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UPDATE5 UK BT Broadband ISP Customers Blocked from Rapidshare

Posted: 21st Jun, 2009 By: MarkJ
We've received several emails from customer's of the BT Total Broadband service complaining that the ISP has blocked them from accessing RapidShare, which is an online file hosting/download service (not P2P). Similar issues have occurred in the past, often due to cache conflicts or a restriction imposed by Rapidshare itself, thus we do not believe the problem to be intentional on BT's part.

Precise details are hard to come by, although we believe that the latest issue may in fact be related to a recent BT Home Hub (router) firmware update. Some of the reports indicate that, initially, the problem only affected computers that connected to the hub via Wi-Fi (wireless), although others suggest it has since spread to wired links too.

BT are believed to be aware of the issue, which is hard to check on a Sunday, though there is concern that the operator could drag its feet and take several weeks before issuing a new Home Hub update to fix it. In the meantime here are several things to try, which may or may not circumvent the problem.
Possible RapidShare Fix's

1. Instead of accessing rapidshare with HTTP (e.g. http://www.rapidshare.com), try accessing it via HTTPS (e.g. https://www.rapidshare.com) or via just the IP (http://195.122.131.46 or https://195.122.131.46/).

2. Access the 'BT Home Hub Manager' (router control panel), go to advanced settings and disable the Firewall (not recommended for security reasons but it is known to work as this is where the bug appears to stem from).

3. Try connecting your computer to the hub via a wired instead of wireless (Wi-Fi) link.

4. Use a third party proxy server to bypass BT's.

5. Edit the HOSTS file (e.g. c:/windows/system32/drivers/etc/hosts) and add the following lines for RapidShare:

195.122.131.46 rapidshare.com
195.122.131.46 www.rapidshare.com

6. Use a different router (not BT's Home Hub).
Please inform us if any of these helped; they are solutions that have worked in the past.

UPDATE - 22nd June 2009:

No response from BT yet, although the issue now appears to be a problem with the operators network rather than their Home Hub as it has been seen to occur on different routers too. So far the HTTPS and HOSTS file solutions seem to be the best workarounds.

UPDATE - 23rd June 2009:

A BT spokesperson told ISPreview today:
"BT does not block access to the RapidShare website. We have received a small number of customers reporting difficulty uploading large files over a wireless connection to the site. As a temporary measure we are advising affected customers wishing to upload large files to do so over a wired connection whilst we investigate the matter."

This seems to ignore the fact that said problem is occurring over wired links too and exists from within BT's network. Many believe it is the fault of a transparent proxy, such as the one used by ISPs for The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). We are currently awaiting feedback from the IWF on this matter.

UPDATE - 24th June 2009:

The IWF has responded to this matter, albeit via the means of a somewhat vague statement.

The IWF has just issued us with this statment:
“The child sexual abuse content list which the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) provides to many of its member companies is URL specific. Our role in the blocking initiative is confined to the provision of a URL list and we do not implement the actual blocking so we are unable to account for any access issues at domain level.

Details of every URL included on the list are passed directly to our partner Hotline in the country hosting the content to enable the appropriate national authorities to remove it as swiftly as possible. Full details of this initiative are available on our website: http://www.iwf.org.uk/public/page.148.htm.”


UPDATE - 26th June 2009:

We haven't received a follow-up update from BT or a reply from the IWF concerning some of the issues that had been raised. However there are some customer reports that the filtering has now been fixed or possibly even removed for RapidShare URLs on several UK ISPs, including Sky.

UPDATE - 2nd December 2009:

It's been awhile since we updated this news item but here's another workaround that has been submitted by one of our readers (credits to Ibnu). ISP customers might also be able to avoid Rapidshare throttle or filters by converting download URL's into raw IP addresses:

http://rs2ip.anonymailz.com/

Also, a tutorial for premium & free users:
http://tinyurl.com/bypass-isp-rs-throttling
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