Updated on July 21, 2020
As of July 1, 2020 Alibaba Cloud is no longer offering starter packages. Instead, they are offering something called SAS (Simple Application Server) which seems like it's similar to the old starter packages. However, the SAS does not offer CN2 routes, even in Hong Kong and Singapore. If you buy an SAS package, you will likely get an IP address range of 8.210.x.x.
If you want a CN2 line, you will need to get a pay as you go or monthly subscription server (without any free data). But even then there is no guarantee you will get a CN2 server. I tested some hourly billed servers in HK and also got a non-CN IP in 8.210.x.x range. However, I was able to get a CN2 with an hourly billed server in Singapore. Data cost in Singapore is $0.081/GB.
Please leave a comment below if you have recently purchased an Aliyun server and let us know if you get a CN2 or non-CN2 IP address.
Setting up a Shadowsocks server on Aliyun is a little complicated. Here are some tips for help you get started.
Alibaba Cloud (aka Aliyun) does offer very fast CN2 servers for China in Hong Kong and Singapore, but there are some drawbacks.
1. The web and billing interfaces are very confusing and difficult to understand. It's not very user-friendly and many people get frustrated and give up before getting their server to work.
2. Most of their IP addresses are garbage. Many of them are registered in the wrong country. For example, the IP addresses for their Hong Kong servers are usually registered as China or USA in geo-location databases. Many of them are also flagged by Google for spam and require you to enter a CAPTA every time you do a Google search or YouTube search.
3. Alibaba is a Chinese company. Some people might not feel comfortable with this for reasons that should be obvious.
There are 3 billing options for Aliyun servers.
I believe that option #1 requires you to use a credit card that was issued outside of China. I think option 2 is now available with only a PayPal account (but I could be wrong, it's hard to keep up with the always-changing rules of Aliyun).
Option #3 should be available with only a PayPal account (registered outside of China).
Maximum port speed: 100Mbps
Price (Hong Kong): $0.019/hour + $0.153/GB
Price (Singapore): $0.019/hour + $0.081/GB
Maximum available speed - 100Mbps
Price (Hong Kong): $4.87/month + $0.153/GB
Price (Singapore): $4.87/month + $0.081/GB
Maximum available speed - 200Mbps
Price (Hong Kong): $7.41/month + $0.153/GB
Price (Singapore): $7.41/month + $0.081/GB
Maximum available speed - 30Mbps Price (Hong Kong): $7/month including 1TB data Price (Singapore): $3.30/month including 1TB data The starter packages offer the best value but the port speed is limited to 30Mbps.
1. Make sure you are connected to a VPN or another proxy before going to the Aliyun website. If you access the website using a Chinese IP address, then you will get the Chinese domestic version of the website. There is no English available and no starter packages with free data available either.
2. Sign up using my referral link and you will get some free trial credits, including a free ECS for 1 year with 1Mbps port speed.
3. If you buy a monthly ECS (option #2) or a starter package (option #3), then you are taking a risk because it's not refundable and the IP address can only be changed within the first 6 hours.
If you get an IP address that is already blocked when you create your ECS, you can change it up to 3 times within the first 6 hours. To change your IP address, you first need to stop the ECS. Then, you can change it through the "More" menu.
You can't see the option in my screenshot above because my server is older than 6 hours. Within the first 6 hours, you should see an option called "Change public IP" or similar.
4. Choose any zone in Hong Kong or Singapore. Don't bother with any other locations, they do not have China Telecom CN2 peering. The performance of the other locations is not any better than Vultr or other VPS providers (actually, it's worse).
5. Many people send me emails asking why Aliyun is not working for them. The most common cause is probably due to a firewall system that is set up through the web interface.
The setting you need to find is called "Security Group Configuration". You can find it on the main ECS page under the "More" option. Make sure that the necessary inbound and outbound ports are open. Or, open all ports as per below settings.
Authorization policy: Allow
Protocol Type: All
Port Range: -1/-1
Authorization Type: Address Field Access
Authorization Object: 0.0.0.0/0
Same settings for both inbound and outbound.
Or, for better security, just open the ports that you need.
6. When launching your ECS, disable the option for "server guard" or "security enhancement". I suspect this is the reason why some people can't get their servers to work, although I'm not sure. This option was not available previously when I tested some servers on Aliyun.
7. Be careful with your data usage when using the starter packages. Once your data is used up, you will be billed per GB at the standard rates of $0.153 per GB (Hong Kong) or $0.081 per GB (Singapore) without any advance warning.
You can check how much data you have remaining through the billing console page.
From the ECS console, click the link for Billing Management in the upper right corner.
Then choose Resource Packages > Overview. For the product field, change the drop-down menu to Data Transfer Plan and then click on the Search button.
If want to share your experiences with Aliyun, please leave your comments below.