How to Escape Internet Censorship

As you probably know, the internet isn’t free everywhere: in some countries, people are met with blocks when accessing sites the government doesn’t approve of. Thankfully, there are ways around these blocks, and you don’t even have to be particularly tech-savvy to use them.

Warning: We probably don’t need to tell you this, but if you’re in a country that limits freedom of expression enough to restrict the internet, you need to be very careful when circumventing any blocks. There could be electronic countermeasures in place or even physical ones. As has happened in Myanmar and Russia, police could stop you on the street to check your smartphone. Please, be careful and keep safe.

  • How Blocks Work

To block our site, you would somehow need to cut off access from your ISP to our IP address. That’s how Chinese censorship works: It simply blocks traffic to any IP addresses that have been flagged. These flags can be for any number of reasons, some are because sites have content considered subversive by the authorities, while others offer gambling or pornography.

The nature of the block also reveals how we can get around it: if your government (or even just your ISP) is blocking an IP address, all you need to do is to connect to another, non-blocked IP address and have it connect to the blocked IP address for you, forwarding the traffic through the unblocked IP address for any other sites you want to visit. There are several ways to do so, and we’ll go over a few options below.

  • Proxies: Not Recommended

If diverting your connection in the way we described above sounds like something you’ve heard before, you’re probably already familiar with proxies. These little apps—usually simply accessed through a website—will reroute your connection through an IP address so as to make you appear in that location rather than your own.

Proxies are great for passing a regional block on YouTube or something similarly innocuous. However, for something a little more serious like passing a censorship block, using a proxy is a very bad idea indeed. The connection usually isn’t secured in any way and you can very easily be tracked—claims from proxy providers notwithstanding. Whatever you do, don’t use a proxy to get past blocks.

  • Shadowsocks

There is, however, one exception to the “no-proxies” rule, namely a protocol called Shadowsocks. Though it also doesn’t protect the connection the same as other proxies, it’s less easy to detect than one thanks to it disguising itself. Where a regular proxy can easily be detected by most blocks, Shadowsocks is a HTTPS connection, thus tricking the detection system.

Shadowsocks was developed by a Chinese programmer and it’s widely used there to get past the Great Firewall. There’s no question it works. However, if you’re having any trouble with it or you’re worried about active searches for proxy traffic, you may want to escalate your block-busting by using a VPN.

  • Virtual Private Networks

Virtual private networks are powerful, though slightly overhyped security tools that can help you evade censorship blocks and remain safe while doing so—on paper, at least. VPNs not only reroute your connection, they’ll also encrypt it through a so-called VPN tunnel, which prevents anybody from seeing what you’re doing.

We have a full article on how VPNs work if you’re interested.

For most people, most of the time, VPNs are the best way to get around censorship blocks, but they come with some downsides. The biggest is probably that they cost money, even the cheapest ones out there will set you back $5 to $10 per month, which is more than some people can afford.

The other issue is that you can’t always be sure whether the VPN you have is a good one: the marketing madness surrounding them rises in pitch every few months, it seems. We’ve made a selection of the best VPNs that we feel offer the best value; Mullvad is probably the best choice if you need a cost-effective solution that gets past any censorship blocks, while VyprVPN claims to have a special protocol that can go unnoticed by authorities.

  • ExpressVPN
  • SurfShark
  • Windscribe
  • ProtonVPN
  • ExpressVPN
  • Private Internet Access
  • NordVPN
  • CyberGhost
Best VPN for China
  • VyprVPN
  • Mullvad VPN

As we alluded to above, VPNs aren’t bulletproof—for one, police could simply check your phone for VPN software—as well as being possibly too expensive. One method of bypassing censorship that is harder to detect, as well as being free, is to create an SSH tunnel to a trusted server outside of your country and access the internet through that.

The downside is that you need some tech-savviness to set up an SSH tunnel. We have a full guide on how to use SSH tunneling that will get you on your way, though. If you have the equipment and knowledge necessary, this may be the best option yet.

Other Methods

Besides the methods above, there are other ways to get around blocks, but these usually require some more specialized technical knowledge or some extra setup, as is the case with changing your DNS server or using Tor. Decentralized VPNs are another promising technology. However, as these services are still in their infancy, we wouldn’t quite risk using them yet.

How to Browse Anonymously With Tor

However, to repeat our earlier point, there is an inherent risk when getting around government blocks. Torrenters who get caught risk a fine, but some repressive governments may have a much worse penalty for you if you’re caught circumventing censorship. If unsure, it could be better to not take the risk and wait for better days. Whatever you decide, we hope you stay safe and those better days come soon.
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How to Set Up Voicemail on iPhone

Setting up voicemail on iPhone is a simple process that takes place in the Phone app. Open Phone and tap the Voicemail tab at the bottom.

Phone app, Voicemail tab

Select “Set Up Now,” create a voicemail password, and choose if you want a Default or Custom greeting. If you pick Custom, you can record your own greeting by simply following the prompts.

  • Listen to Your Voicemail Messages

To access your voicemail and listen to your messages, head to the Voicemail tab in the Phone app. You’ll see a list of messages you’ve received as long as your carrier supports Visual Voicemail.

Select a message and tap the Play button to listen to it. If your wireless carrier also supports the Voicemail Transcription feature, you’ll also see your message transcribed to text. This is handy for a quick view of the message.

Voicemail messages on iPhone

Note: Visit the Apple Support page to see which voicemail features are supported in your region and for your carrier.

  • You’ll see a few other buttons for the voicemail message on the right side. Tap the speaker icon to hear the message in speaker mode, the phone icon to call the number back, or the trash can icon to delete the message.
  • You’ll also notice a share button on the top right you can use to send or share the message using your iPhone Share Sheet options. And finally, you have an info icon (small letter “i”) for details about the call or caller.

Voicemail message actions on iPhone

  • Adjust the Voicemail Notifications

When you have a new voicemail, you’ll see a badge app icon on the Phone app by default. You can change this by going to Settings > Phone > Notifications. This number displays all notifications from the Phone app including missed calls and voicemails.

When you open the Phone app, you’ll see a number on the Voicemail tab for the number of unplayed messages you have.

You can also set up an alert when you receive a new voicemail. Open Settings and select “Sounds & Haptics.” Pick “New Voicemail” under Sounds and Vibration Patterns.

  • Tap “Vibration” at the top to choose a pattern and select one of the Alert Tones or Ringtones at the bottom for the sound. Tap “Back” on the top left to save and exit.

Sounds and Haptics, New Voicemail alert options

  • Change the Voicemail Password

If you want to change the password you set up initially for voicemail, you can do this in the Settings app as well. Select “Phone,” pick “Change Voicemail Password,” enter the new password, and tap “Done.”

Change Voicemail Password on iPhone

  • Record a New Voicemail Greeting

You may also want to change the greeting you recorded for your voicemail. Open the Phone app, select the Voicemail tab, and tap “Greeting” on the top left.

Tap the Play button to hear your current greeting. To record your own, select “Custom,” press “Record” to start, “Stop” to finish, and then “Save” to use the greeting.

Record a new voicemail greeting

As you can see, setting up voicemail on iPhone is easy and worth a few minutes of your time so callers can leave you a message when you’re unavailable to answer. For additional help with calls on your iPhone, learn more about the Silence Unknown Callers feature for reducing spam calls or how to enable full-screen incoming calls.

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Delegate on Gmail

Google Mail allows someone to give you access to his or her account so that you can then read, send, respond to, and delete email messages on their behalf.

*You can add/remove delegates only from your browser. 

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How to Manually Update Your Google Pixel by Sideloading OTA

Android logo ADB

Google Pixel phones generally get updates before other Android devices, but that’s not always the case. There are times when you may want to manually install a firmware update before it arrives over the air. We’ll show you how to sideload an OTA update on Pixels.

In order to do this, we’ll be using the Android SDK and running some commands Command Prompt on Windows 10 and 11 and Terminal on Mac. This is not a terribly difficult process, but if not followed correctly, it can permanently damage your device.

Note: This process does not wipe your Android device clean. It installs just like any other update. However, it’s a good idea to back up everything you might not want to lose if something goes wrong.

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