Tips for hosting a Shadowsocks server on Alibaba Cloud (Aliyun) Hong Kong

Setting up a Shadowsocks server on Aliyun is a little complicated. Here are some tips for help you get started.

Alternative Method for Aliyun Shadowsocks


If you want to use a shadowsocks server hosted on Aliyun Hong Kong, there is a much easier way.


12VPN offers shadowsocks and they have a server hosted on Aliyun Hong Kong!


Just subscribe to 12VPN and use the China Optimized 2 (HK) server. It's much cheaper than hosting your own Aliyun shadowsocks server. And you don't need to worry about the IP address getting blocked! Let 12VPN worry about that.


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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. Most 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.


I would recommend sticking with the other VPS providers recommended on the SSR tutorial page. But, if you want to try Aliyun, then here is some information that you may find helpful.


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).


Option #1 - "Pay as you go" (billed hourly + data)


Instance Type: ecs.t5-lc2m1.nano


Maximum port speed: 100Mbps

Price (Hong Kong): $0.019/hour + $0.153/GB

Price (Singapore): $0.019/hour + $0.081/GB


Option #2 - "Subscription" (billed monthly + data)


Instance Type: ecs.t5-lc2m1.nano


Maximum available speed - 100Mbps

Price (Hong Kong): $4.87/month + $0.153/GB

Price (Singapore): $4.87/month + $0.081/GB


Instance Type: ecs.t5-lc2m1.small


Maximum available speed - 200Mbps

Price (Hong Kong): $7.41/month + $0.153/GB

Price (Singapore): $7.41/month + $0.081/GB



Option #3 - Starter Package (billed monthly with free data)


Maximum available speed - 30Mbps

Price (Hong Kong): $9/month including 1TB data

Price (Singapore): $4.5/month including 1TB data


The starter packages offer the best value but the port speed is limited to 30Mbps.


The starter packages are only available through this page after you have already signed up on this page.


General Tips for Aliyun


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 $300 of new user free credit, including $50 of free ECS credits. These free credits can only be used for option #1 and option #2, you can't use the free credit for starter packages.


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.

Change IP address

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
Priority: 110

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.

billing management link

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.

Check data package

If want to share your experiences with Aliyun, please leave your comments below.