Staying in China as a foreigner isn’t easy when it comes to reaching out to friends and family back home. As most of us know, websites like Facebook and YouTube are blocked including mobile apps like WhatsApp.
I personally consider this as a smart move by the Chinese government as it promoted the use of local platforms, at least for the locals. To replace WhatsApp, the amazing WeChat app is used on a daily basis for almost anything and for a YouTube replacement, there is Youku, Iqiyi, Sohu, PPTV and many others. Unfortunately, these aren’t convenient for foreigners like me who aren’t so good at Chinese.
Well, I have been in China for almost 5 years now. Accessing “outside China” popular websites has been a hustle. In my 5 years, I have tried so many VPN services and proxies. Today, the need for a VPN or some sort of proxy is on demand as more foreigners come to China to study.
What’s the need for a VPN?
Well, generally speaking unlike the case here in China where you simply want to bypass the “Great Wall”, VPNs are used to provide anonymity for the user. When one is using a VPN, he or she’s IP address, may appear to be in a different location from their original location. There is an actual definition of a VPN but that doesn’t really matter to most.
Enough with the irrelevant information, I’m pretty sure most of you are only here for the list of VPNs. Let’s get right into it.
Betternet is a free VPN for Windows, Mac, iPhone, and Android. I still have betternet installed on my PC but not on my phone. Before I can give the reason why I do not have it installed on my phone, I must say the VPN performs very well, especially on PC.
Unfortunately, the Android version of the app has too many ads. I personally don’t mind an ad or two when I launch the app, provided the service is free. But betternet however, goes beyond those two ads when it’s connected. It randomly opens full-screen video ads even when the app is in the background. I believe ads should only pop-up when the user is using or launches the app and never when the app is in the background.
That is all I have to say about my betternet experience on PC and Android. I never really tested the app on iPhone but if you are familiar with Hexatech VPN, it is also owned by the betternet company. As of writing, both Betternet and Hexatech aren’t available of the Chinese App Store. So if you are in China and your apple account is registered in China, you may have to use somebody else’s account that wasn’t registered in China.
Good old Psiphon. Why do I say this, well Psiphon has been around since 2008, so yes it has been around for a decade. This shows how serious the team behind it have been in terms of providing the service.
I don’t know about Psiphon’s performance anywhere else in the world but when it comes to penetrating the “Great Wall”, Psiphon surely has it’s days. Back in 2014, I used Psiphon pretty much all the time to access YouTube and Facebook. However, with the internet connection setup, I was using at the time, it caused major connectivity conflicts which forced me to format my machine. Well, this might not be a downfall to most and it isn’t to me as of today. I have personally moved on from the Psiphon world but it still is a good service.
I recently checked out their website and discovered that they’ve added Psiphon Browser for iOS and Psiphon Pro (Not available in all countries).
Now I will talk about three Google Chrome browser extension that provides free unlimited VPN/Proxy. You might be wondering why I would use a browser extensions and not a VPN. Well, sometimes you just want to access a blocked website and really there is no need to tunnel your entire device.
VPNs, like I said, are good for anonymity, that is, you totally don’t want any website or app to track your real location. With that said, let me introduce my three browser ninjas
- SkyZIP is by far my favorite chrome proxy extension which I currently use on Chrome. It has proven to be fast and very efficient. It is available for free and there aren’t any so-called monthly limits.
- Hoxx VPN Proxy is amazing too. The team behind it really works hard to make sure that the users get the best experience. Why am I saying this? Well, sometime last year, there was a meeting going on in China and the government doubled or even tripled their security. Movements were restricted where the meeting was taking place, especially for foreigners and the “Great Wall” was at its best. It was so difficult to get a working VPN or proxy service but the guys at Hoxx were trying so hard to penetrate through. They frequently sent emails, telling us that they were working on updates and updates did come through. Unfortunately, Hoxx didn’t make it through the wall but the team introduced us, the users, to their other extension. People like myself made the switch at the time and we were back to having our online freedom. Hoxx VPN is available for free on the webstore and it works perfectly.
- SetupVPN I will not say much. This is the Hoxx VPN alternative by the Hoxx VPN team. When I mentioned that Hoxx had provided an alternative, this was it and surely setup did not disappoint. All you need is an account and you are good to go.
So I’ve mentioned downloading a VPN software or adding an extension to your browser. Probably you may have even made a decision already but let’s see if this might be the only tool you need for privacy.
Opera browser was the thing back in the day, till Chrome and Mozilla Firefox took over the world of web browsers. I never thought I would ever look for another browser other than those two. Late last year, while I was struggling, searching for a VPN and almost gave up, a friend asked me if I had tried browsing with opera VPN. Well, I thought opera had built a new VPN service. I looked up “Opera VPN” on bing and what popped up, operavpn.com, this is a VPN for iOS and Android.
This definitely wasn’t what my friend had recommended, and so I just decided to visit the opera browser website. To my surprise, they were actually showing off their inbuilt, unlimited VPN. I didn’t really believe what I was seeing and thought of just trying it.
Long story short, I use Opera more than ever before. The in built VPN is awesome with multiple locations. Connections are barely interrupted on Opera. Last month, I used over 500GB on bandwidth. Yes, 500GB, that is no typo and it was all provided for free. The new opera browser is amazing with an inbuilt adblocker ( I watch ALL youtube videos without ads), comes with WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger built in the browser.
Well, I can go on talking about how I am enjoying opera beyond it’s free VPN but it’s best you check it out yourself.
Please note that every app, extension or website mentioned in this article only reflects my experience. There aren’t any affiliate links attached nor are any of the companies paying for some sort of review. I shared this to help those that may need a VPN or proxy for whatsoever reason.
The article may have typos, but if you can get the point then it’s not a problem. This article didn’t even provide 5 VPNs. Let me end this article with a question.
How Many VPNs/Proxies Were Introduced In This Article?
Leave your answer in the comments below.