TunnelBear is one of the best options when it comes to free VPN services. But if you decide on a service that has more value for money, you may want to subscribe to NordVPN instead. It’s faster, more user-friendly, and works in China, among many others.
Let’s delve deeper and compare these two VPN providers.
|Logging Policy||No logging||No logging|
|Jurisdiction||Canada (Five Eyes Member)||Panama|
|Encryption||AES 256-bit encryption||AES-256SHA|
256 Hash Authentication
4096-bit RSA Key Exchange
|Ad and malware blockers||Yes||Yes|
|Kill switch||Yes (macOS, Windows, Android)||Yes (Linux, Windows, Android, iOS, macOS)|
|Leak Tests||No leaks found||No leaks found|
|Speed Test||Average to Fast||Fast|
|Torrenting & P2P||Yes||Yes (optimized P2P servers)|
Roku (Via Router)
Apple TV (Via Router)
|Additional Features||GhostBear (Obfuscated Server)||Double VPN|
Onion over VPN
|Prices||Free tier (limited usage)|
$4.21/month (1 year)
$3.33/month (3 years)
$4.92/month (1 year)
$3.67/month (2 years + 3 months free)
Both of these VPN services have selling points of their own. Let’s look into their features to know their best features, and also those that need improvement.
Privacy and Security
TunnelBear is a VPN service operating under the jurisdiction of Canada, a country under the intelligence-sharing agreement called “Five Eyes”. Still, VPNs are legal in this country. NordVPN, on the other hand, is under Panama, where there are no mandatory data retention laws.
However, NordVPN faced a hacking issue in the past. The provider said their Finland data center was “accessed without authorization” in March 2018. But now, they’re taking steps to prevent this kind of incident. NordVPN now has a bug bounty program, in which users can report the service’s vulnerabilities and get compensation for it.
Meanwhile, TunnelBear has not faced any known similar breach.
NordVPN has a kill switch, while TunnelBear has a similar feature called VigilantBear. Both of them have ad and malware blockers.
The two providers use AES 256-bit encryption. Since AES is the only cryptogram that the US National Security Agency (NSA) approved, both TunnelBear and NordVPN assure you that your information is secured.
TunnelBear VPN and NordVPN use the usual OpenVPN protocol and IPSec/IKEv2. Only NordVPN, however, uses WireGuard, a software that boasts high-speed performance, security, and being user-friendly.
Before testing the VPN services for any leaks, here is what my IP address displays:
Set in the Singapore server, here is the IP address while using TunnelBear:
Meanwhile, this is how the IP address looked like when using NordVPN upon selecting the Hong Kong server:
Both of the VPN services successfully masked my actual IP address.
When looking for a VPN service, it is best if you choose one with a RAM-disk server. This short-term memory disallows the storing of any logs and deletes data upon turning off your device, making you more secure. Unfortunately, neither TunnelBear VPN nor NordVPN offers this, but the latter is working on upgrading their facilities into RAM servers.
Both of these VPN services have their strong points. NordVPN has WireGuard as one of its protocols. While we can’t rule out the fact that it was hacked, it is now taking measures to upgrade its security—preparing for a RAM-based server, for instance. TunnelBear never had any privacy issues but is yet to upgrade to RAM-disk servers.
Even though NordVPN had issues in the past, it’s still a plus that it has taken steps to upgrade its service and security. I’ll give this round to NordVPN.
Both VPN services have unlimited data.
Before trying out the VPN services, I tested my Internet speed:
Upon conducting speed tests for both of the VPN providers, here are my findings.
For TunnelBear VPN US Server:
For NordVPN US Server:
There is a significant difference in the speed of the VPN services. From here, you can conclude that NordVPN is faster than TunnelBear.
Torrenting and P2P
TunnelBear allows torrenting on their networks but recommends the Canada, US, UK, Romania, Netherlands, Germany, or Sweden servers in case you run into some issues.
NordVPN boasts of its speed when it comes to P2P sharing. It claims to have hundreds of P2P servers around the world. You won’t even need to worry about bandwidth limits because it doesn’t have any.
Here’s my IP and torrent address before turning on the VPN services:
Here’s what the Singapore server of TunnelBear did:
Here’s what the Hong Kong server of NordVPN showed:
Both of them masked my true IP address. But for this round, NordVPN wins in terms of file sharing for it has optimized P2P servers.
Those who purchase VPN providers use such services because they want to access other country’s streaming service libraries. When choosing one, make sure it is compatible with famous streaming services.
TunnelBear VPN can access libraries of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, and many others. Meanwhile, NordVPN can access Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, and many others.
Both NordVPN and TunnelBear are good for streaming HD video—I have not experienced any lags or low resolution while watching Spotlight on the US Netflix library. They can access libraries, including that of the UK server. They both gave me a smooth experience even though TunnelBear VPN appeared slow based on the conducted speed test.
Here is what the video looked like when I was streaming while using NordVPN:
And here is what streaming Spotlight looked while using TunnelBear:
I was expecting the video to appear in low resolution while using TunnelBear. Surprisingly, both of them work well in terms of streaming. Both of them also give access to the main Netflix libraries, although TunnelBear may have a limit if you’re using the free version. But if you’re going to subscribe, it will work well for streaming.
For this round, I’ll say it’s a tie.
TunnelBear VPN works for Windows, macOS, Linux (but on limited support), Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. Unfortunately, this VPN provider is not supported for gaming systems or Apple and Android TV. It works well when playing with mobile games, but I experienced a few lags when I was playing Mobile Legends on iOS.
Here is what Mobile Legends look like while using TunnelBear.
NordVPN is compatible with Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, and Android, just like TunnelBear is. But its advantage is it is supported for Android TV and gaming systems like Xbox One, Playstation 5, and Nintendo Switch.
I have not experienced any lags or low resolution when playing Mobile Legends on iOS, either. Here’s a screenshot of the game while using NordVPN on a US server:
Both are good enough to use when you’re playing games on your phone, but NordVPN is an advantage here as it is supported for gaming systems. This round goes to NordVPN.
TunnelBear VPN is compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux (limited), Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. NordVPN is also compatible with the mentioned platforms (except Opera). Both of them also have browser extensions. However, NordVPN has wider compatibility as you can also install it in several routers and gaming systems.
You can refer to the table below for a more comprehensive comparison:
For this round, NordVPN takes the win.
If you use several devices at once, you would want a reliable VPN provider that can handle simultaneous connections. TunnelBear can handle up to five connections, which can be a mix of browser extensions, mobile phones, and computers.
As for NordVPN, you can use it on six devices at most. Its difference from TunnelBear is it can be installed in selected compatible routers, which only counts as one device out of six. This way, you can secure all of the devices in your network and still have five slots left. This is one feature TunnelBear doesn’t have.
Comparing NordVPN vs TunnelBear, the latter is more reliable when it comes to simultaneous connections. NordVPN once again dominates this round.
A VPN provider with more servers is always the better option. When choosing one, it’s best to pick a VPN service that will provide you with more choices.
TunnelBear has over 3,000 VPN servers in more than 40 countries. In 2020, it removed its Hong Kong server to protect its users. This is in line with the Chinese government’s security law that can be an online safety threat. The VPN service recommended its Hong Kong users use Japan or Singapore servers instead.
NordVPN has more servers. It has over 5,000 servers in 59 countries, putting it at an advantage over TunnelBear.
In this round between NordVPN vs TunnelBear, I would go for NordVPN since it has more servers and locations compared to the latter.
TunnelBear claims you can “tunnel” anywhere in the world. They have users in this region, but they don’t guarantee the network conditions as some areas are more restrictive than others. NordVPN, however, can bypass the Great Firewall of China. NordVPN has obfuscated servers, which can go around firewalls that block VPNs. This round goes to NordVPN.
Interface and Usability
TunnelBear appears to have a small window, which cannot be expanded. It is a hassle to navigate from one place to another on the map with a small interface. It does, however, provide a list of countries, which I find easier to use than the map.
NordVPN has a more user-friendly interface. You can expand its window. It also has the list of server locations, my recent servers, and a search bar on its left side. That feature makes navigation more convenient.
For this round, I’ll bet on NordVPN.
TunnelBear has a feature called Ghostbear, which works like obfuscated servers. But this VPN service recommends that you turn off this feature when you don’t need it. Otherwise, it will slow down your connection.
NordVPN features include a privacy solution called Onion over VPN and Double VPN, which gives you another layer of privacy.
NordVPN takes home the prize for this category.
NordVPN offers 24/7 service for its customers. You can reach them via live chat support or email. For concerns sent through email, they make sure to respond within 24 hours.
TunnelBear also has “support bears” who can attend to your concerns. TunnelBear responds to my concerns via tickets in a jiffy and offers articles that may get me answers. If not, they assured me they will respond to my concern within 48 hours. However, no live chat is available for this service.
Here’s a more comprehensive comparison of NordVPN vs TunnelBear in terms of customer support:
|Online Knowledge Base||Yes||Yes|
|Average Response Time||2 hours||3 hours|
They both want to give the best support to their users, but I’ll prefer a VPN service with live chat support. For this time, I will give my vote to NordVPN.
Here is a table of TunnelBear vs NordVPN pricing:
|Subscription Lengths||Free (500MB/month)||No free tier|
|One year ($4.99/month)||One year ($4.92/month)|
|Three years ($3.33/month)||Two years ($3.67/month)|
|Highest Price Per Month||$9.99||$11.95/month|
|Lowest Price Per Month||$3.33/month||$3.67/month|
|One Year Price||$59.88||$59|
|Money-Back Guarantee||Case-by-case basis||30 days|
|Special Offer||Save 67% for a three-year plan||Save 69% + 3 months free for a two-year plan|
|Save 50% for a one-year plan||Save 58% for a one-year plan|
TunnelBear can offer you free but limited usage per month, so it’s still wise to purchase a premium version. This VPN service also offers VPN for businesses.
NordVPN appears to be a tad more expensive than TunnelBear, but you can get more discounts when applying for a long-term plan. NordVPN also has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Even though TunnelBear can give you a free VPN service, I have to give this round to NordVPN.
Is TunnelBear better than NordVPN?
I have to say no. In most aspects, NordVPN tops TunnelBear. If you want a faster VPN for streaming and torrenting, a more user-friendly interface, and need to go around the Great Firewall of China, NordVPN is your better bet. It also provides great value for money, and soon, you will experience it with RAM-disk servers.
But TunnelBear is not so far behind. Although limited, it still offers a free but decent VPN service. If you need to try it out before actually purchasing a premium version, you can do so free of charge. Who knows? Maybe TunnelBear works better for you.