Access Blocked Sites in China
So, there are basically two ways to access blocked sites in China – a web based proxy, and a virtual private network. They are two very different tools, and each have good and bad things about them. Read about them below, and decide which one is best for you. I will also recommend services that I currently use (or have used) that I think work well for users in China.
Web based proxies to access blocked sites in China
Web based proxies are probably more popular that VPNs. It’s not because they’re better, it’s just because more people know about them. Proxies are pretty common in a lot of countries around the world, as a lot of people use them to bypass firewalls and access Facebook/YouTube/Twitter at work and school. They essentially work in the same way to bypass The Great Firewall of China.
How proxies work
When you view a website on the Internet, it’s actually two IP addresses connecting. The IP address of your computer, and the IP address of the server where the website is hosted. Firewalls mediate this connection, and can either block you from connecting to the website’s IP address (in the case of Hulu or Netflix outside The USA), or block the website from connecting to your IP (probably to prevent virus infection or malware. A proxy server acts as a middle man, preventing direct communication between you and a website. It helps you change your IP address, and appear to be on a different network, i.e. in a different location. This is also known as anonymous surfing, because your real IP is unknown to your ISP, others on your network, and the website you view.
Why use a proxy in China?
The most important thing about proxies in China is that they can be used on your phones and tablets. For iPhone, iPad, and Android phone/tablet users. VPN protocols for these devices have been blocked, so if you want to access blocked sites on your mobile device, you MUST use a proxy. There’s no other way about it.
The other thing that makes proxies great for users in China is that you don’t have to install anything to use it. This, in turn, offers a couple of advantages over VPNs. It means that you can access to web based proxy browser from you phone, your computer, you Internet TV, and tablet computer. There’s no need to buy extra licenses for each Internet device you have. You can also access blocked sites at school, work, and public computers. Without the need for installation, you don’t have to worry about firewall’s blocking you from installing anything, or leaving any traces of the fact you were using a proxy.
On the downside, this also means that you are only securing your web browser, and other applications, software, games VoIP devices, or programs that are running on your computer will still use your local, Chinese IP. IP addresses change frequently, making downloading or uploading large files inconvenient. Proxies are also more easily detected, and some sites will block you if you’re using a proxy (there aren’t many, but there are some)
#1 Proxy in China
SecuriTales is definitely my number one choice for web based proxies in China. It’s fast, it’s secure, and it’s a reliable way to access blocked sites in China. Even with lots of new tricks the GFW has been coming up with lately, it’s still going strong. I don’t need to say too much about it though, because there’s a free trial for you to test it out yourself!
I suggest you give the free trial a go, even if you think you want a VPN. It’s worth it just to see the difference in how they work. If you do end up signing up, there’s also a money back guarantee (30 days), so rest assured, if you’re not happy with it, there’s plenty of opportunity to get your money back.
See what I’m talking about at www.securitales.com
Virtual Private Networks to access blocked sites in China
VPNs are gaining popularity in China because of their superior security features when compared to proxies. This is the main attraction of VPNs.
How VPNs work
They work much like a proxy, in that you traffic is sent to another server, outside of China, where your assigned a virtual IP address to get you past the GFW, in into any site that has a problem with your real IP. However, in addition to this, they add layers of security called encryption and tunneling that protects your information on the way to and from the VPN server. That means that if someone were to be spying on you while you surf the Internet, ie the Chinese government or your friendly neighborhood hacker, they wouldn’t even see you on the network. Even if they could find you on the network somehow, they wouldn’t have the proper codes and certificates to access and analyze the data from your computer.
In other words, in comparison to proxies, VPNs are a more secure, more anonymous, and more reliable way to access blocked sites in China
What can they do that proxies can’t?
They secure your whole computer, which means that other programs, including games and VoIP programs will use your anonymous IP address. This “all-in-on” protection is great for people who need to do more that just access blocked sites and stream video in China. Gaming, P2P, file transfers, chatting and calling can all be secured. This is why is VPN are great for business people in China. I just run a small cafe here, and I find it much more convenient to have a VPN running in the background and not have to think about “secure browsers”. I just do what I normally do, but with a non-Chinese IP.
What’s the catch?
There are some disadvantages however. Because they have to be installed, you’re limited to one license per computer. They also don’t work on phones anymore, because The GFW blocks certain types of VPNs from operating in China. While it is possible to use it on other computers, you’ll have to deal with installing, uninstalling, and reinstalling.
There are quite a few VPN services out there, however, many are blocked. In addition to this, not all offer OpenVPN, which is the main type of VPN used to access blocked sites in China. SSTP is also used, but only works with Windows Vista and Win 7. OpenVPN works with Mac, Linux, and all Windows systems.
Top 2 VPN providers in China
12VPN is great for someone who’s never used a VPN. Installation involves no skill whatsoever, and their site is easy to navigate. You can choose a US Only Plan (servers only in The USA) for only $79 USD per year. This is pretty much the cheapest you’re going to get OpenVPN anywhere in China. You can switch between ten different servers in The US for free, there are no bandwidth caps, and it comes with a seven day money back guarantee. There’s also an option to upgrade to the World VPN plan that has servers all over the world, including Germany, Japan, Holland, Hong Kong, The UK, and more. I particularly like 12VPN because they’re based in Hong Kong, so tend to know more about the situation here in China. Also, their main domain is blocked, so I’ve got a link to an alternate domain here (you won’t find this on other sites).
See for yourself at http://12VPN.com