TunnelBear VPN Review

Our rating
Security Read more toggle icon
85%
Features Read more toggle icon
80%
Check out the new VPN porivders! no deal avatar We do not recommend this VPN provider!
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Although TunnelBear LLC is one of the smaller Virtual Private Network (VPN) providers, it provides a mighty service to its customers. With select server locations spanning only 23 countries, including Sweden, Switzerland, Australia, Singapore, and the US, TunnelBear offers its customers access to many different IP addresses on 1800+ servers around the world.

TunnelBear works with several operating systems including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. There are also separate browser extensions for Firefox, Chrome, and Opera. With a TunnelBear subscription, you can make up to 5 simultaneous connections, providing secure encryption to all of your devices.

Despite TunnelBear's cute bear design, which may lead some users to think it isn't a serious VPN provider, it has some impressive features. With AES-256 bit military-grade encryption to protect your data while you're surfing online, and good protocols, TunnelBear ticks several boxes on the security front.

If you're unsure about whether a VPN service is for you, TunnelBear lets you try out its services on the free version of its VPN software. Although the free TunnelBear VPN is limited in its features, it provides people with the opportunity to test out TunnelBear. Not many VPN providers also have a free version, so it's good to see that TunnelBear does.

Overall, TunnelBear is a decent VPN provider that is good for internet users who aren't interested in torrenting or carrying out intense digital tasks. TunnelBear is perfect for those who want a little extra internet protection and freedom but aren't looking for anything ultra-high-tech.

  • pro icon Available for all devices
  • pro icon Browse from 23 countries
  • pro icon Strong AES 256-bit encryption
  • con icon Free trial limited to 500MB per month
  • con icon Very poor support
  • con icon Limited payment options
Price Starting At: 4.99 $ / monthly 59.88 $ / annually
For New Users: 30 days free trial + 30-day money-back guarantee
Number of servers: 20+
General information
Max Speed: 385000 Mbps
Type of IP offered: Shared
Simultaneous connections / Users: 5
Number of Netflix Libraries: 0Not available
Information sharing: 14 Eyes Member
OS support: Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, Windows
Router support:
VPN Promotion: Get VPN from TunnelBear VPN for 4.99$ per month
Capabilities
Unlimited Bandwidthcross iconKill Switchcross iconSplit Tunnelingcross iconZero Data Loggingcross iconFree Version / Trialcross iconMobile Appcross iconBrowser Extentioncross iconNetflix Approvedcross iconFirestick Compatiblecross icon
Payment options
  • American Express
  • Bitcoin
  • Mastercard
  • Mastercard Debit
  • Visa
  • Visa Debit
  • Visa Electron
Geolocations available
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Romania
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

TunnelBear VPN Security

85%

The main reason why many people use VPN software is to encrypt their online data while they are connected to a wi-fi network. To ensure that no third party can see your online activity while you're surfing the web, TunnelBear provides users with default AES-256 bit encryption. This is the industry-standard encryption and is used by governments since it is incredibly hard to decrypt. It's good to see that this encryption is used across all plans, including the free TunnelBear VPN.

TunnelBear uses OpenVPN as its main protocol, which is good for security purposes. However, there is the option for people to switch to IKEv2 on Windows desktop systems. IKEv2 also provides security and supports 256-bit encryption, but OpenVPN is without a doubt the best protocol, so we're glad to see it is the default option.

If you're worried about your IP address getting leaked while using TunnelBear, then you don't need to. We ran several leak tests while connected to a TunneBear server and found that no DNS or WebRTC leaks occurred. This is a promising sign and something that every VPN should guarantee its customers.

Another essential feature of a VPN is a kill switch, which comes in the form of TunnelBear's VigilantBear mode. This feature is available on all of its apps and can be switched on in the settings section. If your TunnelBear VPN server connection drops, then this feature will kick in and block web traffic while you wait to reconnect to a server. It's a great safety feature and can be activated on any device.

It's safe to say that your web traffic is secure while you're using TunnelBear, but what about once your session has ended? Fortunately, TunnelBear has a strict no-logging policy. This means that none of your online activity or personal information is stored by the company.

However, if you look a little more closely at TunneBear's privacy policy then you'll see that it does log some user information. This includes the operating system used during a session, which TunnelBear apps are used, and the monthly bandwidth usage. Although it isn't great that TunnelBear stores anything at all, the information it logs cannot trace users back to specific activities.

A positive aspect of TunnelBear is that it carries out an annual independent security audit by a third party, and publishes the results for everyone to see. This transparency from TunnelBear is good to see and is reassuring for those who purchase TunnelBear.

Overall, TunnelBear provides first-rate security VPN services to users. There isn't an abundance of extra security features like with competitors such as NordVPN and ExpressVPN, but for a smaller-sized VPN provider, TunnelBear offers good online privacy protection.

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TunnelBear VPN Features

80%

If you choose to download TunnelBear then you'll have access to some great features. Firstly, there are dedicated apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android systems. When it comes to apps, TunnelBear has a desktop PC client, and iPhone, iPad, and Android apps that are well-designed and easy to navigate.

Once you're on the TunnelBear app, you can access a whole host of features. There is the Closet Tunnel option, which makes choosing a server much easier. If location isn't of importance, TunnelBear will connect you to to the best server and ensure you have safe encryption.

The app has a well-designed map that shows all of TunnelBear's server locations in 23 countries, where users can simply click on a server to connect. The simple layout is clear and easy to use.

TunnelBear also offers the Always On mode, which means that your VPN will always be switched on. This removes the inconvenience of having to remember to disconnect and reconnect each time you want to use the internet.

A lot of websites have VPN blocking technology, the most famous being Netflix. Netflix can detect VPNs and stop people who are using them from accessing regionally-blocked content. Luckily, TunnelBear has GhostBear, a feature that can help you to bypass VPN blocking. TunnelBear uses obfuscated technology for its GhostBear feature that makes a VPN connection look like a regular internet connection. With this feature activated in the settings section, you'll be able to trick many websites and access more censored content.

On its site, TunnelBear promises fast speeds, but this is questionable. Our speed test results showed that TunnelBear's servers were much slower than those of its main competitors, which was disappointing.

TunnelBear has three different subscription services. There is an unlimited service, that has three different payment plans and provides customers access to all features. There is TunnelBear for teams, which is a great option for companies, and there is also a free VPN service. While the free VPN version of TunnelBear has limitations such as a daily data cap, it's a good way for customers to try out a VPN without committing to a long-term plan.

Is TunnelBear VPN Good?

TunnelBear has some great features, but does this make it a good VPN? To give you a more in-depth VPN review, we’ve looked at several aspects of this popular VPN provider to find out whether it is worth purchasing or not.

How does TunnelBear work?

If you are interested in using a VPN, then you’re probably aware of what VPNs do, and TunnelBear is no different. TunnelBear works by encrypting your internet connection, ensuring that no third parties can view your online activity. This provides you with online privacy and protection from the prying eyes of your ISP and is useful if you are connected to a public wifi network and want to make sure that no hackers on the same network can see what you’re doing.

TunnelBear doesn’t just encrypt data. By connecting to one of TunnelBear’s VPN servers, you will have access to many more IP addresses, and the ability to change your device location. This means you can access websites that have geo-blocks and trick them into thinking your IP address is different. If you want to bypass government censorship and explore foreign content that you don’t usually get to see, TunnelBear can help you to do so.

How do I Activate TunnelBear VPN?

When it comes to TunnelBear VPN, it’s incredibly simple to use. After you’ve selected your chosen plan from the TunnelBear website, entered details such as your email address to create an account, and paid for your VPN, the download will begin. Once you’ve downloaded the VPN software, you need to install it onto whichever device you are using.

The whole installation process is fairly quick and takes less than 5 minutes. Once you have the app or client installed, you can connect to a server by choosing one from the bear-themed map. To switch on any extra settings such as the VigilantBear mode, you can go to the app settings.

Don’t despair if you’ve never used a VPN before. The best thing about TunnelBear is that it is a great VPN app for VPN novices.

Can you get TunnelBear on your iPhone?

Most VPNs have dedicated apps for different operating systems. Popular providers such as NordVPN work across all major platforms but TunnelBear is quite limited in terms of the devices it operates on. You can get TunnelBear for:

There are also browser extensions for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. These are encrypted proxies that you can use on your internet browser. These are separate from the client itself and are great if you want to just encrypt the data on the websites you visit on your browser. The browser extensions are simple to use, and allow you to change your server locations by clicking on the VPN icon in your internet browser.

Unfortunately, there is limited support for Linux. Although TunnelBear has a tutorial on its website on how to use the VPN for Linux systems, it isn’t easy to set up. We hope that TunnelBear continues to improve its software and make a dedicated app for Linux in the near future.

Can you Connect TunnelBear to your Router?

There is also zero support for connecting TunnelBear to your router. So, if you were hoping to get past the 5 device limit and protect all of your systems through your router, you won’t be able to do so with TunnelBear.

Is the TunnelBear App Good?

TunnelBear’s app is one of its major selling points. If you don’t like bears, then you might not enjoy the kitschy bear theme of the app, but at VPNSurfers, we think it’s great. The app is designed with bright and aesthetically pleasing colors and uses fun symbols such as honey pots to depict server locations.

Although the map is great and easy to navigate, there is no server list or an option to filter servers by city or country. For example, if you want to connect to a New York server, you need to find New York on the map and click on the server to connect.

It is easy to switch on extra features in the setting, and there is a big toggle button above the map on the app which lets you know whether your VPN connection is on or not. All in all, we like the design of TunnelBear’s app, but it could be improved by a few extra functionality features.

Is TunnelBear VPN Free?

As mentioned earlier, TunnelBear has a few different subscription plans to suit the various needs of every user. There is a free TunnelBear VPN, but it has some restrictions and has a lot less to offer than the Unlimited option. Here’s a rundown of the different payment plans:

TunnelBear Free

The free VPN plan offers people a way to experience TunnelBear without signing up for a paid version. The TunnelBear app on the free plan is like that on the Unlimited plan, except there is a 500MB data limit. Customers have a data counter at the bottom of the app and can see how much of their data limit they have used up.

The free app is suitable for carrying out small tasks, such as checking your bank account or sending a couple of emails, but the daily bandwidth limit is too small for activities such as streaming or gaming. However, it provides a good taster of what TunnelBear can offer to you.

TunnelBear Unlimited

With TunnelBear Unlimited you get unlimited browsing, 5 simultaneous device connections, and priority customer service. Within the Unlimited subscription, there are three different payment plan options:

What Payment Options Does TunnelBear Accept?

When it comes to purchasing a VPN, it’s essential that a VPN offers every user several payment options. Unfortunately, the ways in which you can buy TunnelBear are very limited. Customers can either pay by credit card or by Bitcoin.

While it’s good to see that Bitcoin is an option, since it allows people to make a purchase in complete anonymity, we would like to see PayPal as an option as well.

Does TunnelBear Have a Refund Policy?

Most VPN providers have a refund policy in the form of a money-back guarantee. The industry standard is to offer customers a 30-day money-back guarantee, which essentially allows people to try out the VPN with the option to opt-out if they have a change of heart.

So, it was interesting to see during our research for this TunnelBear article, that it has a strict no-refund policy. This is surprising, given the fact that all of its major competitors offer this option. This means that if you sign up for the Unlimited plan, you need to be certain that you want to download TunnelBear and use its services.

In defense of TunnelBear and its lack of a refund policy, the provider does offer people the chance to try out its free app version. Although the free version is limited in its features, it does feature the main security features and is a good taster of what the Unlimited plan offers.

Is TunnelBear Safe?

With any VPN provider, it’s important to scrutinize the privacy policy to make sure that you aren’t unknowingly signing up for a service that logs your data and sells it to third parties. Fortunately, TunnelBear doesn’t log any personal information and only stores things such as data consumption and which operating system you use.

What’s more, is TunnelBear carries out annual security audits. Although there hasn’t been one published in 2020, TunnelBear Llc is committed to sharing its audit results with the public in order to be transparent.

So, it seems that TunnelBear is committed to safety. However, TunnelBear’s headquarters are based in Toronto, Canada. Canada is a member of the intelligence organization The Five Eyes which is comprised of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the US. These countries created the alliance to share user data with one another.

The fact that TunnelBear is based in Canada raises a few questions. Should the company be asked to, they would have to hand over any data logs that they have stored. This may be worrying for some people but it’s important to remember that TunnelBear doesn’t log any information that could be linked to one user. Even if TunnelBear’s hand was forced, it wouldn’t be able to produce anything incriminating on users thanks to its no-logging policy.

Is TunnelBear Fast?

There is nothing more annoying than a slow internet connection. VPNs are known to slow down connections and during our review, we ran a speed test to check TunnelBear’s claim that it provides ‘lightning-fast speeds’.

Disappointingly, our upload and download speeds decreased with TunnelBear. When connected to a VPN server that was close in proximity, our speeds were fine. However, we connected to a couple of Asian servers and experienced download speeds as low as 10Mbps.

It’s unfortunate that TunnelBear doesn’t deliver on its speed promise, and if you’re looking for a fast wi-fi connection, connecting to a TunnelBear server may just slow you down.

Does TunnelBear Have Good Customer Support?

TunnelBear has basic customer support service. There is an email knowledge page on its website and a ticketed support system. Although we’d like to see a live chat option, the support is decent and we got an email response within a few hours.

If you’re a fan of the bear design, then you’ll be glad to know that the customer support is dotted with bear motifs, and customer support emails are signed from a bear. This is a nice touch for people who appreciate thoughtful design and don’t mind seeing images of a bear quite often!

What is TunnelBear Teams?

TunnelBear Teams is a VPN subscription plan for companies. TunnelBear provides its services to teams in this plan, which can be customized depending on team size etc. The price of this will change depending on how many people are in your company.

This service is great if you have team members who travel for work or if you want to encrypt all of your employees’ internet data. On this plan, members get a dedicated account manager and extra features that aren’t available to members of the Unlimited plan.

Is TunnelBear Good for Streaming?

TunnelBear isn’t one of the best VPNs for streaming. This is due to the fact that its speeds are slower than other providers. What’s more, despite the fact that TunnelBear uses obfuscation to bypass VPN blocks, we encountered a lot of issues when trying to access foreign Netflix libraries.

Overall, we wouldn’t recommend TunnelBear as a streaming VPN if you want fast speeds, buffer-free video, and HD quality.

Is TunnelBear Good for Gaming?

Gamers are wary of VPNs, and for good reason, as they can cause latency during gameplay. Our speed tests showed high ping across several TunnelBear servers, which could be an issue for gamers.

However, TunnelBear may be good for gamers who want extra protection from DDoS attacks. You can connect to a nearby server to limit the reduction in speed.

Who Owns TunnelBear?

TunnelBear Apps Company was created by Daniel Kaldor and Ryan Dochuk and was acquired by McAfee, the internet security company, in 2018.

Does TunnelBear use Virtual Servers?

The majority of TunnelBear’s servers are physical, but it does also use virtual servers to cope with extra demand. Virtual servers aren’t located in the place they claim to be. For some people, this is problematic since they don’t actually know where the server is that they are connecting to. However, virtual servers are often easier to manage for companies and can be safer, especially if they are meant to be operating in risky territories.

Does TunnelBear Support Split Tunneling?

Unfortunately, at the time of writing, TunnelBear does not support split tunneling. We’d like to see this feature added in the future as split tunneling is a handy extra.

Does TunnelBear have a Password Manager?

As well as offering a VPN, TunnelBear has a password manager called RememBear. It’s great to see that the company has extra internet security services for its customers.

Author Madeleine Hodson

I’m Madeleine and I'm a writer that specializes in cybersecurity, tech products, and all things related to the internet. I have a keen interest in VPNs and believe that everyone deserves internet freedom and security. I wri...
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