How to Get Around Paywalls and Access Blocked Websites

Reading Time - 8 minutes
paywall

The digital marketplace has rapidly evolved over the past decade, and one increasingly prominent feature of the modern web is paywalls. These systems limit content access by requiring users to pay for them. With the prevalence of such barriers, getting around these paywalls has become something of a necessity for consumers of online information.

Fortunately, there are a couple of options available that can help bypass paywall restrictions without having to shell out hard-earned money. These tools give people more freedom to get the information they need without suffering at a hefty cost.

What Are Paywalls and Why Do They Exist?

Paywalls have become a common feature of many websites. A paywall is a website block that requires users to register and pay for premium content. Many digital publishers, such as online news sites like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Economist, use this system. It is also used on blogs that have been monetized through advertising.


So what exactly are paywalls, and why do they exist? 

What Are Paywalls?

Paywalls are a way for websites to charge people for paid content. They usually require the user to register first, after which they will be asked to provide payment information to gain full access to the website’s content. Once the payment information has been submitted, the user will be granted full access to the site’s content. 

The Benefits of Paywalls

One of the main benefits of paywalls is that they can generate revenue for websites through subscriptions or one-time payments. This allows sites to keep producing high-quality content without relying solely on ad revenues, which can sometimes be unreliable or insufficient.

It also gives websites more control over what content their visitors see since users who have paid for a subscription will likely be more engaged with the website’s content than those who only visit once in a while.

Additionally, paywalls can help reduce spam and other unwanted traffic from bots and malicious actors who might otherwise exploit free access points on the website.  

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The Downsides of Paywalls

Paywalls can make it difficult for some people to access certain kinds of content if they don’t have enough money or credit cards. Additionally, not all websites use paywalls responsibly; some may charge too much or offer too little in return for subscribers’ money. This can lead to dissatisfaction among users and hurt a website’s reputation over time.

Furthermore, paywalls may limit the reach of certain types of content if readers aren’t willing or able to pay for it.

Understanding Paywalls and How They Work

Paywalls have become increasingly popular as content publishers seek ways to monetize their work. But what exactly is a paywall, and how do they work?


A paywall is a digital barrier that prevents users from accessing content unless they subscribe. Depending on the publisher, you may be able to purchase a subscription for just one article or a set number of articles per month. There are five main types of paywalls.

Hard Paywall

A hard paywall completely blocks access to content if you don’t have a subscription. Publishers typically use this type of paywall to monetize their content as much as possible. The upside is that it offers complete control over the user experience, but the downside is that it could deter some readers from subscribing. 

Soft Paywall

A soft paywall doesn’t block access to all of a website’s content but limits how much you can see without subscribing. This type of paywall allows readers to get a taste of what’s behind the wall before deciding to subscribe.

The upside is that it encourages subscriptions by giving readers an idea of what they can expect from the publisher’s work, but the downside is that it may not provide enough incentive for people actually to subscribe in the end.

Metered Paywall

A metered paywall allows readers to access a certain number of articles for free every month before being prompted to subscribe. Publishers using this model can set the number of free articles that readers can access each month and the type of content that will be accessible without a subscription (e.g., breaking news vs. in-depth analysis).

This model allows readers to sample content before deciding whether or not they want to subscribe, making it attractive for those who are hesitant about committing to a subscription plan. 

Freemium Model

The freemium model is when a publisher offers some content for free while charging for other content. For example, some publications may offer basic news stories for free but charge for in-depth analysis or opinion pieces.

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This model is attractive because it allows readers to sample content before paying while allowing publishers to profit from their more valuable content. 

Patron Model

The patron model is when a publisher asks its readers for donations to access its content. It works similarly to crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter or GoFundMe—readers donate what they can afford and get open access to the publication’s content in return.

This model works best with publications with strong relationships with their readership—readers are more likely to donate if they feel connected to the publication and its mission.


How to Bypass Paywalls and Read Articles for Free?

Paywalls are a major annoyance when it comes to accessing web content. Paywalls can be a major barrier, whether you’re trying to read an article on the news or access research papers. Fortunately, there are a few ways to bypass these paywalls to continue reading the content you need without paying. 

The ‘Bypass Paywalls Clean’ Firefox Extension

If you use Mozilla Firefox as your browser, then the “Bypass Paywalls Clean” browser extension is one of the easiest and most reliable ways to get past paywall blocks. The extension automatically detects if a website has a paywall and allows users to bypass it with just one click.

It also works with academic journals and more traditional news sources, making it an ideal choice for students who need quick access to articles and research papers. 

The ‘Unpaywall’ Chrome Extension

Google Chrome users have their way of bypassing paywalls in the form of the “Unpaywall” extension. Like its Firefox counterpart, Unpaywall automatically detects when a page has been blocked by a paywall and allows users to bypass it with just one click.

unpaywall

It also includes additional features, such as an article search function that can help you find what you’re looking for without having to go through multiple pages of results. 

Searching For PDFs Of Articles

Another way to get around paywalls is by searching for PDF versions of articles online. Many websites will allow users to download PDF versions of articles they have published, so if you know the title of an article, try searching for it plus “pdf.” This should give you access to the same content without worrying about dealing with pesky paywalls.

Resetting Browser Cookies

Another option is resetting your browser cookies now and then to access blocked content than usual before being stopped again by the paywall. This is especially useful for those who frequently visit sites with restrictive policies on how many articles can be accessed at once without registering or paying for them first.

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Deleting The Paywall By Changing Source Code

Some websites include code that detects when someone tries to delete the page’s HTML source code to remove the page’s formatting and thus eliminate its associated restrictions (i.e., its paywall). If this happens, simply change the source code back for the page’s formatting—and thus its restrictions—to return again.

Stop Page From Loading Fully

One way of getting content online is by using browser extensions, such as Chrome’s “Stop Loading Already!” which allows you to stop a page from loading fully before it hits the paywall. This method will enable you to access some content before the page stops loading and asks for payment.

stop loading already

Look for Archive Sites

Another method of bypassing paywalls is searching for an archive site that stores copies of old websites. These sites may have saved versions of webpages that were available before they were locked behind a paywall. This method requires research, but it can be worth it if it gives you free access to valuable content.


Read-it-Later Tools

Read-it-later tools like Pocket or Instapaper can also help save articles for offline reading. These tools allow users to save articles even if they don’t have an active internet connection, meaning they can read them whenever they want without being blocked by a paywall.  

Convert Pages Into PDFs

Web pages can also be converted into PDFs, which allows for offline reading as well. Many free online tools allow users to convert webpages into PDFs with just a few clicks, making this an easy and effective way of accessing content without hitting the dreaded paywall. 

Free Trials

Finally, some websites offer free trials before requiring a paid subscription; however, it is essential not to forget to cancel the subscription before the trial ends – otherwise, you will end up paying for something that was initially meant to be free!

Wrapping Up

Paywalls can be annoying when accessing valuable information online; however, there are ways of getting around them without paying anything.

By using browser extensions such as Chrome’s “Stop Loading Already!,” looking for archive sites with old versions of webpages, utilizing read-it-later tools like Pocket or Instapaper, converting pages into PDFs, and taking advantage of any free trials offered by websites – website owners and SEO newbies alike will find themselves with plenty of options when faced with a pesky paywall!

About Norman Anthony Balberan

I am a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy graduate turned full-time web developer and designer. Although my professional background is in pharmacy and tech, I have a passion for writing and am excited to share my insights and thoughts through my blog. I write about various topics that I am knowledgeable and passionate about, and I hope to engage and connect with my readers through my writing.



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