Why is a VPN for China Important?
As you maybe already know, a VPNs main function is to protect your browsing and your data online. It will hide you from snooping eyes and protect your privacy. In the modern world, this has become increasingly important, with all the data breaches, privacies jeopardized, internet providers selling your data to advertisers without your knowledge, and many other problems.
A VPN service will thus act as a sort of gateway to the Internet, a protective door between you and the world online if you will. All of your internet data will go through a VPN server, it will get encrypted and thus protected from everyone and everything online. Besides that, a VPN will allow you to get around censorship and blocks (like the Great Firewall of China), allow you to appear to be in another country, and much more.
When you subscribe to a VPN service, you will get an app for your device, and this app will be that gateway for you. It will encrypt your data and it won’t just hide you from others online, it will hide you from your Internet provider, which is definitely way more important in China than anywhere else. The VPN server will stand between you and your internet provider who will now not be able to see which websites you are visiting. Thus, it won’t be able to block your access to various websites the Chinese government has blocked.
As you can see, it’s quite useful having a VPN, even if you don’t think you need it. But if you are located in China, you will definitely need it if you want to get around all the censorship. Plenty of popular websites are censored in China, most notably all Google services. Yes, that’s right, no Google search or YouTube in China. You also won’t be able to use Facebook, Wikipedia, Twitter, etc.
How to use a VPN in China
It is actually quite easy, and each VPN service will practically explain itself once you start using it. The only problem here is that not every VPN will work in China, all free VPNs and most Chinese VPNs are not effective in avoiding the Great Firewall and its blocks. The wall might be defective and easily avoidable, but not for everyone. Chinese people are still occasionally able to access a lot of what the outside world has to offer, even without a VPN, but remember that word – occasionally.
If you want to always be able to access everything online, you will still need a proper VPN that uses certain technologies that hide the fact that you are using a VPN. This is necessary because when you’re using most VPNs, your IP address is not shown, instead the IP address of the VPN’s server is shown.
Every better VPN service has its own method of going around the Great Firewall. StrongVPN uses an obfuscation method called Scramble to allow you to view any online content you want. ExpressVPN has one of the best, so-called stealth servers which are virtually undetectable in China.
There are plenty of such VPNs, but we will later focus only on three because, after careful research and testing, we have found that those three are the best ones to use in China. We will go over each later in the article.
Key China VPN Questions and Answers
- Am I still going to need an Internet Service Provider (ISP) if I’m using a VPN? Yes, of course. A VPN doesn’t provide you with an internet connection so you will still need to have an ISP.
- Can I use a VPN on my phone? Yes, of course. Most better VPNs offer apps for desktop computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones… well, for basically every device you could have.
- Will a VPN make me anonymous? Unfortunately no. A VPN offers privacy, but it can’t offer anonymity. As you probably remember from earlier in the text, a VPN is your gateway to the Internet, so it naturally sees what you do, just like your Internet provider would. But the difference is that a VPN does not store this information.
- Are VPNs legal? Are they legal in China? Yes and yes. VPNs are legal basically everywhere, even in China. This country doesn’t allow only unregistered VPN services to operate there, but even if you were using such a service, you would never get in trouble. The law always goes after the service, never the user. So you can feel at ease as you will always be safe from the authorities while using a VPN in China.
- Can I download a VPN while in China? It depends. VPNs are not always blocked in China, but their websites often are. So it’s much better to download a VPN before you set foot on Chinese soil.
- Does using a VPN slow down my connection? Yes, but usually not by much. Since your data has to go through an extra destination (the VPN server) it has to take longer to go through everything. But you will usually lose very little of your speed when using a VPN. You probably won’t even notice it.
- What if my VPN suddenly stops working and leaves me vulnerable without my knowing? This will rarely happen, and even if it did, most VPNs offer you a kill switch that will prevent you from continuing to use your internet connection until the VPN connection is restored.
Things to look for before buying a VPN
When you finally decide to buy a VPN, you will have to consider several things before making your decision. We will go over those, but if you want to get the best VPNs that serve all of your needs properly, in general, and when in China, you can skip this part and take a look at our pick for the 3 best VPNs for China.
For now, let’s go over some of the more important things to look for before buying:
- The number of servers. A good VPN service will have a lot of servers, as they are necessary in order for their service to properly function.
- The number of devices. How many devices do you use and for how many you want a VPN? Depending on how high that number is, some VPNs might not offer support for enough devices, so you should check that as well.
- The amount of data. The reality is that free data plans offer limited amounts of data per month. So you will have to consider how much you go online per month and if your VPN has a high enough data cap.
- Support for OpenVPN. Every VPN uses a specific protocol to connect and to encrypt your information. The current standard is OpenVPN, so you should make sure that the VPN you are choosing supports it.
- The price. Everything comes down to it eventually. There’s a big difference between different VPN services, so you will have to take a look at enough of them and find the one that suits you best.