Wikipedia has become such a central resource of information on the web that it’s hard to imagine life without it. From looking up homework answers to finding information about a niche topic or settling arguments between friends, Wikipedia is the first place that many users look for information online. That is why it is such a problem when Wikipedia gets blocked.
If you live in a pro technology democratic country, it might surprise you to learn that parts or all of Wikipedia are blocked in some countries. Banning social media sites or partisan news sites is one thing, but blocking an online encyclopedia seems excessive even for very restrictive governments. Nonetheless, Wikipedia blocks continue to affect people around the world.
Fortunately, there is a way to unblock Wikipedia and to access its full site even where restrictions are most severe. This is achieved using a VPN. Read on to find out more about website blocking and to learn how to unblock Wikipedia from anywhere.
Where Is Wikipedia Blocked?
Wikipedia is blocked in more places that you might imagine. Primarily, the website is extensively blocked in China by the Great Firewall. China is planning to launch its own version of Wikipedia this year, which will include only state approved content. For this reason (as well as to restrict access to historical or cultural information which has been deemed damaging to the Chinese governments), it has been made intentionally difficult to access Wikipedia within China.
Another example of a country that has blocked pages on Wikipedia is Turkey. Since 2008, the Turkish government has blocked access to pages on Wikipedia which discuss the country’s relationship with Syrian militants as well as any other information that might be unflattering to the state and to the government. In 2017, they took it a step further, blocking all language editions of the site within Turkish borders.
Similar events have occurred in France (though to a much lesser extent), where in 2013 a disagreement between Wikipedia and the French intelligence service over the availability of information about military radio stations led to some articles on Wikipedia being blocked within the country.
Wikipedia can also end up being blocked due to errors made by automated software. In 2008, large portions of editing access Wikipedia were blocked in the United Kingdom after a page about a rock album was incorrectly flagged as containing child pornography. This lead to the page being blocked by ISPs and many people in the UK no longer being able to edit Wikipedia articles or add new content. Other countries that have blocked Wikipedia in part at some point include Iran, Italy, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, and Uzbekistan.
How Do Website Blocks Work?
You might be wondering how a government actually goes about blocking Wikipedia or other web pages. It is important to understand how these blocks work if you want to browse the internet freely. When a government decides to prevent people in their country from accessing a particular website or web page, they do not actually block the site themselves. Instead, the government sends a notice to all of the ISPs (internet service providers) that operate in their country, telling them that they should block the sites or pages in question. The ISPs are then legally obliged to prevent their customers from accessing these sites of pages.
This reality exists because virtually all internet traffic within a country is handled by the ISPs. When you sign up for internet access, you are essentially signing up for the right to use the network provided by the ISP. So when you type a web address into your browser, the request for that website is sent over your ISP’s network. The site receives your request and sends the data (i.e. the contents of that website) back to your device.
So when a block is ordered, your ISP has to prevent every one of their customers from accessing the particular site. They usually do this by either simply blocking the domain name or page URL, so when you try to go to the site you only see a blank page, or they redirect users to a different page which has a notice that the site has been blocked. Because all of the ISPs within a given country have to do this at the same time, when a site has been blocked you won’t be able to access it from any device or any internet connection in the country.
Beat Website Blocks With A VPN
When a site like Wikipedia is blocked in your country and but you still want to access it, you need a way to get around the block. Fortunately, it is possible to get around website blocks using a VPN. A VPN works by installing a piece of software onto the device that you are going to use to browse the internet. This software then encrypts all of the data that your device generates before it is sent over the internet. The encrypted data is sent a a server in a location of your choice, and once at the server the data is decrypted and sent on to its original destination.
This means that when you use a VPN, you can continue to browse the internet as normal. But there are two advantages to using a VPN: Firstly, the encryption means that no one else can see what sites you are accessing or what you are doing online – not even you ISP can track you. Secondly, and most importantly for the case of unblocking Wikipedia, is that all of your traffic is routed via the server instead of via your usual home network.
When you want to access a blocked website like Wikipedia, you simply use your VPN software to connect to a server in a country where Wikipedia is available – such as the US, Canada, or Sweden. Then all of your data will be routed via that server. Because the servers are located outside the region where the blocks are in place, you will be able to browse Wikipedia freely with no restrictions. You can use this same VPN method to get around other forms of government censorship and to unblock region locked content such as the BBC, Hotstar, or Sky Go. You can even use this to access VPN blocked networks.
How To Choose A VPN Provider
As you can see, a VPN is a highly useful tool both for getting around internet blocks and censorship, and for improving your online security and privacy. If you want to be able to unblock Wikipedia, then next you need to choose a VPN provider. Although it might be tempting to try a free VPN service in order to save some money, there are major security concerns with this free services as they often sell off user data and actually make their users less safe.
We recommend that you choose a reputable, paid VPN service which meets the following key requirements:
- Servers in many different countries so that you can easily get around website blocks by sending your data via a server in a country with more liberal internet access. It also helps if there are a large number of servers to choose from as you are more likely to find one that meets your needs.
- Fast connection speeds, as using a VPN will inevitably slow down your internet a small amount due to the extra step that the data is sent on. However, a good VPN with fast connections will be so speedy that you barely even notice that it’s there.
- Excellent security in order to keep your data safe from hackers and to protect your privacy from snoopers. You should look for a VPN that uses strong encryption and has a no logging policy so that you can be sure that your data won’t be shared.
- Software available for a variety of devices, because you can use your one VPN subscription to protect all of the devices that you own – as long as software is available for the from your VPN provider. This means you can protect your phone, laptop, tablet, and even your smart TV or games console all with one VPN subscription.
Our Top VPNs To Unblock Wikipedia
Taking all of these requirements into account, we came up with the following recommendations for VPNs that you can use to unblock Wikipedia:
1 – ExpressVPN – Best Overall
ExpressVPN is one of the top VPNs for all users, thanks to its strengths in the key areas of speed, security, and ease of use. When you want to unblock Wikipedia or another website you can connect to any one of the more than 1500 different servers in 94 different countries, so you’ll be able to get around blocks and region locks of all kinds. In fact, there is a whole page on the ExpressVPN site dedicated to information on how to unblock Wikipedia specifically: https://www.expressvpn.com/vpn-service/unblock-wikipedia
The connections used are super fast, earning the Express name, and the security is excellent too. The service uses strong 256-bit encryption to keep your data safe and has a strict no logging policy to protect your privacy, plus there are more security features available in the software like DNS leak protection, a kill switch, and an IP address checker. The software ca be installed on devices running Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and Android, plus some games consoles and smart TVs, and there are browser extensions available for the Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari browsers.
Read our full ExpressVPN review here.
2 – NordVPN – Best Flexibility
NordVPN is perfect for advanced VPN users who want the ability to customise their VPN connection to meet their particular needs. In terms of unblocking Wikipedia and other sites, there is an absolutely huge network of servers available that covers more than 4300 servers in 60 different countries. This means you can unblock Wikipedia or other sites easily, though there’s a guide on their website if you need some guidance.
While the connections speeds are plenty fast enough for regular browsing, streaming, and downloading, the true advantage of NordVPN lies in its specialist servers. There are regular VPN servers that have the strong 256-bit encryption you want, but if that’s not enough there are also double VPN servers in which your data is encrypted twice truly impenetrable security. Also on offer are servers built for other functions like torrenting, anti DDoS protection, obfuscated servers so you can use the service even on networks which block VPNs, dedicated IP, and more. Of course, there’s also a company wide no logging policy so none of your data will be saved. The software is available for devices running Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, Chrome OS, Android, or Windows Phone.
Read our full NordVPN review here.
Wikipedia is an essential part of the internet, but despite this it is still blocked in whole or in part by a surprising number of countries. If you live or are travelling somewhere where Wikipedia is blocked then you can use a VPN to route your internet traffic via another country in order to unblock the site. We’ve recommended a number of VPNs that are ideal for unblocking Wikipedia and letting you browse the internet without restrictions.
Have you experienced Wikipedia blocks? Do you use a VPN to get around blocks and censorship online? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.