What e-mail provider should I use while in China?
April 19, 2010 8:58 AM   Subscribe

What e-mail provider should I use while in China, if my school e-mail (run through google) and gmail address won't be available?

This summer I'm going to be doing a study abroad program from China but I don't think I'll be able to access either my personal email (a gmail address) or my school e-mail (which is now run through google...as in you access the account at google.myuniversity.edu) My question is what e-mail provider should I be using this summer? Yahoo? Hotmail? Something else? Or will I actually be able to access my g-mail and school e-mail accounts?
posted by lucy.jakobs to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
GMail remains perfectly accessible, at least for now, as is Google Apps (which I use myself). I wouldn't stress over it, though if you'll be here for the whole summer, you might want to invest in a VPN anyway -- I use Witopia, but there are many others out there -- as life without Youtube gets old, and various random blockages (including some newspaper sites -- though not the ones you'd expect) are a perennial annoyance.
posted by bokane at 9:05 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Gmail is currently fully available in China, and although there might be a worst-case scenario in which all Google products are completely banned from access in the PRC, it seems almost unthinkable that the government would block an academic domain just because Google administered their email.

So I think you'll have access to all your email accounts. If you want to be super-safe, Yahoo has shown itself to be perfectly willing to sell out individual users in order to stay in business, which has made them pretty stable. Hotmail, too, as far as I can tell -- they all work fine.

You may want to look into getting a VPN (which some school libraries provide free of charge) or a proxy connection if you're heavily networked through blogspot, facebook, or Twitter -- unlike email providers, social media are often blocked.

on preview: what bokane said.
posted by Valet at 9:09 AM on April 19, 2010

I think the best idea in general for email is to buy your own domain and pick whatever host you want. Most discount registrars have some sort of out-of-the-box webmail package, and you can use Google Apps to host your domain email (among other things) if that works. It's pretty much future-proof, because whenever you have a reason to drop your webmail provider you can just find a different one without losing your email address.

Also, as long as your other email providers (like your school), have some sort of forwarding option, you should be able to get your existing email forwarded to your new domain address.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:17 AM on April 19, 2010

nthing opening a VPN account before you leave, not just for any perceived security risk, but because, as James Fallows noted during his time there, the main effect of the Great Firewall is to make the internets treacle-slow.
posted by holgate at 9:35 AM on April 19, 2010

Gmail works in China. I've got a friend over there who has no problem with his gmail account. You still want to be careful about what you send, as you should basically presume that anything you're doing the authorities know about, but the application itself works just fine.

The VPN suggestions are worth looking into.
posted by valkyryn at 10:19 AM on April 19, 2010

Definitely get a VPN. facebook, youtube, and basically internet freedom.
posted by wooh at 11:44 AM on April 19, 2010

Definitely get a VPN.

Or use a proxy like Tor/Vidalia with a firefox plugin like foxyproxy or tor button. That's what I do, and while it's relatively slow, it works reliably. Every so often I need to get new bridge connections, but that's easy through email.
posted by msbrauer at 6:27 PM on April 20, 2010

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