VPNs and Proxies - Getting Past the Great Firewall of China (free and not free comparisons)

(Note: For a comprehensive and up-to-date comparison of features and prices for different VPNs, click on this VPN and Proxy Comparison list.)

If you are in China (or planning on going to China) you will need to prepare yourself with "The Great Firewall of China." Most people know that China censors and blocks a lot of things. They also throttle (slow down) a lot of websites and services. Having lived in China for almost the past two years, I want to share some methods for getting past this and once again enjoying some semblance of internet freedom.

Note: If you are reading this article, it means you either are currently not in China, or you already have a VPN or Proxy of sorts (Blogger is blocked in China). If you are not yet in China, I HIGHLY suggest that you download a few of the options I give to you and put the file on a USB drive as well as email them to yourself so you have access to them. If you already have a VPN or Proxy, hopefully this guide will help you know what you can try next that will better suit your needs.

If there is a VPN that you want reviewed, write a comment below and I will try to include it.

The Free Method

Freegate - Free
(Read my full review here)

I used primarily Freegate for the better part of the year. It is definitely my favorite free option. I did a more in depth review here. Freegate is nice because it can be used on Windows very easily and does OK in Linux using Wine. There are no annoying ads in Freegate. I know that a lot of my Chinese friends also prefer to use Freegate (it is called 自由门 Zìyóu mén in Chinese).

Although Freegate certainly gives you a lot of Freedom (access to blocked websites) it is not always very fast and sometimes it can be unreliable. This is because China often changes ports that they choose to block. Even if you have Freegate, you should not expect it to work all the time.


HotspotShield is another free option (though they also have a faster option you can pay for). It works quite reliably but is also quite slow. Something else with HotspotShield is that it is ad supported. This makes sense to me as free makes the company no money, but the ads are more annoying than your usual ads. You can use an ad blocker and have some luck with not viewing the ads. I used HotspotShield for a month or two before ditching it.

The biggest reason I stopped using HotspotShield is because there is no way to use it in Linux.

Free PPTP VPN - Free (but usually does not work)
Google search for free VPN

There are various companies that claim to offer free VPN. If you do a quick Google search, you will come up with lot. Many of these look promising, but the truth of the matter is that I have had almost no luck with them here in China. Maybe it is because I am in China, or maybe it is because I am using Linux, but I have tried no fewer than 20 free VPN services and I was not able to get any of them to work in China.

With all the new services and changes that come out though, it never hurts to try.

The Less than $10/month Method

GFWVPN - $7/month
(Read my full review here)

GFWVPN will give you a trial for just 1 cent. I was able to try it out and was surprised with the great speed! I tried it concurrently on two computers and was happy that worked as well. It seemed to be quite reliable for the short period I used it.

One nice thing about GFWVPN is that it allows you to purchase by the month (many VPN services require a minimum of three months). The price for a month is $7. Not super cheap, but a bit better than the more well know services. Because it uses PPTP, it can be used on Windows, Linux, Mac, Android or iPhone.

GFWVPN has a very minimalistic website (looks like a high school project)  and does not offer much support. When I actually tried to purchase their services for a month, I was never able to pay because of problems with Paypal. I am not sure why I had the problems, but they were bad enough I was never able to pay (I have my suspicions that it was somehow related to me already paying just 1 cent for the trial).

NordVPN - $5.75/month

NordVPN is one of the most feature rich VPN services I have seen; not only that, but it is also one of the cheapest! If you are considering using a VPN or switching over to a better VPN service, you should give NordVPN a chance. They even offer a free trial if you email their support.

NordVPN is the latest VPN I have used and I must say, I am rather blown away by how good the service is.

VPNing - $5/month

VPNing is another service that allows you to pay by the month (I much prefer not being tied down to a service for three months in case I don't like it).

My experience with VPNing was almost identical with GFWVPN. It worked well. No major issues. I was able to pay with credit card, but they charged extra, so it ended up being about the same as GFWVPN.

The VPNing website is a bit better than GFWVPN but still looks a bit dated.

PPTP,L2TP,SSTP & OpenVPN Access to 32 countries and 54 locations

EarthVPN - $4/month
(Read my full review here)

EarthVPN is the cheapest VPN I have found (besides Taobao and ShadeYou [see below]). Not only that, but it is also perhaps the best I have tried. It is far better than any other VPN option with a comparable price. The only VPN I have used that offers the professionalism and features of EarthVPN is Astrill (see below) but earth cost much less for a monthly subscription.

Not only does EarthVPN have plenty of servers and works on every platform, they also provide software for Windows making connecting a little bit easier. They allow different payment methods (credit card and PayPal) and their website is far better than any other VPN with comparable prices.

If you want a professional VPN for a low price, EarthVPN is the way to go. As of now, the EarthVPN website is not blocked in China. This is a great option if you are living in China.

ShadeYouVPN - $4/month
(Read my full review here)

ShadeYouVPN has all the standard features you would expect from any good VPN service provider. With ShadeYouVPN you can connect using the usual protocols and can download custom software as well to make connecting a breeze. The service and fast and reliable.

The thing that sets ShadeYouVPN from all the rest is the price! At $2.17/month (with yearly subscription) ShadeYouVPN is definitely one of the cheapest VPNs money can buy. Aside from this incredible price, you can connect up to 5 devices at once. That makes ShadeYouVPN the cheapest VPN I have seen for the price per device.

StrongVPN - $8/month or $4.58/month for a yearly subscription
(Read my full review here)

StrongVPN is another great option for a VPN to provide you with security, privacy, and the freedom of uncensored internet. StrongVPN offers great service at competitive prices. At $7.95 if you pay for a monthly account or $4.58 if you pay for the year, StrongVPN is one of your more inexpensive options. If you want an inexpensive VPN provider that you can setup and forget, StrongVPN is a good way to go.

SaferVPN - $8/month ($6/month if you buy yearly subscription)
(Read my full review here)

While SaferVPN is not the cheapest VPN service, it offers enough features that you would expect it to cost much more. SaferVPN writes 100% of their own VPN server software. This sets SaferVPN apart from other VPN services in that their proprietary VPN protocols are modified to overcome some of the common problems associated with getting past "The Great Firewall of China." Because of this, not only is SaferVPN a great solution for anyone needing safe, fast, and secure internet, SaferVPN is especially beneficial for users in China. SaferVPN manages their own network and hardware which gives the users ultra fast VPN speeds.

SaferVPN is probably the most professional VPN service I have seen for under $10/month. It is a great option if you are in China and a perfect option if you want something safe, profession, and fast without the more expensive price tag.

SaferVPN offers a free trial so you can try it out now!

Taobao - Various prices. My current price is 80 RMB a year (About $13/year. This is not a typo. Per YEAR)

After being fed up with the payment for other VPN services, I randomly decided to try taobao. I do all my online shopping using taobao and paying is quite easy (once you have done it a few times).

When you are in Taobao, type in the word "Proxy." You will get many results. They seem to change all the time and I can't really vouch for their reliability, but I can say they are compareably cheaper.

Right now I am using a proxy I bought off taobao (I also bought a VPN before and it worked really well). The proxy I am using now is the most complex to setup, but it is also the cheapest and the fastest. I can actually stream HD youtube videos (I was not even able to do that when I was using Astrill).

Another great thing about using taobao is that the website is not blocked in China. Woot!

If you choose to go this route, you will need to contact the seller right after you purchase the package. They won't automatically send you anything. Also; having some Chinese skills are computer knowledge are helpful if not necessary.

I don't know how reliable or safe this method is  (perhaps they are monitoring everything I do), but like I said before, it is by far the cheapest and fasted method I have used. Use this method with caution. - $6/month (on yearly purchase)
(Read my full review here)

SecuriTales is perfect for those who just want a super simple solution for getting past their country's internet restrictions. SecuriTales is also great for those who need a super fast speed (think Youtube).

If you are someone who is regularly using public computers or a friend's computer, SecuriTales is the ideal solution for bypassing any restrictions. SecuriTales is unique in the fact that unlike a VPN or Proxy, you don't have to install or configure anything on your computer.

SecuriTales is super simple and just works.

SecuriTales offers a free trial, so there is no reason not to try it! Click here for the free trial.

The $10/month or more Method

Astrill - $10/month (must buy at least three months)

Astrill is the most expensive service I have tried. It is also one of the easiest and most reliable (though not the fastest).  If you want something that is easy to setup and works, this is a good way to go. The reason I signed up for this service was because at the time Freegate had stopped working (political issues in China... I think). I needed something and Astrill was one of the few VPN services that was not blocked. Not only that but they work for every platform.

I thought that Astrill was nice because they provided software that worked well and made connecting to the VPN servers easy. They even provided software for Linux. Bonus points for them. The speed never seemed that fast and I could only use their services on one computer at a time. Still; not a bad way to go. If my grandma moved to China and required a VPN, I would probably recommend Astill to her (knowing that I would probably have to set up everything for her and hoped it kept working).

I am cheap though and the idea of long contracts has never appealed to me.

Vyprvpn  - $10/month ($6.67/month if you buy a year)
(Read my full review here)

Vyprvpn is unique from other VPN services in that they have their own in house protocol created by their developers that allows users to defeat VPN Blocking via Deep Packet Inspection. You can read more about their "Chameleon" protocol here. This is especially useful for users in China or other countries where websites (and VPN services) are heavily monitored by the government.

IPVanish - $10/month ($6.49/month if you buy a year)
(Read my full review here)

IPVanish is a multi-award winning VPN service with hundreds of servers throughout the world. IPVanish offers all of the standard features of your typical VPN service provider, but offers greater speed, selection, and reliability than most others. IPVanish has their own Tier-1 network to enable the fastest speeds on the market. If you are looking for something reliable and fast with no hassle, look no further than IPVanish.

PureVPN - $10/month (if you make single month purchase)
(Read my full review here)

OK. I feel a little bad grouping PureVPN in the $10 or more/month category... to be fair, PureVPN is very decently priced per month if you purchase an annual subscription ($4.16/month).

If you want a no-hassle, easy to use VPN client, then PureVPN is the way to go! PureVPN makes using a VPN so simple that you often might forget you are using a VPN at all. With more than 40 servers all over the world, you are certain to find a location that works fast and consistent no matter where you are.

PureVPN has great support and tutorials as well as software to fit most people's needs.

(Note: For a comprehensive and up-to-date comparison of features and prices for different VPNs, click on this VPN and Proxy Comparison list.)

About McKay


  1. I used SunVPN a few months ago from China. A friend recommended it to me, because it was one of the few services that still worked after some major Great Firewall updates done earlier this year. IMO, for China, make sure to ask the provider beforehand if their service can puncture via the GFW..

  2. Hotspot shield should work as long as its installed into you PC right? I read somewhere that it was blocked but i was unsure if that was the website with the download or the VPN itself....

    1. Although it has been a while since I last used Hotspot Shield, at the time the website was blocked in China, but the service still worked.

  3. I'll move to China starting from September for 6 months. I've upgraded my Hotspot Shield, it works really fine to watch Hulu videos in Europe. But I'm not sure if it will do the same job in China. Cause once I had lived in the UAE, it didn't work at all.

  4. When I was in Shanghai I used PureVPN, worked excellently for me. Found it through this list:

    1. PureVPN was working in China but now it has been blocked by GFW. I got news that IPVanish is still working in China

  5. Thanks for the recommendations, I would have spent almost double on a VPN if I didn't see your page.

  6. One of my Chinese friend told me that he use PureVPN to unblock websites in China and its very secure connection. He bought this China VPN software from this list of VPN providers..

    1. Thanks for the comment. I am planning on testing out PureVPN and doing a review soon.

  7. "These tricks won`t work all the time, and it`s really hard to browse normally with Google cache or Google translate if there are many blocked sites you want to get onto. VPNs tend to do a better job, I used a few months ago from China. Some proxies also worked for me, but they were considerably slower than the VPN. It's very easy to use. Downloading is also awesome. It's much better than proxy websites because they contain less amount of malware and viruses in comparision to proxy websites.

  8. I look the site it was a very good and very informative in many aspects thanks for share such a nice work.
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  9. So nice on line security for china people..
    vpn china

  10. Chines government is very strict on its censorship policy so free VPN are not a choice. Here is the list of top 5 VPNs which are working well in china. For detail visit:

  11. I'm using BVPN one of the best VPN service providers. It's very effective to overcome all restrictions via the standard app or using the L2TP VPN setting and also sheilding my activity while using Wi-Fi. It's suitable for all operating systems and also portable devices. i also went through this review and it helped me a lot in taking my desion accullay they have dozens of reviews which make you compare fairly enough between all available services online nowadays

  12. Well if you ask me then i will definitely recommend Expressvpn which highly recommended by various platforms and reviews websites. with enormous servers location and fastest connectivity you should preferred that one.

  13. Awesome, Thank You for giving me this of the sites which are easy to use and it is very easy way to access the block sites with the help of the proxies.
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  14. Those are the top providers for China VPN users Best VPNs for China hope this could be helpful

  15. Lots of VPNs are blocked in China and they are keep blocking VPN that is still working. I heard about ExpressVPN working fine in China. However you guys can get list of China VPN and try any vpn listed there hope it will work.

  16. I have used , tested and reviewed ExpressVPN personally. I am happy to say that it is one of the best VPN servce providersI have used recently.

  17. I believe the best vpn for China is ExpressVPN. I have being using this vpn for the past two months and i have had no issue with it.

    1. Hi Alex.. I beg to disagree.. Astrill remains to be the most reliable vpn connection for me. Beem with them for three years now.

  18. Does Hotspot Shield work?

  19. I tried expressvpn in China and my experience was not good at all. Great to hear that yours was fine. I am now with Astrill and it really works for me.

  20. Opinions/experiences with using Tor?


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