443: Unencrypted traffic comes to this port to be sent to a secure version of a website. For example, if you’re shopping online and about to check out and enter your credit card details, you’ll be sent to the HTTPs site. It keeps your personal details and banking information safe from being leaked. It’s a good idea to change to this port since it’s less likely to be blocked as all normal secure website traffic is routed through here.
- Port 80: This port is also used for encrypted traffic (HTTPs). It secures all HTTPs sites, so it’s rarely blocked.
If your VPN allows it, you can also use the Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP) protocol. Unlike OpenVPN that uses port 1194, the SSTP protocol uses port 443 by default. Since this port secures all website traffic, it lets you avoid detection as your traffic is unlikely to be blocked. There are other security protocols you can use, too, which we’ll look at next.
Change Security Protocols
Most VPNs offer a variety of security protocols, so it’s not always easy to know which one to use. In most cases, I’d recommend OpenVPN as it’s the most modern protocol and comes with speed and security in one. However, if avoiding detection and blocks is your main concern, switching to other security protocols can help. Many blocking algorithms check for OpenVPN traffic, which makes it harder to evade blocks.
The protocol you should use depends on your chosen VPN and what it offers, as well as your internet needs. You need to know what to expect from each one because in most cases, you’ll compromise somewhere on either speed or security. For instance, if you’re just looking to get onto a geoblocked streaming site, you’ll want faster speeds. But if you want to secure your online traffic and share anonymous files, you might be less bothered about speed and want stronger security features.
These are two different protocols that are combined. Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) doesn’t offer much in terms of security, but it has decent speeds. So it’s paired with Internet Protocol Security (IPSec) to fully encrypt your traffic and shield you from any leaks. However, the extra security slows you down somewhat, so you’d be better choosing this protocol if you’re more concerned about detection than speed.
Internet Key Exchange v2 (IKEv2) uses IPSec’s level of security and has fast, reliable speeds. It’s a good choice for mobile devices as it has the ability to reconnect you if you temporarily lose your internet connection. However, it can be tricky to set up, and it’s only compatible with a limited number of devices.
As we’ve seen, SSTP is a strong choice for getting around VPN blocks. It uses port 443 alongside all other secure internet traffic, so it’s highly secure. However, it’s only available on Windows devices.
WireGuard is a fairly new security protocol that uses OpenVPN’s security with IKEv2’s speeds. It’s a great security option, but only a few VPNs offer it right now, like CyberGhost. It’s also only available on Linux devices.
This is the most dated protocol, and I wouldn’t recommend using it unless you absolutely have to. It offers high speeds, but it lacks decent security, so you’re at high risk of leaks and exposure to anyone watching you—risky if you’re somewhere with strict digital censorship.
Some VPNs offer their own security protocols, too. These are usually reliable for bypassing geoblocks and come with high speed and security, so make sure you check these out when you’re deciding which protocol to choose. Want to know more? Check out our security protocols quick guide.
Switch to Mobile Data
If you’re in the workplace or at school, you can avoid most VPN blocks by simply disconnecting from the WiFi and switching to your mobile data. The restrictions in place are usually just limited to WiFi. Remember, though, unless you have an unlimited data allowance, activities like streaming and gaming can quickly eat away at your data.
Other Ways to Avoid VPN Blocks
Does your VPN not offer obfuscated servers? If you’re familiar with VPNs or are a more tech-savvy user, you can try other advanced methods for avoiding VPN blocks.
Tor, also known as The Onion Router, is a free, open-source software that lets you surf the web anonymously. Your traffic enters the Tor network through an entry point, where it’s then sent through a number of random servers or nodes, before it reaches its final destination.
It’s called The Onion Router because your traffic is wrapped in layers of encryption to keep it anonymous. Layers of encryption are removed as your traffic moves through each node in the network so it can be identified at the exit point.
On its own, however, the Tor browser isn’t completely secure. Your IP address can still be identified at the entry and exit nodes, which are heavily monitored by surveillance agencies and hackers to detect, block, and intercept traffic. Your IP address also means your exact location can be found at these points, too.
You can find VPNs that are compatible with the Tor Browser, though. Look for a VPN that uses VPN Over Tor, which means you connect to the Tor network first and then a VPN server. This adds another layer of anonymity and privacy, as your data is completely encrypted while you’re browsing—even at the entry and exit nodes. Since your traffic and IP address can’t be identified, it’s harder to block you.
SSH tunneling is an advanced way of encrypting your traffic and bypassing blocks by sending your data undetected through filtering services. You can create an SSH tunnel by using local port forwarding. This means connecting your current device to another device elsewhere to bypass a block.
Let’s say, for example, that an online shopping website is blocked at your workplace or school. You can create an SSH tunnel to connect your work laptop to your computer at home. This fires up a new browser using a different port, like port 80, to go onto the online shopping website. Your encrypted data is sent to your home computer, but when it reaches its destination there, it’s unencrypted.
This method is used in a host of different applications, including sending and receiving files via FTP, so it’s rarely blocked. But SSH tunneling does come with slower speeds, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re trying to stream.
It works on the reverse, too. This is called remote port forwarding, where you can access servers on your work computer from your home network, for example.
SSL/TLS tunnels are similar to SSH tunnels in that they’re encrypted. SSL/TLS tunnels are used for encrypted HTTPs online traffic or anything that deals with private data, like on your online banking website when you’re transferring money.
Most VPNs offer this feature by default, so you can use it with your VPN. Any prying eyes monitoring port 443 will find it hard to identify whether you’re coming through as regular HTTPs traffic or VPN traffic, so you’re less likely to be blocked.
If your VPN doesn’t offer this software, you can download it yourself. But it can be time-consuming to set up.
SOCKS5 Proxy (Shadowsocks)
The SOCKS5 Proxy works by using the Socket Secure 5 protocol to transfer data using a proxy server. SOCKS also adds a layer of authentication that ensures that only the intended user can access the proxy. This makes it a very effective method of anonymizing and sending traffic—perfect for sharing files via P2P.
The proxy uses remote servers to help you bypass blocks, especially in censorship-heavy countries like China. Here’s how it works: Imagine that your normal IP address is 1234. When your traffic is sent through the proxy server, you’re given a new IP address, which might be 5678. If you’re in China trying to get onto Google, all Google sees is your 5678 IP address, not your actual device IP address. This lets you bypass any blocks.
One thing to be aware of, though, is that a proxy isn’t completely secure. While it uses authentication, it doesn’t wrap your data in encryption like a VPN does. You can find VPNs that support SOCKS5 connections so you can combine them for maximum security and restriction-free access.
The Best VPNs for Bypassing VPN Blocks – Full Analysis (Updated July 2020)
To make sure your VPN is undetectable to websites and services looking for it, you need to choose a high-quality provider. A service that offers advanced features like obfuscated VPN servers, various security protocols, and a large network of IP addresses isn’t always easy to find. But without these features, you risk being detected and blocked.
After lots of research and testing, I’ve rounded up the three best undetectable VPNs so you can continue to browse, stream, and torrent without worry of blocks.
- 5,400+ servers worldwide and regular IP refreshing
- Obfuscated, double VPN, and Onion Over VPN servers
- Variety of security protocols for mobile and desktop apps
- Dedicated IP addresses and SOCKS5 proxies available
- Works in restricted locations, including China
- Works with: Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Showtime, Hulu, HBO GO
- Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Linux, browsers, routers
NordVPN is my top choice for bypassing VPN blocks as its anonymity tools came out on top in every test I ran. It has proven abilities in flying past blocks, plus it offers fast speeds, compatibility with all major platforms, and incredible ease of use.
NordVPN has high-performance obfuscated servers that hide your VPN use from the firewalls, blocking algorithms, and anti-VPN programs used by Netflix and other streaming services, ISPs, and even governments. I noticed that obfuscated servers become available when the OpenVPN protocol is active.
When our operatives in China and Turkey tested these servers, they found they could select from 14 different locations or let the app find the best server based on speed. Their tests proved that these servers could get around the toughest of restrictions as they could access Facebook, Netflix, Google, and other commonly blocked services.
Other available VPN protocols include IKEv2/IPSec and NordLynx, which uses the WireGuard protocol. During our tests, we were able to easily switch protocols in the app settings. However, we found that NordLynx can only be used on Linux devices, so keep this in mind.
NordVPN protects your data with AES 256-bit encryption so you’re completely anonymous while you’re online. There’s also a Double VPN feature that encrypts your traffic twice, sending it through two different servers. I tried it out and was able to access Hulu, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer, but a speed test showed the extra protection slowed my connection.
|Connection||Ping||Download Speed||Upload Speed|
|Non-VPN connection (US server)||18 ms||31.92 Mbps||11.80 Mbps|
|VPN connection using Quick Connect (US server)||27 ms||28.03 Mbps||8.37 Mbps|
|VPN connection using Double VPN (US and Canada servers)||116 ms||10.52 Mbps||11.13 Mbps|
The reduced speed didn’t affect my picture much, but my advice is to only use this feature if connecting to a regular server doesn’t work.
This VPN’s network is massive at 5,400+ servers in 59 countries. It also refreshes its IP addresses regularly, so blacklisted IPs don’t stay around long. This process must work, because we tested 30 servers from the US, the UK, Australia, Germany, France, and Malaysia with multiple Netflix libraries, and we weren’t blocked once. If you need it, you can purchase a dedicated IP address, too.
Other available options for sneaking around VPN blocks include Onion Over VPN servers for use with Tor and SOCKs5 proxies for improved speeds and authentication when sending and sharing files.
Want to know more? Explore our NordVPN review to see the full results of our research and testing.
- 3,000+ super-fast servers in 94 countries
- Obfuscated servers and a range of security protocols
- Compatible with Tor
- DNS leak protection
- Works with: Hulu, Crunchyroll, ESPN, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hotstar, Disney+
- Compatible with: iOS, macOS, Linux, Android, Windows, Chromebook, routers
ExpressVPN is a high-speed VPN that comes with military-grade encryption and security measures. I’ve tested it for weeks and found that it’s easy to use, has reliable and super-fast connections, and guarantees access to sites with the toughest geoblocks, even if you’re in China or Turkey.
We decided to put this so-called unblockable VPN to the test by trying to access Netflix USA, BBC iPlayer, and DAZN from the Netherlands, India, New Zealand, and South Africa. In all cases, our operatives were able to bust through these notoriously strict geoblocks to access each service. It was possible because ExpressVPN has lots of servers—3,000 servers across 94 countries. It also refreshes its IP addresses regularly, making it difficult for websites to maintain blacklists.
ExpressVPN has multiple security protocols, so it’s a great option if you want to modify your connection to ensure you’re undetectable. During our tests, we could choose from L2TP/IPSec, SSTP, and PPTP as alternatives to OpenVPN. OpenVPN is the default option, but it’s easily changeable through the settings area. We enjoyed exceptional speeds with each protocol, even the slower ones.
We wanted to know if ExpressVPN could defeat the Great Firewall of China, so we had agents in Shanghai, Taipei, and Guangzhou give it a try. They used the VPN’s obfuscated servers and were virtually invisible—Google, YouTube, Instagram, and other banned sites unlocked instantly.
No matter how you connect, ExpressVPN uses 256-bit AES encryption to shield your personal information. There’s also DNS leak protection to stop your traffic being leaked and compatibility with Tor for maximum anonymity.
Want to know more? Explore our ExpressVPN review to see the full results of our research and testing.
- Fast-growing network of 1,040+ servers
- Multiple security protocols, including SOCKS5
- Camouflage Mode and NoBorders to get around VPN blocking
- MultiHop feature and Tor compatibility
- Works with: Sky TV, HBO GO, HBO Now, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube
- Compatible with: Chrome, Firefox, iOS, macOS, Windows, Android, PlayStation
Surfshark is a fast-growing VPN that specializes in flying under the radar and remaining undetectable with its advanced privacy features. It has a modest server network, reliable connections, and an app that delivers on functionality and ease of use.
We were first drawn to the VPN’s Camouflage Mode, which is designed to mask your traffic just as obfuscated VPN servers do. An operative in the US under lockdown at their university tried to bypass the blocks the school has on some websites. It worked flawlessly, allowing him to access Netflix and download some torrents.
From there, we turned our sights on the NoBorders feature, which claims to help bypass censorship by unblocking VPN traffic. This time, we had agents in Turkey, China, and Iran test it. Again, we were impressed—it worked for each country, allowing the testers to access Netflix USA, BBC iPlayer, and Facebook. The only snag was that our Chinese operative had to switch to a different server when the first didn’t work.
You can easily change Surfshark’s security protocols in the app, and you can choose from OpenVPN TCP/UDP, IKEv2, and SOCKS5. The app automatically selects the best protocol for you, giving you a better online experience. But if you find yourself blocked, just try another.
Surfshark regularly adds to its network of 1,040+ servers in over 61 countries, and as with other leading services, it updates its IP addresses constantly so you’re rarely blocked from sites like Netflix. You also have unlimited server switches so you can move between servers and locations if you do get blocked.
Other benefits include static IP addresses at no extra charge, the SOCKs5 protocol to avoid detection while torrenting on P2P-friendly servers, and MultiHop server jumping to really hide your footprint. As with any other premium service, you’re also backed by military-grade encryption, leak protection, and an automatic kill switch.
Want to know more? Read our Surfshark review to see the full results of our research and testing.
❓ Are VPNs legal?
Despite what you may think, VPNs are actually legal in many countries. Most locations don’t place restrictions on using a VPN at all, but not every country is the same. China in particular has cracked down on VPN use in recent years, blocking nearly all VPN services. Other areas that restrict VPN use include Turkey and the UAE. You can read more about the legality of VPNs in our quick guide.
Regardless of whether using a VPN is allowed or not, using your VPN for illegal activities like downloading copyrighted movies and songs is considered criminal activity.
📱 Can I use a VPN to avoid blocks on my mobile?
Yes, absolutely. As long as you use a VPN that’s compatible with your mobile device (all the ones in my list are), you can easily bypass blocks on your mobile phones and tablets.
🚧 Can I use a free VPN to bypass VPN blocking?
There are plenty of free VPNs out there, but I’d always recommend a premium vendor over a free one. As you’d expect, free often means limited, especially in terms of security protocols.
Hardly any free VPNs can unblock sites like Netflix as they don’t refresh their IP addresses regularly enough. They also hold back on security measures, like kill switches, encryption levels, and no-logs policies, which could compromise your anonymity. It’s rare to see advanced features like obfuscated servers, choices of security protocols, and dedicated IP addresses with a free VPN, either. All of these things are important for bypassing VPN blocks.
Even as the world becomes more connected, you may find yourself unable to access more and more content due to geo-restrictions. The websites that control this content are working hard to block VPNs and restrict your access—as are some government agencies in certain countries. That’s why you need a VPN service that’s just as smart and resourceful.
I recommend NordVPN because its obfuscated servers, multiple security protocols, and Double VPN feature make it practically impossible to detect. But all of the VPNs on my list will help you maintain access to everything the internet has to offer, with no blocks.