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roddy

Internet Blocks, the Great Firewall and VPNs

How are you getting round Internet blocks in China?  

61 members have voted

  1. 1. How are you getting round Internet blocks in China?

    • I just give up and read the China Daily
      20
    • Free web proxy like Anonymouse
      20
    • Paid web proxy like Proxify
      2
    • A browser plug in like Gladder
      12
    • I installed a bit of software, like Tor
      21
    • Something else which I will detail below . . .
      3
    • Port forwarding over SSH to a remote proxy, like Imron
      10
    • VPN, like Witopia
      54


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imron

Witopia, is seamless, reliable, and relatively quick, however it will set you back $40 a year to use.

XB Browser is a browser based on firefox but that browses through the TOR network. It's free and the website still appears to be available in China, however using it is not as convenient as a VPN.

*Disclosure: Chinese-forums is a Witopia affiliate. If you use that link to make a purchase, then for less than 1 RMB a day you not only get a fully-functional VPN which will solve all blocking issues within China, you also drop a few coins in the forums' coffers.

Edited by roddy

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roddy
Witopia is now a forums affiliate - if anyone uses that link to make a purchase you not only get a fully-functional VPN which will solve all blocking issues within China for a very reasonable price, you also drop a few coins in the forums' coffers. I've been using it for several months and am very happy - even use it from the UK as it seems to speed up access to sites based in China. Edited by roddy

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imron

Added VPN to the poll options.

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chaxiu

Move to Taiwan and you won't have to worry about it.:mrgreen:

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roddy

Actually if you've spent a chunk of time in mainland China you end up habitually assuming some stuff is blocked. I've been back in the UK over the summer, but I still find myself clicking on the VPN icon before visiting certain links sometimes.

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imron

Yeah, I get that every time I go back to Australia for a visit :evil:

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Shadowdh

One thing I found (which might or might not be true as I am not too sure about all this modern con-pewter stuff)... Gladder and Tor button causes Firefox to stop working properly... I couldnt use the address bar to navigate to sites either via copy and paste or by typing the address in directly and with Firefox 3 I found that if I exit FF3 and try to restart it, it doesnt show the toolbar nor does my home page show... but disabling both gladder and tor makes things right again... Just a heads up if anyone uses FF...

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imron
What's wrong with using VPN all the time then?
Absolutely nothing.

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johnmck

Witopia VPN will assign you a random Witopia IP address. Does anyone now if this can be used to give the impression that one is based in the UK and hence get access to the BBC iPlayer? Or will it give the impression that I am based in the US instead of France? In which case does anyone know of a UK based service?

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roddy

iPlayer doesn't work when I have Witopia running (which is one of the reasons I don't have it running all the time), presumably as I don't appear to be in the UK. As far as I know there's no way to choose an IP address that would allow you to do this (and if they BBC are on their toes they may well block them if it became possible). A search online does turn up 'how to view iPlayer from outside the UK' posts, but how usable they are, I don't know. By extension I should be able to view media limited to US IP addresses - I don't know of any, but if anyone is curious and wants to provide a link, I'll see if it's viewable over Witopia.

Related - one other reason I have for not leaving Witopia on all the time is speed of streaming / downloads. It's still usable, but is much slower than a direct connection, and for online video like Youtube this is very noticeable. Wasn't such a difference from China where the speeds weren't great to start with, but it is an issue from the UK. I think I also mentioned above that using Witopia in China made Chinese video sites almost unusable. This could be an issue for anyone who leaves P2P running in the background (and while I don't think they have any policy on it currently, I wouldn't be surprised if the people paying Witopia's bandwidth bills have a dim view of it).

I also turn it off after using it for whatever purpose on the basis that if I don't need it, there's no point clogging up their bandwidth. I'm not worried about privacy or security issues, just getting to certain sites temporarily.

I use it a lot less now I'm back in the UK, but it can come in handy sometimes - if a certain site isn't working for some reason, rerouting via Witopia often fixes the problem.

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BrandeX
One thing I found (which might or might not be true as I am not too sure about all this modern con-pewter stuff)... Gladder and Tor button causes Firefox to stop working properly... I couldnt use the address bar to navigate to sites either via copy and paste or by typing the address in directly and with Firefox 3 I found that if I exit FF3 and try to restart it, it doesnt show the toolbar nor does my home page show... but disabling both gladder and tor makes things right again... Just a heads up if anyone uses FF...

That's likely just your PC. it works flawlessly for me, and I have never heard of anyone else with this issue, and gladder is pretty big here in the mainland with foreigners who know about it. I'd recommend completely uninstalling FF and then reinstalling it. It's probably a problem with FF itself, possibly corrupt/buggy. Sometimes the reinstall will clear that up.

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Shadowdh
That's likely just your PC. it works flawlessly for me, and I have never heard of anyone else with this issue, and gladder is pretty big here in the mainland with foreigners who know about it. I'd recommend completely uninstalling FF and then reinstalling it. It's probably a problem with FF itself, possibly corrupt/buggy. Sometimes the reinstall will clear that up.

The problem with FF is known re the address bar not working and the tool bar and home page not opening... I have tried un installing and then re installing FF and after installing FF3 I disabled tor and gladder and next thing you know it works fine... however others have said that disabling the Norton 360 2 phishing protection also works...

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imron
Witopia VPN will assign you a random Witopia IP address. Does anyone now if this can be used to give the impression that one is based in the UK and hence get access to the BBC iPlayer?
I dropped Witopia an email about this, and they replied:
All of our servers are located in the US and hand out US IP addresses. We are looking to expand internationally in the coming months.

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jslee

That also explains why speeds are slower with VPN enabled for roddy, usually it doesn't make that much difference (in my experience anyway)

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roddy

Generally I wouldn't say speeds are slower in any noticeable way when browsing, unless you're, eg, in China using a US based VPN to access a site in China. Then your packets are going China > US > China > US > China and that's clearly a bit daft. Online video is a different matter, though my impression is that if you're outside of China's bottlenecks or firewalls or whatever it's just a case of stopping to buffer occasionally rather than playing non-stop. I seem to remember Witopia actually sped up Youtube when I was in China. Not sure, I probably mentioned it early in the topic if anyone wants to check.

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randydandy

so I just need to purchase the witopia personal VPN and I'm good to surf any site?

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roddy

Never found any site it couldn't unblock, and there's no technical reason why you'd have any problems.

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randydandy

hey roddy, thanks for your quick reply. i have more questions. even if i am using a public computer, i can still use the vpn? sorry for my ignorance :help

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roddy

Maaaaaaybe, but you'd need to set it up each time, and then uninstall it to prevent anyone else using it. It would depend on how the computer was set up and what access you had I think.

You might be better off with a web-based proxy. Proxify is paid (link) but affordable and I found it reliable. There are lots of free ones if you search.

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