How To Unblock Instagram At A School?
What a great day!
First, it was Mystery Meat Pizza day in the school cafeteria, and now the guy next to you in chemistry class just made the biggest mess ever! That one is going on Instagram!
What the hell? “Couldn’t Refresh Feed”?
UGH! The school Wi-Fi network has Instagram blocked again!
Schools often block access to Instagram and similar sites due to worries about online bullying. They are also concerned about students having their attention diverted from their studies, or even lawsuits for allowing access to the questionable material that can often be found on the popular photo-sharing network.
In addition to schools, parents, businesses and even entire countries can block use of Instagram from their employees and citizens.
Reasons can range from concerns about the sharing of inappropriate materials and distracting workers from their tasks at hand, to the fear that citizens might get a glimpse of what life in democratic countries is really like.
I’ll leave it to the school officials, parents, HR departments and totalitarian governments of the world to debate the moral and legal aspects of blocking websites and services.
Instead, I’ll be sharing ways for you to get around the methods these sticklers for conformity use to attempt to block your free expression. (Was that too strong? It felt like I went a bit too strong there…)
While I probably won’t ever go out of my way to share any of the information included in this article with my own kids - at least not while they’re still attending school - it’s up to you to make the best call for yourself and your family.
How The ‘Powers That Be’ Block Instagram
While the techniques used to block access to a website or online service can vary, what they all come down to is one thing: whoever is in charge of the network your computer or device is connecting to has decided to control which parts of the internet that folks who connect to said network can access.
Most routers, be they home- or commercial-level equipment, offer the ability to control access to websites. Many of today’s routers offer an easy-to-use interface that allows blocking of websites and online services either by IP address or URL.
With just a few clicks of the mouse, any website can be instantly blocked.
There are a few ways to get around such blocking, and I’ll be sharing those methods with you. What I’ll show you should work for other websites that are regularly blocked by the powers that be, such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube and other popular websites.
Unblock Instagram with a Proxy Server
Site-blocking by domain name is easy to defeat by using a proxy server.
A proxy server is a computer that sits in the middle of an internet connection, taking requests for information from a client computer or device and sending it on to the intended destination, which, in this case, would be Instagram. It then receives the requested information and delivers it to the requestor.
Since the proxy server is not located at a blocked domain or IP address, it can grab the information from a blocked domain or IP address and deliver it to the client computer or device. The firewall that is blocking requests to certain websites doesn’t block a request to the proxy since it isn’t on the “bad domain” list.
While it should be pointed out that a proxy server can definitely slow down your internet connection, the speed should be sufficient to deliver photos and short videos, such as are found on Instagram.
It’s possible that a firewall may be set up to block certain proxy servers, so you might have to try a few of them before you find one that works. But, as a rule, you should have success in getting around the blocked addresses programmed into the firewall.
However, Instagram is an unusual case. While I had been led to believe by other postings on the web that you could access Instagram via almost any proxy server, I had no such luck. For most of my attempts to access the photo-sharing website, I was met with a blank screen.
However, I was able to find one proxy server that offered success. The connection was horribly slow, but I was able to access Instagram. The server was: “Proxy Server.” It could stop working tomorrow, so no guarantees.
Note: I was able to access other social networking sites that are sometimes blocked by schools, employers and governments, such as Facebook, Imgur, YouTube, Reddit and Google via a proxy server. So, if any of those sites are on your top 10 list, try a proxy server.
While proxy servers can be hit or miss when it comes to unblocking Instagram, they have the advantage of being able to be used in a browser on any computer, even on those where you are not allowed to install your own software, like those found at schools, libraries and in the workplace.
Unblock Instagram With Tor Browser
One especially handy way of unblocking a website is to use the Tor Browser. The Tor browser is a free browser built on the FIrefox browser platform that runs any internet connection through a series of relays networked around the globe.
When a Tor user requests a website, it routes the request to a relay where the website hasn’t been blocked. It has become a popular online-freedom tool, in use by freedom-minded individuals in numerous countries where the government censors their citizens’ internet connections.
To install the Tor Browser, visit the Tor website and download the installation file for your computer. (Versions of the Tor Browser are also available for iOS and Android devices in their respective app stores.)
Now, whenever you’d like to visit Instagram or another blocked website, simply load and run the Tor Browser, enter the URL of the blocked site and hit enter. The website should now load, and you should be able to browse it at your leisure.
Note: browsing websites via the Tor Browser will be slower than you’re used to with your daily driver browser. That’s because the connection is being routed through a series of networked virtual tunnels around the world. Anonymity takes time.
The Tor Browser also has the advantage of being small enough to fit on even the smallest USB flash drive, making it a perfect app to carry with you for use on computers where you may not be allowed to install apps. More about that later.
Unblock Instagram With a VPN
One of my favorite ways to fight internet oppression - be it governmental, academic or parental - is to access the web via a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
There are many fine VPN providers available these days, and they offer an excellent way to access blocked content. They also provide protection for all of your personal data due to the encryption used to hide user activity while using a VPN.
A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between you and a VPN provider’s servers. The encrypted tunnel protects your internet-browsing activity from prying eyes by encrypting it and blocking the ability to discover where the final destination is located on the web.
The VPN’s encrypted tunnel means that if a website like Instagram is blocked, you can still reach it because the blocking firewall can’t see where you’re connecting to.
There are numerous VPN providers around that can provide excellent service, and it seems to me as if I have tried them all. However, among all the VPNs I’ve tried, 3 stand out for ease of use, value and performance.
ExpressVPN (full review here) offers an easy-to-use app that provides fast connections. It’s the most reliable VPN I’ve ever used. I’ve used it to get around internet restrictions laid down by communist governments, so I’m fairly confident it can help you outwit your school’s Network Administrator.
ExpressVPN customer support is second to none and is always available to help if you do run into issues. While what we’re attempting to accomplish in this article isn’t exactly a top-secret mission, it still reassures me that ExpressVPN provides high-grade encryption on all of its VPN connections.
ExpressVPN subscriptions are available for $12.95 per month, $59.95 for 6 months and $99.95 for 12 months. They offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, and accept most popular forms of payment, including PayPal, credit cards and Bitcoin.
#2 Private Internet Access VPN
Private Internet Access VPN (PIA) is also a reliable VPN provider that will help you get around the restrictions laid down by your parents, school or employer (full review here). PIA supplies great customer support, and their connections are reliable and speedy.
PIA subscriptions are available for $6.95 per month, $35.95 for 6 months and $39.95 per year. They offer a 7-day money-back guarantee and accept most popular forms of payment.
Last but not least, we have PureVPN, which is another favorite of mine (full review here). PureVPN offers solid connections and fast data speeds. The VPN service keeps no logs of user activity, so your online activity is completely anonymous.
PureVPN subscriptions are priced quite reasonably, which is important on a student budget. A 1-month subscription is $10.95, a 6-month subscription is $53.70 ($8.95 per month) and a 2-year subscription is $70.80 ($2.95 per month). PureVPN offers a 7-day money-back guarantee. Payment options include PayPal, credit cards and Bitcoin.
Create Your Own USB Internet Freedom Toolkit
Sure, installing a proxy server, the Tor Browser or even VPN software is a great solution if you’re using your personal computer, tablet or smartphone to access a restricted network.
But what about computers that are located in a school’s library, classroom or your workplace? What can you do then?
Create your own USB Internet Freedom Toolkit - that’s what.
The great thing about all the solutions we’ve discussed in this article is that, in most cases, they are all compact and can easily fit on even a 1GB USB flash drive.
The Tor browser is easily installed on a USB stick, as are some VPN applications. Once the apps are installed on the USB stick, you can keep it in your pocket, purse, backpack or keychain, ready for use when internet oppression rears its ugly head. (Was that a little over-the-top? It felt a bit over-the-top.)
Use Your Mobile Device’s Cellular Data Connection
Users who have a laptop, smartphone or tablet that boasts a cellular data connection can simply make use of their device’s 4G LTE connection to bypass the restrictive school, work or home connection completely.
The only drawback to this solution is if a device is on a data plan with a monthly data cap, users will need to stay aware of data usage. However, every major wireless provider (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint) now offers unlimited data plans to their customers. Be sure to check with your provider for their plans.
Users of non-cellular devices - such as an iPod touch, or Wi-Fi-only iPad or Android tablet - can use a VPN app or a Tor Browser on their device to unblock their activity. Both types of apps are available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
We’ve covered a lot in a short time. Hopefully, you’ve learned a bit about how to get around your school’s blocking of Instagram and other “sensitive” websites. Let’s go over the high points:
You Can Get Around Roadblocks
Schools, employers and even governments can easily block internet users from accessing certain websites and other online services. However, users can get around these roadblocks and still access blocked websites.
Use a Proxy Server
One way to access a blocked website is via a proxy server. Unfortunately, while this solution works for most websites, Instagram doesn’t seem to play well with most proxy servers.
Try Using the Tor Browser
The Tor Browser is another solution for cloaking your activities from a restrictive firewall, allowing users to visit blocked websites, including Instagram. The Tor Browser is free and works on the major computing platforms.
Use a VPN
A Virtual Private Network (VPN), like ExpressVPN, allows users to create an encrypted tunnel for their internet traffic, enabling them to connect to any website or online service they desire to.
Create Your Own Freedom Kit on a USB Stick
Users can create an Internet Freedom Kit on a USB stick in order to provide access to blocked websites on computers they have access to, but do not own.
Use Your Device’s 4G LTE Connection
In the case of mobile devices, those devices that also offer cellular network access can simply access blocked content via their 4G LTE connection, bypassing the restricted network completely.
By using the tools explained in this article, anyone can easily avoid internet censorship, whether it’s at school, at work or even at home. Surf wisely, my friends.