Labeled as an internet censorship circumvention solution, Ultrasurf is a freeware app released way back in 2002. Its main goal was to allow Chinese users to bypass internet geo restrictions known as the “Great Firewall of China”.
Over the years, the software underwent many modifications. And, although the program does an exceptional job, it cannot always reach its maximum potential. This isn’t because of any coding issues but rather due to a lack of funding and an insufficient number of servers. The demand for firewall circumvention software keeps going up.
How It Works
From a user standpoint, Ultrasurf is one of the simplest programs you’ll ever use. Once you download the client, you simply have to double click the executable file. The program doesn’t install anything on your computer.
Ultrasurf was originally designed for Internet Explorer but has since received updates. It is now also compatible with Firefox and Chrome, but there are still limitations to what it can do.
The most obvious limitation is its incompatibility with Linux-based operating systems. Unless you’re a Windows user, Ultrasurf won’t be able to help you browse the “forbidden” websites you want to access.
How to Use Ultrasurf
After you’ve downloaded Ultrasurf, extract the executable file into a folder of your choosing. Double click the .exe file to launch the program.
The first thing you will notice is the simple yet elegant Ultrasurf window interface. Three servers will appear. If you want to pick a preferred server, you can. However, the first time you run it, Ultrasurf will pick the server with the fastest connection for you.
Once a connection has been established, Ultrasurf will open Internet Explorer as the default browser. Usually, this is everything you need to do in order to bypass restrictions.
Changing Browser Settings to use Ultrasurf Port – Firefox
- Open your Firefox browser
- Go to “Tools”
- Click on “Options”
- Select “Network”
- Click “Advanced”
- Click “Settings”
- Check the “Manual proxy configuration” box
- Type “127.0.0.1” or another proxy you want to use
- For the port type “9666”
Changing Browser Settings to use Ultrasurf Port – Chrome
First, you need to be sure that your default browser is set to Google Chrome. Once you’ve done that, you can proceed with the following steps:
- Open Chrome
- Go to “Settings”
- Select “Advanced Settings”
- Locate “Network”
- Click “Change proxy settings”
- Go to “Connections”
- Open “LAN settings”
- Uncheck “Automatically detect settings”
- Check “Use a proxy server for your LAN”
- Type in the Ultrasurf proxy server address and port
- Click “Ok” then “Apply”
Notes on Installing Ultrasurf
Ultrasurf still works best with Internet Explorer. There are plenty of online user reports mentioning bugs when trying to use Ultrasurf with another browser, especially Chrome. However, you probably won’t have to wait too long for hotfixes and updates even if you use Ultrasurf with a different browser.
You may also be interested in knowing that Ultrasurf has launched its own VPN extension for Chrome users. You can easily find it in the Chrome web store and add it to your extensions list. It has a great rating and does basically the same thing as the parent app.
However, people will be able to see that you have Ultrasurf installed on your browser. It defeats the purpose of running incognito, if that’s what you were going for.
What Can’t It Be Used for?
Although it is created to combat censorship, Ultrasurf comes with some content filtering. It blocks access to a wide pool of pornographic websites. This is quite an uncommon feature in most firewall bypassing programs but it is a welcomed feature for many users.
Many say that it keeps the app honest and true to its goals – to bypass national censorship laws, without facilitating access to illegal or offensive internet content. On the other hand, some speculate that the only reason this feature is in place is that Ultrasurf doesn’t have enough bandwidth to accommodate all the people who would use it to view pornography. Both theories have merit.
Other Popular Uses for Ultrasurf
The beauty of Ultrasurf is that it runs undetected. It’s great that you can bypass firewalls and geo-restrictions, but it’s also amazing that the program itself can’t be blocked. This means that the software is very popular on college campuses and in office workplaces. Remember that you don’t have to install the program, so you don’t need administrative privileges on a computer in order to run it.