Note: If your school only blocks websites, but doesn’t block VPN, you may want to refer to The Best VPN for School guide.
In addition to blocking a large number of websites including Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, Imgur, Instagram, YouTube, Netflix and Hulu, college WiFi networks might also block VPN services that are known to lift Internet restrictions and unblock social media & entertainment websites.
VPN can be blocked using the following methods:
- VPN protocols use specific ports (OpenVPN: 1194) that are blocked by college firewall while HTTPS/HTTP ports are open
- School uses advanced filtering methods: Deep Packet Inspection (DPI)
Port Blocking method is the most common. Essentially, schools and colleges block all ports that are not necessary to browse the Internet which is why any application or service that uses a different port gets blocked. Encrypted traffic (HTTPS) uses port 443, unencrypted traffic (HTTP) uses port 80. For this reason port 443 and 80 are always open.
While default configurations of OpenVPN, IPsec/L2TP, PPTP do not use any of the above, SSTP is the only encryption protocol that works on port 443 by default. Accordingly, SSTP is the best protocol to use on networks that require port 443 for regular Internet browsing activities. Unlike PPTP, SSTP is also a very secure protocol, but it only works on Windows.
It’s also possible to forward OpenVPN via port 443, but not all VPN providers allow port forwarding. Most VPN providers that we listed below, nevertheless, have this feature in their desktop software (mobile devices do not support port forwarding).
Hence, if the school firewall only blocks ports that encryption protocols are using, choosing a VPN that offers SSTP protocol or allows OpenVPN port forwarding to port 443 (maybe port 80) is the best way to bypass the firewall and gain unrestricted Internet access.
The second method to block VPN is by using a highly advanced firewall that works similar to the Chinese Firewall. Essentially, the firewall can detect encryption tools using Deep Packet Inspection method. This means that OpenVPN port forwarding is not enough because the firewall can distinguish regular HTTPs traffic from OpenVPN traffic and selectively block the latter.
The only way to bypass DPI is to “hide” or “mask” encryption protocols. There multiple ways to accomplish this, the most common of which is sending OpenVPN over SSL and OpenVPN over SSH tunnels. Chameleon (VyprVPN), StealthVPN (TorGuard) and SoftEther (Hide.me) are custom encryption protocols specifically designed in a way that mask VPN traffic and make it undetectable to the firewall. Since all your traffic looks exactly like regular browsing (HTTPS), your school will not be able to tell that you are using VPN. More info on this in The Best VPN for China guide.
ANNUAL PRICE: 3.49 USD/mo
MONTHLY PRICE: 11.95 USD
ANNUAL PRICE: 3.33 USD/mo
MONTHLY PRICE: 6.95 USD
PIA is a leading no logs VPN provider with a massive amount of servers (over 3,000) that deliver excellent speeds and a very reliable service. PIA VPN does a great job protecting users’ privacy from surveillance, cyber attacks and other online threats. PIA network is protected behind NAT Firewall. Native apps offer a built-in Kill Switch and DNS leak protection features to secure connection from unexpected data leaks. PIA software also offers switching between UDP and TCP connections types, port forwarding to 443, 80, 110, 53, 8080, 9201. For faster streaming and torrenting, PIA allows using 128-bit or 256-bit encryption levels. To read a full PIA review click HERE.
ANNUAL PRICE: 2.50 USD/mo
MONTHLY PRICE: 12.95 USD
VyprVPN is a leading no logs VPN provider (independently audited) with over 700 ultra fast servers worldwide that support Google Fiber gigabit Internet connection (1,000Mbps). VyprVPN has done independent public audit by Leviathan Security to ensure that no Personally Identifiable Information is collected with respect to the use of the VyprVPN service. Unlike most VPN providers, VyprVPN doesn’t rely on 3rd party hosting – they own and manage their own VPN servers. VyprVPN infrastructure is amazingly fast offering ultra fast speeds and low ping times for high speed HD streaming. VyprVPN custom software is very reliable and protects users from various IP leaks. VyprVPN apps offer port forwarding to port 433 and ports 15000-20000. In addition, VyprVPN is an excellent provider to bypass even the strictest firewalls that block VPN connection. To read a full VyprVPN review click HERE.
ANNUAL PRICE: 4.49 USD/mo [promocode]
MONTHLY PRICE: 8.99 USD
Offering over 3,000 servers in 50 countries, all mainstream protocols and 5 simultaneous connections, TorGuard rightfully earned its place as a top VPN provider. No logs TorGuard offers a reliable, fast and secure VPN connection. Their SOCKS5 proxy is an excellent feature for high speed multimedia streaming and torrenting as it integrates with the main BitTorrent applications. TorGuard native apps offer advanced security features like Kill Switch to ensure no data leaks, even when the connection drops, and port forwarding to custom TCP/UDP ports. TorGuard’s StealthVPN protocol is an effective tool to bypass strict firewalls and VPN blocking. To read a full TorGuard review click HERE.
ANNUAL PRICE: 6.67 USD/mo
MONTHLY PRICE: 12.95 USD
ExpressVPN has one of the largest and fastest infrastructures with over 2,000 servers in 94 countries. Ultra fast ExpressVPN network supports gigabit Internet connection which makes it a perfect choice for ultra high speed streaming and torrenting. Besides, ExpressVPN aligns itself as one of the Internet’s leading advocates for net neutrality, for a democratic and open internet. Considering they have a no logs policy, accept Bitcoin and are located on the Caribbean Island, they are a great choice for privacy oriented customers who want to protect their data from surveillance, bypass censorship and access restricted materials. To read a full ExpressVPN review click HERE.
ANNUAL PRICE: 2.88 USD/mo
MONTHLY PRICE: 8.88 USD
No logs Trust.Zone is a Seychelles based VPN provider with user privacy as their foremost priority. Since Trust.Zone is a VPN service launched by one of the largest torrenting websites ExtraTorrent, it’s no wonder they are one of the best providers for p2p file sharing. Their apps have DNS, WebRTC leaks protection, Kill Switch and port-forwarding features. To read a full Trust.Zone review click HERE.
ANNUAL PRICE: 8.99 USD/mo
MONTHLY PRICE: 12.99 USD
Perfect Privacy is an ultra fast (gigabit servers) VPN provider with a heavy focus on advanced online security. Perfect Privacy integrated firewall enforces all traffic to be sent through secure tunnels thereby protecting their users from all known IP leaks when the app is running, it even prevents unencrypted online access after OS reboot. In addition, Perfect Privacy offers a unique Multi-Hop VPN feature that allows cascading over up to 4 OpenVPN servers at the same time along with SOCKS5 and Squid proxies. Perfect Privacy can bypass strict firewalls by obfuscating OpenVPN to look like normal HTTPS traffic with OpenVPN over SSH feature. For additional firewall penetration Perfect Privacy allows 5 custom port forwardings or 3 default random ports. What really separates them, though, is their ability to resolve .onion (TOR) addresses without the need for the Tor Browser. To read a full Perfect Privacy review click HERE.
ANNUAL PRICE: 4.50 EUR/mo
MONTHLY PRICE: 7 EUR
AirVPN is an Italian VPN provider created by privacy activists whose main goal is data protection. AirVPN has over 200 servers in 23 countries that have Perfect Forward Secrecy through Diffie-Hellman key exchange DHE. Essentially key negotiation is performed every 60 minutes to avoid data breach if the key is compromised. AirVPN offers OpenVPN dynamic port forwarding on 80 TCP/UDP, 443 TCP/UDP and 53 TCP/UDP. Additionally, AirVPN offers OpenVPN over SSH and OpenVPN over SSL that mask OpenVPN and make the use of encryption tools invisible to some of the most advanced firewalls. To read a full AirVPN review click HERE.
ANNUAL PRICE: 4.99 USD/mo
MONTHLY PRICE: 9.95 USD
Based in Malaysia, Hide.me is one the most secure and fastest VPN providers offering ultra fast VPN servers that provide gigabit Internet connection. Hide.Me VPN is extremely reliable and very fast which makes it a perfect choice for security oriented users who would like to enjoy uninterrupted streaming and browsing experience. Hide.Me offers incredibly convenient custom apps for all devices with a number of advanced security features for maximum protection. Hide.me is a no logs company that has custom software with a built-in protection against IP and data leaks, obfuscation tools to bypass strict firewalls, dynamic TCP/UDP port-forwarding (UPnP) and SOCKS5 proxy that is especially useful for torrenting. To read a full Hide.me review click HERE.
ANNUAL PRICE: 5.83 USD/mo
MONTHLY PRICE: 10 USD
StrongVPN is a no logs VPN provider offering OpenVPN, IPsec, PPTP and L2TP protocols along with OpenVPN obfuscation tools in order to bypass restrictions in countries like China, Iran, Syria. With almost 500 servers in 21 countries StrongVPN offers an impeccable speed for streaming Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Pandora, Amazon Video and many other services as well as torrenting. To read a full StrongVPN review click HERE.