Unblocking Google Cache

I got this in my e-mail today:

> Firefox extension unblocks Google Cache in China

> Chinese users of the latest version of the popular Firefox extension CustomizeGoogle are happy. A new feature modifies the Google Cache urls so that they are no longer blocked by the Chinese firewall.

I don’t have time to give it a try today. If anyone else within China has time to verify it, that would be great.


OK, I got a chance to try it out. It was easier than I expected, but the results were less than impressive. It works something like this:

1. Go to CustomizeGoogle and install the extension. (Note that this may require adding customizegoogle.com to Firefox’s list of safe sites.)

2. Close and reopen Firefox.

3. Under Tools, you will find the option “CustomizeGoogle Options” has been added. Select it. An Options window will pop up.

4. Under “Google Web Search,” the next to last checkbox should be “Add links to WayBackMachine (webpage history).” Check that box.

5. Now go to Google.com and do a search. I recommend you add “site:blogspot.com” to the search to guarantee you’ll get pages that are blocked in China. In the search results, you will notice there is now a link to “Filter” and “History” to the right of the “Cache” and “Similar” links.

6. Click on the “History” link. (The actual “Cache” link still doesn’t work any better than it did before.) Chances are, the page you want can’t be found in the WayBackMachine’s archives. You should be able to find some page from the blocked site if you click around, though.

So basically, this extension adds a link to a proxy of sorts to all Google search results. That in itself is cool. The problem is that the WayBackMachine is not likely to have the exact page you want to see archived. Not so cool.

Update 2:

Shortly after posting my update, I received this e-mail:

> This feature is only available in CustomizeGoogle for China available here: http://www.customizegoogle.com/zh-CN/

> The feature is not optional. Everyone that uses CustomizeGoogle in Chinese will get this feature automatically.

> This is how it works: All links to Google Cache, from the Google search result, are slightly modified. The Great Firewall doesn’t recognize the new links as Google Cache links, and therefore they are accessible for everyone.

> Also note that the feature has nothing to do with the History feature (WayBackMachine).

Ahhh, that further explanation was needed.

Still, I can’t get it to work. I uninstalled the English-version CustomizeGoogle extension, but when I tried to install the Chinese version, I got an error message:

> Firefox could not download the file at

> http:// www.customizegoogle.com/customizegoogle-0.34.zh-CN.xpi

> because: Not a valid install package

So I’m waiting for the next e-mail now…

Update 3:

It now works. Google cache links actually open for me! (The CustomizeGoogle Options menu is now entirely in Chinese, though.)


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. You could go to all that trouble, or you could just move to Beijing where Google Cache, blogspot, and the encyclopedia are all unblocked…

  2. zhwj,

    Really?? I wasn’t aware.

    Still, then you’d have the inconvenience of living in Beijing… (zing!)

  3. Google cache was blocked n Beijing last time I tried, connected to CNC.

  4. Instead of the cat ‘n’ mouse game of finding small holes in the Great Firewall of China by the use of browser plug-ins and pr0xy servers, you better install a Virtual Private Network connection (VPN) to an ISP in a Western country. If you do that, you will circumvent the latest measures from the geniuses in Beijing, since you will then be outside the Firewall.

  5. Or… you guys could come to Taiwan, where it’s definitely unblocked, salaries are higher, people like foreigners, and you can join the blissful scooter driving masses 😉

  6. Firefox crashed three times when I was emptying my Hotmail Junkmail folder and only stopped crashing after I disabled the CustomizeGoogle extension. I’m using Mac OS X 10.4.2 and Firefox 1.0.7. However, the extension did unblock Google’s cache for me. I’ll just enable it when I need it, unless someone can point out a more sophisticated work-around for me.

  7. “blocks” don’t work so well everywhere, sensitive sites are blocked in Beijing just as much as anywhere else in the beautiful ecological and democratic mainland China, it just happens that some sites you can access from work won’t work at home, then work again at a friend’s home just across the street.
    This also leaves room for chinese ass-kissers to say that there is no censorship in china, only technical problems

  8. Any bets on when the government will release its OWN plugin capable of restricting access to these sites wherever one is in the world? No need ever to be discomfited by the Google Cache again.

  9. Well, I have to say it. I certainly DONT miss the good old days of having hotmail lock up on me every time an international event occured, or someone sneezed in a direction that offended the Government in some way. Taiwan, has my vote, only barely, for now.

    Thanks for the update John..

  10. Looks like Waybackmachine has also been blocked joining Google Cache, Dmoz, Wiki … typical throw out the baby with the bathwater … we submit sites to DMOZ as part of our Search Optimization Program. All this blocking is making it hard to do outsourcing from China, gives India the ever-so-slight edge. I’m in Beijing.

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