Does Freedome VPN Work in China?

Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio

Our Verdict

Freedome VPN by F-Secure does not work to unblock websites in China. The VPN uses highly secure AES-256 encryption but doesn’t include any form of obfuscation, which means China’s Great Firewall can easily identify and block your VPN traffic. If you’re looking to bypass heavy internet censorship, we recommend avoiding Freedome VPN.

illustration showing the F-Secure Freedome VPN logo locked from working on a laptop displaying the Chinese flag

Over 10,000 of the world’s most popular websites and online services are blocked by the Chinese government.

Travelers, expats, and citizens are banned from accessing all of Google’s services along with many major social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This sophisticated system of internet censorship is often referred to as the Great Firewall of China.

Typically, the most reliable way to bypass these restrictions and enjoy normal internet freedom is to use a virtual private network (VPN).

In February 2018, however, the Chinese Communist Party introduced a nationwide ban designed to block VPN use within the country. Now, only the best VPN services are able to bypass this aggressive censorship.

Freedome VPN is a simple application released in 2013 by Finnish cybersecurity corporation F-Secure. Our experts put the VPN through our thorough testing process to find out if it works to unblock restricted content in China.

We found that Freedome VPN isn’t reliable for use in China or any other highly-censored countries like Iran, Russia, or Saudi Arabia.

Not only does Freedome have a tiny VPN server network and an invasive logging policy, it also lacks the advanced obfuscation tools or ‘stealth’ protocols that work to mask VPN traffic in heavily-censored countries. In other words, blocked content will remain blocked – making Freedome VPN useless as an anti-censorship tool.

In this guide, we’ll consider the reasons why Freedome VPN by F-Secure does not work in China, take a look at why you should be using a VPN in China, and introduce some alternative VPNs that work well in China.

Alternatively, read our guide to the best VPNs for China in 2020.

Why Doesn’t Freedome VPN Work in China?

China has introduced increasingly restrictive measures to try and prevent the use of any VPN service that isn’t explicitly whitelisted by the government. This includes all foreign-owned VPNs, such as F-Secure Freedome.

For a blacklisted VPN to reliably bypass China’s Great Firewall it now needs to offer three essential features:

  • Unbreakable encryption
  • Effective obfuscation tools
  • A large server network

Here’s how F-Secure Freedome performs in each category:

  1. Encryption & Security Features

    From a security perspective, Freedome is a very good VPN. It uses industry-leading AES-256 and OpenVPN encryption to secure all connections with air-tight protection.

    The VPN also comes with important security features including an automatic kill switch to ensure you’re protected if the VPN connection drops, and first-party DNS servers to prevent DNS leaks.

    Screenshot of F-Secure Freedome VPN settings in the Windows app

    We tested the VPN extensively and found no data leaks or security vulnerabilities whatsoever.

  2. Obfuscation Technology

    Simply having unbreakable encryption is no longer sufficient to circumvent Chinese censorship. The Great Firewall uses deep packet inspection (DPI) techniques to analyse browsing traffic and hunt for internet connections that are routed through a VPN server.

    The system doesn’t need to decrypt your traffic or understand its contents to identify it. Instead, it simply uses DPI to identify common patterns in VPN traffic and block it accordingly.

    To work in China, a VPN needs to use obfuscation technology. Effective obfuscation camouflages your VPN traffic to make it appear like regular HTTPS traffic, making it much harder for authorities to locate and block it.

    Normal VPN encryption prevents observers from reading your traffic, while obfuscation stops them from identifying it as suspicious. Freedome VPN does not offer any obfuscation.

    Without obfuscation, Chinese censors can detect the use of Freedome VPN within their borders and block the VPN traffic entirely.

  3. Server Network

    Server network size is an important factor to consider when using a VPN to bypass censorship. F-Secure Freedome operates a disappointingly small network, with VPN servers in just 23 countries.

    With fewer servers, it’s easier for the Chinese authorities to simply identify and blacklist the IP addresses that belong to F-Secure’s network.

    Overall, F-Secure Freedome is a relatively fast, secure, and easy-to-use VPN. However, its lack of obfuscation tools and limited server network mean it’s simply not good enough to bypass censorship in China.

    The situation is unlikely to improve, either. F-Secure makes clear on its website that it is “unable to solve” the issue.

    screenshot from the Freedome VPN website stating that they are unable to make the VPN work in China

    This may be a blessing in disguise, though. Regardless of its stance on censorship, Freedome is not a VPN we’d recommend you use in any setting. Its logging policy is overly intrusive, it isn’t safe for torrenting, and it rarely works with streaming services like Netflix, HBO Max, or Amazon Prime Video.

    In short, there are far better VPNs than Freedome by F-Secure – especially if you’re traveling to or living in China.

Why Should You Use a VPN in China?

Illustration Depicting a VPN Circumventing the Great Firewall of China

Almost every government censors the internet in one way or another, but China has one of the most restrictive and technologically advanced censorship regimes in the world.

Each year Chinese citizens enjoy less and less internet freedom, especially since the government clamped down on the use of foreign VPN services.

Here are a few of the most important reasons why you should consider using a VPN in China:

1To Circumvent Chinese Censorship

The Great Firewall doesn’t only affect Chinese citizens; every internet user within the country’s borders experiences the same level of censorship.

For tourists and expats, this makes it very difficult to keep in touch with friends and family abroad as most Western social media sites are banned, including Facebook and Twitter. Popular instant messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, are also blocked.

Even many local websites are blocked, particularly if they are seen to be critical of the ruling administration.

To implement the Firewall, the Cyberspace Administration of China uses a collection of advanced blocking techniques. These include blacklisting the IP addresses of specific websites, diverting traffic with DNS spoofing, keyword filtering, and deep packet inspection (DPI).

A good-quality VPN will allow you to circumvent these restrictions by encrypting, obfuscating, and diverting your internet connection. You’ll be able to use the internet as though you were physically located in the country where your chosen VPN server is based.

2To Protect Yourself from Surveillance

Every internet user in China lives under the shadow of intensive government surveillance.
If you access the internet through a safe and reliable VPN that works in China, all of your browsing traffic will be encrypted and obfuscated. By choosing a VPN with a strict no-logging policy, you’ll be able to completely hide your tracks. The Chinese government and any other snooping third-party will be unable to spy on your online activity.

It is worth remembering that using an unregistered VPN to circumvent the Great Firewall is against Chinese law. If you get caught you can be fined. Although they are still relatively rare, fines can reportedly reach up to 15,000 yuan (around $2,200).

For this reason, it’s extremely important to choose a VPN that can guarantee not just connectivity, but also privacy, anonymity, and security. You should do thorough research and only trust the very best VPN services for use in China.

Is It Legal to Use a VPN in China?

Using a VPN in China is illegal unless it is government approved. This has been the case since 2018, when the government banned VPNs which don’t conform to their censorship regulations. If you get caught using an unauthorized VPN in China, you could face fines of up to $2,200.

You may instead use a government-approved VPN, but it won’t offer any protection against mass surveillance or allow you to circumvent censorship.

Map showing where VPNs are illegal or restricted

The best solution is to use a VPN like ExpressVPN, Astrill, or VPN.ac, which we’ll discuss in the next section. These services are so good at bypassing censorship that there is very little chance you’ll get caught.

The Best Alternatives to Freedome VPN

Here are some trustworthy VPN services that do work in China:

VPN Service China Status Logging Policy Jurisdiction Cheapest Monthly Cost
Astrill Working Some User Logs Seychelles $10.00
ExpressVPN Working Anonymous Usage Data British Virgin Islands $6.67
Freedome by F-Secure Not Working Intrusive Logging Finland $4.24
VPN.ac Working No Logs Romania $3.75

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN logo thumbnail
ExpressVPN is the best VPN for China and is, frankly, the best service money can buy. Based on our most recent tests, the VPN consistently unblocks restricted websites and online services in China using its proprietary obfuscation tools and huge 3,000+ server network.

You can count on ExpressVPN to protect your privacy and grant you the internet freedom you’d enjoy elsewhere in the world. It’s a leading VPN when it comes to streaming and torrenting, although you should be aware that connection speeds tend to be much slower in China.

You can even try ExpressVPN for free with its 30-day money-back guarantee. Read our full ExpressVPN review to learn more.

Astrill

AstrillVPN landscape logo
Astrill is another VPN that works well in China. It uses a ‘stealth’ VPN protocol to bypass the Great Firewall and offers a collection of ‘SuperCharged’ servers specifically optimized to deliver fast speeds to users within China.

It’s a close second to ExpressVPN, but Astrill does have some minor drawbacks. It’s one of the more pricey VPN services, costing $10 per month if you sign up for a full year. There’s no refunds, either, so you need to be sure it’s the right service before you buy.

Astrill’s logging policy is also not as privacy-friendly as it could be. That said, the VPN is designed to beat internet censorship and it does that very well. Find out more about Astrill in our complete review.

VPN.ac

VPN.AC Logo in Our VPN Review
VPN.ac offers servers in both Europe and North America that are specifically optimized for users in China. The service even makes a point of regularly updating its China status page and improving the service to ensure users in China continue to have a reliable way to access the global internet.

VPN.ac uses specialized obfuscation technology – through the OpenVPN XOR encryption algorithm – to ensure your privacy and anonymity is protected. Though it does log some information, it’s still our third favorite VPN for China.

Check out our full VPN.ac review to learn more.

F-Secure Freedome & China FAQs

Is F-Secure Freedome VPN Safe?

Freedome is a secure VPN that will protect your internet activity against threats from authorities, eavesdroppers, and malicious third parties. It provides AES-256 encryption, private DNS servers, IPV6 leak prevention, and a VPN kill switch. No matter where you’re connecting from, Freedome VPN’s robust security should ensure your connection is safe from hackers.

Though secure, the VPN isn’t good at protecting your privacy and anonymity. Its intrusive logging policy collects a lot of information about your browsing habits, including your IP address, the duration of your session, and your device’s ID. This makes Freedome unsuitable for torrenting and many other activities.

We’ve tested hundreds of VPNs and can safely say that a company does not need to log this much information to operate a successful service.

What Is the Best VPN for China?

We recommend ExpressVPN as the best VPN for China. It offers excellent privacy and security features and provides a consistently reliable experience in China.

Thanks to powerful obfuscation, unbreakable encryption, and a built-in kill switch, ExpressVPN will keep you safe from government surveillance and allow you to use the internet freely in China.

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio