One of the most well-known VPN services available online is TunnelBear. It also offers a lot. For instance, it provides a number of features, unblocks different streaming websites like Netflix, and adheres to a no-logs policy. Additionally, TunnelBear offers a free edition, which is an excellent option for people who are unsure about making a commitment.
TunnelBear VPN Review 2022
In this TunnelBear review, AGENT Digital assess the VPN Service’s security capabilities, subscriber perks, connection speeds, and customer support.
1. TunnelBear Pros & Cons
2. Is TunnelBear VPN a Secure VPN Service?
Safe VPN services like TunnelBear encrypt your connection using industry-standard techniques. The location of their firm, which is not in a country that values privacy the highest, is the only major issue with their service.
The TunnelBear solution doesn’t distinguish out among rivals in terms of encryption. They authenticate using a SHA-256 hash and regular AES-256 encryption. Even the US government has given its approval for using this algorithm on sensitive data. As a user, this implies that your connection will be secure and that it won’t be simple for anyone to keep tabs on your online actions.
Tunneling protocols enable communication between your device and the VPN server. The protocols used on Windows and iOS are OpenVPN (TCP/UDP) and IKEv2. OpenVPN (TCP/UDP) is the only option for Android and macOS. You can only choose between IKEv2/OpenVPN and OpenVPN (TCP) for apps that support both tunneling protocols (UDP). Only by imposing the TCP override option is this possible.
When you choose a country, the protocols “race each to see who’ll connect first,” as they put it in their blog. Although the less technologically skilled people could find this automation useful, it seems weird to eliminate the possibility to choose between them manually. In particular, given that IKEv2 and OpenVPN (UDP) are lumped together despite the fact that they are two completely different kinds of protocols that are beneficial in various contexts.
Even while naming its security capabilities, TunnelBear uses a lighthearted tone. VigilantBear is their kill switch. When the connection between your device and the VPN server is temporarily lost, its primary purpose is to protect your privacy.
In order to wait for the VPN server to react, VigilantBear subsequently temporarily suspends your internet connection. If it does, data is permitted to transit, allowing you to resume your previous activities. This feature shields you against unintentional location or IP address disclosure.
Currently, only Windows, macOS, and Android apps come with this feature’s support. Keep in mind that if you intend to use TunnelBear on your iPhone or iPad, the iOS version does not have it.
Remember that disruption and disconnect notice notifications are by default turned off. So, you won’t receive any notifications when VigilantBear is on. If it activates while the connection is attempting to fix itself, you might begin analyzing other network elements that might be operating as they should.
Your activities is not logged or monitored by TunnelBear. Simply put, it indicates that they don’t keep track of your internet activities while you use the service.
The service does, however, gather some non-personal data via their app and some personal data via their website. as stated in their privacy statement.
For instance, TunnelBear VPN is aware of:
- Your email address
- Twitter ID (if you opted-in for TunnelBear’s special promo)
- OS version
- Total data used in present month
- Cardholder’s last name
Additionally, they have access to the information kept by Stripe and PayPal, their third-party payment processors. Your card’s billing address can be included here.
Overall, this is a respectably privacy-friendly method, but for true anonymity, you should use cryptocurrency and take other security measures. The UKUSA (Five Eyes) alliance, a collection of nations renowned for their extensive surveillance programs and potent intelligence organizations, includes Canada, which is where TunnelBear is also headquartered. Regular users shouldn’t find this to be a deal-breaker, but other users might want to pay attention.
TunnelBear has submitted their apps for independent security audits for three years running. A reputable German cybersecurity firm called Cure53 searched for vulnerabilities in server, client, or crucial programming that hackers may attack. For instance, the most recent audit discovered two critical, four high, and one medium issue, all of which were immediately fixed.
In comparison to other VPN service providers, TunnelBear underwent more audits in a short period of time than other rivals did in a decade.
3. TunnelBear VPN features
Encrypted Server Name Indicator
TunnelBear’s Android app have a unique feature that benefits users in countries with strict censorship. When the government chooses to obstruct VPN services, they may do so in a variety of ways. Blocking at the DNS level is one such strategy.
DNS blocking essentially entails adding VPN brand names to a DNS server’s blacklist. One possible address for a TunnelBear server is us1.tunnelbear.com. You wouldn’t be able to connect to this server if the government blacklisted the word “tunnelbear” at the DNS level.
To connect to server names in encrypted form, TunnelBear Android apps offer a built-in feature. In this method, restricting governments won’t be able to make it difficult for you to utilize a VPN client.
Own browser extensions are available for TunnelBear VPN. Blocker, however, is a whole different tool that can only be installed on Chrome browsers. Even without an account, you can use it. It will then indicate how many trackers it stopped after being added.
Ads, Flash scripts, pixel tracking, microphone access, social media buttons, and WebRTC are all blocked by this feature. Additional blocklists that contain well-known malware URLs can be added. If you use a VPN while browsing and are concerned about WebRTC leaks (the leakage of your IP address via the browser’s WebRTC capability), this enhancement is helpful. You won’t need to worry about anything with this addition.
As previously stated, certain countries are constantly looking for ways to limit the use of VPNs. They may be able to tell from your traffic patterns that you are using a VPN in some situations.
Because of this, TunnelBear VPN features obfuscated GhostBear servers that employ sophisticated algorithms to disguise your traffic as ordinary non-VPN data. Bypassing blocks enables you to access the internet without limitations.
By enabling the GhostBear toggle in Settings, you can make the feature available. Sadly, iOS users cannot access it.
4. TunnelBear VPM Streaming performance: does TunnelBear unblock Netflix?
Although TunnelBear’s official position is that they do not support unblocking streaming services, it appears to be working because we was able to unblock the majority of the media platforms we attempted.
On AGENT Digital’s first attempt, we were able to unlock US Netflix and load a US-only exclusive, the first season of Twin Peaks. The speeds weren’t as horrible as what the section on speed test benchmarks would imply. There were no disconnects and the video didn’t end.
Even more astonishingly, TunnelBear allows access to the DAZN streaming service, which the majority of VPN services are unable to unblock. Thus, if you’re looking for a dependable way to view sporting events, this is unquestionably an alternative.
Additionally, TunnelBear had no issues accessing YouTube videos that were geoblocked. BBC iPlayer was the only place where it fell short. A message stating that the service is unavailable in your country was displayed.
In conclusion, TunnelBear may be the best VPN for streaming if you’re seeking for one. Just be aware that (given their official position) you might not receive assistance from their customer service if something goes wrong.
5. TunnelBear VPN Plans & Pricing
The three major price tiers for TunnelBear are Free, Unlimited, and Teams. Naturally, the Free plan is for you if you’re seeking for a cost-effective choice. The Teams plan is only available to corporate customers, whereas Unlimited is the best option if you just require a basic membership. The available pricing options are very simple.
It’s also important to note that TunnelBear does not officially offer a money-back guarantee. According to their website, each request must be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis. Although we were successful in getting a refund, other people might not be as fortunate.
Even the customer service representative who is given your request may have a say in the outcome. Better stick with the free edition if all you want to do is try the service without running the risk of being charged.
Despite being free, this edition has some very severe limitations. Yes, you can connect to any of the 26 nations that you choose. The issue is that your monthly allotment is only 500 MB.
This won’t be nearly enough, even if you don’t intend to watch HD videos. If you anticipate stretching this for a month, you can relax. I reached this cap after about 1 hour of web browsing. It’s simply not feasible.
The option appears to be designed to give users a preview of what their Unlimited subscription will be like. In other words, it’s a free trial that has a data use cap rather than a time limit.
The monthly data cap is removed from their Unlimited plan, and five additional devices can connect at once. This implies that you can install TunnelBear on five different devices and utilize them all at once. Families or small groups of friends should be able to get by with this.
Additionally, you have a choice between various membership options, with steeper reductions for longer terms. Due to the short length, TunnelBear’s monthly price of $9.99 is on the higher end and does not provide a discount.
You must select at least a yearly plan, which costs $59.88 annually or $4.99 if paid over 12 months, in order to be eligible for a discount. They assert that their three-year deal is the best one. The three-year pricing of $120.00 works out to $3.33 each month. Remember that you will be committed to this service for three years as a result. You won’t receive a refund for the months you haven’t yet used if, after a year, you decide that you’d prefer to change to a different service provider.
One unique aspect of the Teams edition is that you may test it out for seven days without paying anything. This option has a separate account management dashboard from the Unlimited plan. You can add users, view bills, and even earn credit refunds for the remaining subscription time by removing unnecessary users from it.
The cost is negotiable. The cost is $207.00 per year (or $17.25 per month) if you just have three users, which is the minimum. This is the smallest sum. However, the cost can quickly increase to $13731.00 a year (or about $6 per user each month) if you have 200 or more users. Even with the procedures to seek credit back for unused accounts, the service’s value is questioned by looking at the stats.
Is the free version of TunnelBear VPN worth it?
Depending on how you use a VPN, you might find other providers with free versions that are more practical. For instance, ProtonVPN and AtlasVPN are both entirely free and have no bandwidth limits. Others, like Windscribe, have a monthly cap of 10 GB. Having said that, it implies that you will have other restrictions if you receive an unlimited data allotment.
The ability to connect to and use all of the services on TunnelBear’s free plan is its sole benefit. For instance, it would be quite challenging to connect to Brazil using Free ProtonVPN as it only has three countries. In conclusion, although the free edition of TunnelBear has some uses, they are uncommon.
6. TunnelBear VPN Speed performance: how fast is TunnelBear VPN?
The speeds on TunnelBear aren’t great. You should anticipate some rather significant speed decreases when using OpenVPN (TCP). The baseline download speed can be reduced by up to 80% when connecting to other European nations, up to 90% when connecting to the Americas, and up to 99% when connecting to the farthest Asian countries.
The situation is better with other tunneling protocols because TCP is typically slower. While North America experienced better download speed reductions than Europe (up to 54%), South America experienced severe reductions (up to 89%). Finally, reductions increased by as much as 75% when connected to the Oceanic region.
Having stated that, TunnelBear does not distinguish between IKEv2 and OpenVPN (UDP). One or the other will be assigned to you automatically. You won’t know which tunneling protocol you’re using until you’re conducting a port scan to confirm it.
Upload speeds were the only thing that was constantly bad. The Netherlands offers the fastest upload speed over OpenVPN (TCP), which reduced the standard upload speed by 94%. The best OpenVPN (UDP)/IKEv2 result, however, was an 86% decrease.
7. Is TunnelBear VPN good for torrenting?
Torrenting can be highly dangerous, especially when obtaining content that is protected by copyright. Use VPN tunnels to shield yourself from potential DNS leaks and other dangers because of this.
TunnelBear is thus one of the less desirable options for torrenting out today, despite being effective for DNS leak protection because to its slow speeds and lack of compatible servers.
8. TunnelBear VPN servers and locations
In 26 countries, TunnelBear has almost 1800 servers. Compare this to other VPN service providers like CyberGhost, which has 6400 servers in 88 countries, and ExpressVPN, which has 3000 servers across 94 countries. Regions outside of America and Western Europe have less coverage, and TunnelBear appears to be on the low side.
Nevertheless, it’s important to note that they nearly increased the number of server sites last year. They can overtake market leaders if they keep moving in this route. However, considering that the most repressive nations that demand VPNs are typically farthest from their offered locations, TunnelBear also has to concentrate on their total number of countries.
9. TunnelBear VPN Interface and ease of use
This only applies to Windows and macOS when discussing TunnelBear desktop apps. There is little or no client support for Linux. You will only be provided with configuration files to be added to your manual configuration. So, you should probably seek elsewhere if you intend to use it on Linux.
For a VPN, the 131 MB Windows client download seems enormous. Perhaps the cause is all the animations. This is something to bear in mind if your machine is less powerful. It might not seem like much, but it can add up to a significant burden very quickly. Even when my CPU was idle, TunnelBear used 2% to 5% of it.
There aren’t any notable variations between the macOS and Windows versions. Although the app feels a little sleeker, the fact that it can only be accessible from the tray is bothersome. It offers either dark or light system-wide themes, depending on your preferences.
Generally speaking, the design of TunnelBear desktop apps is their most notable feature. Although it isn’t the most practical, basing the service’s differentiation on the numerous adorable pictures and bear jokes sets it apart from rivals. Another concern is if this is a selling point that makes up for the dearth of specialist servers or the inability to manually choose tunneling protocols.
TunnelBear VPN mobile apps
The iOS version is simply objectively lot poorer on mobile than the Android version. It doesn’t have a kill switch, to start. Therefore, if your connection to a VPN server is lost, you can unintentionally switch to straight browsing, leaving traces of your IP address and location.
The Encrypted Server Name Indicator is the Android version’s second advantage over the competing apps. Encryption is used by this built-in functionality to get around DNS-level VPN banning.
The two versions function and feel the same otherwise. The program itself appears pretty simple and busy, with features and menus dispersed throughout. To utilize the screen more effectively, they could benefit a redesign.
It often takes staring at the partially downloaded map for a while before you can connect anyplace because there are just as many animations as there are on the desktop version. The fact that they have Bear sounds on is also quite annoying. Therefore, if you don’t pay attention when you first click on a VPN server, you will hear a loud bear roar alerting those nearby that you are using a VPN with a bear theme.
10. TunnelBear VPN Customer support
We received a response from Tunnelbear VPN customer support in under three hours, despite the fact that they are based in Canada. Given that TunnelBear lacks live chat support, this is quite impressive. The only choices are their knowledge base or support tickets (you receive a response via email address).
You can uncover evidence that previous users were dissatisfied with the waiting times by digging through older postings in the forums. It’s good to see that things have changed, and even with the few contact options available, waiting periods are kept to a minimum.
11. Is TunnelBear VPN good and worth purchasing?
The VPN service TunnelBear is reliable. It has a fun theme, strong security measures, and unblocks the majority of streaming services including Netflix, DAZN, and Youtube. The sad thing is that only their subscriptions for the longest periods of time are more reasonable, while their free version isn’t worthwhile. At least not with the 500 MB limit in place today.
The VPN’s creators might focus on enhancing their speeds. Additionally, there might be some improvements made to torrenting, as users now encounter throttling.
On the plus side, I particularly like that the company offers obfuscated servers because it’s a huge convenience for people who are currently in China or other places with internet censorship.
By expanding their server fleet or decreasing customer support wait times, TunnelBear does attempt to compete with industry giants. They still have a long way to go before being regarded as a top-tier VPN, though.
TunnelBear VPN FAQ
Is TunnelBear VPN trustworthy?
Yes. The VPN provider TunnelBear maintains that no activity logs are kept. Additionally, they have carried out independent security audits for three years running. They are now among the reliable VPN service providers thanks to this.
Does TunnelBear VPN collect data?
Yes, TunnelBear does gather certain user information. The IP addresses, DNS requests, and other information about the viewed content are not included, though. There is little cause for concern if you pay for the service in an anonymous manner.
How well does TunnelBear VPN work?
reasonably well However, we did encounter a few sporadic disconnects during our tests. It is unclear if the issue was with the server or the bigger infrastructure, although it does occur occasionally.
Does TunnelBear VPN allow torrenting?
Yes. Despite the fact that they strictly oppose torrenting. In fact, torrenting does function on some servers. The speeds, nevertheless, are severely throttled. For more choices, check out our list of the top VPNs for torrenting.