|FreeGate is the way to go to freely use the Internet in China|
If you have plans on going to China for vacation, or living there for any length of time, you will need to prepare to visit the Great Firewall of China. Visiting this tourist attraction is mandatory! As most people know, many websites are blocked in China. Mostly websites related to social interaction such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and most the popular blogging platforms such as Wordpress and Blogger (which means if you are reading this, you are either not in China, or you have already figured out a way to bypass the Great Firewall of China.
I have lived in China now for a year and have tried many different tools to try to use the internet freely. I have tried various VPNS, Hotspot Shield and Freegate. The best (and freest) is Freegate.
Using a VPN
VPNs are fine, but getting a good free one is next to impossible. Most people pay a monthly or yearly fee in order to use a good VPN. That being said, if you don't mind paying $5-$15 a month, VPNs are great ways to go. You can use a VPN in both Windows or Linux.
(Update: Recently I have been forced to use a VPN because Freegate was having some problems. I discovered gfwVPN and did a review here.)
When I first came to China, Hotspot shield is what saved me for a while. It works quite well. The main drawbacks for me is that the free version has annoying ads. Also; I was never able to get it to work successfully in Linux
Freegate is wonderful! The Chinese version is called 自由门 ziyoumen, which means Freedom Gate. That is exactly what it does. Aside from being free in price, the software is completely free with no annoying ads or other caveats.
If you plan on going to China for vacation or employment, I strongly suggest that you go to their website and download their executable. After you have done that, you can change the file name extension or zip it using 7zip and email it to yourself so that you have access to the file while in China (and so you can help your friends in China install it as well. I often forward that email to my friends here so they can use Freegate as well).
Freegate runs as a simple executable. Just find a folder to run it in and double click. In Windows it is easy and straight forward.
My favorite things about Freegate is that it runs very well in Linux using Wine!
|The bottom left icon is the Freegate icon. Shown in Kubuntu 12.04|
If you do plan on using Freegate in Linux, you will need to use something like ProxySwitchy or something similar in Firefox or Chrome (or you could always configure the whole system to use the proxy, but I prefer just putting a proxy on the browser).
|Here is the icon for SwitchySharp. This is a plugin for Chrome that allows me to pick and choose the sites I want to use the proxy for.|
|Shows the Proxy. Default is 127.0.0.1:8580|
|Freegate working in Linux!|
(Note: For a comprehensive and up-to-date comparison of features and prices for different VPNs, click on this VPN and Proxy Comparison list.)