Shadowsocks VPN: Guide to Usage and Benefits
If you’ve come across restricted content before, you may have heard about (or even used) Shadowsocks already. It’s also possible that you’ve mistaken it for a VPN. Shadowsocks protocol has been a game-changer for accessing restricted content and bypassing censorship on the Internet. It’s an open-source proxy project developed by a Chinese programmer “clowwindy.” If you’re curious about what Shadowsocks VPN is, how (and whether) it’s different from a full-fledged VPN service, and what its advantages and limitations are, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive in!
What is Shadowsocks protocol?
Shadowsocks is a free and open-source encryption protocol. Originally a tech solution developed for people to overcome the Great Firewall of China (GFW), it’s now widely used to avoid Internet censorship around the world.
Shadowsocks was released in 2012 and quickly gained popularity among Internet users who wanted to bypass censorship and access western websites. However, the authorities took notice and within three years, the creator “clowwindy” retired from the project due to pressure from the Chinese police. Since then, Shadowsocks has been maintained as an open-source project by its contributors.
How does Shadowsocks work?
Shadowsocks protocol uses a technique called proxying. It allows you to trick firewalls into seeing your connection as an eligible one. Shadowsocks works by redirecting your Internet traffic to a server located outside of your location, so you can bypass online restrictions and censorship. This technique can be detected and blocked by the Great Firewall. But this is where Shadowsocks shines — it automatically encrypts your connection between your device and the proxy server using SOCKS5, making it appear like a normal and legitimate connection to the firewall.
Simply put, Shadowsocks connects your device to a proxy server located in another part of the world, which allows you to access blocked websites and services. It can even proxy UDP traffic, unlike SSH tunneling — a method used for transporting data over an encrypted SSH connection.
Each Shadowsocks user creates its own proxy connection. So the Great Firewall can’t really detect and block Shadowsocks traffic. And just like that, you can access a needed web resource.
Benefits of Shadowsocks
Shadowsocks has become popular in countries where Internet censorship is at its peak, such as China, Iran, and Syria.
It’s also popular with people who are concerned about their online privacy and security, such as journalists, activists, and expatriates. Here are some other reasons why you might want to choose Shadowsocks:
- It’s free and open-source, which means you can use it to access the content you want without any restrictions.
- Shadowsocks uses proxy technology, which doesn’t slow down your Internet connection by a lot.
- It works on multiple devices and operating systems, including Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and Linux.
- Using Shadowsocks is easy if it’s included in a VPN service.
So, how do you use Shadowsocks VPN for PC, iOS or Android?
How to use Shadowsocks
To start using Shadowsocks, you need to download the client for your device from their official website. Next, you will need a virtual private server (VPS) located outside of China. Usually, you can buy/rent such servers from a cloud provider. There are lots of options on the Internet, so choose one that suits your budget and needs. When you got a server, log in to it, enter the Linux commands for setting up Shadowsocks, set the server port and the password by using the command-line interface.
Pro tip: If you find this process too complicated, don’t worry. Some VPN providers thought it through and offer an easy solution to enable Shadowsocks with just one click (more on that in a bit).
But wait, what about Shadowsocks VPN? Isn’t Shadowsocks a VPN service? Well, not quite, and here’s why.
Is Shadowsocks a VPN?
Long story short — no, Shadowsocks isn’t a VPN. People can mistake the two because Shadowsocks is often referred to as Shadowsocks VPN. But that is not quite true since VPN and Shadowsocks use different technologies and offer different levels of security and privacy. Learn how to choose the best VPN to travel to China.
Also, because Shadowsocks is a community-driven project, it may not have all the bells and whistles that some users are looking for. While VPN providers are constantly investing in improving their services, Shadowsocks may not be as polished in comparison.
Is Shadowsocks a VPN? Comparing the two technologies
So far, we’ve learned that Shadowsocks uses proxying to bypass online restrictions. This involves a proxy server located in a different region/country, acting as a middleman. However, the data sent between your device and the proxy server is the only encrypted part of the process.
With a VPN, the things are a bit more “widespread.” VPN uses a VPN server, a VPN protocol, and encryption standard to encrypt data and keep your connection secure. When you enable a VPN connection, you connect to a server in your preferred location, get a new IP address, and the server encrypts and transports all the data to its destination.
Since encryption and security is the main difference between Shadowsocks and VPN, let’s take a closer look at this aspect.
Shadowsocks encryption vs VPN’s
Shadowsocks encrypts the data sent between your device and the proxy server, but it doesn’t encrypt the data beyond that point. It’s like sending a secret message to someone through a middleman who can keep the message safe, but once it reaches its final destination, anyone can read it.
On the other hand, VPN encryption covers all the data sent between your device and its final destination. It’s like putting all your messages in a locked box and sending them to the recipient. Only the recipient can unlock the box and read the messages. It keeps your data safe from prying eyes and boosts your Internet privacy.
Comparing Shadowsocks and a VPN head-to-head
Now let’s see exactly how the two match up.
While Shadowsocks and VPNs aren’t the same, the good news is that the two can work together. And they can do it quite well. Think of it like when opposites attract and make a great match. All you need is go for a VPN provider that supports Shadowsocks as a VPN protocol.
Which VPN supports Shadowsocks?
VeePN went the extra mile for its users by integrating Shadowsocks as a VPN protocol in Windows and Android apps. So along with enjoying the benefits of Shadowsocks, you also get the added security and anonymity of a VPN connection. Your connection will be fully encrypted, allowing you to bypass the GFW or other firewalls with ease. Choose your subscription plan all backed by a money-back guarantee and try out the app risk-free.
Pro tip: Pick from other VPN protocols as well in our VeePN app. Don’t know which one will suit your needs best? Read our guide on how to choose a VPN protocol.
How do I use Shadowsocks with VPN?
In just a few clicks!
- Open the VeePN app on your Windows or Android.
- Go to Settings.
- Choose Shadowsocks as your VPN protocol.
- Go back to the main screen.
- Scroll through the VPN servers list and choose a location from which you want your device to appear.
- Click Connect to run a VPN connection.
And there’s that! You’re getting the perks of both Shadowsocks and a VPN. With no complicated setups.
Shadowsocks protocol is a valuable tool for anyone looking to bypass censorship restrictions in China. By creating an encrypted connection between a rented proxy server and your computer’s Shadowsocks client, it provides a safe and effective way to access the Internet without limitations.
Since Shadowsocks isn’t a VPN service, combining the two is the perfect recipe for online freedom and privacy. All you need is get a VPN that offers Shadowsocks among its VPN protocols. Reap all the benefits of two technologies at once with VeePN and stay free on the Internet.
FAQ: Shadowsocks VPN
It depends on your needs. Shadowsocks is specifically designed to bypass censorship restrictions in China and other highly restrictive countries, while VPNs provide a wider range of features such as all-encompassing VPN encryption, wide range of server locations, protocol selection, and more. The good news is that you can use both solutions at the same time — install VeePN that supports the Shadowsocks protocol in its Windows and Android apps.
Yes, Shadowsocks is generally considered a secure tool for bypassing censorship. It creates an encrypted connection between your device and a remote server, making it difficult for third parties to intercept or monitor your Internet traffic. However, note that Shadowsocks encryption only covers the data sent between your device and the proxy server — it doesn’t encrypt the data beyond that point. To protect all your data, go for a VPN encryption. Besides, you can enjoy the benefits of both Shadowsocks and a VPN in one solution. Learn more in our article.
First of all, Shadowsocks protocols isn’t a VPN itself. To get Shadowsocks VPN for PC, you need to install a VPN that supports Shadowsocks on their desktop app. VeePN is one such service you can set up easily and risk-free.