Many schools enact a blanket ban on YouTube–which can actually interfere with education–leaving students and teachers alike searching for a way to unblock the popular streaming platform. If this describes your situation, read on; we’ve reviewed the top VPNs capable of blasting through school Wi-Fi restrictions to securely bypass the ban on YouTube, or any other site for that matter.
With more than 400 hours of video uploaded every minute and one billion hours of clips viewed every single day, YouTube‘s popularity is unquestionable. However, as one of the most infectiously entertaining ways of procrastinating out there, many academic institutions and workplaces restrict access to the platform (or block access to it altogether). These firewall blocks can be frustrating, especially considering the wide range of tutorials and educational resources available on YouTube.
Justified or not, call schools filtering YouTube what it is: a (relatively harmless) form of censorship. And when it comes to beating censorship online, there is no tool more useful than a VPN. Today, we’ll show you which VPNs are best for unblocking YouTube, walk you through the process of doing so from school or anywhere else, then wrap up with a cautionary tale against so-called “free VPNs”.
Our top VPN recommendations for YouTube
Each VPN has its own unique way of unblocking YouTube: some rely on massive server networks with tens of thousands of IP addresses to burn against IP blacklists, while other providers employ more novel approaches, including obfuscation, static IPs, and more. Regardless, each on of our recommended services has proven itself capable of blasting through the toughest school firewalls to restore access to your favorite YouTube streams.
Here, we present to you the top 5 VPNs to unblock YouTube at school (or anywhere else for that matter):
ExpressVPN, time and again, earns its reputation for being the fastest VPN service on the market. With a server network of 3,000+ nodes in 94 countries, you have a wide range of connection options. This will enable you to get virtually any IP address you want, as well as give you the option to choose the fastest available server. ExpressVPN is ideally suited for streaming videos on platforms like YouTube, with unlimited bandwidth and server switching. In addition, the service doesn’t use speed caps or throttle the connection, which will allow you to enjoy content without buffering delays or streaming errors. ExpressVPN is available on a wide range of devices including Windows, Mac, and Linux. This means you can enjoy Youtube on campus regardless of your PC’s operating system.
ExpressVPN uses military-grade 256-bit AES encryption, which keeps your true IP address and activity hidden behind an unbreakable veil of cryptography. Furthermore, the provider employs a strong no-logging policy covering everything from traffic to DNS requests and browsing history. This will ensure that your school doesn’t find out that you are using a VPN, even if they find a way to get the company on their side. Additional security features that will protect your connection include an automatic kill switch, that will shut down your internet if the connection is interrupted, plus an onboard DNS leak test. Hone in on the fastest available server with ExpressVPN’s built-in speed test, and take the guesswork out of accessing YouTube forever.
Read our full ExpressVPN review.
- Unblocks US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu and Amazon Prime
- Super fast servers
- Govt-level AES-256 encryption
- No personal information logs kept
- 24/7 Chat Support.
- High cost for month-to-month users.
NordVPN stands out for having one of the largest server networks on the market. With 5,800+ servers in 59 countries, you’ll be spoiled for choice when configuring your connection speed and IP address location. Even better is NordVPN’s array of specialty servers, tailored to functionalities like securing a dedicated IP address, obfuscation to hide the fact you’re using a VPN, and even multi-hop encryption for stubborn firewalls. And speaking of encryption, your data is protected behind unbreakable 256-bit AES cryptography. Backed by a comprehensive and independently audited no-logging policy, and you’ll never have to worry about covering your tracks online again.
NordVPN’s apps feature an attractive, intuitive user interface that bring the provider’s wealth of features together into a tidy package. Dedicated software is available on all major devices and operating systems, including Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, and Android. No matter where or how you prefer to binge-watch YouTube, NordVPN has got your back. They even offer 24/7 live support to help you reconnect when your school firewall proves too tricky to penetrate with default settings.
Read our full NordVPN review.
- Unblocks American Netflix
- Extensive server park of over 5,400 different servers
- Up to 6 simultaneous connections
- Retains no metadata of your browsing
- Great support (24/7 chat).
- Automatic server selection can be unreliable
- Refund processing can take up to 30 days.
CyberGhost is a supremely user-friendly provider that pulls zero punches in safeguarding your anonymity. Hate messing around in endless settings to get the results you want? Fire up CyberGhost, and pick from one of the six colorful preset profiles that appears. When unblocking YouTube in school, your best option is undoubtedly “Unblocking Streaming”, which automatically configures your VPN connection with the best settings to bypass firewalls and preserve your natural connection speed for seamless streams. Each profile can be further tweaked by manually toggling between settings such as “block online tracking”, “compress data”, and “extra speed”. CyberGhost allows you to connect up to 5 devices simultaneously, so you can stream Youtube content on your computer, smartphone, and even tablet.
While CyberGhost’s service is simple to use, the provider does not compromise on security. The service uses 256-bit AES encryption, which is the industry’s gold standard with more possible combinations than there are atoms in the known universe. Encryption protocols include OpenVPN’s UDP and TCP, both of which are secure but do not slow down your connection. In addition, CyberGhost employs an immaculate logging policy, which doesn’t even store your email address. With a server network of 6,000+ servers in 87 countries, you will have a massive range of connection options to choose from. CyberGhost’s service includes extra features like a connection guard and a kill switch, both of which will ensure that you are never unaware of an interrupted connection.
Read our full CyberGhost review.
- Unblocks US Netflix + BBC iPlayer
- Fast, constant speeds
- Apps for ALL devices
- Private: Strong no logs policy
- 45-days 'No-hassle' money back guarante.
- WebRTC leak detected
- Sometimes experiencing average speeds.
PrivateVPN, as implied by the name, is one of the most secure services in the industry. What’s more, the PrivateVPN team has explicitly stated that unblocking streaming services, including Netflix and YouTube, is an ongoing top priority for them. In our experience, they’ve made more than good on their word, with specially labeled servers tailored to getting past VPN blocks employed by major streaming sites. When it comes to piercing your school’s firewall, PrivateVPN sneaks you through with a spoofed IP and heavy 256-bit AES encryption around every packet of data you transmit. Additional features include a kill switch and DNS leak protection, so you are never browsing with an unencrypted connection.
If you’re a VPN newbie, PrivateVPN offers a unique free remote setup option, which removes any guesswork from installation and configuration. Regardless of your technical prowess, you’ll love streaming with zero limits on bandwidth, speed, or server switching, on basically any operating system you could want. With every subscription, you can connect 6 devices simultaneously, whether it’s a tablet, PC, or smartphone. While PrivateVPN’s server network is not as large as others, with around 150 servers in 60+ countries, it is surprisingly robust in dealing with whatever you throw at it, including school website filtering.
Read our full PrivateVPN review.
PureVPN consistently appears on our top VPN recommendation lists for its user-friendly service and unmatched utility. For starters, the provider has a network of 2,000+ servers in 140 countries, meaning you can get an IP address from virtually any location around the world. This is especially useful for accessing international content catalogues from major streaming services, though equally adept at punching through school firewalls to restore basic YouTube access. With unlimited server switches, speeds, and bandwidth, you’ll rarely experience slowdown or buffering caused by your VPN. You can even beat your throttling by your ISP with PureVPN’s anonymizing features, namely 256-bit AES encryption.
PureVPN also stands out for its range of privacy features. The service includes DDoS protection, app filtering, dedicated IP address, a NAT firewall, and antivirus software. In terms of cybersecurity, this is potentially the most complete set of features you will see on the market. In addition, PureVPN offers users special Ozone servers, which automatically activate a range of safety features design for more secure streaming and browsing. The no-logging policy further compliments overall security by ensuring that none of your information or activity logs are stored for the school, or even cybercriminals, to find. This makes PureVPN ideal for bypassing any firewalls, whether they are corporate or on campus.
Read our full PureVPN review.
How to unblock YouTube at school
If you’re not sure how to get started with a VPN, all you need to do is follow the simple steps below. The entire installation and setup will only take a few minutes, and you’ll be able to stream content on YouTube anonymously. Whether you are operating a smartphone, desktop, or any other device, the short guide below will get you started.
- First thing’s first: choose your VPN provider. We recommend you opt for one of the recommended VPN providers to increase your chances of bypassing tough firewalls. Furthermore, you’ll be able to use one of the deals available to our readers only. Once you pick the right subscription for you, sign up on the provider’s website. Find, download, and install the app suitable for your device and operating system. For example, if you are browsing from a Windows PC on campus, make sure the software you are downloading is compatible.
- Now that the app is on your device, launch it and sign in using your new account credentials. With most providers, the app will automatically connect to the fastest available server. For the purpose of unblocking YouTube at school, this could be exactly what you need. If, however, you want to get an IP address from a specific location or to utilize a specially configured server, you can select a node manually with just a few simple clicks. Give the app a few moments to connect. That’s basically it – you are ready to securely stream Youtube content.
- Before you get started binge watching, we strongly recommend that you verify your connection to make sure the VPN is working properly. Visit ipleak.net through your browser. This page runs an automatic IP address lookup, so all you need to do is give it a few moments to load. Once it does, see that the “country of origin” matches the IP address of your chosen location. If it doesn’t match, there may be an IP leak and you should contact your VPN provider’s customer support to resolve the issue. If it is working, you are good to go.
Can I use a free VPN to unblock YouTube?
If you’ve been doing research on VPN services, chances are you have come across the tempting ‘free VPN‘ offers already. While these services market themselves as equivalent to providers we have thus far mentioned, the reality is completely different.
For starters, free VPN services are known to have smaller server networks at their disposal. This means that you will be limited in IP addresses and their locations. In addition, a small server network means that your connection is inevitably going to be very slow. If you are looking to unblock Youtube by bypassing a tough firewall, the chances of a free VPN completing the task are very low.
Another major reason not to use a free VPN is the lack of security features. It’s quite simple – a free VPN provider still needs to make money somehow. Where they do not make a profit from subscribers they make up for with releasing private user information. This means that any interested third party could track down your logs and trace them back to your identity without trying too hard. Is it legal? Unfortunately, most users don’t look into the privacy policies too much, but free VPN services don’t typically use encryption on traffic and do not specify whether or not your information or logs will be re-distributed.
This is why we strongly suggest you don’t go for a free VPN if you’re looking for speed, security, and a reliable connection. For just a few dollars more, you can get a (much) better quality of service, plus peace of mind that your VPN isn’t actively destroying your privacy.
YouTube censorship and privacy
YouTube is available to users in most countries with few restrictions. Some exceptions include nations with harsher internet laws, including China, North Korea, and Iran. These blocks are usually associated with political or inappropriate content. When it comes to school campuses and offices, however, YouTube is often restricted (or blocked) for entirely different reasons.
Many organisations, schools, and universities block YouTube in order to preserve the internet for practical purposes. Put simply, this means that they would rather students and employees to use the local bandwidth for work. While the idea behind these blocks seems somewhat logical, it can be pretty frustrating if you spend all day at school and want to take a break and watch a video on YouTube, but cannot. This is why many students choose to use a VPN service. Unfortunately, YouTube is not the only service that is often blocked on school premises. Other major entertainment websites tend to be either blocked or restricted through firewalls, including Facebook, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.
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That’s about it – unblocking YouTube on campus should be fairly straightforward with the right VPN service. While the methods of filtering out websites like YouTube may vary depending on the school, our list of recommended VPNs have robust arrays of privacy features that should be equal to whatever task you throw at them. And, if you’re really stuck, they all offer great customer service lines to help you dial in the right settings. Regardless, using a VPN is just generally a smart idea in a world where your privacy becomes more precious with each passing day.
Have you had success penetrating your school’s firewall with a VPN to access streaming or social media sites? If so, did our guide help you to do so? Let us know your experiences in the comments below.
If you need a VPN for a short while when traveling for example, you can get our top ranked VPN free of charge. ExpressVPN includes a 30-day money-back guarantee. You will need to pay for the subscription, that’s a fact, but it allows full access for 30 days and then you cancel for a full refund. Their no-questions-asked cancellation policy lives up to its name.