ISP Blocking Ports: What to Do?

Here’s what to do if your ISP blocks ports:

There are many things you can do, depending on how the port is being blocked. 

You can change router or firewall settings to unblock the port. 

You can contact your ISP to have them unblock it, or you can even mask the port with something like a VPN to trick your ISP into giving you the access you want.

So if you want to learn all about what you can do exactly if your ISP blocks ports, then this article is for you.

Keep reading!

ISP Blocks Ports: What to Do? (5 Things)

What Is Port Blocking?

The real starting place in this conversation is a discussion about what it means to block a port. 

When you use the internet, you very likely connect to a router (or something that fills a similar role). 

The router does a lot of things to manage and direct traffic.

To make this clear, let’s look at the common ways routers work on home networks. 

If you have more than one internet-enabled device at home, then they probably all connect to your router. 

The router juggles those connections in order to distinguish which device is trying to do what with no confusion.

Part of that juggling is tied to port management (or port forwarding). 

Internet connections have different ports.

These are like different roads that communications can take to get to and from your computer (or other device). 

Ports usually have specific jobs or types of traffic that they support. 

The port that handles email downloads is different from the one that lets you download a file from the internet.

There are tons of different ports, and with each serving its own function, there are a lot of different reasons that an internet service provider (ISP) might want to block a port.

Let’s look at a simple example. 

Port 3389 is designated for remote desktop protocol. 

If you want to remotely access your own computer, you would use this port to do it. 

An ISP might block this port so that hackers can’t use it to attack your devices. 

But, if the port is blocked, you can’t remotely access your device. There’s a trade-off.

So, if you’re trying to do something on the internet and find that the associate port is blocked, there’s a good chance that your ISP is the one blocking it.

What Can You Do About Your ISP Blocking Ports? (5 Things)

You need access to ports to do things on the internet.

That’s just how it works. 

So, if your ISP is blocking ports that you need, then you want solutions. 

There are a lot of ways to attack this problem. 

I’ll start with the simplest and eventually take you to the most complicated but powerful solutions.

#1 Get Your Own Router

Port forwarding is directly controlled by your router, and it’s the primary way to block ports. 

So, if your ISP is blocking ports and you want to change it, you can take that power away from them by using your own router. 

When you do, you can log into the router and directly control port forwarding settings. 

You might need to do some homework to optimize those settings, but you have control.

Unfortunately, this is only half the battle. 

ISPs can block ports with active firewalls as well. 

Not all ISPs use active firewalls and even those that don’t necessarily block ports with them. 

What’s important to know is that firewalls can block ports even if you own and control your own router. 

If your ports are being blocked when you own your own router, then that’s the likely explanation. 

You can skip the next tip. 

After that, you’ll see advice that applies to your situation.

#2 Change Router Settings

Even if your ISP owns your router, you can still often change the router settings. 

Go through the process to log into the router and look for port or port forwarding settings. 

If you can find them, you can change which ports are blocked, and it’s an easy solution.

However, some ISPs might lock out this portion of the settings. 

If you can’t find any settings to control port forwarding, then you won’t be able to manage this problem directly. 

Instead, you’ll want to go through the rest of the tips for a better solution.

#3 Contact Your ISP

If you can’t unblock the ports yourself, then you can try contacting your ISP. 

Whether they’re running your router or a firewall, they have the power to unblock ports. 

In a lot of cases, a blocked port isn’t an act of malice on behalf of the ISP. It’s usually a default setting or even a mistake.

So, you can ask them to unblock the port.

If they do, that’s the end of the problem. You’re good to go.

In some cases, they might be unwilling to unblock certain ports. 

This could be tied to security practices, the paywalls (as in they’ll only unblock the port if you add an additional paid service), or even government restrictions

Depending on why they have the port blocked, you might have to jump through some additional hoops.

If they flat out refuse to unblock the ports, then you really only have two choices left.

Not to worry, I’m going to explain both.

#4 Change ISPs

If your ISP won’t play ball, try another one. 

For many people in the world, you have options, so you can try to match up with an ISP that gives you more freedom in how you use the internet. 

Naturally, if you’re exploring this option, you want to verify that your new ISP won’t block the port(s) you need. That’s an important step.

If your ISP is blocking ports because of regulations or government oversight, then changing ISPs might not do much for you. 

The new provider is probably limited by the same restrictions.

That means you’re down to the last option.

#5 Use a VPN

This is not a simple solution. 

A complete breakdown of this process is probably worth doing an entire dedicated article. 

So, I’m going to give you an overview of how it works.

If you can connect to a VPN (virtual private network), it can mask or even control ports outside of your network. 

To put it in other terms, your VPN can trick your ISP into thinking you aren’t using any of the blocked ports, even if you are. 

So, this is a pretty straightforward solution in this respect.

There’s a hidden problem. 

Depending on which ports are blocked, it might be very difficult to connect to a VPN. 

If you’re using a VPN service, then you need to be able to communicate with it via the internet in the first place, and that can be a major hurdle.

In that case, the best solution is to make and manage your own VPN, and that’s where this gets a lot more complicated. 

You can set up the VPN inside of your network, so basically it masks your ports before it connects to anything your ISP can control.

Even when you go this far, if the ISP blocks all ports, you’re out of luck. 

The VPN needs access to at least one unblocked port so it can trick the ISP.


  • Theresa McDonough

    Tech entrepreneur and founder of Tech Medic, who has become a prominent advocate for the Right to Repair movement. She has testified before the US Federal Trade Commission and been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, helping influence change within the tech industry.

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