Best VPN in China
Why do I need a VPN?
If you’re moving to China and still hoping to use the internet in the way that you want, you will need to subscribe to a VPN service.
Under China’s policy of internet censorship (also referred to as the “Great Firewall of China”), more than 2,600 websites are blocked in mainland China. Special events, location, and world political events also have an effect on which websites are available or blocked at any given time.
There are a couple tools available online such as https://en.greatfire.org/ and http://www.blockedinchina.net/ which allow you test which websites are currently viewable in China, but these resources are not 100% percent reliable.
Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo! Taiwan/Hong Kong, Wikipedia, Twitter, BlogSpot, WordPress and SoundCloud are just a sample of websites that have been blocked before or are blocked at present from being accessed in mainland China.
How do VPNs work?
But fear not! There exists an easy solution known as VPN, or virtual private networks that allows you hide your location. Instead of connecting directly to a website from your current location, you can first connect to a VPN server in another location which will then connect you to the website. A VPN acts as a secure middle-man allowing you to exchange information with a website without your home connection being aware of it.
VPNs are also useful outside of China! They keep your internet connection secure over public networks, allow anonymous downloading, and access of websites that may only be available in certain countries or locations.
How much should I factor into my budget for a VPN?
Free VPNs do exist, but they’re incredibly slow, unreliable and potentially dangerous. For anyone planning to live in China for any extended period of time, it’s advisable to subscribe to a VPN service which can cost anywhere from $5 – $15 USD per month. Most VPN services also have yearly plans available, ranging from $30 – $100 USD per year.
It’s important to note that most VPN accounts can be shared, so it’s easy to split the cost with multiple friends! It’s definitely advisable to spend a few extra dollars per month on a trusted, secure and reliable VPN instead of skimping and ending up with a cheap and unreliable service. Never compromise on security as you’ll most likely be sending sensitive information such as credit card and banking information through the VPN.
Other Considerations When Choosing a VPN
- Bandwidth: Look for unlimited bandwidth
- Number of users: Can multiple people sign on to one account?
- Device sharing: Can multiple devices such as a computer, phone and tablet all be connected at the same time?
- Customer service: Make sure the method of connecting to customer service is available without the use of the VPN in case you have issues with your VPN, especially during startup.
- Server locations: VPNs work best when servers are located in nearby countries. For China, look for a VPN service provider with servers located in Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, or the west coast of the USA. It’s best to have many server locations available in case China’s firewall blocks one or more.
- Free trial: A free trial is very useful, especially if you have certain websites in mind that you will need to connect to using the VPN service.
The firewall in China is constantly changing and being updated, and VPN services can become slow or stop working entirely. We highly recommend NordVPN if you are currently in China or getting ready to teach in China.