When we decided to come to China to live and work for a while, we knew that we were going to have some internet trouble and needed a VPN in China. For those of you who don’t know, the Chinese government has quite the infrastructure in place to block websites and censor the internet. We refer to it as “The Great Firewall.” That is where VyprVPN came to our rescue.
Many travelers don’t realize just how much this firewall can affect your daily internet life, especially if you plan to be in China for quite some time. Simple things that we take for granted, such as accessing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Google is not possible here. YES, even Google is blocked in China due to a disagreement over censorship.
Not only does this mean you are prevented from accessing most popular social media networks, but if you use Gmail as your email client…then you are really screwed in China.
VPN in China – Limited Website Access: A Nice Break…or a Nightmare!
For some travelers who are coming to China for a short time, going without some of these internet websites isn’t such a big deal — it might even feel like a nice break! But for some people, not being able to communicate with friends and family, or share photos during their visit to China on social media can be a real bummer. You fit under this category then you will want to have a VPN in China.
And for people who actually need to use these websites to do work while in China (such as bloggers), these internet restrictions are a nightmare!
A special note to bloggers: China has also blocked numerous blogging websites…such as wordpress.com. So if you are not self-hosted, it’s likely your blog will be blocked! If you have a self-hosted .org site, then you should be fine (unless you somehow get red-flagged by the government…then you could get blocked too)!
So when we decided to live and work in China, we knew that we would need to figure something out. And that’s when I dove into the world of VPNs.
What is a VPN? – The Basics
I had only a limited, knowledge of a VPN before I started researching. I had only used VPNs with previous companies I worked with. All I knew was that logging into the VPN gave me access to the company’s secure servers, but beyond that, I didn’t know much else.
It turns out, this is a very interesting kind of software!
While I’m not a techie, I have been able to grasp the basic concept here — and so I’ll put it in simple terms that all of us can understand.
VPN stands for a “Virtual Private Network.” Essentially, it is a network that is set up through private servers, located all around the world. By logging into one of these servers, you can get an IP address that makes it seem as though you are accessing the internet from THAT location (not your physical location).
For example, I am located in China now (as I write this). But with my VPN, I can log into a server based in Seattle in the USA and the internet will think I’m in the USA…not China.
How a VPN in China can help you
Well, since you cannot access many popular (and useful) websites within China’s network, you must access them from outside their network. If you can sign into a VPN that shows you are accessing the internet from another country, say the USA or even Australia, then you can access websites as if you are physically in those countries. Essentially, you are bypassing China’s Great Firewall!
Ta-Da! Now you can access websites as you could outside of China, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google…and possibly your own web blog!
Things to Consider When Choosing a VPN Service
There are numerous VPN options on the market, and you do have to pay for most all of them. So the option that is best for you will depend on a number of different factors, including how often you will use it.
For us, we knew that we would need to use VPN everyday. Beyond that, we wanted a fast and secure connection. We also wanted to be able to connect multiple devices — because there are two of us, and we use our computers, phones, and iPad regularly.
Most VPN companies offer different plans at differing price points, so you can pick and choose the level & features that work best for you. Some options are monthly services, while others are yearly subscriptions.
China Knows and will Try and Block VPN in China!
Lastly, the Chinese government is aware that VPNs exist. Needless to say, they aren’t too pleased about people being able to get around the system.
So the powers-that-be are constantly trying to do whatever they can to block VPNs too! This means that VPN service providers must constantly be working to stay ahead of the game and keep their services accessible for clients.
On occasion, your VPN could suddenly be blocked, and you will need to find a different way to access.
For this reason, responsive customer service and ongoing tech support are also essential when choosing a VPN service.
We Chose VyprVPN — from GoldenFrog
In the end, we chose to go with Goldenfrog’s VyperVPN. After a LOT of research, we found this service to be consistently the highest rated on many expert reviewing websites. I also received some helpful reassurance from other bloggers and businesses who had vouched for their service personally.
We felt VyprVPN ticked all the boxes for us.
Another feature that we like is that we can actually choose from 50+ server locations & more than 700 IPs from all around the world! So depending on traffic, we can actually pick faster servers in different countries. We also like the fact that we can choose from many servers located inside the USA, which helps when we are accessing our US bank accounts online from abroad!
Lastly, a key feature that we like about VyperVPN is the different levels of security available. Their Chameleon level is actually one of the most secure out there — it actually scrambles your IP address, making it more difficult to be tracked, therefore preventing them from being blocked in the future (critical in places like China where they are trying to find VPN IP’s and blocking them).
Our Experience With VyprVPN Has Been a Good One
Overall, we have had the VyprVPN service now for 8 months — and we have been very happy. The service has been reliable for us, and has helped us to keep our business running and stay connected with friends and family while living in China. We are able to connect all of our devices to our account, and turn the VPN on and off as needed.
Occasionally, we have had trouble accessing VyprVPN due to the government blocking the primary Goldenfrog website. In fact, this happened to me just 2 weeks ago! However, their support services have been great about communicating issues like this, and creating work-arounds to solve the problem.
In my case, I was up and running again the next day after contacting the VyprVPN support staff for help.
We Highly Recommend VyprVPN for your VPN in China
While not all leisure travelers will need a VPN this sophisticated, we would highly recommend VyperVPN services to anyone who plans to live and work in China, or travel here for an extended period of time. In particular, people who are planning to teach English in China will need a reliable service to communicate with their friends and family back home, and bloggers (especially travel bloggers) must have a VPN like this in order to keep their businesses operating.
A Good VPN in China Can Make Life Enjoyable
Lastly, while we have loved our experience living in China, it is very different from living in the Western world. The country is isolated from a lot of what is happening outside of it’s walls, and the censorship on the internet is definitely a part of that. Even though it’s not always an issue, there are many times when we cannot access some of our favorite entertainment and news websites that have been flagged (beyond the basic social media).
These restrictions on your freedom can feel frustrating, especially when you are not used to it. So having the ability to use a VPN can also give you a bit of your freedom back, and make your time living in China more enjoyable. For us, something as simple as watching Jimmy Fallon clips on YouTube can give us a slice of life back at home, and help to make us feel not so isolated in a foreign land.
If you are interested in setting up VyperVPN, be sure to click on the banner below to claim a discounted rate!
** Note: At the time of our selection of VyperVPN there was no business or financial arrangement. We have been so happy with the service, that we now have an affiliate partnership with them. Click on the banner above to claim a discounted rate! All opinions are strictly our own.