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greatfire.org VPN guide to China

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why should I buy my circumvention service on Circumvention Central?

  • You can download the latest Android client without Google Play.
  • You can download and install the latest Windows client to your computer without circumventing.
  • You can use Alipay to buy any service.
  • Bilingual installation guides.
  • Bilingual customer support.
  • Support all of GreatFire's work including FreeBrowser and FreeWeibo.

How do you measure the speed of a circumvention tool?

The speed test that we have developed aims to reflect the real user experience. While a visitor to the site runs a test, in the background, their browser is downloading resources from the ten most popular websites in the world. According to Alexa, these sites are Google, Facebook, YouTube, Baidu, Amazon, Yahoo, Wikipedia, QQ, Twitter and Microsoft Live. The speed reported is simply the size of the file downloaded divided by the time taken to download it. We also verify whether the downloaded resource is complete. If the contents returned are incorrect or if the download fails to complete within 40 seconds, we mark it as failed. This data is then used to calculate our other main indicator – stability.

Why do you measure the stability of a circumvention tool?

Stability is typically not tested by other services at all. A healthy internet connection anywhere is supposed to deliver 100% stability, unless someone pulls the cable during the test. But using a circumvention tool in China is different. At any point, the connection can become unstable and/or go down completely. Individual requests may fail depending on the size of the request, the final destination and how they are proxied. Thus comparing service stability is just as important if not more important than comparing speed.

Can I test any circumvention tool on the site?

You can use our speed and stability tests with any circumvention tool, whether it is listed on our site or not. VPN users from around China will be able to test their tool on the site and those results will be added to our data. This data will be available for all to see.

Can I see the inner workings of your tests?

Tech savvy users can inspect how we conduct our tests by reviewing our javascript code.

Does GreatFire.org make money if I subscribe to a circumvention tool on this site?

One of the objectives in launching CC is to generate revenue for GreatFire.org. At the moment GreatFire relies on the kindness of individuals who send us donations and from a host of grant-making organizations around the world. We want to reduce our reliance on these organizations and set GreatFire.org on a path of self-sustainability. Visitors to the CC site will be able to purchase any paid-for tool that we currently test. GreatFire will act as a reseller of these tools in China and as such we will be given a portion of each sale by the VPN providers themselves. Users need not be based in China to purchase a circumvention service.

How does CC compare to other VPN review websites?

There are a host of websites that provide “VPN reviews” and “VPN ratings”. But anybody who has visited those sites can quickly see that they act as referral and marketing sites for a small subset of VPN providers and that most of those services do not work in China.

Where did you find those VPNs?

We used this great list of VPNs put together by That One Privacy Guy. We took that list and recruited a team of testers across China and tested almost every tool to see what works and what does not. It will come as little surprise to those in China to know that a very small number of these tools actually work in China.

Do we think that the authorities will use our website to crackdown on VPNs that work?

It would be very easy to completely block all VPNs if the authorities wanted to. However, we believe that they have not because of the importance of allowing access for businesses and for others. The goal of CC is simply to make it easier for all to find the circumvention tools that work the best.

Your tests tell me that my favorite tool does not work but it’s working great for me, what gives? Your tests tell me that my favorite tool works but it’s not working for me, what gives?

Test results can vary according to location, the service you are using to connect to the internet and your device. As more people use this site to test their circumvention tools, we will accumulate more data and will be able to develop a clearer idea of what is working and what is not.

How do you measure “stability”?

When you test your tool on our site in the background we download a certain number of images. If these images do not download or take more than 40 seconds to download then we consider this to be a failed test of stability and we calculate a percentage based on the number of images we attempted to download during the test.

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