Estimated reading time: 13 minutes
Table of contents
- About TunnelBear
- Features of TunnelBear VPN
- Vigilant Bear (Kill Switch)
- Closest Tunnel
- Always On
- No Logging
- Safe WiFi Protection
- 500MB Free
- Strong Encryption
- Unlimited Devices
- Split Bear (Split Tunneling)
- Customer Support
- Worldwide Network
- What about Tor
- Is TunnelBear Free?
- Number of Devices
- Torrenting (Does it Work? Is it Safe)
- How does TunnelBear VPN compare with your favorite VPNs?
- Pros & Cons
- Con Aspect
- Pro Aspect
- Frequently Asked Questions
TunnelBear is a free public VPN service developed by Daniel Kaldor and Ryan Dochuk in 2011 but was acquired by McAfee in March 2018. Their servers are can be found in over 47 countries, but their main server is located in Toronto Canada.
Fun fact, TunnelBear VPN is so simple that you could use the app in place of your browser. Maybe that’s why its users no longer bother using their phone’s default browser since TunnelBear serves both as a browser and a VPN.
Features of TunnelBear VPN
Most VPNs have a lot of features in common, though they may have one or two specialized features which are unique to them. But after I reviewed TunnelBear VPN, according to the features mentioned by the company, below are the list of feature which I confirmed to be effective.
Vigilant Bear (Kill Switch)
Safe WiFi Protection
SplitBear (Split Tunneling)
Vigilant Bear (Kill Switch)
This strengthens your privacy while connecting and reconnecting. If you happen to switch between WiFi or your network connection is interrupted for some reason, this feature protects your device, as it automatically searches for a server for re-connection. Though you need to switch on this feature in the settings. You could also call this feature a ‘kill switch.
And is there a need for the protection part if you’re already disconnected from the internet? This makes me wonder if this feature does what it claims to do. It would be more believable to me if it only searches for a connection and not protecting you while it searches for a connection. But what do you think?
This feature can also be called the Fastest Tunnel. It works together with vigilant mode, cause this feature searches for the server which is the closest to your location and connects you to it. Though you need to select this feature from the list of countries menu.
This turns on the VPN as soon as you switch on your device. So you don’t need to worry about a situation where you forgot to switch on the VPN after restarting your device.
This is a common feature in most VPNs, where the company states that they don’t keep or save a copy of your activities, though most of them lie about this.
During my review of TunnelBear, I found out that they are based in Canada. And guess what, Canada is part of the Five Eyes Alliance (FVEY), and this means that they are demanded by Canadian law, to share a copy of their user’s activities for security purposes.
Safe WiFi Protection
This feature grants TunnelBear users protection when connected to a public WiFi or any other untrusted network.
I was surprised when I saw this feature, though it’s not really a feature, it’s more like a bonus granted to their users. Every user is given a 500MB free internet connection every month, though you can increase the limit to 1.5GB by tweeting about the company.
Unlike most VPN companies which only give you 30 days of free access, and then demand you subscribe to a plan from then on, TunnelBear’s offer has more value for its users.
This feature encrypts your data, making it less detectable by your country’s cyber-security team. It makes your traffic less detectable on the network, making it harder to block, then making it easier for you to access certain censored sites (you know what I mean right).
Just like other VPNs, TunnelBear also uses an AES 256-bit encryption by default. And note that this is military-grade encryption.
It is available on most devices like Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows, it even has extensions for browsers like Firefox and Chrome.
Split Bear (Split Tunneling)
Split tunneling is a feature in VPNs that allows users to decide on which apps in their device get to be protected by the VPN or just access the internet directly. TunnelBear call this Split Bear, and it’s only available for Android users.
TunnelBear has promised its users 24/7 customer support, with trained and dedicated support staff, who are knowledge-based in commonly asked questions.
Though, after a few weeks of using the app, and reviewing their user’s comments and thoughts regarding their performance, their promise ended up being a disappointment. Their response is slow, at times you won’t even be able to reach them. So on a scale of 1-10, I’m gonna rate them a 4 for the effort of even having customer support.
It has over 3000 servers spread across 47 countries. But being available, and being accessible are two different things. If the main point when picking a VPN is security, then the next most important should be Speed.
People always asked me in my review on TunnelBear, about how fast it is. Well, its average download speed is clocked at 50.6 MBps, while the maximum is 385 MBps.
TunnelBear uses highly secure known protocols as their main system protocols. Which includes: OpenVPN/IKEv2 on Windows, OpenVPN on macOS and Android, and IPSec/IKEv2 protocols on iOS. Click here to read more.
Though Netflix is known for blocking its users who access their site through VPNs, especially those using free VPNs, TunnelBear is luckily one of the few that you could grant the users access to Netflix with their free version. But you can only access US Netflix.
What about Tor
For those who like accessing the dark web, it’s always a great idea to check if the VPN is built to handle such activities. And after reviewing TunnelBear, I discovered that its users can access the dark web using Tor, but the speed significantly dropped. So unless you’re a patient person, with nowhere to go, I’d recommend not using it for such activities.
Is TunnelBear Free?
Well, the answer to this is yes and no. Yes because it does have a free version, like downloading the app is free, but it’s free in the sense that you get 500MB per month for free browsing.
Then no because you’re gonna have to pay in other to continue using the VPN after exhausting the 500MB. Though you can increase the limit for the free data by tweeting about the company.
Besides the free 500MB offer, you get an Unlimited plan and a Team plan.
In the unlimited plan, the monthly plan goes for $9.99.
The 1 year is at $39.99 which is $3.33 per month.
The 3 years plan is $120.00 at $3.33 per month.
The team plan to me should be for those who own a company. You can decide on the number of team members who would be using the app. Like you’ll add their email account to the list of team members, then when they log in to TunnelBear, they can use the app since their account has already been registered.
It’s more like you paying your friend’s electricity bill. The payment starts at $138 per year for 2 members. Then for any new member included, $69 is added to the $138.
Meaning the first 2 members are $138, 3 members are $207 (138+69), 4 members are $276 (207+69), and so on. The maximum amount of team members that a person can have in an account is 200 members.
And they are all billed once, meaning that you don’t pay in installments, and they are only made in Dollars.
Number of Devices
Well, according to the VPN, you can connect an unlimited amount of devices, but we should know better than to trust their words right.
After my review on TunnelBear, I discovered that you can only connect 5 devices at a time, more than that, and the app starts showing error messages. Maybe they believed that most users won’t need to connect more than 3 to 4 devices to the VPN.
Torrenting (Does it Work? Is it Safe)
Torrenting checks out okay on TunnelBear, everything works well, and the downloads are fast. And since the VPN has a kill switch function called Vigilant Bear, that means it’s safe for use. So TunnelBear users can shouldn’t worry much concerning this part.
How does TunnelBear VPN compare with your favorite VPNs?
I’ll be comparing NordVPN and ExpressVPN with TunnelBear VPN, to find out which among them is the best when it comes to the VPN industry.
NordVPN will be the first to go. When it comes to reach and availability, NordVPN is better. It has over 5,600 servers in 60+ countries, as compared to TunnelBear with 3,000 servers in 47 countries.
When it comes to NordVPN, their users in a designated area are given a dedicated IP address as compared to TunnelBear which shared their IP address.
Another point to consider when deciding between the two is streaming. NordVPN has an easier bypass in terms of VPN bans e.g Netflix while accessing them using TunnelBear is a bit more difficult.
In terms of overall features, capability, safety measures, and pricing, NordVPN is better. Though some might prefer TunnelBear due to the 500MB / 1.5GB free data.
When you search for the world’s top 10 VPNs, ExpressVPN is always included in the list. And here’s why when compared to TunnelBear.
When it comes to customer support, ExpressVPN has a 24/7 live chat with responsive, knowledgeable agents. TunnelBear on the other hand can only be contacted through email or web contact.
When it comes to servers, they have over 3000+ in over 94 countries.
Their other features are similar with the exception being whether they are honest and serious in the mentioned features.
Pros & Cons
Now let’s talk about what will get to experience when using TunnelBear VPN.
Yes it does have a lot of features, but most of the features are either slow, don’t work, or a lie told by the company. And a VPN is meant to be trusted, so when you can trust the VPN you’re using, I really what why you’d keep using it.
The users will appreciate the simplicity and easy-to-use feature of the VPN. As well as the free 500MB / 1.5GB given on their free plan. The Torrenting and Tor compatibility of the VPN also has no issues, so users can surf the dark web without worries. Though access to Tor might be slow at times.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ø Is TunnelBear VPN Free to Use?
Yes, it has a free version, which offers its users 500MB per month or 1.5GB if they tweet about the company every month.
Ø Which is better, NordVPN or TunnelBear VPN?
NordVPN is faster, safer, and more secure than TunnelBear VPN. It also offers better streaming service/connections than TunnelBear.
Ø Does TunnelBear allow Torrenting?
Yes, it does. It’s one of their features that I’m confident doesn’t have any issues.
Ø Does TunnelBear hide your IP address?
Yes, it does, though it’s not the best when it comes to that.
It’s a simple VPN, it has and does most of the basic things which are required of a VPN. But other than that, it’s just too basic with a lot of disappointments and empty promised functions/features.