TunnelBear at a Glance
- Starting Price: $4.17 per month.
- Devices per license: 5
- Privacy and security features: AES 256-bit, L2TP/IPSec, OpenVPN
- Best for: Secure browsing, accessing geographically restricted content.
- Supports: Netflix, HBO, Spotify.
- Number of servers: 1000
- Server Locations: 20
- Money-Back Guarantee: No
- Zero-Logs Policy: Yes
- Supported platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
- Payment Methods: PayPal, Visa/MasterCard, American Express, Bitcoin
- Possible disappointments: No torrenting, lack of US Netflix access, limited number of server locations, slower speed on long-distance connections, no Mozilla extension so far.
Canada-based VPN service TunnelBear was acquired by McAfee Corporation in 2018. With over 1,000 operational servers worldwide, TunnelBear assures minimal downtime and efficient technical maintenance of their servers.
The service is compatible with all major platforms, and easy to navigate due to its minimalistic user interface. In addition, TunnelBear also offers browser extensions for Chrome and Opera, enhancing browser protection while browsing. However, the service only allows five simultaneous connections, which might not be sufficient for businesses.
TunnelBear’s Key Attractions
Here’s a summary of TunnelBear’s strengths and weaknesses for quick reference:
- Cost-Effective: Competitive pricing, especially on the annual plan
- Free Trials: Free 7-day trial and free base package
- User-Friendly: Easy-to-use interfaces across platforms
- Fast Connections: Impressive connection speed
- Comprehensive Compatibility: Supports PC, Android, and iOS
- No Torrenting or US Netflix: Limited by server locations
- Few Server Locations: Only about 20 server locations worldwide
- Limited Settings and Options: Fewer options compared to other VPN providers
- Slow on Long-Distance Connections: Reduced loading speed dependent on server distance
- No Mozilla Extension: Not available at the moment
TunnelBear could be a great choice for novice users seeking simple and secure internet browsing without worrying about advanced settings or region-specific access to torrents and streaming services.
Privacy and Security
- User’s email address
- First name
- Monthly data transfer volume
- OS version of the device
Crucially, TunnelBear does not collect important records such as your visited services and websites or session data logs, which aids in maintaining privacy online.
Protection-wise, TunnelBear employs powerful encryption standards including OpenVPN, IKEv2, and IPSec protocols with AES 256-bit encryption. Additional features such as Anonymous IP, VigilantBear (Kill Switch), and GhostBear (hides VPN use from ISPs) further bolster the privacy suite of TunnelBear.
On the performance front, the loading speed of TunnelBear can degrade with long-distance connections. While some users reported satisfactory download speeds, our tests witnessed a considerable drop. On average, a 100 Mbps connection can fall to 50-40 Mbps on European servers with less-than-ideal download speeds of 28.2 Mbps.
The server location also plays a significant role in speed test results. UK-based servers frequently offered the best results, peaking at 68.5 Mbps on a 75 Mbps line. European servers stand at 55-65 Mbps and US-based servers vary from 35-55 Mbps, with the fastest servers stationed in New York.
Our extensive tests showed no DNS or IP leaks from TunnelBear, confirming the efficacy of the TunnelBear’s aptly illustrated ‘protection by a bear’.
Torrenting and Streaming
Historically, TunnelBear has prohibited P2P connections, complicating torrenting and streaming. Recently, however, TunnelBear has changed its stance and now allows all P2P connections, enabling torrenting.
As for streaming, especially Netflix, TunnelBear has been hit-or-miss due to Netflix’s ability to detect and block the VPN’s IP addresses. However, with P2P connections now allowed, accessing Netflix is more feasible than before.
Pricing and Customer Service
TunnelBear has three pricing options to choose from:
- Free plan: Limited to 500MB monthly bandwidth.
- 1-month plan: Priced at $9.99/mo, with no discounts.
- 1-year plan: Costs $4.99/mo, a 50% discount.
- 2-year plan: Comes to $4.17/mo, a 58% discount
Customers can pay using major credit cards, PayPal, or Bitcoin for added anonymity. Unfortunately, TunnelBear does not offer a money-back guarantee.
The customer service of TunnelBear is robust, albeit a bit slow. The Help section provides comprehensive guidance on common issues. If further help is needed, TunnelBear has an online contact form instead of a live chat. Though responses are generally received within 6 hours, some users reported waiting times of up to 24 hours.
Despite a few negatives such as no torrenting and US Netflix access, limited servers, and lack of Mozilla extension, TunnelBear remains a solid choice for users who value simplicity, privacy, and cost-effectiveness. However, those requiring access to torrents and streaming services might be better served looking elsewhere.
All in all, TunnelBear is a strong, user-friendly choice for beginners who want to navigate the digital world securely.
Disclaimer: Service offerings and their related reviews are solely based on information available in the public domain. Please check the provider’s official website for actual terms and offerings.