Currently on the market, TunnelBear is an average VPN option. Despite its cute bear imagery, it falls short of competing with other top VPN providers on our list.
While TunnelBear does offer reliable security for your online data, it struggles with unblocking Netflix, has a confusing history with torrenting, and lacks the speed and reliability that users seek.
However, the free TunnelBear plan does provide a bright spot as it can serve as a trial version, but it only offers enough data to last a day.
There are several better VPN options available at a similar price point to TunnelBear. Our top recommendation is NordVPN.
- TunnelBear pros & cons
- Is TunnelBear secure?
- Is TunnelBear good for streaming?
- Is TunnelBear good for torrenting?
- Plans and pricing
- TunnelBear servers and locations
- Speed performance: how fast is TunnelBear?
- Interface and ease of use
- TunnelBear features
- Customer support
- Is TunnelBear any good and worth getting?
TunnelBear pros & cons
|Simple and user-friendly interface||Limited server network compared to other VPN providers|
|Strong encryption and security features||Inconsistent speeds on some servers|
|Offers a free plan with 500MB data per month||Can struggle with unblocking certain streaming sites|
|Supports multiple platforms and devices||No dedicated IP option|
|Allows up to 5 simultaneous connections||Not ideal for heavy torrenting due to limited P2P support|
|Has a strict no-logs policy|
|Based in Canada, which has strong privacy laws|
Is TunnelBear secure?
TunnelBear is a secure VPN provider that uses standard encryption methods to ensure a protected connection. However, their business location is not located in the most privacy-friendly country, which is the only notable issue with their service.
Regarding encryption, TunnelBear’s setup is not particularly distinctive when compared to its competitors. They use the standard AES-256 encryption with an SHA-256 hash for authentication, which has been approved by the US government for use with classified information. As a user, this means that your connection is secure and your online activities are difficult for others to monitor.
TunnelBear offers several tunneling protocols, but their availability depends on the operating system of your device. The WireGuard protocol is supported on Windows and iOS, IKEv2 on Windows and iOS, OpenVPN on Android and macOS, and IPsec on iOS. According to their blog, when you select a country, the protocols “race each to see who’ll connect first.” While less tech-savvy users may appreciate this automation, it’s unusual to remove the option for users to manually select their preferred protocol.
TunnelBear has named its kill switch feature VigilantBear, which aims to safeguard users’ privacy during brief interruptions in the connection between their device and the VPN server.
VigilantBear pauses the internet connection until the VPN server responds, allowing data to pass through and resume normal activity. This feature prevents unwanted exposure of the user’s IP address or location.
At present, VigilantBear is only available on the Windows, macOS, and Android apps, with no information on whether it will be added to iOS devices in the future. However, it’s worth noting that the disconnection and disruption notification alerts are turned off by default. This means that if VigilantBear is activated during an interruption, users won’t receive any notifications. As a result, they may mistakenly begin troubleshooting other network components that are functioning correctly.
TunnelBear operates under a no-logging policy, meaning that they do not monitor or collect information on your online activity while using their service.
Overall, while TunnelBear operates under a no-logging policy, it is not the most privacy-friendly VPN on the market due to the data they do collect, their lack of acceptance of crypto payments for enhanced anonymity, and the fact that they are based in a 5-Eyes Alliance country.
TunnelBear undergoes yearly independent security audits of their apps to ensure their service is secure. They have selected Cure53, a trusted German security agency, to identify any critical code, server, or client app vulnerabilities that could be exploited.
In addition, TunnelBear has a history of promptly addressing any issues discovered during these audits and quickly patching them up. This demonstrates their commitment to user security and shows that they take any potential threats seriously.
Is TunnelBear good for streaming?
TunnelBear falls short of making our list of the best VPNs for streaming due to its limitations. Although it can unblock various streaming platforms, the video quality is often subpar, and lags may occur. Furthermore, users should be prepared for the possibility of randomly disconnected server locations.
While TunnelBear can unblock some Netflix libraries, it is not the best VPN for this platform. However, it can easily access other streaming services such as BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube TV. Disney+ is more difficult to unblock, however.
Another drawback is that TunnelBear cannot be set up on your router. It also lacks apps for Amazon Firestick or Android TV, and it does not offer a Smart DNS tool. Therefore, streaming on your smart TV may not be possible.
Unblocking Netflix with TunnelBear
We tested TunnelBear’s ability to access various global Netflix content libraries and the results were disappointing. Users may need to experiment with different servers to unblock the US or UK libraries.
While we were able to access the UK location, it took some time to find a server that would work. It’s important to note that not all users may be successful in unblocking Netflix US or UK.
In addition, attempts to access Japanese, Australian, Singaporean, or Canadian Netflix were unsuccessful. The only location that worked was Netflix US.
Overall, TunnelBear is not our top pick for the best VPNs for Netflix. Its consistent failure to access Netflix and subpar performance with other streaming services is why we do not recommend this VPN.
Unblocking other streaming services with TunnelBear
When it comes to other streaming services, TunnelBear’s performance is less than impressive. While it was able to access BBC iPlayer, the quality was lackluster, and the connection was not always reliable.
On a positive note, TunnelBear did successfully access HBO Max and Amazon Prime Video servers. However, the video quality was not in HD and experienced some lag. Additionally, there were no issues with YouTube TV, although most VPNs are capable of unblocking its global content.
Overall, TunnelBear’s unblocking capabilities could use improvement to attract more attention from users.
Is TunnelBear good for torrenting?
Torrenting can be a risky activity that exposes your data to potential leaks or hacking threats. Additionally, your ISP may slow down your connection or even ban P2P sharing if they detect torrenting activity. Using VPN tunnels is a solution to address these security concerns and provide reliable bandwidth.
Regrettably, TunnelBear does not support torrenting. We attempted to connect to various server locations such as the UK, Germany, Latvia, Finland, and Spain, but we were unsuccessful in torrenting anything. The download process only initiated once we disconnected from the VPN service.
If you require a secure and reliable VPN for torrenting, we recommend checking out our “Best VPNs for Torrenting” article, where we have tested and identified providers that offer secure options for torrenting, such as NordVPN.
Plans and pricing
TunnelBear is a budget-friendly VPN option that includes a limited free version, as well as affordable premium subscriptions.
While the free plan is the most basic with various restrictions, premium subscriptions offer the full range of TunnelBear features. The most cost-effective option is the 3-year subscription, which costs only $3.33/month and provides simultaneous connection for up to 5 devices.
Shorter-term subscription prices are also reasonable, with the year-long plan costing $4.99 per month and the 2-year plan priced slightly lower at $4.17/month.
However, a significant drawback is that TunnelBear does not offer an official money-back guarantee. Instead, the VPN provider analyzes each request on a case-by-case basis, potentially depending on the customer support agent assigned to the request.
Furthermore, the only valid payment method accepted is via credit card, which removes the possibility of anonymous payments offered by many premium VPN providers.
Can you get TunnelBear for free?
Although you can access TunnelBear for free with the app version, significant restrictions apply to this plan.
With the TunnelBear free version, you can connect to servers in any of the 48 countries available. However, your data will be limited to 500MB per month, which is unlikely to be sufficient, even if you don’t plan on streaming HD videos.
During our testing, we reached the data limit within the first hour of browsing online, indicating that the experience is unlikely to be satisfactory.
Overall, the free TunnelBear version operates as a trial feature for the premium subscription, providing users with a risk-free trial period.
TunnelBear servers and locations
TunnelBear provides access to more than 3000 servers across 48 countries, which offers decent global coverage.
|Regions||Number of countries|
|Asia and Oceanic region||9 countries|
In terms of server numbers, TunnelBear cannot compete with our top options such as NordVPN, which has over 5500 servers in 60 countries, or Surfshark, which offers 3200+ servers in 100 countries. Nonetheless, users should be able to find the necessary server location.
However, TunnelBear needs to improve its total number of countries, particularly since the most restrictive countries that are most in need of VPNs are often located far from the available server locations.
Speed performance: how fast is TunnelBear?
TunnelBear provides access to several different tunneling protocols, including WireGuard, IKEv2, OpenVPN UDP, and OpenVPN TCP.
|Location||WireGuard Download Speed||WireGuard Upload Speed|
Despite any negative aspects of other TunnelBear features or abilities, it is undeniable that TunnelBear’s speed results are impressive, with this VPN being quite fast. In particular, the WireGuard protocol delivers impressive download speeds, as we found during our testing of this provider.
Although the upload speeds are not as impressive, selecting a server closer to your location may improve the results.
Nonetheless, we do not consider TunnelBear to be one of the fastest VPNs on our list, as the significant dips in upload speed were disappointing, despite good download speeds.
TunnelBear performance with other protocols
In addition to WireGuard, TunnelBear offers several other tunneling protocols, and here are their speed test results from the same locations as with WireGuard.
Baseline: 470Mbps download/ 498Mbps upload
|IKEv2||OpenVPN UDP||OpenVPN TCP|
|The UK||100Mbps download/ 13Mbps upload||98Mbps download/ 26Mbps upload||73Mbps download/ 12Mbps upload|
|The US||297Mbps download/ 5Mbps upload||42Mbps download/ 22Mbps upload||19Mbps download/ 3Mbps upload|
|Canada||251Mbps download/ 4Mbps upload||53Mbps download/ 9Mbps upload||17Mbps download/ 2Mbps upload|
|Germany||185Mbps download/ 23Mbps upload||194Mbps download/ 38Mbps upload||91Mbps download/ 14Mbps upload|
|Japan||270Mbps download/ 3Mbps upload||23Mbps download/ 5Mbps upload||11Mbps download/ 3Mbps upload|
It is apparent that any other TunnelBear protocol will deliver unsatisfactory speed results. Although IKEv2 provides the best speeds of the three, the results are still unremarkable.
Both OpenVPN UDP and TCP provide disappointing results, meaning that connecting through either of these protocols will drastically slow down your connection.
The upload speed was consistently poor across all of the tunneling protocols, so if you plan on uploading data or files, be prepared for a frustrating experience.
Interface and ease of use
|Windows||Heavy on your computer system due to extensive animations|
|macOS||The animations look fun, but there’s nothing groundbreaking|
|Mobile apps||Cluttered with graphics but otherwise very basic|
TunnelBear appears to have devoted a significant amount of effort to incorporating numerous bear animations and graphics into their app development. While charming, it is unclear whether these design choices offer any practical benefits to the user experience.
TunnelBear’s app support is limited to Windows and macOS, with Linux receiving minimal support. Linux users are provided only with configuration files that must be manually added, so it may be best to consider alternative options.
The VPN’s Windows client download size is notably large at 131 MB, likely due to the abundance of animations. Users with weaker machines should take note of this, as it can quickly become a heavy load. Even when idle, TunnelBear consumes 2-5% of CPU resources.
The macOS version of TunnelBear doesn’t differ much from its Windows counterpart. The user interface is a bit smoother, but the app can only be accessed from the tray, which can be annoying. You can choose between dark or light themes, depending on your preference.
The most notable feature of TunnelBear’s desktop apps is their design, which emphasizes cute illustrations and bear jokes. While this may make the service stand out from its competitors, it doesn’t make up for the lack of specialized servers or the inability to manually select tunneling protocols. Whether this design approach is a selling point is open to debate.
TunnelBear mobile apps
In terms of mobile apps, the Android version of TunnelBear is superior to the iOS version. The latter lacks a kill switch, which means that if your connection to a VPN server drops, you could unknowingly switch to direct browsing, revealing your location and IP address.
One feature that sets the Android app apart from the others is the Encrypted Server Name Indicator. This built-in feature uses encryption to bypass VPN blocking at the DNS level.
Aside from these differences, both versions function similarly. However, the app design feels cluttered and basic, with menus and elements scattered throughout. A revamp to use the screen space more efficiently would be an improvement.
Like the desktop version, there are many bear animations, which can sometimes delay the connection process. It’s also frustrating that the bear sounds are turned on by default. On the first click to a VPN server, an obnoxiously loud bear roar announces that you’re using a bear-themed VPN, which might not be ideal in all situations.
We will examine TunnelBear’s security features in detail to determine their effectiveness and the degree of additional protection they provide.
TunnelBear offers a split tunneling feature called SplitBear, which allows users to selectively choose which apps or websites require a VPN connection and which ones can be excluded. This feature is currently available only on Android and iOS devices. If an app is excluded from the VPN connection, it will open with the user’s real IP address, even if the VPN connection is active. During our tests, this feature worked well, and all the exclusions we made for different apps were successful without any issues.
Encrypted Server Name Indicator
TunnelBear’s Android app offers a unique feature to assist users residing in heavily censored countries. Governments can block VPN services in several ways, one of which is through DNS-level blocking.
In DNS blocking, a DNS server is configured to blacklist VPN brand names. For instance, a TunnelBear server may have the address us1.tunnelbear.com. By blacklisting the term “tunnelbear” at the DNS level, the government can prevent you from connecting to this server.
To overcome this, TunnelBear’s Android app comes with a built-in feature that allows encrypted connections to server names. This feature ensures that governments cannot easily interfere with your ability to use a VPN client.
The TunnelBear Blocker is a free ad-blocking tool that can be added to your Chrome browser without requiring a TunnelBear account. It effectively blocks various online trackers, including ads, Flash scripts, pixel tracking, microphone access, social media buttons, and WebRTC. In addition, it allows you to include other blocklists, such as those for known malware websites.
The TunnelBear Blocker also displays the number of online trackers it has stopped, making it a useful tool for those concerned about WebRTC leaks while browsing with a VPN. Please note that the TunnelBear Blocker is currently only available for Chrome browsers.
As previously stated, certain countries aim to restrict VPN usage by detecting VPN traffic patterns. To counteract this, TunnelBear VPN offers GhostBear servers that use unique algorithms to disguise your traffic as regular non-VPN traffic. This feature helps you bypass blocks and access the internet without restrictions.
To activate GhostBear, simply toggle it on in the Settings. Unfortunately, this feature is currently unavailable for iOS users.
|24/7 live chat||❌|
|Guides or articles||✅|
The customer support for TunnelBear VPN, which is located in Canada, provided a response to our query in less than 3 hours. This is noteworthy given that the service does not offer live chat support and the only available options are submitting support tickets (with replies sent to your email address) or consulting the knowledge base.
Previous forum threads indicate that users were dissatisfied with the longer waiting times for support in the past. However, it is encouraging to see that the situation has improved and that TunnelBear is able to keep waiting times minimal despite the limited contact options.
Is TunnelBear any good and worth getting?
TunnelBear is a decent VPN service with reliable security features that can unblock most popular streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, and YouTube. The bear-themed design is also a fun touch. However, the free version is not worth considering due to the 500 MB monthly data cap, and the subscription prices for shorter durations are relatively expensive.
The app design could be improved, and there is room for enhancing speed results to provide a more reliable experience. It’s uncertain if TunnelBear will improve its streaming or torrenting capabilities since it has a strict policy against both.
While TunnelBear is making efforts to compete with market leaders by expanding its server fleet and reducing customer support wait times, it still has a long way to go to be considered a top-tier VPN.
Can TunnelBear be trusted?
Yes, TunnelBear is a trustworthy VPN service that follows a no-activity-logs policy and undergoes independent security audits annually. This places it among the other reliable VPN providers.
Does TunnelBear collect user data?
While TunnelBear does collect some user data, it does not include IP addresses, DNS queries, or accessed content details.
How well does TunnelBear VPN perform?
During our testing, TunnelBear’s performance was average, with some random disconnects occurring. It is unclear whether this was due to a server or infrastructure problem.
Does TunnelBear allow torrenting?
No, TunnelBear does not allow torrenting on any server, and its unreliable speed results would make the experience frustrating. Check out our best VPNs for torrenting for a fast and secure option.
Is TunnelBear better than NordVPN?
No, TunnelBear is not better than NordVPN. You can find a detailed comparison in our review, but overall, NordVPN is one of the best VPNs on the market, with superior speed, security, and a variety of features that work seamlessly with streaming and torrenting.
How much does TunnelBear VPN cost?
TunnelBear offers several plans, including a limited free version. The best value is the 3-year plan, costing as little as $3.33 per month.