Oh, the Great Firewall of China, what a magnificent piece of human achievement. A massive wall built to protect users from all of the information on the free web. What a spectacu- …wait? Great Firewall? Protect users from the free web?
Yes, the Great Firewall of China is an advanced firewall that filters the content which users can access on the web. It prevents those inside China from accessing the entirety of the internet and viewing content which has been banned by state media.
The ban originally came from China’s feud with Google, where Google refused to censor content in search results. Thus, the Great Firewall of China was born.
However, if you are traveling to China or plan on living in China, how exactly can you access your Gmail or the free web? It’s not nearly difficult as you think and this brief guide will show you how to surpass the wall.
Hopping the Great Firewall
The Great Firewall is tough, REALLY tough, but it isn’t impossible to surpass and the best way to get around the firewall is by using a VPN.
A VPN is a cyber security software program which reroutes your internet connection to a network of private and encrypted servers so that no one can see what you have been up to. The servers can be located anywhere in the world as they are designed to help you bypass the restrictions and limitations of a firewall. The VPN then switches your IP address to an anonymous IP address that the VPN owns. Thus, your virtual location appears to be in whatever city or country you chose, and none of your activity can ever be viewed by anyone.
As a result, you are granted free access to the web without restrictions and it couldn’t have been easier to get to that point. Just choose a VPN, download the software, enter an email, launch the program and boom – you’re in!
Sounds easy enough, right? Unfortunately it’s not, as the Great Firewall is also very good at detecting VPNs. However, that doesn’t mean that all VPNs won’t work there anymore as some have certainly managed to keep their services alive, even from inside the Great Firewall. So, if you’re looking for a free VPN so that you can use Gmail on your next visit to China, check out the following list of VPNs that work wonders in China.
Free VPNs That Surpass the Great Firewall
Windscribe is a VPN service that is a great pick if you are looking to access Gmail and other mail services from China. Free VPNs typically offer limited bandwidth such as 500MB of free usage, requiring further use of the service to be paid. Windscribe however, blows past that usage amount by offering users up to 10GB of data usage per month. Additionally, Windscribe allows users to torrent from popular file sharing sites such as BitTorrent while staying anonymous and protected.
A super trendy mascot makes TunnelBear very likable from the start and the truth is that TunnelBear is actually a great VPN for China, with a very friendly user interface that is easy to use by all.
TunnelBear is a service that keeps you protected in just a couple of clicks. Once you open the app, you can either choose the auto-connect feature, or choose which country you would like to connect to via an interactive map with tunneling bears. In a matter of seconds, your connection is rerouted allowing you to read emails, surf the web or watch videos – all in privacy and anonymity. TunnelBear offers 500MB of free service each month.
Another superb free VPN to unlock your Gmail account in China is Hotspot Shield. Hotspot Shield is a very quick virtual private network with free VPN servers scattered throughout the US. With those servers, you are able to access almost any US based content that you would like, from inside China or any other internet restricted country. Furthermore, the setup is quick and easy, ensuring that even novice web users can activate the service. Hotspot Shield offers a whopping 500MB daily data allowance, giving you 15GB of free service each month.
Tips for a Better VPN Experience in China
• Install Your VPN Before You Take Off
If you wait until you are in China to install the VPN of your choosing, you will be sadly disappointed to see that you’ve missed your chance. The Great Firewall will block access to any of the VPN sites and deny you from being able to download the software. Thus, downloading and installing a VPN before you go to China is simply a must.
• Bring Two VPNs – Just In Case
It is always great to have a backup VPN, just in case the VPN you have brought suddenly stops working throughout the duration of your stay. A second VPN will also give you much more free data usage, allowing you to surf and explore more per month. Be warned though, as not all VPNs play nicely together, causing some services to fail to even open, if another VPN is already installed on the device.
• Limit Your Usage
Free VPNs can truly be lifesavers as they are usually there when you need them the most. However, because they are free, they won’t offer you unlimited usage which will force you to be careful with how much data you use from the service. Limit the use of your VPN to only the times when you need it, so that you can still rely on it at a later time.
If you plan on doing work or keeping in contact through Gmail in China, having a VPN is a must. The three above VPNs are great options but there are certainly other networks which will work wonders inside the Great Wall, such as paid services like ExpressVPN and NordVPN. So, find the VPN that works right for you, and enjoy Gmail and much more from China!