The Internet & VPNs
Why can’t I access some websites in China?
Google services (e.g. Gmail, Google Maps), Wikipedia, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and other social media website are either blocked while many other sites are accessible but they may be censored or their performance compromised in Mainland China by the governments famous “Great Firewall of China”. Normal Internet habits are often more difficult in China, so you may find it more difficult to keep in touch with friends and family in the usual way. Don’t worry though, all’s not lost, a VPN can help you jump over the great fire wall of China.So what is a VPN anyway? And how can I access these sites? Well, a VPN is a Virtual Private Network.
Many travelers and students purchase these VPN’s in order to circumvent the Great Firewall by making your location and Internet content invisible, thereby allowing you to access blocked websites. Below is a selection of some of the best VPNs for China in terms of price and reliability.
Hide my ass is a UK based service, it has a 30 day money back guarantee, lots of server choice, no bandwith restrictions, lots of freebies, and has a great VPN client and website. In terms of the set up this VPN is very easy to instal on your computer and its one of the World’s leading VPN’s.
Astrill is fairly reliable and one of the most popular VPN service commonly used in China. It has unlimited download bandwidth and is among one of the cheaper services available hence its popularity. However, their help and support could definitely be better and recently its performance has been patchy.
Express VPN is very fast safe and has a money back guarantee. Its dedicated customer service support is excellent and it has unlimited downloads. The only downside is that it’s a bit more expensive than the others, but more on that later.
I’ve included Hide.me as an option here as it offers a free basic service with limited functions. As it’s basic option is free there are a limited amount of servers available and downloads are restricted to 2GB. However, if you’re just looking to check your emails or Facebook every now and again it might just save you some money and would be a much safer option than other free services like Vtunnel or Freegate.
A large US based VPN provider, StrongVPN is both high-profile, and popular. However, despite this reviewers have been unimpressed with its overall attitude to privacy, and performance. If the service was a budget offering it wouldn’t be so bad, but StrongVPN is also one of the most expensive providers. Despite this in terms of its performance in China, it does pretty well but when compared to other premium services it doesn’t always feel premium.
IPVanish is a relatively new VPN provider that was created by specialists with more than a decade of experience in network management, IP and content delivery services. The company was founded with the goal of providing excellent customer service and extremely affordable prices. The company has a large staff to help clients as they configure their products, and is widely considered one of the VPNs with the fastest Internet speeds in the US. IPvanish was vote by top10best websites to be the best VPN 2014. This new kid on the block has got potential and serious kick for the price.
So why not just use a free services to access blocked sites?
There are a number of free portals or proxy sites to access blocked websites in China however, they often come with restricted downloads or functions. For example, a proxy such as Vtunnel, can let you access the mobile version of Facebook, but it rarely downloads it all.
Freegate is also an option however, free service have also been known to open your computer up to viruses and hacking. If you must go for a free service, go with the safe option Hide.me above.
So what VPN service do I recommend based on reliability service and price?
At present for StudyMartialArts.Org purposes we use ExpressVPN. ExpressVPN has consistently been the fastest VPN provider with excellent support for all our devices. To date it has also been best-in-class for security features. Therefore ExpressVPN is our top choice. With a speed-optimized server network spanning 78 countries, ExpressVPN is one of the most trusted in the market. Setting up and using this VPN is super easy. Their apps for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS connect you with a single click to any server location you choose. ExpressVPN is ultra-secure and anonymizes your online identity behind powerful encryption and multiple VPN protocols and has 24/7 tech support. Because of this they aren’t the cheapest provider. ExpressVPN includes a 30 day money back guarantee on all purchases.
Here’s my top 3 in no particular order: