How do I set up a proxy server for China?
July 29, 2010 4:32 PM   Subscribe

What's the best way to set up a proxy for surfing from China? We'll be moving next month to China and Mrs. arcticseal is concerned that she won't be able to satisfy her Facebook and Google addiction if they're blocked.

While I'm comfortable enough setting up a wireless network, I'm never set up a proxy before and am not sure how to go about it. Previous questions have covered this, but not recently.

We have a mixed Windows (Vista) and Mac household, including various iPods, iPad and PS3.

We don't plan on doing anything subversive while there, just stay in touch with friends and family.

Instructions that even a complete amateur could understand would be appreciated. Bonus points if we can still access Netflix streaming!
posted by arcticseal to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Easiest would be to pay for a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service that tunnels all your encrypted traffic back to the US. You could set this up as a profile on your computer (so it could be turned off) or on your router to tunnel all traffic from all computers back to the US, although you'd be sharing more limited bandwidth with this method.

Here are several VPN providers:
Witopia VPN

Most of them have detailed setup instructions.

I don't know which would be best for your needs, but this site claimed Witopia as the preferred choice for hopping the Great Firewall.
posted by sharkfu at 5:35 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

You might technically be able to access Netflix streaming over a VPN or proxy, but it is going to be too slow to actually use. Chinese internet connections are not great, especially outside of Beijing and Shanghai. Don't get your hopes up on that one.

But on the bright side, China is a bootleg DVD paradise and nobody is going to threaten to sue you if you use BitTorrent.

You can't run your own proxy or VPN unless you're planning to maintain a computer and an internet connection outside of China, so you're definitely looking at a commercial service.
posted by zjacreman at 5:45 PM on July 29, 2010

Netflix streaming works over Witopia, at least for now, but as zjacreman notes, it takes a certain amount of buffering. Thirding a commercial service as being the best way to go: I use Witopia, but have heard good things about StrongVPN and Freedur as well.
posted by bokane at 6:12 PM on July 29, 2010

You can't run your own proxy or VPN unless you're planning to maintain a computer and an internet connection outside of China

...or are happy to let Amazon maintain it for you. This is very cheap but rather fiddlier to set up than one of the dedicated VPN providers listed above.
posted by flabdablet at 8:02 PM on July 29, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, looks like a VPN service is the way to go. I've got a week or so before moving, so I'll do some research on the various services.
posted by arcticseal at 8:22 PM on July 29, 2010

Response by poster: Having arrived in China today, I can confirm that WiTopia works well on my Vista laptop. Installation was a little tricky, but only due to interference from the firewall. A reboot and disabling of these during installation solved the problem. Customer service response from WiTopia to my couple of emails was exemplary.

Also purchased Witopia for my wife's Macbook and she happily reports that Netflix streaming is now possible from Canada. Installation was much simpler on the Mac than for Vista.

Thanks MeFi for coming through again!
posted by arcticseal at 10:58 PM on August 5, 2010

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