Tunnelbear Review 2021 — It’s Free, but Is It Good (and Safe)?

Author Image Guy Fawkes
Guy Fawkes | Anonymous Cybersecurity Experts
Updated on 18th February 2021

TunnelBear’s team does an excellent job in branding the VPN but is that all it takes to create a great service? With over 300 VPNs out there, the competition is fierce so I had to take it for a test and see if there’s more to it.

I looked into its privacy policy and security features to see if it’s really safe. I ran many tests on its servers, checked the speeds, how many streaming platforms it can unblock, and the mandatory IP and DNS leak tests to see if my data was truly secure.

TunnelBear is good enough to hide your regular traffic, but not if you want to stream international movies and shows or download torrents. You can use it to bypass the Great Wall of China and it’s incredibly easy to use. Its clients are carefully branded, and it can be a good choice if you’re looking for a free, lightweight VPN and you don’t care too much about streaming.

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TunnelBear VPN Features — Tested in March 2021

Number of countries with servers 25
Number of servers 2600
Number of IP addresses 2600
Does VPN keep logs? No
Does VPN include a kill switch? Yes
Number of devices per license 5

Streaming – TunnelBear Unblocks Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, and Kodi

TunnelBear is not a good VPN for streaming. Even though I could unblock most streaming platforms, the connection was very slow. It doesn’t have specialized streaming servers, and watching any show was almost impossible due to the long loading times.

Unblocked: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, and Kodi

TunnelBear unblocked Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, and Kodi, but only with GhostBear. However, because of the slow connection, streaming was out of the question. I ran two series of tests to see if the VPN would successfully bypass geoblocks.

On my first test, I connected to its US, Canada, and UK servers. The only streaming services I could unblock were HBO Max and Kodi. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime identified the VPN and blocked my access, while ESPN, ESPN+, and Disney+ wouldn’t even allow me to view the library.

For the second test, I activated GhostBear – TunnelBear’s stealth feature designed to mask the VPN. I could immediately unblock Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, but the speeds were terrible. It’s normal to experience a slight drop in speed when you connect to an international server, and if you also activate a feature like GhostBear the connection will be even slower. However, the speed decreased too much with TunnelBear.

TunnelBear unblocked Netflix US, but the quality wasn’t great

GhostBear slows down your connection, as the VPN needs to conceal your traffic so streaming platforms don’t detect it. Because of this, I couldn’t watch anything without heavy buffering.

Blocked By: BBC iPlayer, Disney+, ESPN, and ESPN+

TunnelBear was blocked by BBC iPlayer, Disney+, ESPN, and ESPN+. After successfully unblocking a handful of streaming services, I tried my luck and connected to its US, UK, and Canada servers again. Unfortunately, I was still blocked with and without GhostBear.

Disney+ didn’t even allow me to view its library, so it was impossible to watch something. ESPN and ESPN+ took me back to the login screen every time I tried watching a show.

The BBC iPlayer knew I wasn’t in the UK and blocked my access with the classic message:

“BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues. In the UK? Here’s some advice.”

I don’t recommend TunnelBear as a streaming VPN. It doesn’t have any specialized streaming servers and once you establish a long-distance connection, your speed will drop considerably making it impossible to stream any movie or show.

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Speeds – Good Speeds, but Only on Local Servers

TunnelBear has great speeds on local servers, but it’s almost impossible to work with the international ones. I performed several speed tests on its network to see if distance makes a difference. I used Ookla’s speed test tool and measured my:

  • Ping/latency – measures how fast you get a response from the website or app you’re connecting to. This metric is very important in gaming – a high ping means lag.
  • Download speed – this measures the time you need to download files and information from the internet and it’s important for streaming.
  • Upload speed – measures the time needed to send files from your device – from messages to images and video files.

Local Speeds

TunnelBear’s local speeds are fast and consistent. I started with a 29.73 Mbps download speed, 28.81 Mbps upload, and a ping of 4 ms. Then, I used TunnelBear’s Fastest Tunnel feature to connect to the best server for my location – this provides me with the fastest connection. My ping increased to 8 ms, which is very good – a ping under 25 is great for gaming, the download speed went down 7%, and the upload decreased by 9%. These results are amazing – I could play video games, stream movies, and load any website within seconds.

Speeds without a VPN (Bucharest, Romania):

  • Ping: 4 ms
  • Download: 29.73 Mbps
  • Upload: 28.81 Mbps

Connected to TunnelBear’s Fastest Server:

  • Ping: 8 ms
  • Download: 27.67 Mbps (7% decrease)
  • Upload: 26.17 Mbps (9% decrease)

TunnelBear’s local servers provided me with a good connection

It’s not unusual for your speed to drop when using a VPN – your connection is being routed through the servers and encrypted. However, a 7% decrease is almost unnoticeable, so TunnelBear did a good job. I could continue all my regular activities while also staying anonymous.

Long-Distance Speeds

TunnelBear’s long-distance speeds are very slow, making it almost impossible to stream movies or play online games. The first test I ran was on a US server. My ping increased to 112 ms, while the download speed decreased to 4.44 Mbps – which is 96% slower than my original speed. The upload was 19.02 Mbps, which was a 44% decrease.

Speeds without a VPN (Bucharest, Romania):

  • Ping: 4 ms
  • Download: 29.73 Mbps
  • Upload: 28.81 Mbps

US Server Location:

  • Ping: 112 ms
  • Download: 4.44 Mbps (96% decrease)
  • Upload: 19.02 Mbps (44% decrease)

This situation is not what I was hoping for – the drop in speed was incredible, and distance really made a difference. 4.44 Mbps is not enough to stream any movie in HD, and torrenting would be very slow.

I also tested TunnelBear’s TCP Override feature. This mode forces the VPN to only use a TCP protocol instead of UDP – TCP is slower, but it checks the files’ integrity, while UDP is faster, but the transmitted data packets may not be complete.

According to TunnelBear’s website, TCP Override is supposed to improve the connection – and it does, but not how you’d imagine. The protocol doesn’t make your connection faster; it makes your connection more reliable so that the information reaches your computer correctly. On the other hand, UDP gives you a faster connection, but you may not receive all the data.

With TCP Override, the download speed dropped to under 0.91 Mbps, which is way too slow to even load a complex website – streaming was completely out of the question.

TunnelBear’s long-distance speeds really slowed me down.

The second TunnelBear server I tested was in the UK, and it’s closer to my location. The ping was 50 ms, download speed around 9.67 Mbps, and upload was 13.06 Mbps. Even though these speeds were slow too, I could still stream movies. However, a multiplayer game would be terrible to play.

Speeds without a VPN (Bucharest, Romania):

  • Ping: 4 ms
  • Download: 29.73 Mbps
  • Upload: 28.81 Mbps

UK Server Location:

  • Ping: 50 ms
  • Download: 9.67 Mbps (68% decrease)
  • Upload: 13.06 Mbps (55% decrease)

TunnelBear’s local servers are fast and consistent, but the international ones don’t provide good enough speeds for streaming or even regular web browsing. Any drop in speed bigger than 30% is a red flag, so if you’re looking for a fast overall VPN, TunnelBear is not it.

Are TunnelBear’s Speeds Fast Enough for Gaming? Yes, but Only on Local Servers

TunnelBear’s local servers are good for gaming, but it’s impossible to play something on a long-distance one. I tested this aspect using Nvidia GeForce Now to see if I could stream and play both single and multiplayer games.

The network test analyzes 3 metrics:

  • Bandwidth – measures the maximum amount of transferred data in a given amount of time
  • Packet loss – measures the percentage of data lost during file transfer
  • Latency/ping – measures the time between the user’s action and the network’s response

Naturally, I need different speeds to play single and multiplayer games. To successfully stream a single-player game from Nvidia’s servers, I need 25 Mbps, while a multiplayer game takes up to 30 Mbps.

On the local server I connected to, all these metrics were within the required intervals. Bandwidth was at 32 Mbps, I had no packet loss, and the latency stood at 29 ms. I could stream and play both single and multiplayer games without any issues. The overall experience wasn’t as smooth as I was hoping for but the speed was good.

I could play single and multiplayer games from TunnelBear’s local servers

When I switched to an international server, the situation took a turn for the worst. I connected to one of TunnelBear’s Netherlands servers, and it was impossible to play any game. The bandwidth was low at 12 Mbps, I had a packet loss of 13.3%, and the ping was 46 ms. I couldn’t stream and play any games.

TunnelBear’s international servers couldn’t provide me with a good connection for gaming

A packet loss this big translates into a lot of lag and the inability to load all the maps and objects correctly. The information wouldn’t successfully reach my computer, and I’d definitely lose an online shooter – the map and textures wouldn’t load correctly.

I can’t recommend TunnelBear as a gaming VPN. Even though the local speeds were good, I couldn’t even load a game on its international servers. If I wanted to play LoL with my friends from a US server, it would’ve been impossible – my character would always be a few seconds behind.

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Server Network — Small but Secure Server Network

TunnelBear has servers in 25 countries, but the exact number of servers is unknown. This makes it hard to compare it with other VPNs. However, even though the server network is small, it is very secure. TunnelBear has committed to run an audit every year since 2017, and it keeps that promise. This is good to know because this means any security breaches are found and solved before much damage can be done.

Trusted Networks

With TunnelBear’s Trusted Networks feature, you can instruct the VPN to connect to certain networks automatically. If you whitelist your home network when this feature is on, TunnelBear will automatically connect on any unknown networks – but not on your home network. This means that if you visit a coffee shop and use their WiFi, TunnelBear will automatically encrypt your connection.

You can turn this feature on from its settings, in the “Trusted Networks” tab.

This feature is incredibly useful if you want to make sure that your connection is safe anywhere you go. TunnelBear will encrypt your traffic on every unknown network you connect to, thus keeping all your data secure.

Closest Tunnel

The Closest Tunnel feature finds you the fastest server — which is usually the closest to your location. When you open TunnelBear’s server list, it pops up at the beginning. All you need to do is select it and connect. Make sure you keep the VPN open until you see the “Connection Secured” prompt. Sometimes the connection fails, leaving you exposed.

It’s easy to use the Closest Tunnel feature

This feature goes hand-in-hand with TunnelBear’s Trusted Networks. As long as you only want to have a fast and secure connection, it’s ideal.

TunnelBear’s Servers Are Secure

TunnelBear is a secure VPN and independently audited by Cure57 every year since 2017. The audit team analyzes TunnelBear’s codebase, websites, apps, and infrastructure, looking for security flaws and data breaches. This makes it easy to find and solve potential problems, thus keeping the VPN secure.

All the data is public, meaning that TunnelBear is transparent about it. Also, the audits are posted on its website – all the problems and fixes are highlighted. This is a level of transparency not many VPNs have.

TCP Override

The TCP Override mode is useful if your connection slows down after connecting the VPN. The feature is only available for Windows and macOS, and it works by forcing TunnelBear to use the TCP protocol instead of UDT. The TCP protocol is a little slower but more reliable – it checks every piece of data for consistency before passing it through. The UDP protocol is faster, but it doesn’t perform these checks.

It’s important to remember that TCP Override won’t make your connection faster – it will make it more reliable. When I activated it, my speed was actually slower, but the overall connection was stable.

You can activate TCP Override from the General tab.

This feature is useful if your connection is slow and unreliable – for example when you try to load a webpage but you receive a connection error. TCP Override will assure that the data reaches your computer, even if it’s a little slower.

Security – Strong Security Features, and Perfectly Safe to Use

TunnelBear comes packed with some great security features that guarantee your online security. I tested its IP and DNS protection, analyzed its encryption and authentication protocols, and tried its kill switch and stealth mode.

Even though it doesn’t have as many security features as other VPNs I tested, TunnelBear is safe and easy to use, making it perfect for a first-time VPN user or a business person looking for a secure connection during travels.

VigilantBear

TunnelBear’s kill switch is called VigilantBear. You can activate it from the Preferences menu, and it will stop your connection in case the server’s connection fails. This feature is very useful when you’re connected to public networks – in case of a connection problem, your information will be protected.

VigilantBear will protect you in case the VPN fails.

Even the best VPNs can fail, and without a kill switch, you’d be exposing your data to whoever else is connected on that network — we can talk about hackers or certain types of malware. As long as VigilantBear is active, you’ll be protected even on public and unmonitored networks.

Encryption and Protocols

TunnelBear uses military-grade AES-256 encryption along with SHA-256 for authentication. It uses DH key exchange to send cryptographic keys over public networks. It’s the same technology the governments use to encrypt their files, making the VPN very secure.

This technology was created to safely transfer files and information between two parties – either networks or devices. Each party has a code, and it can be public or private. In order for two parties to meet securely, they perform a key exchange. This can be translated in your computer’s connection to the VPN. The VPN has a key, your computer has a different key. When these two meet, a new key is generated, and the newly established connection is secured.

In terms of protocols, TunnelBear implemented:

  • OpenVPN – this is the industry-standard, open-source VPN protocol. It’s continuously improved by developers and assures the safest online browsing. Compared to other protocols, OpenVPN is almost impossible to detect because it hides in plain sight. Hackers and government agencies have a hard time identifying it, and with TunnelBear’s obfuscation, it bypasses almost any firewall.
  • IKEv2 – when you need to switch between mobile data and WiFi, this protocol is ideal. It was built to continuously reconnect you to the VPN in case of network failures. This protocol is only available for Windows and iOS users.

When you connect to a server, TunnelBear chooses the protocol automatically – there’s no way to switch between them manually. However, on Android and macOS, only OpenVPN is available.

GhostBear

GhostBear is TunnelBear’s stealth mode, which conceals OpenVPN traffic and makes it easy to bypass VPN firewalls – including the Great Firewall of China. When I turned GhostBear on, my whole connection slowed down but this is perfectly normal. Obfuscation needs to hide the fact that you’re using a VPN, and this process takes time and resources.

This feature is available on Windows, macOS, and Android apps, and you can turn it on under TunnelBear’s security settings. IOS users can only use the IKEv2 protocol, so GhostBear is not supported.

GhostBear bypasses most firewalls.

You can use GhostBear to bypass network restrictions. If certain websites are blocked on your school or work network, or you travel in a country with high censorship, it’s ideal. You’ll browse the internet freely, and the VPN won’t be recognized.

SplitBear

SplitBear is TunnelBear’s tunneling feature, and it’s only available on Android devices. I activated it from the “options” menu on my phone and selected the apps I wanted to be routed through the VPN. Unless you turn it on, all your apps are automatically tunneled through TunnelBear’s servers.

Since it’s not available on its desktop clients, all your apps and websites will be routed through its servers, so you have no control over it.

Split tunneling is a very important feature for a VPN, as it gives you more control over your traffic. Because you can’t use it on Windows, macOS, and iOS, you can’t choose to only route certain apps. However, I discovered a trick if you only want to tunnel your browser. TunnelBear has browser extensions, and they will only affect your browser traffic.

IP and DNS Leak Tests

TunnelBear offers IP and DNS leak protection in its apps and browser extensions. In general, DNS requests and IPv6 traffic can expose your IP address and see what you’re doing on the internet. TunnelBear routes all your traffic through its servers and blocks IPv6 traffic. These options are switched on by default, so your identity will be protected at all times.

I tested TunnelBear’s Netherlands, US, UK, Denmark, Germany, and Spain servers for IP and DNS leaks using IPLeak.net. I didn’t encounter any errors at all, and my connection was fully encrypted.

TunnelBear has strong DNS and IP leak protection.

If the VPN you use doesn’t have DNS and IP leak protection, your IP, location, and network may be visible to your ISP and authorities. Since this is exactly what you want to avoid, the VPN you choose needs to be completely secure from this perspective.

Privacy — Enough Features to Keep Your Traffic Private

Even though TunnelBear’s headquarters are in Canada, its no logs policy will keep you anonymous. It doesn’t store your IP address when you connect to its servers, and the Always-On and ad blocker features are very effective. After looking at its privacy policy, I’m confident that TunnelBear doesn’t store sensitive information about you or the websites you access.

Location

TunnelBear’s headquarters are located in Canada, which is part of the Five Eyes Alliance. This is not necessarily great, as the government may require the company to keep some data about its users. On top of that, McAfee bought it in 2018, so the VPN is also under US jurisdiction. If the US or Canadian government demands data from TunnelBear, it will be required to send it.

The good side of all this is that it only keeps the basic info about its customers, so there’s not much TunnelBear could share with the authorities. Even if it sends your email address to the government, they won’t be able to see what you did online.

TunnelBear Doesn’t Keep Unnecessary Logs

TunnelBear keeps some information about its users, but nothing unusual. I analyzed its privacy policy to see what kind of data it sends and what it does with it. TunnelBear keeps:

  • Account user data – it stores your email address used for the account confirmation, sending promotional materials, news, and product receipts, and paid user status and date – to provide you with unlimited traffic until your subscription ends. It’s perfectly normal to keep this data, and most VPNs do it.
  • Operational data – this data is only saved when you connect to TunnelBear’s network, and it consists of your OS version, client version, total data used, and your activity status – and not your IP. This information is used to improve its customer support and products, and also to determine the network demand. It also keeps the data about operational events, such as referrals, account creations, and payments to identify any problems with the system and to track sales. This kind of information is pretty standard for VPNs and TunnelBear doesn’t store your IP address when you connect to it.
  • Payment data – all of TunnelBear’s transactions go through Stripe and PayPal, and it only keeps the name on your card, the date it was used, and the last 4 digits of the credit card. This data is used to prevent fraud and, again, is not unusual to keep.

There’s nothing wrong with TunnelBear keeping this data, and it’s standard practice for VPNs. Besides, it has a strong non-disclosure policy — TunnelBear won’t disclose any personal data to third parties but will send it to its service providers to improve its email support, hosting, payment processing, and analytics. This means that TunnelBear’s hosting platforms and email providers will get to see which pages of the website you visited and how they can send you tailored ads.

Something essential is that TunnelBear doesn’t store your IP address when you connect to its servers, so there’s no way of knowing who did what.

Always On

The Always On feature allows you to set TunnelBear to launch and connect when you turn your device on. I simply activated it from the general settings, and every time I restarted my computer, I was connected to the VPN. This feature is very useful if you’re constantly browsing from public networks or have many files you need to download – the VPN will connect automatically, making file transfers safer.

Even though this feature is mostly reliable, I recommend checking the connection – if it fails, you’ll be exposed.

You can check the box in the General tab and keep TunnelBear on all the time.

A problem I noticed with this feature is that TunnelBear sometimes fails to establish a connection. If you don’t check it, you have no guarantee that your data is encrypted.

Ad Blocker

TunnelBear’s ad blocker is one of the toughest I have tried so far. I downloaded the Chrome extension and tested it on Forbes.com, as I know it has many ads. It successfully blocked all of them, and I wasn’t bothered by pop-ups – it even blocked the redirects I needed.

TunnelBear’s ad blocker is very efficient.

This is quite impressive. Many VPNs have ad blockers that either don’t work, or just block a part of the ads. TunnelBear does a great job at keeping you away from all the ads and malware you may encounter online.

Torrenting — Allows Torrenting, but Doesn’t Have Specialized P2P Servers

TunnelBear allows torrenting on its network but doesn’t have specialized P2P servers. I allowed the VPN to choose the fastest server for me, and then I proceeded to download my file. The speed was good, and I didn’t encounter any problems.

I could download torrents using TunnelBear’s local server.

I also tried torrenting from its Netherlands and US servers – even though it worked, the connection was very slow. TunnelBear is good for torrenting, as long as you don’t want to do it from an international server.

Start Torrenting with TunnelBear VPN

Does TunnelBear Work in China? Yes, With GhostBear

TunnelBear works in China, so you can bypass the Great Firewall of China. Its GhostBear feature has an obfuscation technology, and it masks your VPN traffic, making it look like regular HTTPS – meaning that the ISP won’t see you’re using a VPN.

China’s Great Firewall analyzes your IP and metadata. This metadata doesn’t store the information you send or receive – it’s more like a skeleton. It only shows information about the type of data you transfer. If you send a document over the internet, your metadata will consist of information about that document’s size, date created, and author, but not the actual text.

To mask your metadata, TunnelBear uses obfuscation. This scrambles your metadata, making it impossible for the firewall to decipher. If there’s no data to read, it has no reason to block you.

If you’re traveling to China, remember to download and install the clients before you get there. TunnelBear doesn’t have mirror websites, so you won’t be able to access its download page once you arrive.

GhostBear is only available on Windows, macOS, and Android, so if you have an iPhone or iPad, you won’t be able to use it.

Bypass China’s Great Firewall with TunnelBear VPN

Ease of Use

8.4

TunnelBear has a great interface, and it’s incredibly easy to use by anyone. It has a small number of options and features, and I could establish a connection in under 5 seconds.

Finding the fastest server is straightforward, and it shows up right on top of the server list as “fastest.” You just need to click on it and TunnelBear’s Fastest Tunnel will come in. All the options are divided into its 4 settings tabs, and each of them is explained, so you only activate the ones you really need.

The only problem I encountered with TunnelBear is that sometimes, the connection can’t be established. You need to keep the client open until it shows that it’s connected. Otherwise, you risk browsing the internet without the VPN on.

TunnelBear’s Optional Extras — Password Manager to Keep Your Logins Secure

TunnelBear has a carefully branded password manager called RememBear. Just like the VPN, it has a free plan usable on one device only. However, you can upgrade to the Premium plan for $6 USD per month.

The problem is that I couldn’t download the desktop app – the download links for macOS and Windows are broken. The Android and iOS apps worked just fine, though. I managed to save my passwords, as well as credit cards.

RememBear also has a browser extension for Chrome, Mozilla, and Safari, but since you also need the app – which couldn’t be downloaded, I couldn’t test it.

This is a feature you can definitely go without. It’s not mandatory, but can be useful at times.

Simultaneous Connections — Connect up to 5 Devices to TunnelBear’s Servers

TunnelBear allows you to connect 5 devices under one subscription. I downloaded the VPN on my MacBook, iPad, and Android phone to give it a test. My connection was good on all my devices, and I didn’t experience any problems at all.

If you need more subscriptions, you can take a look at TunnelBear for Teams. The plans start at $5.75 USD per month, you get a dedicated account manager, and every account can connect up to 5 devices.

Device Compatibility — Limited Device Compatibility

TunnelBear has apps and clients for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, but not for Safari or Internet Explorer. Unfortunately, Linux, Chromium, eReaders, and Windows phone users won’t be able to use it, and since it doesn’t support routers, you can’t connect smart TVs like the Apple TV.

Desktop Apps

TunnelBear’s desktop apps are very easy to use, and packed with a lot of useful features, such as GhostBear, VigilantBear, Closest Tunnel, Always-On, TCP Override, and Trusted Networks. The only feature that’s missing is SplitBear – which is the split tunneling and only available on Android. Because the desktop app doesn’t have SplitBear, once you turn the VPN on it will route all your apps and browser traffic through it.

In order to connect to a server, you need to open the VPN and click on a server. It’s incredibly easy, but you need to wait until it connects – sometimes the connection fails, and the VPN remains disconnected.

TunnelBear has easy-to-use desktop apps.

You can open TunnelBear’s settings and access all the features by clicking on the tiny gear in the top right corner.

There is a small difference between the macOS and Windows clients. The macOS version only works with the OpenVPN protocol, while the Windows one has IKEv2 too. However, the protocol is chosen automatically, and you have no control over it.

iOS and Android Apps

The mobile apps are just as easy to use and as aesthetically pleasing as the desktop ones. All you need to do is click on a jar of honey on the map, and you’ll be connected in a matter of seconds. You can access its features by clicking on the options button.

I ran a couple of DNS and IP leak tests after I connected to TunnelBear’s Norway, Sweden, and Italy servers and my connection was secure every time. As a small bonus, the mobile apps have bear sounds for notifications.

TunnelBear’s mobile apps are straightforward.

Browser Extension

TunnelBear’s browser extension makes the VPN available on any computer with Chrome, Opera, or Firefox. It’s a very simple app, and it only routes your browser traffic. All you need to do is open the extension and select a server to connect to.

I downloaded its Chrome and Firefox extensions and connected to servers in the US, UK, and Sweden to give it a try. After running the DNS and IP leak test, I realized that even the browser extensions are incredibly safe.

Pro Tip: For unlimited simultaneous connections, install TunnelBear on your router. Your router is considered a single connection, so all of the other WiFi-connected devices in your household can stay protected at once.

Setup & Installation — Install, Set up, and Go

TunnelBear’s setup and installation is one of the easiest processes. It took me less than 3 minutes to download, install, and connect to a server.

Here’s how you can install TunnelBear in 3 easy steps:

  1. Access TunnelBear and create an account. You won’t be able to download the desktop app without an account.
  2. Download and install the client. The process is incredibly easy – just like any other software.
  3. Connect to a server! All you need to do is open the VPN and find a server!

You can click any jar of honey on the map or select the country you need from the list. You’ll be connected in about 5 seconds, and then you’re ready to go.

Get Started with TunnelBear VPN!

Compare TunnelBear VPN with the top alternative VPNs

Pricing

7.5

Pricing

3-Year
$3.33 /month
2-Year
$4.17 /month
1-Year
$4.99 /month

TunnelBear accepts payments through credit cards, Bitcoin, and jars of honey — of course, the latter is all about branding. It has a total of three plans – the free plan, with 500 Mb of monthly traffic, the Premium plan with unlimited traffic, and TunnelBear for teams.

Before paying for the subscription, I tested the free plan. Even though it only has 500 Mb of monthly traffic, it was enough for me to stream a couple of movies and access the websites I needed. However, it’s not enough for torrenting or gaming, so I eventually upgraded to the Premium plan.

I paid for my subscription using a credit card, and the entire process took less than 5 minutes. After that, I could freely use the VPN to play games, stream shows, and download torrents.

TunnelBear allows anonymous payments through Bitcoin, but in reality, they’re not 100% anonymous. Since your login name is the same as your email address, TunnelBear will save that. The only way to stay completely anonymous is to use another email address.

Reliability & Support

9.0

TunnelBear doesn’t have 24/7 live chat support, which was a bit of a let down for me. Instead, you get to chat with a help bot, and depending on your question, you’ll get an article from TunnelBear’s knowledge base. I tested the bot, but wasn’t very impressed – it couldn’t recommend articles based on my question.

However, TunnelBear’s email support was great. The form is nicely structured, so your question reaches the right department and you can also add a screenshot of your issue. When I reached out to the support bears, I received an answer within 24 hours.

Tunnelbear’s email support is fast and efficient.

TunnelBear doesn’t have a money-back guarantee policy, and it’s stated pretty clearly in its terms of service that “all amounts paid are non-refundable.” However, its team analyzes these requests and may grant a refund in certain situations. The good thing is that you can try it out with the free plan, eliminating the need for a refund in most cases.

Try TunnelBear VPN Now!

Comparison: Is It Better Than the Competition?

Comparing TunnelBear to the top VPNs, we can really see some interesting differences.

TunnelBear ExpressVPN NordVPN
Our speed rating #16 #2 #1
Server number 2,600 servers 3,000 servers 5,500 servers
Obfuscated servers Yes Yes Yes
Specialized servers No No Yes, for P2P, Dedicated IP, Double VPN, Obfuscated, and Onion Over VPN
Jurisdiction Canada The British Virgin Islands Panama
Zero-logging policy No Yes Yes
Encryption 256-bit AES 256-bit AES 256-bit AES
Kill switch Yes, for all devices Yes, but not for iOS Yes, for all devices
Split tunneling Yes, for Android Yes, for mobile and desktop Yes, on Chrome and Mozilla browser extensions and on mobile apps
Allows torrenting Yes, no specialized servers Yes, on all servers Yes, specialized P2P servers
Simultaneous connections 5 5 6
Unblocks Netflix US Yes Yes Yes, specialized streaming servers
Unblocks BBC iPlayer No Yes Yes, specialized streaming servers
Works in China Yes Yes Yes
Pricing $3.33/month $6.67/month $3.71/month
Money-Back Guarantee None 30 days 30

 

The Bottom Line

Final Verdict: User-Friendly VPN With Many Useful Features

TunnelBear is a good and user-friendly VPN, suitable for beginner users who just want to conceal their traffic and browse undetected.

It has solid security and privacy features, can bypass the Great Firewall of China, and its speeds on local servers are great.

However, it doesn’t compare with the top VPNs. It has a small server network, its long-distance speeds are slow, and I couldn’t unblock all the major streaming platforms with it.

  • Free access up to 500MB per month
  • Private browsing online and a connection for up to 5
  • Strong encryption with AES 256-bit encryption by default
  • Located in 25 countries
  • Get started with TunnelBear VPN now

Try TunnelBear VPN Now!

FAQs on TunnelBear

😎 Is TunnelBear free?

Yes, TunnelBear has a free plan. You get all its features and 500MB of monthly traffic, but it’s not enough if you want to play online games or download torrents. If you share a message on Twitter about it, you can get a one time bonus of 1GB of data.

The 500MB of data resets every month, so you may need to upgrade to a paid plan for unlimited browsing.

😍 Can I use TunnelBear VPN on Android and iOS (and can I download a modded APK for it)?

Yes, TunnelBear has Android and iOS clients, and you can download them from the specialized stores. I don’t recommend downloading a modded APK for two reasons. Firstly, a modded APK doesn’t give you access to the VPN, as you need an account to use it. Secondly, you have no control over files you download from the internet – you can get a lot of malware, and compromise the integrity of your files and devices.

TunnelBear has a free plan and you can use it with its Android or iOS app instead of downloading modded APK files.

🤑 Where are TunnelBear’s servers located? Does it work in China?

TunnelBear has servers in 25 countries, such as the UK, US, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, etc. Its server network is rather small, but it comes with a lot of useful features.

Even though it doesn’t have servers in China, TunnelBear can bypass the Great Firewall of China using the GhostBear feature, which conceals your VPN traffic and makes it look like regular HTTPS traffic.

🤓 Is TunnelBear VPN safe — does it keep logs?

Yes, TunnelBear is safe, and it only keeps the necessary logs about its customers, such as email addresses and data about how you use the VPN. I ran multiple tests and analyzed its privacy policy and the results really impressed me. Your IP address is not recorded when you connect to its servers, so whatever you do remains unknown.

😄 Does TunnelBear have a browser extension?

Yes, TunnelBear has browser extensions for Opera, Chrome, and Firefox. Since its clients are only available for Windows and macOS, the browser extensions allow you to use the VPN on any operating system with the supported browsers.

Try TunnelBear VPN for FREE for Days!

Money Back Guarantee (Days) :
Mobile app :
Number of devices per license : 5

Watch the short video review and tutorial below of TunnelBear VPN

TunnelBear VPN User Reviews

9.0
Based on 288 reviews in 8 languages
Whodat
OK for PC & Android, no firesticks - 8
Whodat -
Dec 18, 2020

The PC and tablet versions of the paid version differ. Ghost Bear is on all versions, but Vigilant bear is PC only. Tried on an older Samsung tablet running kit kat, and a slightly newer one using marshmellow. I Will NOT install it on any of my android phones (they are for work), but I'm confident about them working on 7.1.1 up. Why no fire tv stick version? Have to use a different VPN or cast to it from a tablet that will run it. Their devs should look harder at the noob market they are aimed at, so get cracking develop one soon. In Canada, where TB is based, it's not for Netflix, but fine for IPTV and related stuff. The principal ISP's here (Bell, Rogers, Telus, Shaw) have become more aggressive blocking things lately, so a VPN is a must now. Throughput isn't horrible on a cheap 15/1 line, (the average is around 12/.9 using an in Canada server out of Vancouver) so it's mid-pack.

David Ross
DANGEROUS for CANADIANS - 2
David Ross

I live in the GTA, everything was fine "until" I installed TunnelBear on one of my 7 devices, now I can no longer watch any USA TV stations on line on any of my other 6 devices, this company is scum, they hid something in there that disabled all my other devices unless I buy their VPN, well, not going to buy their garbage, can't believe how much it slowed my device, I would rather wipe all my drives than give TunnelBear one cent!

Anonymous
It is great - 8
Anonymous

The speeds are great if you do not use ghostbear. It also has a transparency report and audit if not sure,so really great and trustworthy. I really recommend it. Four stars from me maybe 5 stars it depends what you need a vpn for.

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