Doing a TunnelBear review and not being distracted by the delightful illustrations is a formidable task. It’s hard to say which is the best VPN, but it’s easy to answer which one is the most charming and the least expensive.
The first thing you will notice about this VPN is its lighthearted visual identity and simplicity. The company’s motto is bringing the benefits of privacy to users with incredibly simple apps.
In this review, we examine TunnelBear’s pros and cons, so let’s dive into it.
What Makes TunnelBear Stand Out?
The thing that keeps the TunnelBear rating high is that it has regular external audits, and that’s something just a handful of its competitors can boast. With TunnelBear, it’s not just taking the company’s word for it that it’s safe and leak-free. It has third-party audit companies that confirm it.
- A TunnelBear free version
- Easy to use
- Interesting design
- Adequate leak protection and a kill switch feature
- AES 256-bit encryption
- Users can connect up to five devices
- Regular external audits
- High level of transparency
- No live chat support
- No WireGuard
- The free version has a data cap
- Split tunneling is only available for Android
What Is TunnelBear?
TunnelBear is a VPN solution that enables you to conceal your IP address while surfing the internet. It redirects your traffic through a secured encrypted tunnel and keeps you safe from prying eyes. The company is based in Canada and is the property of McAfee, a well-known antivirus company.
The fact that it’s in one of the Five Eyes countries raises concern since these countries monitor the use of the internet and share data. That being said, TunnelBear has a zero-knowledge policy and claims it doesn’t know what users are doing online.
How Does TunnelBear Work?
Like other VPNs out there, TunnelBear redirects your traffic to one of its 1,800 servers located around the world, so the website or service you are using won’t see your IP address. Instead, it will see a TunnelBear server. It’s convenient when you want to view content or use streaming services that are only available in specific countries.
How Much Will TunnelBear Cost You?
Pricing plans are quite straightforward with TunnelBear. The company offers individual and team (business) plans, and like with any VPN provider, the prices go down if you choose a longer subscription period. It’s nice to know that TunnelBear has a free plan, which is more of a trial because it’s limited to just 500MB a month. Keep on reading to find out how you can extend that for even longer.
- TunnelBear free VPN plan
The free plan provides a limited 500MB of traffic a month, which is enough to watch a few videos or do some light browsing. You can increase this limit by tweeting about TunnelBear, with one tweet getting you an extra 1GB.
- TunnelBear Unlimited plan
The unlimited plan is created for individuals, and it gives you unlimited secure browsing on up to five devices. You will also get priority customer service, and the TunnelBear pricing depends on the subscription type.
The Unlimited plan price starts at $3.33 a month if you choose a three-year subscription, but you’ll be billed just once a total of $120. The three-year plan comes with free use of the RememBear Password Manager, which usually costs $2.50 a month.
If you’re not sure about paying that much upfront, maybe you should opt for the TunnelBear free trial first. Also, a one-year plan will cost you $59.88, and it’s billed annually, with a monthly price of $4.99. If annual subscriptions are a bit too much, you can choose to pay monthly, but it’ll cost $9.99.
- TunnelBear Teams plan
The TunnelBear Teams plan is intended for businesses, and it allows users to connect up to five devices per team member. It also provides a dedicated account manager and centralized team billing and management. The price is $5.75 per user monthly. For a three-member team, it costs $207 per year.
If we make a quick VPN price comparison, we can see that TunnelBear’s pricing is mid-range. Costing $9.99 per month, it’s slightly below the average VPN price of competitors such as Hotspot Shield that costs $12.99 per month, and Mullvad, which is just $5.54 per month.
The average yearly price for VPNs is $71.87, and TunnelBear is cheaper by $11.99. The three-year plan makes the monthly fee even lower. Still, it’s a big commitment, especially with some of the concerns we found in our TunnelBear review.
TunnelBear has all the necessary features you would expect from any self-respecting VPN. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go beyond the basics. Since the competition is racing to provide as many features as possible, we get the impression that TunnelBear is falling behind. Its features include:
The kill switch is named VigilantBear. It instantly cuts off all internet traffic if the connection is lost, so it won’t leave you unprotected even for a second. It’s available on TunnelBear Windows, Android, and Mac apps and is a staple feature for any good VPN.
AES 256-bit Encryption
TunnelBear has several layers of protection and uses the highest level of encryption available, keeping it competitive with other services in this regard. By using AES 256-bit encryption, it ensures the privacy and safety of its customers.
Browser extensions are a convenient way to circumvent the TunnelBear free data limitations. They are free to install but are also limited to 750MB a month. Importantly, know that these are proxies and not traditional VPNs. They only encrypt the browser traffic, so the protection level is somewhat weaker. Still, they are easy to use and good to have when using unsecured networks like public Wi-Fi. You can add the TunnelBear trial extensions to Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.
Split tunneling allows you to choose which websites will be accessible via VPN and which ones will not. It’s useful when accessing public networks and local WAN or LAN simultaneously, and you don’t want to reduce the internet speed. The major drawback is that this feature is only available on the TunnelBear Android version. Many other VPN providers offer this feature across all platforms.
You can use TunnelBear on up to five different devices. It’s pretty average for most VPNs, but some providers offer more. For instance, CyberGhost allows up to seven devices, while Surfshark VPN, Windscribe VPN, and several other companies have no limitations on the number of devices.
TunnelBear Speed Test
The main issue with VPNs that only have a small number of servers and locations is it’s more likely that users will be far away from the connected servers, which almost always results in lower speeds. While TunnelBear doesn’t have the lowest number of servers, it’s definitely not the biggest selection compared to some of the competition, such as SurfShark, with over 3,000.
The results we got don’t exactly make it into the best VPN for streaming, but they are still in the class average and very sufficient for uninterrupted streaming, gaming, and protected browsing.
We’ve tested TunnelBear from two locations: Europe and the US. The US servers showed about a 63% reduction in download speeds, putting it in the middle of the chart when compared to the competition. The upload speed was reduced by 74%, which is worse than the competition.
The results for Poland were a 53% decrease in download and 80% in upload speeds when using the Windows platform. Interestingly, the TunnelBear for Mac numbers were far better, with an upload speed reduction of only 15%.
TunnelBear’s Encryption Protocols
TunnelBear uses two proven encryption protocols, OpenVPN and IKEv2. They are both standards in the industry and don’t have any significant shortcomings. Unfortunately, TunnelBear lacks the newest and most modern encryption protocol called WireGuard. More companies from the sector embrace the new protocol because it enables a much faster transfer.
How Does the TunnelBear Stack up Against the Competitors?
ExpressVPN vs. TunnelBear
Windscribe vs. TunnelBear
Both companies offer free plans. Windscribe is more generous with a 10GB monthly cap, compared to 500MB with TunnelBear. The prices of their paid plans are similar. Windscribe has servers in 50 countries, compared to TunnelBear’s 23. Both companies are in Canada, one of the Five Eyes countries, but fortunately, they both have a no-logging policy. The main advantages of TunnelBear are that it’s much easier to use and underwent several external audits, while Windscribe had none.
TunnelBear vs. NordVPN
NordVPN has a much broader network of more than 5,700 servers in 60 countries. The company’s HQ is in Panama that has looser privacy laws. That may sound appealing to some people. The most significant difference is that NordVPN has no external audits, so we have to take the company’s word about the protection levels, while TunnelBear has external audits to confirm it. One of the most significant NordVPN shortcomings is that it doesn’t have a kill switch on Android.
TunnelBear vs. Avast Secureline VPN
Avast is known for its antivirus software, but it also offers a VPN. The number of servers is similar to TunnelBear, and so are the prices. The areas where it seriously falls behind TunnelBear are privacy and audits. It turns out that Avast collects more data on its users (amount of data transferred, parts of the user’s IP address, IP address of the VPN used) and has never had an external audit to confirm its safety.
TunnelBear Customer Support
The website and the apps are friendly and easy to use, no doubt about it, but people hoping for TunnelBear VIP support will be disappointed. If you run into some problems while installing or using your TunnelBear app, you can get answers and help through its friendly help page. The TunnelBear company offers three kinds of support:
- Help desk. On this page, you will find an extensive, well-arranged library and FAQ section that includes documents, articles, and instructions on how to use TunnelBear, troubleshooting tips, and similar. You will see a chat window on the page, but unfortunately, you will be able to chat only with a Bear Bot, and the only help it can provide is to find articles that correspond to your question.
- Email support. You can open a ticket and send an email. Although the longest response time is 48 hours, as listed, the responses we got during our TunnelBear VPN review were much quicker, about 3.5 hours on average. We sent the inquiries on workdays, and the results may vary during weekends.
- Twitter. You can ask general questions by sending a tweet. Keep in mind that if you ask some specific question related to your account, the kind SupportBears will advise you to send an email for security reasons.
TunnelBear Review Summary
TunnelBear is an inexpensive VPN service founded in Canada with 1,800 servers available for protected browsing, streaming, and gaming. It is easy to use and has a friendly interface that extends throughout all platforms. Those are the hallmarks of a good product for beginners. While the simplicity of the apps will attract newbies for sure, more experienced users might want more options, locations, and advanced features included.
Honestly, during our TunnelBear VPN review, we were charmed by the cute bears, the ability to choose if we wanted to hear bear sounds when pressing buttons or if we wanted to see puffy clouds on the map.
Still, it’s not enough to make us overlook the fact that TunnelBear lacks some of the functions its rivals have, like split tunneling on all devices and the WireGuard protocol. It makes up for it, though, as it’s an entirely transparent company with regular external safety audits, making them unique on the market.
People Also Ask
TunnelBear is safe. It uses two proven encryption protocols, OpenVPN and IKEv2, as well as AES 256-bit encryption to keep your IP address hidden. The kill switch feature is there to instantly cut off any traffic if your connection to VPN is lost. The company has regular external audits to verify that its safety is uncompromised. That’s what makes it stand out from the competition.
TunnelBear has a free plan, and you get all the features of the paid versions, but the internet traffic is limited to 500MB a month. If you don’t use it all, you can’t transfer them for the next month. If you want more, you can send a tweet about TunnelBear and receive 1GB of free traffic a month.
TunnelBear is a good VPN. It’s easy to use and has a friendly interface, backed up by proven safety features like two encryption protocols and AES 256-bit encryption. It also has a kill switch to stop all traffic in case the VPN connection is lost. Most importantly, you don’t have to take the company’s word for it because it has regular external audits to confirm it, unlike most of its competitors.
TunnelBear is a remote access VPN. This VPN type allows users to connect to a private network through an encrypted channel that protects their traffic and hides their IP addresses. It’s the most used type of VPN. The other two types are intranet-based site-to-site and extranet-based site-to-site.
They are more often than not used by large corporations. TunnelBear has two encryption protocols, OpenVPN and IKEv2, and uses AES 256-bit encryption.
There are a few ways to check if TunnelBear is on. On Windows, Android, macOS, and iOS, you’ll know TunnelBear is connected and functional when the map is green, and your bear is in the tunnel that you picked.
You will see the same image on the browser extension, too. When you minimize it, you’ll know your connection is active when you see the bear in the tunnel icon.
Yes, TunnelBear hides your IP address. It works by connecting your device to the TunnelBear server first and then reaching the desired website. The website you’re using won’t see your IP address but the address of the VPN server instead.
If your connection to the VPN server gets cut at any moment, a kill switch is there to block the internet connection so that you wouldn’t be vulnerable, not even for a second. This feature worked flawlessly during our TunnelBear review.