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Ultrasurf is an anonymous browsing service. I'll discuss a reader's problems using and also review alternatives and the impact on speed.
I have a difficult time using Ultrasurf; whenever it's on, I can't surf webpages. What should I do? Should I use another program?
Ultrasurf is an anonymization service that in all likelihood requires some configuration to your system and/or browser.
There are alternative services, but they all share one characteristic: To varying degrees, they will impact the speed of your browsing experience.
In this video from an Ask Leo! webinar, I'll discuss anonymous browsing.
'I have a difficult time using Ultrasurf; whenever it's on, I can't surf webpages. What should I do? Should I use another program?'
Well ... to start with, I'm going to find out what Ultrasurf is because in all honesty, I have no idea. Ultrasurf...I'm assuming that this is the Ultrasurf that you are referring to. It appears to be an anonymizer of some sort. So you can't surf webpages? Well, it seems like the intent of this is that you in fact can in surf webpages - that's the intent. Obviously, it's not working for you. What I would suggest you do is have a look at their support site. Make sure that you include the actual error messages that you are seeing. In other words, what happens when you try. Certainly, I would double-check the configuration of the application to make sure that you set it up according to their instructions. Typically, anonymization tools like this, anonymous proxies, either require that you make some specific configuration options in your browser or they install an application that more or less does that for you.
Alternatives are Anonymizer; it is a relatively well-known one. I actually don't have another one off the top of my head.
The ultimate in anonymization is called The Onion Router, the Tor Project. What that does is that uses a fair amount of encryption and routing to bounce your requests through some number of Tor routers. Each step along the way is individually and separately encrypted. That's one of the reasons they call it an 'onion'; because your packet of data is encrypted each step of the way so if you were running it through say, 4 Tor proxies, then it would have 4 layers of encryption on it and nobody in the middle could stand a chance of decrypting the data. The downside of Tor is that it does slow down your internet browsing experience, but it is, as far as I understand, it's kind of like the gold standard (if there is such a thing when it comes to trying to stay anonymous in your browsing) and as you can see, it's open source and it runs on just about every platform you can think of.
Question: 'Any other options. I don't want my PC to slow down to a great degree.'
Unfortunately, the very nature of most anonymization services almost requires that the PC slow down. And it's not necessarily the PC itself that is slowing down, understand, it's not your computer that's the bottleneck here. When you end up sending your data through a proxy, that's an extra step and then the quality of the proxy, the speed of the proxy itself, and in the case of Tor, the number of hops you elect to use (because you can configure your Tor to use anywhere from 1 to any number of hops) to route your data around the planet before it actually gets to a destination. The more hops that you include, the slower it's going to be. So with Tor, the minimum number of hops with the other services; I mean there's going to be some impact, there just is. That's kind of the way things just work.
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