ExpressVPN

How to Unblock Dropbox in China

Dropbox Logo

Collaborating remotely across time zones and the ability to do so at will, has irrevocably changed the way business is handled. Dropbox, and other similar services allow teams of people to work together on documents, spreadsheets, or other projects, simultaneously updating them – in real time.

Cloud storage services like Dropbox are based on data syncing, a basic sounding yet crucial feature of data storage. Dropbox supports desktops and smartphones, as well as offering their own web client. The former two have unlimited uploads with no restrictions while the desktop client only has a maximum 10GB allotment. Dropbox also supports multiple platforms: Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, and Blackberry.

Dropbox tease

Users have several convenient features built-in. Grabbing and sharing screenshots is painless, Microsoft Office integration is available, as is choosing which files to sync and which to leave out. You can also view any stored files offline, and go back in time to a previous version.

EU

A ruling by the European Court of Justice (Europe’s highest court), on October 6th , said that data transfers from the EU to the US were no longer protected under the jointly subscribed Safe Harbor Act. The program, based on a previous ECJ ruling in 2000, established privacy guidelines, specifically regarding data protection. Dropbox encrypts files in transit and at rest, meaning the information is encoded both for sending and when it’s “stopping off” while en route to its destination.

A Dropbox spokesman commented on the ruling, as per the BBC: “We were one of the first, and are still one of the only, major cloud service providers to achieve ISO 27018  certification – a global standard for cloud privacy and data protection.”

“Along with the rest of the industry, we eagerly await guidance from the European Commission on the revised Safe Harbour framework, which will help determine the most effective long-term solutions.”

Dropbox has joined Apple, Twitter, Reddit, and other companies in opposing the US CISA data collection law.  Their head of public policy, Amber Cottle recently told Engadget that information sharing between the public and private spheres shouldn’t come at a cost to user privacy. It’s great to see an equally strong commitment to privacy on both sides of the Atlantic.

AES

Dropbox offer the industry standard AES-256 bit encryption, which we stand by in our reviews, as well as transmitting data using SSL/TLS protected tunnels (more details on both can be found here). Furthermore, we like the fact that they have two-step verification in place to secure the login process.

The free version of Dropbox comes with 2GB of free storage, which isn’t so much, but referring friends increases space up to a cap of 18GB. You can also purchase 1TB of space for a monthly price of $9.99. Businesses can opt for the business package and uncapped storage at $15 per month, per user. However, business packages must include at least five users, so buying a plan for business actually involves buying five subscriptions, or more.

So what options are there when you reside in or are passing through China, where one of the top file hosting and sharing websites in the world is prohibited and vigorously blocked by the Chinese government? You’ll need a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

What is a VPN?

A VPN masks your I.P. address so that the devices you connect to the internet show their location as the US, UK, or anywhere else the VPN provider has servers. Most providers host servers throughout Europe, Asia, and North America, though some also run servers in Latin America, and Australia. Please note, not all VPNs are equally suited to getting through the Great Firewall of China (GFW), more details below.

When should you install the VPN?

VPN software meant for smartphones should be installed before traveling to China, if possible, as the Google Play Store is blocked in China, and many VPN website domain names are blocked as well. Alternatively, you can still install a VPN service while in China, it’s just harder to do so. Once you’ve read over our picks for the top VPNs to use in China and made your decision, it’s time to download and install your VPN following the provider’s given instructions.

You’ve signed up and installed a VPN Client. What now?

Open and run your VPN client according to the instructions given to you, then open your web browser. In the URL bar at the top, type: https://www.dropbox.com/ – then press enter. That’s all!

What is the top VPN for China?

All points considered when looking for a VPN with both strong performance, and encryption, ExpressVPN is the winner. It uses 256-bit security with OpenVPN as the standard protocol. Alternatively, you can use L2TP or PPTP, for faster speeds, though they already provide excellent bandwidth. These are also supported on its mobile apps. ExpressVPN run servers in 78 countries. The important part is that they maintain dedicated ‘stealth’ servers in Hong Kong specifically to circumvent the GFW.

Do note that regardless of the information posted here, or on other review sites, many listed VPNs aren’t working anymore because the GFW is constantly updated and increasingly difficult to bypass – it’s a fluid paradigm. Consequently, it’s best to check beforehand and semi-regularly if a particular provider’s site is blocked.  Read on to see our Top 5 VPN picks for China.

Best VPN for China Summary

Rank Provider Grade Starting Price Link

1

ExpressVPN

Read Review >
$12.95/mo Visit Site >

2

VyprVPN Logo

Read Review >
$14.99/mo Visit Site >

3

AirVPN Logo
Read Review >
$7.86/mo Visit Site >

4

TorGuard Logo

Read Review >
$9.99/mo Visit Site >

5

BolehVPN Logo
Read Review >
$10.00/mo Visit Site >

Winner

ExpressVPN

5/5

  • PROS
  • Fast speed boosted for China
  • Servers in 78 countries
  • 30 day money back guarantee
  • ‘Stealth’ servers in Hong Kong
  • CONS
  • Not the cheapest VPN

We love ExpressVPN because as a large international company it has servers in 78 countries (including Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan and West Coast US), it is very fast, it offers a very generous 30 money back guarantee, and it has great apps for both Android and iOS. It keeps no logs of users’ internet activity (although some connection logs are maintained) and allows up to 2 VPN connections at once. Even better for users in China, ExpressVPN offers stealth servers located in Hong Kong that are specially designed to evade the GFW. With lots of funky features, great speeds, and solid reliability, ExpressVPN is a great all-round choice.

Try Out the Best VPN for China Today!

Visit ExpressVPN »

30-day moneyback guarantee

2nd place

VyprVPN

4,5/5

  • PROS
  • Servers in Hong Kong
  • 7 day money back guarantee
  • Up to 3 simultaneous connections
  • ‘Chameleon’ anti-GFW system
  • CONS
  • Pricey
  • Avoid cheaper PPTP-only package

This multinational provider is unique in being the only VPN service to own its own server network. This results in blazing-fast performance, and allows VyprVPN to offer proprietary ‘Chameleon’ anti-censorship technology which ‘scrambles OpenVPN packet metadata to ensure it’s not recognizable via deep packet inspection, while still keeping it fast and lightweight. The Chameleon technology uses the unmodified OpenVPN 256-bit protocol for the underlying data encryption’ to access international websites unhindered.’ VyperVPN also allows a generous 3 simultaneous connections, features a desktop app with a kill switch, and apps for iOS and Android. As with TorGuard, it seems the VyprVPN website is not currently blocked.

Visit VyprVPN »


3rd place

AirVPN

4,35/5

AirVPN Logo

  • PROS
  • No logs at all
  • Transparent service
  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • Dynamic port forwarding (port 443), real-time user and server statistics
  • Support for VPN over Tor
  • VPN through SSL and SSH tunnels
  • Good speeds
  • 3 day free trial, uses shared IPs
  • P2P: yes
  • 3 simultaneous connections
  • Server in Hong Kong, 3 day trial
  • CONS
  • none

This Italian provider offers among the best security and anti-censorship technology available on the web, allowing both SSH and SSL tunnelling to evade the GFW (and also supporting VPN through Tor for maximum anonymity, making it a great tool for dissidents.) Add in some of the strongest encryption around, and a Windows, Mac OSX and Linux client with built-in DNS leak protection and a kill switch, and AirVPN should be on the top of every privacy fanatic’s wish list. As with most of the providers listed here, the AirVPN website is blocked by the GFW, but we are told that if you email AirVPN support, they can provide access to the website through a URL that is not blocked in China.

Visit AirVPN »


4th place

TorGuard

3,75/5

TorGuard Logo

  • PROS
  • No logs
  • Ve4ry fast
  • Shared IPs
  • SSH tunneling
  • DD-WRT routers
  • Server status information
  • P2P: yes
  • Servers in Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • West Coats US
  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • Port forwarding
  • 7 day trial
  • Website not blocked in China
  • CONS
  • Encryption on most servers a bit meh • customer service could be better
  • Based in US

TorGuard uses an adaptation of obfsproxy for OpenVPN. This transforms the VPN traffic so it appears to be regular HTTP traffic, which makes it difficult for the GFW to filter. In addition to this, TorGuard runs servers within mainland China, which it uses to offer secure SSH tunnel services. Other than that, TorGuard offers servers in an impressive 42 countries (including Hong Kong, Japan, and West Coast US), allows up to 5 simultaneous connections, and supports port forwarding. As a bonus, for some reason the TorGuard website is not blocked in China (at the time of writing).

Visit TorGuard »


5th place

BolehVPN

3.5/5

  • PROS
  • No logs
  • Fast
  • Great OSX and Windows software
  • P2P: yest
  • 2 simultaneous connections
  • ‘xCloak’ servers
  • Servers in Hong Kong and West Coast US
  • VPN over Tor
  • CONS
  • 128-bit Blowfish OpenVPN encryption could be stronger

Based at an off-shore location somewhere along the Malaysian coast, this provider offers ‘xCloak’ servers designed to allow access through the GFW. We love BolehVPN’s no logs at all policy, plus the fact it has great connection speeds, and servers in Hong Kong and West Coast USA. The Windows and OSX client is also very funky, and features a VPN kill switch and DNS leak protection.

Visit BolehVPN »


Honorable mentions

Other VPN providers reported as working are MyVPN, PureVPN, and Hide My Ass (HMA) (reviewed) and TigerVPN and MoleVPN (not reviewed by us). IronSocket also offers stealth servers.

Best VPN to Unblock Dropbox in China Conclusion

We’ve gone through our top VPN picks to unblock Dropbox in China, let’s recap. The GFW blocks connections to the site for users connecting from China, making a VPN necessary to skirt the restrictions. Choosing your VPN involves a balance of three factors: price, speed, and server availability, with ExpressVPN a solid option. Sign up to a VPN service below and start collaborating remotely today.

Summary

Rank Provider Grade Starting Price Link

1

ExpressVPN

Read Review >
$12.95/mo Visit Site >

2

VyprVPN Logo

Read Review >
$14.99/mo Visit Site >

3

AirVPN Logo
Read Review >
$7.86/mo Visit Site >

4

TorGuard Logo

Read Review >
$9.99/mo Visit Site >

5

BolehVPN Logo
Read Review >
$10.00/mo Visit Site >

*Some parts of this review were written by Douglas Crawford in an earlier post.

Check out our Ultimate Privacy Guide for further information, and let us know of any of updates or blocked VPN providers you come across in the comments below.


Dimitri M Expat in Europe - pathos for good conversation and Italia's Grande Juventus.

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