Online security companies are notorious for two things:
One, they like to put ominous pictures of anonymous hoodie-laden online hackers trying to hack into your systems on their homepages.
Two, security companies use modern looking but ultimately scaremongering website designs to make users buy their security products.
TunnelBear VPN does none of that.
Of course, that does not mean it isn’t a decent VPN service provider.
In fact, as you’ll read further down in our TunnelBear VPN review, TunnelBear VPN is an excellent choice as a VPN service provider.
It secures user data with not by showing you pictures of hackers in dark rooms with their laptops, but with cute little (and big too) bears.
The overall vibe surrounding TunnelBear VPN is somewhat charming.
Again, that shouldn’t take us away from the fact that TunnelBear VPN does deliver when it comes to securing user data and privacy.
And it delivers via some robust security features and tools that are offered at a reasonable price.
With that said, we can’t really say that TunnelBear VPN is top of the line VPN service.
Because of the fierce competition.
With VPN service providers such as IPVanish and NordVPN (each with its own powerful set of security tools) lurking in the corner, there is simply no room for an excellent VPN service provider like TunnelBear VPN.
You have to be great in order to make in the VPN industry.Go to TunnelBear VPN
Why Do You Need A VPN Service In The First Place?
Have you heard of places such as airports and coffee shops?
Then you will also know that these places offer what they call “free” Wi-Fi spots right?
It turns out, their “free Wifi hotspots” aren’t nearly as secure as they should be.
In fact, there is no way to tell if the Wi-Fi hotspot is a fake one and was actually made by a malevolent force.
A lot of users make the mistake of joining such networks without giving it a second thought.
Because then the people behind these “free Wi-Fi networks” can and probably do intercept and then analyze your online internet traffic.
But let’s scale up for a bit.
Let’s talk about the wider world of the internet.
The internet is now filled with websites, advertising companies and government agencies who want to track everything you do on the internet.
They want to track all your movements.
And then keep a record of it.
After that, they never hesitate to sell that record to the highest bidder if a need arises.
You need to combat all these problems.
And the only sure-fire way to ensure that is to sign up for a VPN service.
Who Uses A VPN Service?
VPN services are mostly used by people who work as journalists.
Moreover, VPN services are also utilized by people who live in countries where there are restrictions on how you can use the internet.
A VPN service is a great tool to spoof your physical location as well.
Some of the content on the internet, premium one mostly, is geo-locked.
To bypass these blocks you need to use a VPN service.
Only then can you watch shows from streaming websites such as Netflix and Hulu.
As you probably know, Netflix content is not available in all countries of the world.
In order to enable you to watch Netflix, a VPN service can change your apparent IP address and grant you access to Netflix.
Of course, the engineers at Netflix are a smart bunch of people.
And because of that, they have come up with new ways of blocking VPN services from tricking their website.
Lucky for you, Netflix has not blocked TunnelBear VPN yet.
In other words:
Does TunnelBear VPN Work With Netflix?
Yes. It does.
But TunnelBear VPN is much more than just a Netflix unlocking service.
And today in this TunnelBear VPN review, we’ll talk about whether TunnelBear VPN can do the job for you on the whole.
TunnelBear VPN Price
The VPN market is flooded with VPN services, both paid and free ones.
Most of the premium VPN service providers only offer paid services.
Not TunnelBear VPN though.
In fact, in our research for this TunnelBear VPN review, we found that TunnelBear VPN was actually one of the few elite VPN services that offered a free VPN service.
There is a catch though.
The free version of TunnelBear comes with a 500MB data cap per month.
TunnelBear does allow free users to add more data to their 500MB amount by talking about the company on sites like Twitter.
Potentially, a user can raise his/her limit to a grand total of 1GB per month.
Moreover, a user can increase his/her bandwidth each month by tweeting about the company.
This is in stark contrast to some of the other VPN services such as HotSpot Shield Elite that show users advertisements instead of asking them to promote them on social media.
HotSpot Shield Elite does not restrict users in terms of monthly data caps, but it does serve its users ads.
Which can or can’t be annoying depending on each individual user.
Other Important Things You Should Know Before Signing Up
There are some other TunnelBear features as well which aren’t part of the free accounts.
If you don’t do proper research beforehand, you won’t notice the missing features unless and until you start using the TunnelBear service.
Needless to say, by then it would be too late.
So let’s get to it then.
The free accounts do not have as many VPN server locations as the paid account.
For example, if you want to connect to VPN servers that are located in places such as Australia or India, then you’ll have to cough up some extra dough.
But as far as the rest of the 18 countries are concerned, these are made available by TunnelBear for free.
Do keep in mind though that the paid version of TunnelBear isn’t expensive.
At the very least, you won’t have to break the bank for TunnelBear VPN premium service.
TunnelBear VPN has a Giant plan which costs users around $9.99 per month.
There is also a Grizzly plan which can cost the user around $59.88 per year.
If we’re talking about averages in the VPN industry, then TunnelBear lands right ON the average.
Not a little above and not a little below.
The quality of TunnelBear VPN ensures that the overall value of TunnelBear VPN service is more than just acceptable.
Both the paid subscription packages of TunnelBear come with unlimited data and have the same number of features.
TunnelBear Payment Options
Users can pay for TunnelBear subscriptions via all reputed credit cards.
On the other hand, users who are more anxious about their privacy can use Bitcoin to make payments in an anonymous transaction.
The payment options, though sufficient, aren’t great.
VPN services like TorGuard offer more options such as,
- Gift cards of the prepaid type that are bought from famous merchants such as Subway and Starbucks.
TunnelBear VPN Servers
Number of servers is an extremely important number when it comes to VPN service providers.
The higher the number of servers, the better it is.
TunnelBear representatives will tell you that the company offers around 900 VPN servers around the world at any given point in time.
The 900 server number is way more than what some of the other VPN service providers are offering to their users.
But when we compare it to some of the industry’s top dogs like Private Internet Access then it isn’t quite as impressive.
Because Private Internet Access offers a ton over 3000 VPN servers that are spread over 200 locations around the globe.
As mentioned before, the number of VPN servers matter a lot.
Because the user can expect better VPN performance from a VPN server that isn’t being used by other VPN users.
If a VPN server is overloaded with users, then it becomes slow, laggy and unreliable.
What About VPN Server Locations?
TunnelBear offers VPN servers in around 20 countries.
Some of these countries are as follows,
- Hong Kong
- The Netherlands
- The United Kingdom
- The United States of America
As you can probably imagine, the list of offered countries is impressive.
But TunnelBear does leave out some major pieces of land when it comes to VPN servers.
For example, there are no VPN servers in places such as the Middle East.
No servers in Russia either.
And not a single server in Turkey.
It looks like TunnelBear doesn’t like to have VPN servers in locations that have authoritarian internet policies.
Top VPN service providers such as NordVPN and Private Internet Access offer way more VPN server locations than TunnelBear.
It shouldn’t take a genius to figure out that the larger the number of VPN server location, the better performance for users who use VPN servers white traveling abroad.
Because, a larger number of VPN server locations would mean that no matter where you are there would always be a VPN server close to your location.
That increases performance.
Apart from that, more VPN server locations also mean that users have more options with regards to changing their location.
TunnelBear VPN Features
As mentioned earlier as well, all new users get unlimited data when they subscribe to any of TunnelBear VPN packages.
Moreover, it doesn’t matter if you’re a free or a paid customer, because all users can connect up to five simultaneous devices with just a single TunnelBear VPN account.
Again, the number “five” is the standard number when it comes to the number of simultaneous devices.
There are other VPN services like Hostwinds VPN that offer an unlimited number of devices for a single account of their VPN service.
And then there are those elite VPN services like IPVanish that offer software applications for routers as well.
If you install a VPN service on a router then, potentially, you can protect an unlimited number of devices in your network.
In such cases, the only device that counts against your device is the one single internet router.
Of course, TunnelBear doesn’t have a scheme like this in place.
Regardless, the installing-VPN-on-router route is meant for advanced users and not the vast majority of beginner users.
And TunnelBear isn’t the kind of VPN service that likes to get its hands dirty in networking options.
Does TunnelBear Keep Logs?
Like most other VPN server providers, TunnelBear also has a zero-log policy.
That means TunnelBear does not store data about the user’s online activities.
As a result, TunnelBear ensures your anonymity is maintained at all times.
TunnelBear is based in Canada but its representatives will tell you that the company does not come under modern mandatory data retention laws that are so rampant in the US.
TunnelBear also does not show its users advertisements regardless of their package.
That is not true for a lot of other VPN servers. The prime example is HotSpot Shield.
During our research for this TunnelBear review, we also found out that the only way TunnelBear makes money is through subscriptions.
The company does not sell user data to any third party companies or entities.
That should come as a sigh of relief for all VPN users.
Because in an age where ISPs want to legally sell your data and government agencies want to track your movements, TunnelBear offers a way to stay safe from all that mess.
Can You Engage In P2P File Transfers Via TunnelBear?
TunnelBear does not allow users to use P2P technology.
You can’t download files via BitTorrent either.
If you can’t live without P2P or BitTorrent then you should go for another VPN service like TorGuard or NordVPN.
Both allow BitTorrent activity on some of their selected servers.
NordVPN also offers specialty servers which can be used for streaming videos and other P2P activities.
TunnelBear Does Not Have An Ad-Blocker
There is no integration for an ad-blocking functionality in TunnelBear VPN.
But the company tries to make up for it with a stand-alone ad blocker in the form of a browser plug-in.
It’s called Blocker.
It comes with the trademark TunnelBear bears and the usual charm.
As far as its usefulness is concerned, the plugin is surprisingly polished for a Google Chrome browser plug-in.
If you install the browser plug-in and visit a website, the plugin will show you the number of ads blocked on the site.
You can access the statistics by clicking the tiny bear icon located on the top left corner of your Chrome browser.
Users can also click the arrow that is placed next to the Bocking section.
This will expand the list to all the blocked elements.
It’s a neat feature if you ask us.
Because it allows the user to block specific elements on any given website page.
Other blockers just block all ads without taking into account the preference of the user.
With the TunnelBear plug-in users can just freeze trackers that compromise privacy while enabling other advertisements.
But TunnelBear plug-in is more than just an ad block.
It can handle many other complex tasks as well.
One of the offered options is Ultrasonic Tags.
What are Ultrasonic tags?
These are basically high-frequency notes.
And these are played during advertisements.
When these tones are sent to apps, the advertisers behind the app know that their advertisement was just viewed.
TunnelBear also offers some other finer controls.
Controls such as site whitelists.
These are especially useful in combination with an ad blocker.
You might already know that some ad blockers tend to break on-page elements in some sites.
IN turn, these sites become unusable.
With such sites, the whitelist option helps the user to view the site in exchange for a few ads.
TunnelBear VPN Compatible Devices
TunnelBear VPN currently has software client for operating systems such as,
As mentioned before, users can also use TunnelBear via a Chrome plug-in.
Tunnelbear also has a plug-in for the Opera browser.
If you use TunnelBear via a browser plug-in then only the data that goes through your internet browser will count towards your data limit.
Because it will be the only data that will be protected by TunnelBear.
In other words, other apps will not be protected.
Regardless, the feature is a useful one.
Because of its versatility.
NO matter which device you’re using, chances are that it supports an internet browser.
Of course, the plug-in extension is no substitute for the complete TunnelBear VPN service and all its protection features.
TunnelBear VPN User Interface And Installation
The whole installation process should not take you more than a minute or two.
Moreover, the installation is so simple that it doesn’t require the user to tweak with it.
Needless to say, TunnelBear is a perfect solution for new VPN users who don’t have much experience with VPN apps.
As far as the user interface is concerned, TunnelBear has come a long way from its humble beginnings.
By humble, we mean that its interface was outdated before even though it was serviceable.
The older user interface relied on old visual elements such as dials and switches.
Fortunately, TunnelBear has moved on from those.
The new user interface is not only sleek but also subtle.
Moreover, the user interface looks like it was built around a map of the globe.
The map, which has a central position on the app, shows VPN server locations that are on offer by TunnelBear.
Users can select their desired VPN server location from the main menu and then switch the protection to ON.
After that, users are treated to a joyful showcase of smooth animations.
The animations are of a bear who is tunneling way from the user’s current location to the location of the VPN server that the user connected to.
TunnelBear has a similar design for its mobile applications as well.
So it doesn’t matter which device you use TunnelBear on.
Your experience is likely to remain the same.
More On User Interface And Common Sense
Even though TunnelBear does not offer too many VPN server locations, it would have made perfect sense for there to be a search box in the VPN app.
If TunnelBear does decide to add the search box feature sometime later, then it would be a great addition.
Perhaps, the app could do well with a list of servers as well.
And if the list is augmented by some introductory information about the server’s ping time and load then it would be great.
You only have to look at other VPN service providers such as NordVPN that has an excellent user interface without a doubt.
NordVPN VPN app delivers important information regarding its VPN server to the user in an appropriate manner.
It also offers specialized VPN servers for users who want to use Tor, streaming video content and a lot more.
TunnelBear VPN App Advanced Features
TunnelBear is no slouch when it comes to some advanced features.
First, you have the Vigilant mode.
This mode protects the user and the user’s data from escaping via the user’s internet connection while the TunnelBear app tries to reconnect the user after a disconnection.
Another feature is GhostBear.
This feature allows the user to bypass VPN clocking techniques.
It does that by masking VPN traffic as normal HTTPS online traffic.
TunnelBear representatives will tell you that the company recommends that users should only use GhostBear feature when there is an absolute need for it.
Because the GhostBear feature can negatively affect VPN performance.
By a whopping 50 percent if you can believe that.
Even though TunnelBear has some advanced features, these are no match for some of the other top VPN service providers.
Golden Frog VyprVPN offers slightly more custom security tools which are designed from the ground up to circumvent web censorship measures.
TunnelBear Trusted Network Feature
TunnelBear has another feature called the Trusted Networks.
What does it do?
It is essentially a whitelist.
A whitelist of what?
It is a list of all the available Wi-Fi networks that the user trusts.
When the user activates this feature, TunnelBear will turn on automatically when the user connects to a Wi-FI network that is not on the whitelist of Trusted Networks.
This feature, as you can probably imagine, very useful for times when you are forgetful or just lazy to check if the Wi-Fi network is secure or not.
Other VPN service providers also have this feature but they do a better job of explaining its functionality
Nevertheless, even without the proper wording, this is still a pretty useful feature.
TunnelBear VPN Protocols
By default, the TunnelBear app used the OpenVPN protocol to protect users.
It uses the OpenVPN protocol for its application on the following platforms,
We’ll tell you right now that OpenVPN protocol should always be your first choice.
It is the most secure VPN protocol.
Moreover, OpenVPN is newer and faster than the other VPN protocols.
OpenVPN is also open source so that’s great if you give a lot of priority to transparency.
On the other hand, TunnelBear iPhone VPN app uses the IKEv2 protocol.
The IKEv2 protocol is also a reasonable option but the only problem is that you can’t change it in TunnelBear VPN app for the iPhone.
Perhaps that isn’t such a problem for users who don’t bother with such details.
With that said, there is an option to force the TunnelBear app to use a TCP connection instead of a UDP connection.
How Is TunnelBear App More Secure Than The Rest
Well not technically the rest of the VPN service providers.
But most of the ordinary ones.
The reason why TunnelBear is more secure is that the company regularly undergoes and passes independent code audits.
Moreover, TunnelBear representatives say that the company will make code audit results public in the very near future.
What’s the purpose of a code audit anyway?
Well, code audits are usually carried out to find and fix inherent flaws in a given software application’s design.
So it’s great if you want to make sure that a particular app is safe to use.
TunnelBear VPN Speed
First, you should understand something about VPN speed.
All VPN service provider will impact your web browsing online experience.
Some VPN Service provider do go against the laws of “physics” in the sense they speed up your connection.
The only VPN service we know of that does that is PureVPN.
As far as TunnelBear is concerned, it can match any other VPN service provider for speed.
It can even surpass them sometimes depending on which server you connect to.
To check a VPN’s speed one must test it on local servers as well as international servers.
You can go to sites like Ookla and check out Tunnelbear performance for yourself.
One must perform speed tests multiple times and then average the results.
To get more accurate results, it is always better to connect to a VPN server that is far away from your actual location.
Then average that with a local VPN server.
Domestic VPN servers best simulate what it will be like to use the VPN service.
Because local VPN servers are generally made for speed and a reliable connection.
All our research shows that TunnelBear is a fast VPN service.
It doesn’t decrease latency rate by much and decreases download/upload speeds by a tiny 5 percent margin (approx).
Other VPN services like PureVPN and Hotspot Shield Elite actually increase download speeds but they are a rarity in the VPN industry.
Using International Servers
Remember that using international servers will increase your latency rates by even further.
Expect TunnelBear to increase latency rates by as much as 250 percent.
TunnelBear VPN Conclusion
TunnelBear is certainly better than the average VPN service out there in the market.
In a dry VPN industry that is devoid of much innovation as far as the presentation if concerned, TunnelBear is a rarity.
It does not use technical jargon to confuse potential users and presents online security and anonymity in a lighthearted fashion.
TunnelBear VPN apps have a great design and a thoughtful user experience.
Needless to say, TunnelBear’s approach of presenting online security products needs to be replicated by more VPN service providers.
Of course, all of that lightheartedness and vivid colors does not mean TunnelBear takes its security lightly.
TunnelBear offers a secure online security product that is simple and robust.
Moreover, TunnelBear is one of the fastest VPN services in the market today.
The VPN company specifically performs great on international servers which is an added bonus.
Overall TunnelBear more than justifies its purchase price.
And it’s constant attention to improvement means that TunnelBear will only get better with time.
With that said, there are areas where TunnelBear still falls short.
Primarily though, it doesn’t have a great diversity in its VPN server locations.
It doesn’t offer any specificity servers that are offered by elite VPN services such as NordVPN.
TunnelBear VPN Pros
- Great and unique VPN app design
- Great download speeds
- Kill switch
- A lot of advanced features
- Compatible with Netflix
- Can be used in the form of a browser extension
TunnelBear VPN Cons
- Too few VPN locations
- No option to select a different protocol
- No facility to engage in P2P or Torrenting
- Lack of specialized VPN servers
TunnelBear VPN Bottom Line
Users who want to use a VPN service that is not only affordable but also user-friendly should give TunnelBear a chance.
It is secure and takes care of your anonymity with great attention and detail.
TunnelBear is definitely worth your time and money.
Sadly, TunnelBear can’t match the rest of the competition when it comes to the variety of servers, performance on international servers and specialty servers.Go to TunnelBear VPN
- relatively cheap
- extraordinary VPN app design
- fast download speeds
- kill switch
- works with Netflix
- more VPN locations required
- can't select different VPN protocols
- no P2P allowed
- no speciality servers