If you ever wanted to know what it feels like living in the dark ages come to China right about now. Seemingly in timing with the 20th anniversary of the 1989 “incident” (as they call it around here) many popular international websites have been blocked (including Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, WordPress, Blogger & Hotmail) and anything that isn’t blocked is loading at a snails pace probably due to extra filtering/monitoring going on.
As a citizen of the internet this makes me mad and not just because I can’t share my inane thoughts with random people online any more but because I know full well that the anniversary will pass here and no one will bat an eyelid. Whether they don’t know or don’t care after all the bloodshed the wrong side won and tyrannical suppression continues in many forms. Sometimes it feels like freedom is a low priority here as long as you’re making money.
Political and human rights rants aside there are still plenty of ways to get around the great firewall. Here are options which should provide you with unfiltered access (continually updated):
- 12vpn (paid) – VPN service with optimized configurations for selected regions. My review here.
- Witopia (paid) – VPN service which provides relatively fast service. My review here.
- Other personal VPN providers: Astrill, ibVPN, Strong VPN, SwitchVPN (comparison here).
- Tor (free) – slow but very secure and reliable p2p onion routing network. My guide here.
- Hotspot Shield (free) – another VPN service which provides free service but slow.
- Freegate (free) – proxy service created by the Global Internet Freedom Consortium (download here).
- Freedur (paid) – simple software but plagued by security and technical issues in the past.
- SSH tunnel (requires server) – for more technical people see this guide here (if you don’t have a server try this one).
- Anonymous proxy (free) – many free services provide web-based proxies but insecure [1, 2, 3].
If you don’t know what a VPN is then check out VPN Resource for a simple guide. If you’re using an old fashioned proxy server you may find Firefox plugins like FoxyProxy or Gladder useful for switching connections across multiple proxy servers based on URL patterns. For Chinese speakers (and savvy non-speakers) you may find this site very useful.
If you know any other good ways around the GFW please leave a comment below.