tunnelbear review

TunnelBear has managed to make a name for itself despite the competitive nature of the VPN industry. Thanks in large part to endorsements by big names such as Linus Sebastian (a Youtube personality), it has quickly gone up the ranks. Today, it is amongst the most famous VPN providers in existence.

In this TunnelBear review, we’ll go over everything there is to know about it. With that being said, if you want to try it already, you’ll be glad to know that a free tier is offered.

So what exactly is TunnelBear?

It’s a VPN service that claims to provide edge-to-edge digital security. It was established by two friends back in 2011. As of 2021, the provider has a massive following of both casual and enthusiast-level users. Many even consider it to be the best VPN solution there is.

Please refer to the table below to know the major pros and cons of TunnelBear:

ProsCons
Decent speed capabilitiesSupports few VPN protocols
Zero leaks identifiedBased in a Five Eyes Alliance member state
Large server networkCannot reliably bypass China’s Great Firewall
Very affordably pricedNo live chat support
Bypasses the geoblocks of most websites

Features

And now, here’s a rundown of everything that TunnelBear has to offer:

logo tunnelbear
Logging PolicyNo Logging
JurisdictionCanada (Five Eyes Member)
EncryptionAES 256-bit Encryption
ProtocolsOpenVPNIPSec/IKEv2
Ad & Malware BlockersYes
Kill SwitchYes (macOS, Windows, Android)
Leak TestsNo Leaks Found
Speed TestAverage To Fast
Torrenting & P2PYes
StreamingNetflix
Hulu
Amazon Prime
HBO Max
Kodi
GamingWindows
macOS
Linux (limited)
Android
iOS
CompatibilityWindows
macOS
Linux (limited)
Android
iOS
Chrome
Firefox
Opera
Simultaneous Connections5
Servers3000+
ChinaSometimes
Additional FeaturesGhostBear (Obfuscated Server)
Split TunnelingYes
PricesFree (Limited Usage)
$9.99/month
$4.21/month (1 Year)
$3.33/month (3 Years)
Our Rating4.1
Websitetunnelbear.com

Privacy & Security

Privacy and security are the first things we shall go over. The reason why is because these two are the most essential things that a VPN service must provide.

Where is TunnelBear Based & Who Owns It?

TunnelBear was established by Daniel Kaldor and Ryan Dochuk in 2011. A few years ago, it was acquired by McAfee for an undisclosed amount of cash. Even so, the provider is said to operate independently.

Like all VPNs, the main goal of TunnelBear is to provide its subscribers with the utmost levels of digital security. With that being said, lots of people doubt that it can do this. That’s because the provider is based in Canada, which is a Five Eyes Alliance member state. As a result, it must follow certain copyright and privacy laws that can hinder the effectiveness of its operations.

Encryption & Protocols Used

TunnelBear makes use of none other than AES-256 encryption. This type of encryption is the same one that’s utilized by many of the world’s militaries, intelligence agencies, and financial institutions. Hence, you can be certain that it’ll suffice when it comes to keeping you secured.

Sadly, the handshake and key exchange that TunnelBear employs has not been disclosed. As such, we can only guess what the VPN provider is using.

What’s known though is that TunnelBear currently only supports two VPN protocols. The first one is OpenVPN, which is a standard in the industry. 

Meanwhile, the second is IPSec/IKEv2. This protocol is just as fast and secure as OpenVPN. However, it is not good at bypassing censorship systems like the Great Firewall of China.

TunnelBear Leak Test

Like virtually all of its major competitors, TunnelBear maintains a straightforward no-logs policy. It does not, under any circumstance, store your private browsing information. If anything, this is great as you’ll not have to worry about having your data stolen while using the VPN provider.

I tested TunnelBear using IPLeak.net to determine if it stays true to its zero-logs policy. Before examining the results, here’s a screenshot of my real IP address for reference:

IP Leak Test – No VPN

Here is the result after I paired to TunnelBear’s server in Singapore:

IP Leak Test – TunnelBear Singapore

This is how things changed once I transferred to the VPN’s server in Chicago:

IP Leak Test – TunnelBear US

Both of TunnelBear’s servers were able to hide my IP address. Of course, I had no doubts that they would do so. After all, TunnelBear is a world-class service provider that’s equipped with one of the world’s most capable VPN servers.

Does TunnelBear Keep Logs?

No. TunnelBear does not track, collect, store, and disclose your logging information. 

It passed all my tests with IPLeak.net. Furthermore, the VPN has no record of ever disclosing the private data of its users. I’d have to say this is an impressive feat considering that the provider is headquartered in Canada, which is a member of the Five Eyes Alliance.

Does TunnelBear Have A Kill Switch?

Does TunnelBear Have A Kill Switch?

Yes. TunnelBear does have a kill switch under the name VigilantBear. It’s turned off by default, and therefore, must be activated manually. And yes, this automatic kill switch is available on all of TunnelBear’s applications.

For those unaware, an automatic kill switch is an essential VPN security feature. 

To put it simply, it protects you from accidental exposure while using your provider. How does it work? By automatically cutting off your device’s connection to the internet if its connection to your VPN’s provider’s server becomes compromised for whatever reason.

Does TunnelBear Have an Ad and Malware Blocker?

s TunnelBear Have an Ad and Malware Blocker?

Yes. All TunnelBear subscriptions make you eligible to use its very capable blocker. 

With it, you will be able to drastically improve your browsing experience. Annoying intrusive popup ads shall be a thing of the past. Besides that, malware won’t ever compromise your system ever again. Surfing the web safely will completely be within the realm of possibility.

Is TunnelBear Safe?

Yes. TunnelBear is very safe to use. However, its security still has much room for improvement. After all, the VPN still doesn’t support WireGuard or use RAM-based servers. Furthermore, it’s still headquartered in Canada, which is one of the least VPN-friendly countries in the world.

Speed Test

Some people say that TunnelBear has very good speed capabilities. Meanwhile, others claim that the VPN is one of the slowest on the market. To find out how fast TunnelBear really is, I decided to conduct a couple of speed tests. 

Before we review the results, here’s my base internet speeds for reference:

Speed Test – No VPN

And this was how my connection fared after I connected to TunnelBear’s server in Singapore:

Speed Test – TunnelBear Singapore

Now here’s how things changed once I transferred over to TunnelBear’s US server:

Speed Test – TunnelBear US

To my surprise, TunnelBear turned out to be a decent performer. 

While its United States server significantly hampered my connection, its Singapore server did not. If anything, the Singapore server only caused my ping to increase and download to drop very slightly.

How Fast is TunnelBear?

TunnelBear is fast. 

Nevertheless, it is not the fastest VPN service provider around. Some of its servers will cause your internet speeds to tank. Because of that, it’s highly recommended that you pair up with a server that isn’t so distant from you. How come? The further a VPN server is, the slower it will be.

Torrenting & P2P

Downloading torrents is something that you can do safely using TunnelBear. The VPN service’s network is entirely P2P-enabled. In addition, it does not leak as shown earlier. On top of that, the VPN also has a solid zero-logging policy that states it doesn’t keep private user logs.

You should also know that TunnelBear is perfectly compatible with all major torrent clients out there. Thanks to that, it won’t matter whether you’re a user of Vuze, uTorrent, Deluge, or even BitTorrent as the provider works with them all.

With all that being said, I conducted a couple of tests to know for sure if TunnelBear is good for torrenting. Again, the testing software that I used was IPLeak.net. Here’s a screenshot of the results after I ran a test without being connected to any TunnelBear servers:

Torrenting Leak Test – No VPN

Below shows how things changed once I moved over to TunnelBear’s SG server:

Torrenting Leak Test – TunnelBear Singapore

And finally, this is the result once I shifted to TunnelBear’s server in the US:

Torrenting Leak Test – TunnelBear US

The two TunnelBear servers that I used for testing are located half the world away from each other. Be that as it may, they share one thing in common. Both were able to successfully hide my IP address during the torrenting leak tests that I conducted.

Is TunnelBear Good for Torrenting?

Yes. TunnelBear is a good VPN for torrenting

It has the necessary infrastructure to facilitate safe and anonymous downloading sessions. In addition, the provider doesn’t keep any private user data. Furthermore, it’s compatible with all mainstream torrent clients. Last of all, TunnelBear’s servers are fast enough to satisfy anyone that downloads torrents on the regular.

Streaming

A lot of people don’t use VPNs for security purposes. Instead, they utilize them to watch content on streaming websites that would otherwise be unavailable. You see, providers like TunnelBear can get around the geo-restrictions of well-known platforms such as Netflix. In doing so, they let you access a plethora of new shows, movies, documentaries, and other types of online content.

Does TunnelBear Work with Netflix?

I ran tests to know how well TunnelBear works with Netflix. Here is a screenshot showing the result after I attempted to watch Spotlight while paired to the provider’s United States server:

Netflix US – TunnelBear

And here’s how TunnelBear did after I connected to its UK server and tried to watch Deadpool:

Netflix UK – TunnelBear

TunnelBear performed excellently with Netflix. Both of its servers were able to grant me access to the libraries that I wanted to. Moreover, the two servers didn’t introduce lag, quality drops, as well as buffering. Everything went buttery-smooth, which is why I believe that TunnelBear could serve as an excellent daily driver for avid Netflix users.

Does TunnelBear Work with Amazon Prime?

I use Amazon Prime as a backup whenever I get tired of what’s on Netflix. Due to that, it was important for me to know if TunnelBear worked alongside it. To do this, I paired to the service provider’s server in the United States and then watched The Avengers:

TunnelBear Amazon Prime

My test confirms that TunnelBear does work alongside Amazon Prime.

There were periodic quality drops during my watch sessions. However, these drops were not deal-breaking in any way. After all, I was still able to stream the movie without much issues.

Does TunnelBear Work on Firestick?

TunnelBear doesn’t have a dedicated application for Amazon’s Fire TV Stick. Even so, the provider can still be used with the streaming device. To do this, you shall need to manually install its Android APK.

I conducted a test to see how well TunnelBear works with Amazon’s Fire TV Stick. How? By pairing to the provider’s US server and watching a YouTube video that’s only available in the United States. Here is a screenshot of how my test fared:

TunnelBear Firestick

So it turns out that TunnelBear works quite well with Amazon’s Fire TV Stick despite not having an app for the device.

When testing it out, not once did I encounter any trouble. Everything went about seamlessly, which is great for people like me that use their Amazon Fire TV Stick daily basis.

Is TunnelBear Good for Streaming?

Yes. TunnelBear is an excellent VPN solution for streaming

It can unblock nearly everything that’s thrown at it. Besides that, its servers don’t introduce common issues like buffering, lagging, and drops in quality. On the contrary, they’re able to facilitate almost seamless watch sessions for you and the entire family.

Gaming

Gamers should definitely consider TunnelBear when they’re looking for a VPN. 

It can keep them anonymous and connect them to foreign gaming servers. It’s capable of doing these things on desktops and mobile devices. Sadly though, the provider cannot be used together with consoles since it doesn’t have apps and router support.

To know if TunnelBear could meet my gaming needs, I played several matches on Call of Duty Mobile while connected to its servers. Below are screenshots of how my matches went.

Singapore server:

TunnelBear Gaming Singapore

United States server:

TunnelBear Gaming US

I’d have to conclude that TunnelBear is a decent VPN for gaming. While it isn’t perfect, it’ll surely meet the needs of any casual gamer. I say this because the provider seldom introduced lag while I was playing. Also, it didn’t fail at letting me access the game servers that I wanted.

With that said, those who play primarily on consoles should look into another VPN service. After all, TunnelBear would be useless for them because it doesn’t have router support yet.

Compatibility

TunnelBear Compatibility

VPN service providers must be compatible with a broad range of devices. Otherwise, they won’t be able to reach a large number of consumers. 

The developers of TunnelBear understand this, which is why they have created applications for many operating systems. Additionally, they’ve also developed numerous browser extensions.

Operating Systems

TunnelBear has native apps for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. Besides that, the provider may also be installed on Linux devices with the help of customer support. Keep in mind though that TunnelBear’s support for Linux is very limited. As such, TunnelBear may not be the safest option for the platform’s users.

Unfortunately, there’s no Chromebook TunnelBear application that’s available. Therefore, users of Chromebook OS devices are out of luck if they wish to utilize the provider via an application.

Browsers

Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox users have the option to download a TunnelBear browser extension. From my experience, the VPN provider’s extensions for the two browsers are as good as its apps. They’re user-friendly, highly configurable, and an utter breeze to install.

Routers

TunnelBear doesn’t have any router support. As such, there’s no way to install the provider on your router and have comprehensive digital protection on all your devices via wifi. If anything, this is a major setback that puts TunnelBear behind competitors like Surfshark and IPVanish.

Simultaneous Connections

All TunnelBear subscriptions entitle you to a maximum of 5 simultaneous device connections. 

I would have to say that this is another setback that hinders the provider’s success. After all, we live in the day and age where some VPNs allow for unlimited simultaneous device connections. Two of the most notable examples of which are IPVanish and Surfshark.

Servers

TunnelBear Servers

Virtual private networks with larger networks are more secure. That’s because they’re equipped with the means to render your real IP address virtually untraceable. Moreover, they are less prone to becoming overloaded since their networks can play host to a lot more users.

TunnelBear has more than 3000 servers scattered across 41 countries and territories. As such, it’s safe to say that the provider won’t leave you out of connectivity options. It also won’t get compromised due to network overloading, which makes it a very reliable VPN provider.

China

Does TunnelBear Work in China?

Sometimes. TunnelBear can sometimes bypass the Great Firewall of China. Needless to say, it isn't the best service provider to have if you frequently visit countries where online suppression is practiced. You’ll be better off with a VPN like ExpressVPN, which has almost flawlessly been able to get around the world’s strictest internet censorship systems.

Interface & Usability

TunnelBear has some of the best VPN applications available. Using them made me feel like the provider was very welcoming. On all platforms, I absolutely had no trouble with picking servers and configuring the settings. The same could also be said for my parents who I taught how to use the TunnelBear to circumvent the geoblocks of Netflix and other streaming services.

TunnelBear Interface

It should also be noted that all of TunnelBear’s apps were easy to install. The device that I was using did not matter at all. Setting up the VPN was a complete breeze whether it was on my macOS desktop or my Android smartphone. On top of that, it was also a quick process.

Does TunnelBear Have Split Tunneling?

Yes. TunnelBear provides a split tunneling feature on all the platforms that it’s available on.

For those wondering, split tunneling is a feature that’s based on convenience. Using it, you will be able to disclose your real information to certain sites and online services while being paired to your VPN. Examples of people that’ll find it useful include businessmen as well as travelers.

Additional Features

TunnelBear doesn’t offer much in the way of exclusive features.

However, the VPN service provider does have GhostBear. This feature is a proprietary version of VPN server obfuscation. With it, you’ll get to increase your levels of digital privacy by simultaneously routing your internet traffic through two or more VPN servers.

Besides what’s stated above, TunnelBear comes with all the offerings that one would deem as essential. These include an ad & malware blocker, automatic kill switch, and split tunneling.

Customer Support

All VPNs that aspire to rise in the industry must have excellent customer support. Their agents should be quick, concise, and cordial when dealing with subscribers. In addition, a provider must also have a wide online knowledge base for those who prefer to DIY their issues.

Below is a table showing everything that TunnelBear offers in regards to support:

TunnelBear
Live ChatNo
Email SupportYes
Phone SupportNo
Ticket SupportYes
Video Tutorials No
Online Knowledge BaseYes
Average Response Time2 Hours

As seen above, TunnelBear is one of the few major VPN services that does not offer 24/7 chat support. Moreover, it also lacks video tutorials and phone support. On top of this, the average waiting time for customers who avail of ticket or email support is 2 hours. Hence, those who want to have a quick resolution to their problems with the VPN provider are out of luck.

Price

TunnelBear is one of the more affordable top-tier VPN services out there. You will not have to shell out a premium if you want to get it. Aside from that, you may choose from any of the provider’s 4 subscription plans. Each of which is suited for different types of users.

Below is a table breaking down TunnelBear’s pricing schemes:

TunnelBear
Subscription Lengths1 Month (Free 500MB/Month)
1 Month ($9.99/Month)
1 Year ($4.99/Month)
3 Years ($3.33/Month)
Highest Price Per Month$9.99
Lowest Price Per Month$3.33
One Year Price$59.88
Money-Back GuaranteeCase-By-Case Basis
Special OfferSave 67% for a 3-year plan
Save 50% for a 1-year plan

Quite interestingly, TunnelBear has a free-tier subscription. I’d have to say that this is great for anyone who wants to avoid spending on their online security. That said, you should know that the provider’s free-tier trial does not do it justice as it only entitles you to certain VPN features.

Payment Options

Here’s a list of every payment method that TunnelBear accepts:

  1. Credit card (AMEX, Visa, MasterCard)
  2. Debit card
  3. Apple Pay
  4. Google Pay
  5. Bitcoin

At one point, TunnelBear accepted payments through PayPal. Sadly, the VPN no longer has support for the aforementioned payment method. On the bright side, it does accept Bitcoin. Because of that, there’s a way for you to purchase the provider completely anonymously.

Refund Policy & Money-Back Guarantee

TunnelBear doesn’t have a money-back guarantee policy of any sort. However, it does provide refunds on a case-by-case basis. If anything, this is another hindrance for the VPN provider. After all, literally, every one of its competitors maintains a 30-day refund policy.

Deals, Coupon Code & Free Trial

It’s not easy to get a good deal nowadays especially when it comes to VPNs. Luckily, this page lets you choose from a selection of TunnelBear deals. We sincerely hope that it’ll help you with getting the best possible price for your TunnelBear subscription.

As mentioned earlier, TunnelBear does have a free-tier subscription. 

This subscription doesn’t come with every feature that a normal paid TunnelBear subscription has. Besides that, it has a data limit, meaning that you can’t use it all you want. Sadly though, it’s currently the only way to procure TunnelBear without any financial risks.

Verdict

Is TunnelBear worth it? 

Yes. As you may have seen in this TunnelBear review, it is definitely a VPN that’s worth getting. Although it is far from being perfect, for its price, you can’t go wrong. By getting the provider, you will be giving yourself comprehensive digital protection. Browsing the web, streaming movies, and downloading torrents seamlessly in an anonymous manner shall finally be possible.

With that being said, it wouldn't be right to not acknowledge TunnelBear’s flaws. 

First and foremost, it doesn’t have extensive protocol support or compatibility with routers. Also, the VPN can sometimes perform very sluggishly. Besides that, its customer support is mediocre at best. Lastly, it has only one exclusive security feature that you can take advantage of.

{Please also see our other articles about TunnelBear. We compared it side-by-side with other popular VPNs: Surfshark, ExpressVPN, NordVPN, PureVPN, VPN Unlimited, VyprVPN, Private Internet Access (PIA), CyberGhost, IPVanish, and Avast VPN.}

About the author 

Erwin Caniba

Erwin, our Chief Editor, has an established career in digital marketing. Since 2012, he’s always used a VPN. As such, it came to his mind to share his experience with every VPN that he’s used. And so, VPN Thrive was born.