Ever have a vacation gone bad?
Imagine (or maybe you don’t have to imagine this, because you’ve experienced it) going to vacation and have a great time in Beijng – and you get off the plane, check into your hotel, open your laptop or iPad to watch the YouTube video of your brother’s extreme ski trip that he said he was going to post – and it’s BLOCKED! The government has decided that it’s dangerous for you to watch your brother ski. ??!!
You want a vacation, but you don’t want one off the grid – so now the pressing question (even before “Where can I get some really good beer?”) is “How do I access YouTube in China?!”
There are a few options to consider, and I’ll outline the pros and cons for you – and then tell you what worked for me.
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It’s basically a way of putting your whole computer in different place – virtually. So if you have a VPN, your computer acts like it’s in the United States, or Canada, or England – or wherever the VPN is hosted. And so if YouTube isn’t blocked in the USA (thank heavens) – then it won’t be blocked on your computer, even if you happen to physically be in China.
- If it’s a decent VPN, it will work to access YouTube in China, Facebook, Twitter – whatever you want.
- It’s secure (i.e. no spying on what you’re sending).
- The entire computer and all programs that use internet access will work as if they are in another location.
- You have to install something on your computer – which can slow the computer down, especially if you have a Mac.
- It will only work on the device you installed it on.
- In China, it often won’t work for mobile devices.
A proxy is basically a website which will let you type in the site you want to see, and then instead of you accessing the site directly through your browser, you access it through this site as an intermediary. So if the proxy is located in a different location than you, it will show you the site the way you can see it in that location. So if your proxy is located in France, when you view YouTube through the proxy, it will act as if you are viewing YouTube in France.
- Nothing to install.
- Can access it off any device.
- They often don’t work well for social media because the technology is complicated (Ajax, streaming video, etc.) – so if your goal is to access YouTube videos in China, it might not work.
- China keeps blocking them one by one.
- They only work for your browser, not other programs – say, Skype.
- Usually not secure.
One other option, which I’ve used and can recommend – is a type of “web-based VPN” called Proxy Center.
It is a proxy – meaning it’s effectively putting your browser somewhere else, and you don’t have to install anything on your computer – but it’s secure and whoever’s responsible for the programming knows how to handle complicated technologies. YouTube worked perfectly, and I could share the important stuff with my friends on Facebook.
One big plus is that Proxy Center has a free trial, which doesn’t require ANY personal info to start (no email, no credit card) – so you can SEE that it’s going to work before you commit to anything.
So… VPN, proxy, the “web-based VPN” of Proxy Center – check them out and hopefully one will work for you to access YouTube in China – and get your vacation off to a better start.