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Hong Kong has long benefitted from a relaxed and open approach to VPNs that has stood in marked contrast to the policy in place on the Chinese mainland. Recent political events have, however, reduced the confidence of the people of Hong Kong that this status quo will remain the case for much longer. For that reason, more and more people are looking to VPNs to protect their internet browsing activity and give them access to content from all over the world.
Thankfully, this political shift has come at a time when VPNs are cheaper and easier to use than ever before. Whereas setting up a VPN once required detailed knowledge of computer networking protocols and a willingness to mess around with fairly advanced settings, using a VPN is now simply a matter of signing up and downloading the right software. In this article, we’ll run through some of the VPNs that are available to Hong Kong people and help you to work out which is the right choice for you and your specific needs. We’ll look at all of the elements that you’ll want to consider including price, connection speed, the locations of servers and the security features offered by each VPN company.
The reasons that people decide to start using a VPN break down into two main categories: security and convenience. From a security point of view, there are many advantages to a VPN. The first is that all of your data is protected and not visible to your ISP, the government or any other authorities that may want to look at it. If you’re worried about the prospect of the Hong Kong authorities keeping a log of all of your activities and it being leaked or used for nefarious purposes at a later date, then using a VPN is an absolute no brainer. The secure tunnel between your computer and the VPN server is your protection from this type of interference. Some VPN services offer additional security features to ensure that your connection remains secure and it becomes impossible to even detect that a VPN is being used, we’ll mention these in more detail when we come to review VPNs that have such features.
The other feature that makes VPNs so popular is the ability for users to route their internet connection through another country and appear to web servers as though they are in that country. Put simply, this means that if you want to use a website that is normally geographically restricted to users in a certain country such as Hulu in the US or the BBC iPlayer in the UK, you can if you connect to a server in that country using your VPN. This is also useful for any Hong Kong residents who travel to China on a regular basis and want to be able to access all the sites that they usually do when they are traveling. Just make sure that you download the relevant apps and set up your VPN before you leave Hong Kong as most VPN service provider websites are blocked in Mainland China.
The main thing we have looked at is the security features that are available since this is a key concern of Hong Kong residents in the current political climate. We have only featured VPN services that offer 256-bit encryption on all of their connections and we have flagged any other security features that are offered which we feel are particularly relevant.
After this, we went on to look at the connection speeds that the VPN service offered. Media streaming is a major reason why people use VPN services and you will only be able to stream media without issue if the server connection speed is good. We have also checked how many servers are available and whether or not customers of the VPN service have reported problems in accessing popular streaming media services which have been known to try and block access via VPN services in the past.
Next, we looked at how easy it is to get the service up and running. We have presumed that the average user of VPNs is non-technical and will want a service that is easy to set up without requiring a lot of technical know-how or fiddling with options deep in the control panel.
The last major factor we have looked at, although one of the most important, is price. We have compared the month-to-month rates of each of the VPN services that we cover and also checked whether or not there are any special discounts available for users who pay for a significant amount of the service in advance. Where this is the case, we’ve let you know what the offer is and how it compares to other VPN services in the market.
This is one of the most popular and fastest-growing VPN services and it’s no difficult to see why. While there are other VPN services that excel in particular areas, NordVPN is probably the best overall package when it comes to VPNs. Setting up the service is very straightforward, managing your connection is easy and there is a 24-hour support service available in the event that you do run into any problems. The security protocols in place are also very good.
The first thing that makes NordVPN appealing for users who have not tried a VPN service before is the ease of setting up the service. While you do have the option of configuring your VPN service manually or installing some special software onto your router to manage your connection, it’s also possible to use a simple piece of software to connect your device to the VPN. The NordVPN software is available for the Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems on the desktop and for the iOS and Android operating systems on mobile devices. Once you have set up your account, getting started is as simple as signing into the software, selecting the VPN server that you would like to connect to and continuing your browsing as normal.
Once you’ve got started, you’ll have access to VPN servers in a huge range of countries. The list of locations includes Hong Kong, which is very handy if you go traveling and want to have access to online content from back home. Most major countries are represented, and you’ll be able to access streaming services from the US like Hulu and HBO Go and those from the UK like BBC iPlayer and All 4 without any issues. You’ll also be able to access Netflix catalogs from other countries by connecting to servers located in those countries. Netflix accounts in countries like the US have access to far bigger catalogs of content and you’ll be able to access that content through your VPN connection.
Security features on NordVPN are very strong. You will obviously benefit from the strong 256-bit encryption that is common to most VPN services but there are a few other features to keep you safe. These include a kill-switch. This is a bit of code built into the NordVPN software which constantly monitors your connection to the NordVPN server. If it notices an issue with your connection, it will shut off your internet connection until the connection is restored again. This means that there is no risk of any of your information being sent to another server without the protection of the VPN ‘tunnel’.
If you want to protect all of your devices or you have a large number of devices in your home and NordVPN’s simultaneous connection limit is likely to become a problem for you, then you also have the option of installing software onto your router that connects it directly to one of NordVPN’s servers. Unfortunately, for technical reasons, the process of setting this up is somewhat more complicated than the process of installing NordVPN’s software on your computer or smartphone. For this reason, you should only attempt it if you understand the process and feel comfortable mucking around with computer equipment. If you don’t, then NordVPN sells routers that come with the required software pre-installed, saving you the hassle and risk of setting things up yourself.
Pricing for NordVPN is fairly competitive, although not outstanding on a month-to-month basis. The monthly charge of $11.95 is fairly similar to its rivals in the space. Where NordVPN steals a march on others however is in its aggressive discounts for customers who are willing to commit to longer periods of service and pay for them upfront. If you are willing to do this, you could save as much as 75% on the cost of a NordVPN subscription. If this all feels like a little bit too much commitment too early on, then you could take advantage of NordVPN’s 30-day risk-free trial offer, which allows customers to cancel their service and receive a full refund for any reason within the first 30 days.
ExpressVPN is another service which is well known for its ease of use and good customer service. It offers the largest selection of servers of any of the major VPN services. If you want to stream content from a country that is a little bit less popular, then ExpressVPN is the place to start looking for a server. You do get what you pay for, however, so ExpressVPN is a little bit more expensive than some of the other options that are out there and its discount.
Setting up ExpressVPN on your system is a simple matter of signing up on the website, installing the software on your system, selecting a server and getting started. It couldn’t be simpler, and you will start benefitting from all the protection of using a VPN right away. This means that you’ll have a 256-bit secure tunnel between your computer and the server and the added protection of a kill-switch just in case you have problems with your connection to the VPN server.
You will also have access to a 24/7 online support service in the unlikely event that you run into any problems when you are using ExpressVPN. You can access the support staff via email or live chat. Unfortunately, there is no option to phone for support, so you will need a working internet connection in order to get in touch.
Another security-conscious feature of ExpressVPN is the ability to pay for your monthly subscription using Bitcoin. This means that you will be able to use and pay for the service without leaving a trail at your bank showing that you are using a VPN. If you worried about the increasing amount of surveillance of people in Hong Kong by the Chinese government and other public authorities, this may well be a significant advantage.
ExpressVPN customers are also protected by the company’s strict ‘no logs’ policy. This means that they do not keep any records about the servers that their customers connect to or the websites that they visit while the connection is active. This is great news if you are worried about the possibility of your connection records falling into the wrong hands at some point in the future. Even if a government were somehow able to get a court order that allowed it to access such records (unlikely in the British Virgin Islands where ExpressVPN is based), it would not be able to as the records simply do not exist.
All of these services do come at a cost however and ExpressVPN is one of the most expensive VPN services on a month-to-month basis. The subscription is $12.95 per month and while discounts are available to customers who commit to long periods of service in advance, they are not quite as substantial as those offered by other VPN services.
This is one of the newer VPN services out there, but it is growing quickly and offers a lightweight service with great pricing and excellent customer service. Pricing is fairly low and discounts for those willing to commit to long periods of service in advance.
Getting started with SurfShark is just as easy as for the other VPN services that we have looked at on this page. All you need to do is sign up for an account on their website, register your details in the app after you have downloaded it, select the server you would like to connect to, and you are ready to go. You will immediately benefit from all of the security features that SurfShark has put in place. That means a secure and encrypted connection right from the start and all sorts of other features too.
The biggest selling point of SurfShark compared to its competitors is a feature that it calls CleanWeb. This works by stripping out ads, tracking scripts and other software from websites at the VPN level. This means that this content simply does not reach your system, meaning that it cannot be executed. This doesn’t just protect your privacy but also speeds up your web browsing experience and significantly reduces the amount of data that you will consume, vital if you are using the SurfShark app on your mobile device. Another advantage of the service is that there is no limit to the number of devices that you can connect to your account at any one time. This means that you will not have to resort to side techniques such as installing SurfShark on your router in order to get around the limit. If you want everyone in your family to be able to share one VPN service account, then this will make a real difference.
With 800 servers located in 50 countries, the SurfShark network is quite a lot smaller than some other service providers but there are still enough servers to meet the needs of the vast majority of users. Connection speed is more than fast enough to support all sorts of streaming and you’ll even be able to stream some content in 4k if you have a connection at home and technology that are up to the task.
In terms of pricing, SurfShark sits alongside most of the other VPN services when it comes to month-to-month pricing but really comes into its own for users who are willing to pay for a significant amount of service upfront. The highest discount that we have seen for the service is over 80% for users willing to commit to 36 months of service when they sign up. A full refund is available within 30 days of signup if you decide it’s not for you. This is sometimes marketed as a trial, but you should be aware that your card will be charged when you sign up. if you want to claim the refund, you will need to get in touch with the support service. From what we have heard though, this is generally a very straightforward experience.
If you’re looking to protect your internet connection in Hong Kong and when you travel, then one of the services above should be perfect for the task.