Paywall bypass: what it is and why it is so sought after

And paywall is a system that prevents free access to certain online content and requires users to pay a fee to access it. Usually the website you visit asks you to take out a subscription. This is a model often used by many websites to generate revenue and monetize content. The expression paywall bypass it refers instead to the tools and methodologies that, in some cases, allow you to overcome the block imposed by the publisher when viewing a web page.

What types of paywalls exist

Also thanks to the restrictions that, for example, the provisions on cookies have introduced in Europe at the time, many publishers have taken steps to explore monetization tools alternatives. Among the most “popular” are paywalls:

  • Hard paywall. They completely prevent access to the content without a payment.
  • Soft paywall. Allows a certain number of free views before requiring payment.
  • Metered paywall. Limit the number of articles or pages that users can view for free in a given period of time.
  • Freemium model. The website offers basic content for free but requires payment for access to premium features or premium content.

The use of paywalls is a debated topic and their effectiveness depends on quality of content offered, by the editorial type of each website and, consequently, by the willingness of users to pay for access.

How paywalls work

Il operation of paywalls depends on a combination of technologies and strategies to limit access to online content to those who have not paid or do not have specific authorization. Many websites use cookie to track user activities: cookies may contain information about the user’s authentication and status (for example, whether he has already reached the limit of free items).

A paywall can be implemented either side client what side server, and often the web application leverages technologies on both sides. In the case of many implementations, the codice JavaScript present on the page controls the behavior of the page on the client side, for example by hiding premium content and showing a message inviting you to take out a subscription.

Access to premium content can be controlled server side. The server checks whether the user is authorized to view the content based on the information authentication provided.

Web application can use access token generated on the server side and verified on the client side to grant access to content reserved for paying users. Requests for premium content can be handled through calls API server-sidewhich control authentication and access.

Paywall bypass: what contents are easily accessible

If a website limits the number of articles that can be viewed for free, it usually uses a cookie to keep track of the amount of content already viewed. Often, therefore, simply using incognito mode allows you to reset the “counter”. Just press the key combination CTRL+MAIUSC+N in various web browsers or CTRL+MAIUSC+P (in the case of Mozilla Firefox) and try it.

There are few websites that store thepublic IP address with which the client system presents itself. In this case, using incognito mode or the deletion of cookies it does not work.

In these cases, a VPN service third party allows you to change your IP address and present yourself with a public IP different from the one assigned by the chosen telecommunications provider. Changing the public IP address can also be achieved with Tor Browser or by using a simple proxy server. In another article we saw the differences between VPNs and proxies.

From a publisher’s perspective, while a client-side-only implementation can provide a better user experience, it should not be the only barrier between free users and premium content. As mentioned, in fact, the safety overall of the system usually requires a combination of techniques server-side e client-side.

Disabling JavaScript

To realize how simple some paywalls are, just go to your web browser settings and disable JavaScript temporarily. In Google Chrome you can do this simply by typing chrome://settings/content/javascript in the address bar then selecting the option Don’t allow sites to use JavaScript.

By reloading the web page that previously showed the paywall, perhaps with the help of the incognito modewhen protection is only client-sideyou will see the premium content in its entirety.

Using reading mode

The same result can be obtained using the reading mode of Chrome or Edge. In another article we saw what Chrome’s reading mode is, how it works and how it is activated.

In the case of Edgea browser pre-installed in Windows 10 and Windows 11, you can instead press the button F9 on the keyboard to enable reading mode.

Also in this case, if the content is protected with a paywall that relies exclusively on JavaScript code, the full text of the article will be accessed.

Developer tools

By pressing the button F12 to open the window Developer tools, it is possible – from a web browser – to hide the HTML elements that prevent the display of the underlying content. To proceed, just right-click on the paywall, choose Inspect then, at the corresponding HTML code, choose the option Hide element.

Using The Wayback Machine

In some cases, The Wayback Machine service allows you to access the content of a page that is protected by a paywall. These are situations in which the same page had been retrieved and indexed by crawler of Internet Archive.

To give it a try, simply copy and paste the URL into the field to the left of the button Browse history. With one click you can therefore check how the same web page looked at different points in time.

Access to the AMP version of the web page

Google AMPacronym for Accelerated Mobile Pages, is an initiative to improve the loading speed of web pages on mobile devices. The Mountain View company has repeatedly urged web developers to embrace AMP. However, in recent times, the company has talked about it less and the effort seems destined to go by the wayside.

In fact, rather than pushing further on AMP, Google preferred to focus on Core Web Vitals to improve the loading of web pages and stimulate the interest of webmasters and developers. THE Web Vitals they have in fact become factors of rankingfor positioning web pages in SERPs (search engine results pages).

To access the version without a paywall, you can sometimes press CTRL+U in order to access the source of the HTML page, search for the tag amphtml (<link rel="amphtml">) then copy the URL contained in the attribute href. By copying and pasting such URL in the address bar of an incognito window, you can check whether the content has been accessed.

Use Google Translate

Another option is to use the Google Translate service. In this case, simply paste the URL of the paywalled page into the left pane and then click on the link shown in the right pane (taking care to select Europen


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here