January 2010 Update: We've written a new post on proxies, VPNs and internet access. From now on please add any questions, comments, tips, and hints to that other thread.Due to ever-tightening internet regulations and constant re-enforcement of The Great Firewall, China-based internet users have been forced to adapt with the times, work within conventions and switch from proxy servers to VPNs (virtual private networks). A VPN is: "a computer network that is implemented in an additional software layer (overlay) on top of an existing larger network for the purpose of creating a private scope of computer communications or providing a secure extension of a private network into an insecure network such as the Internet." (Wikipedia) In other words, it's downloadable software that masks an existing network and allows your computer private access. Since proxy sites like Hot Spot Shield, Sneakme.net and Unblockmyspace.com have all been blocked in China, internet users have flocked to Freedur. Compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux, Freedur allows anonymous access to site likes Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for $60 (USD) a year. They offer a 1 week money back guarantee for anyone interested. While Freedur seems to be the VPN of choice for the Web 2.0 contingent, there are others available, all with advantages and disadvantages. Witopia offers cheaper service ($39.99 USD / year with a 30-day free trial), but users have complained about significantly slower connection speed, and Opera is free, but access is mostly limited to wireless mobile devices. It doesn't seem as though the bans on these heavily "controversial" sites will be lifted any time soon, meaning the Chinese netizens will need to remain crafty as ever to sneak around and over the Great Firewall. Also, make sure to check out the original post about VPNs, proxies and the Great Firewall . . . Editor's note: We're inviting bloggers who write about travel and life in China to republish select posts on ChinaTravel.net. If you blog your China experience and would like to share with our readers, let us know by email.