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Shadowsocks Review 2021: Before You Buy, Is It Worth It?
To connect to Shadowsocks, you need to either rent or buy a server from a third party. Shadowsocks was designed this way so everyone using it would have a different configuration because they would be renting servers from different third parties. This makes it harder for China’s firewall to detect your traffic. Server rental companies operate data centers all around the world and let you rent servers from them.
An app called Outline makes it easy to rent a server from several services and then connect to it with Shadowsocks. Outline automates the process of renting a server from DigitalOcean, Google Cloud, or Amazon Lightsail. Outline recommends using DigitalOcean because it is easy to set up and cost-effective.
The Outline client makes it easy to rent and run your own Shadowsocks-enabled server
These server rental firms don’t offer the features of a VPN, like zero-logs policies to hide your activities, streaming optimized servers, or lightning-fast speeds. You’re also limited to very few servers, which means you’ll be left with no alternatives if there’s a technical problem or your IP gets blocked. That’s why I recommend you try using Private Internet Access (PIA) to connect via Shadowsocks instead. With over 34400 super-fast servers, you have literally thousands of backups if one has a technical issue. Plus, PIA lets you connect with the Shadowsocks protocol. This gives you the advantages of a VPN and Shadowsocks all in one (for less per month than renting a server).
Shadowsocks will get you past strong firewalls but it isn’t guaranteed to keep you safe. Unlike VPNs, Shadowsocks only gives you a way of getting around censorship by disguising your traffic with HTTPS (a data transfer protocol that tricks government filters).
The Outline client makes it easy to connect using Shadowsocks, but it doesn’t have zero-logs policies or encryption to hide your data. That means server operators, ISPs, and other third parties might be able to see what you’re doing online when you use Shadowsocks. You’ll also be vulnerable to common online threats like phishing emails, malware, and scammers on public Wi-Fi networks. To defend against spying and cybercrime, you need a premium VPN.
Shadowsocks was built with the main purpose of bypassing censorship — privacy or anonymity have never been priorities for its developers. Your privacy will be mainly determined by which server you use with Shadowsocks but even if you rent a server that offers powerful encryption protocols, it might not be enough to protect your privacy.
Although Shadowsocks itself does not keep logs, some server rental services do while you use them or put your privacy at risk by partnering with third-party data firms. For example — while DigitalOcean promises not to log your online activities, it partners with SolarWinds to provide server analytics. When SolarWinds got hacked, millions of users (including DigitalOcean users and employees of US government agencies) had their data compromised. Incidents like this show that only a top-tier VPN with a proven no-logs policy and military-grade cipher can offer sufficient protection for your data from malicious third parties.
While it won’t encrypt your connection, you can torrent with Shadowsocks as long as the server you’re connecting to allows it. If you use a server with no encryption, torrent speeds will be faster than with a traditional VPN — but you also won’t stay anonymous. While you should never use torrent sites to violate copyright law, even accidental downloads of protected material could get you in legal trouble. If safety is a priority for you when torrenting I would not recommend Shadowsocks. I prefer a super-fast VPN that ensures I remain anonymous and keeps my data safe while torrenting.
Does Shadowsocks Work in China? Yes!
Created by an anonymous Chinese hacker calling themselves “clowwindy” to bypass internet blocks, Shadowsocks reliably works in China.
Recently, China has cracked down on VPNs that were previously able to bypass China’s strong firewall. Only a few VPNs work in China and they rely on well-known protocols to encrypt data. This has allowed Chinese censors to create machine-learning technology that can often identify these protocols and block the VPNs supporting them.
While a VPN is rerouting your traffic through a server in a different location, Shadowsocks is disguising the connection between your local computer and a proxy server. Shadowsocks relies on you renting, buying, or creating your own proxy servers. You will therefore have a different configuration to other Shadowsocks users who use other server providers. Its non-centralized system makes it less likely for officials to detect your traffic as each Shadowsocks connection looks a little different.
Although officials are aware of Shadowsocks and have attempted to block its use in China, it still remains one of the more reliable tools to circumvent censorship. This is because Shadowsocks is open-source and anyone can maintain, alter and release new versions of Shadowsocks if a version of it gets blocked.
If you are traveling to China and need access to your emails and other online accounts, the easiest way to rent servers and use Shadowsocks is through a third-party app. I used Outline to rent and connect servers to Shadowsocks. You can download Outline straight from its website, rent a server located outside China using Outline’s manager and connect to the open web.
Shadowsocks makes it easy to open up the restricted web in other countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia, and UAE. Just take note that non-approved VPNs and using circumvention tools to bypass censorship aren’t legal in these countries. The protection of a VPN or circumvention tool doesn’t give you the license to break the law.
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Shadowsocks is a free and open-source encryption protocol project, widely used in China to circumvent internet censorship. It is not a proxy on its own, but typically, the client software will help to connect to a third-party socks proxy.
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What is a Shadowsocks server?
Shadowsocks is a Python initial version written by @clowwindy. It aims to provide a simple-to-use and easy to deploy implementation with the basic features of Shadowsocks
How to create your own Shadowsocks server?
It’s really easy to set up your own server. Here is what you need to do:
up Shadowsocks VPN hosting on SkySilk
to VPS with SSH
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Can you host Shadowsocks on the cloud?
Yes, you can and you MUST because not only is it secure but it’s super fast when you get your VPN with Shadowsocks.
Shadowsocks Review 2021 – Keep This in Mind Before Buying
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Shadowsocks is a strange beast; it is part VPN and part a shadow that travels around in cyberspace unnoticed (a little like that sock that you lost in the laundry that you never found).
Shadowsocks differs from a VPN in that it isn’t intended to protect your privacy nor to give you anonymity while surfing. For that, we suggest you opt for a premium vendor like ExpressVPN.
As a SOCKS5 proxy venture, the main purpose of Shadowsocks is to bypass censorship and it was designed with one goal in mind – finding a way through the complex censorship laws that are the fundamental bricks in the Great Firewall of China. Unlike a VPN, Shadowsocks is highly customizable and uses HTTPS to disguise your online movements. This technology doesn’t encrypt your traffic like a VPN, nor does it send all your traffic through a specific server. Instead, it works with a number of different TCP connections, making it much faster than its rivals and much more difficult for authorities to detect as a masked connection.
Some of the benefits of Shadowsocks are that it is a completely free and open source with an extensive community dedicated to providing ongoing support. Shadowsocks is compatible with most platforms and is also fully functional on mobile devices as well as wireless networks. In terms of navigating geoblocks and government restrictions, you can’t really do better. Shadowsocks also enables you to decide which areas of your online activities are disguised by the program and which are left untouched, meaning you can operate on websites only available in China while simultaneously accessing blocked sites such as Gmail.
Creeping stealthily through the underwear drawers of virtual reality, Shadowsocks makes your online activities invisible while it also remains virtually impossible to detect.
Compared to a VPN, Shadowsocks has both its advantages and disadvantages. If your primary goal is to navigate past blocks imposed by restrictive authorities, then Shadowsocks is perfect for the job, but if you want to secure your online privacy and remain anonymous, you’re better off turning to one of the more reputable VPNs available.
If you’re really inventive, however, you can also use Shadowsocks in conjunction with a VPN to improve speeds. Shadowsocks can also help you unblock popular streaming services in heavily-restricted areas. For example, if you are in China and want to gain a reliable and high-speed connection to Netflix, you can tunnel the server over Shadowsocks while using a VPN such as ExpressVPN to mask your location and gain access to the site.
Does VPN keep logs?
Number of servers
Number of devices per license
Compare Shadowsocks with the top alternative VPNs
An easy and free way to bypass China’s Firewall
Despite its level of sophistication, the Shadowsocks setup process is surprisingly straightforward while it also boasts cross-platform compatibility.
As it is open source, it’s also completely free to download and provides some of the best technology available for negotiating content restrictions and censorship. However, if you want to hide your identity while surfing, Shadowsocks is not for you.
If you are looking for more ways to stream global content seamlessly, check out our review of the best VPNs for Netflix.
Capable of superfast speeds
Effective at bypassing censorship and especially China’s Firewall
Compatible with most platforms, including Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux and OpenWRT
Completely free and open source
Offers flexible encryption
Optimised for mobile devices and wireless networks
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