You may have noticed a few changes to Google search lately. Recently, in China, there have been a number of "hot" keywords that have been blocked from search engines. It's not all the search engines, and it's not all the time. As with many things in China, it just kind of depends on where you are and what time of day it is. For me, on my Google search, the terms "Facebook", "YouTube", "Proxy", and "VPN" have all been banned. This means any time I search for these terms, I get banned from Google for about 30 seconds to a minute.
So I started a site called Access FB in China. I started it under the assumption that any other use who's looking to access Facebook in China and just can't get the results he or she's looking for would think to try "Access FB in China" instead. We'll see how this works.
Or your can keep reading for further details.
I just mentioned "web based proxy" and "VPN" – two terms which you may or may not be familiar with. Both are tools which can be accessed from the Internet. They help you to change your IP address, and thus access FB and other blocked sites here in China. Your IP address is key in unblocking sites anywhere.
I'm sure you've heard of The GFW or The Great Firewall of China. The monster of a firewall here acts like any other firewall at work, school or home. It keep the bad guys out. Unfortunately for us, the "bad guys" in this case are our favorite sites – YouTube, Facebook, Flikr, Gmail, and more. Proxies and VPNs get you around firewalls.
Instead of directly sending your web traffic to the blocked sites, you use a third party server, or a middle man. This is the VPN or proxy server. So when you want to access FB in China, you first send your request for the FB site to the VPN or proxy server. It then changes your IP out for one of the hundreds that are stored on the server. Then, as your Internet representative, makes the request for you. Your Chinese ISP thinks your IP is that servers IP, and Facebook thinks the same. In combination with the fact that most of these services don't keep server logs to ensure your anonymity, no one knows who you are or what you're doing online.
This is called "anonymous surfing"
So how are VPNs are proxies different?
VPNs add more layers of protection. While a proxy sends your raw traffic to the proxy server, and likewise for the traffic that's sent out from the server itself, a VPN adds layers of encryption to you data, It then sends it through a secure "tunnel" that makes sure no one can see traffic coming to and from your computer, or to and from the VPN server.
Because of this connection through a tunnel, VPNs must be installed on your computer. With OpenVPN, the only type of VPN that's working in China at this time, "certificates" are required which are unique to your computer. That means that even if Big Brother wanted to hack you, they couldn't. It's simply impossible without your original machine, which only you have.
This however, is where proxies gain a bit on VPNs. Because web based proxies don't have to be installed, they're more versatile. This means you can use them on your home desktop, work computer, public computers, laptop from an Internet cafe, or even on your iPhone or Android device – all for the price of just one license. They're quick to get started and require no maintenance.
But proxies are not all great, and there are definitely some disadvantages. Other than the general lack of security features when compared to a VPN, they won't get you access to Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, BBC iPlayer, or most regional TV and movie streaming sites. Certain sites block proxy use because they're used for spam a lot, and they only protect your browsing experience.
That's a lot to take in one bite, so let me sum it up for you
Web based proxies to access FB in China
- No installation and easy start
- Can be used at work, school, home, public wifi
- Can be used on phone, tablet computer, laptop, and desktop
- Cheaper than VPNs
- Can't access Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, or BBC iPlayer
- Only change IP of your browser
- Fewer security features
- Cannot choose server location
Virtual private networks (VPN) to access FB in China
- Encrypts and changes IP of whole computer/phone, including apps and programs
- Advanced security features
- Can use browser of choice (not limited to the secure proxy browser)
- Access to regional TV and Movie sites
- Requires installation, setup, and updates
- One license per computer
- Can't be used on phones in China
- More expensive than proxies
Now that that's out of the way, I can make some recommendations for services.
I use a proxy to access FB in China on my iPhone. The proxy I use is called SecuriTales web based proxy browser. It's awesome because…
- It's fast, secure, and reliable
- There's free trial
- There's a 30 day money back guarantee
- It's not blocked in China
- It's only $6 USD per month
I use a VPN to secure my connection when I blog, play online games, and make calls over VoIP. The service I use is called 12VPN. It's awesome because
- It's fast, secure, and reliable
- There's a 7 day money back guarantee
- They have SSL/OpenVPN available
- Their staff is friendly
- Installation is simple ('Next' + 'Next' + 'Next' + 'Finish')
- They're not blocked in China
- It's only $6.5 USD per month
http://12vpn.com **this will take you to an alternate domain because the main domain is blocked in China
So make your choice!
Either way, make your choice fast. When these websites go down, it's going to be harder and harder to find these tools. The good news is that once you've got a connection and a support email address in your books, they can always provide you with updates and links through your email, in case anything goes wrong. For example, even though 12VPNs main domain is now blocked, they're still able to provide their customers (like me) with updates and downloads straight to your email.
Get started before it's too late!