Review

TunnelBear VPN Review


TunnelBear is a very slick and minimalist VPN provider, who aims to provide a great quality service to those with very little knowledge. Since their last review they have also implemented some more advanced functions, to help those with a few more needs. Overall TunnelBear is a great value for money service with the most attractive & funny attitude we have ever seen.
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Disclosure: compensated affiliate: click here for more information
Review of: TunnelBear
VPN by :
TunnelBear Inc

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On November 17, 2016
Last modified:November 21, 2016

Summary:

TunnelBear is a quirky Canadian provider that offers a free VPN service. In this TunnelBear review we look at its client, speed, price, and more!

  • ProsPROS
  • Good encryption
  • No-logs policy
  • Five simultaneous connections
  • ConsCONS
  • Limited support options
  • Mediocre speeds

Visit TunnelBear »

Pricing and Plans

TunnelBear has three different plans on offer: Little, Giant, and Grizzly.
TunnelBear prices
Little is TunnelBear’s free plan, which permits 500 MB of free data every month. The next step up is Giant, TunnelBear’s monthly plan, which gives you unlimited data for $7.99 per month. The best deal and best-seller is the annual plan, Grizzly. This gives you unlimited data for a mere $4.16 per month or $49.99 per year.

TunnelBear accepts payment by Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. It also accepts Bitcoin, for those who want to make purchasing their VPN that little bit more anonymous.

Something to keep in mind: TunnelBear makes it very clear in its terms of service that it doesn’t offer refunds of any kind. As such, I recommend giving its Little plan a test-run before committing to its Giant or Grizzly plan.
TunnelBear refund

Video Review

To complement this TunnelBear review, BestVPN has created this helpful video:

Features

TunnelBear is based in Toronto, Canada. It was co-founded back in 2011 by Ryan Dochuk and Daniel Kaldor.

TunnelBear users can connect to over 20 servers located around the world. They are all part of the provider’s virtual private network. The frequently-expanding country count includes all the main players, such as the US, UK, and Canada. There are also more unique offerings like Singapore, Japan, and Brazil.
TunnelBear servers
You can make use of TunnelBear’s global coverage through your desktop, mobile, tablet, router, and more. This is thanks to the provider’s whopping five simultaneous connections – something not seen often in the VPN market!

GhostBear

GhostBear is a special TunnelBear feature. It is currently available on the TunnelBear VPN clients for Mac OS X, Android, and Windows. It can be enabled (or disabled) in the Settings section.

GhostBear is an interesting feature that makes your encrypted data less detectable to governments, internet service providers, and businesses. It scrambles your VPN communications, which makes them harder to detect and block.

That said, enabling GhostBear isn’t necessary to improve your online privacy. Leaving GhostBear disabled doesn’t make you any less secure than if it was turned on. The feature was not created by TunnelBear to improve security. It was designed to help users who can’t connect to TunnelBear because their ISPs detect the use of a VPN and so block or throttle the connection.

The one caveat of GhostBear? It noticeably slows down your internet connection. However, I personally believe that a slow VPN connection is better than no VPN connection at all!

Visit TunnelBear »

Security and Privacy

TunnelBear boasts some pretty impressive security protocols. It has a strict no-logs policy in place, meaning that it does not monitor or store any information regarding the online activities of its users.

However, this doesn’t mean that your data is completely safe. TunnelBear notes in its privacy policy that by using its service, you authorize the provider to use your information according to Canada’s laws. This is bad news, as Canada is part of the notorious Five Eyes Alliance, and was recently busted for spying on citizens.

On the technical side of things, TunnelBear uses two different VPN protocols on their network. Windows, Mac OS X and Android use OpenVPN, while iOS uses IPSec/IKEVv2 (which works best on iOS devices). Tough 256-bit AES encryption with SHA256 for authentication purposes is used across platforms, save for iOS 8 and earlier. That is encrypted with 128-bit AES encryption and uses SHA-1 for data authentication.

All this information comes straight from TunnelBear’s blog, the graph from which is below. Always a joy to see a transparent provider!
TunnelBear encryption
TunnelBear also has some other nifty features to complement their encryption protocols. These include a kill switch that will drop your internet connection if your TunnelBear VPN is disrupted.

Another place where TunnelBear really shines is its award-winning privacy policy page. It’s one of the most thorough I’ve seen in my time writing VPN reviews. They clearly state what minimal information they keep, including account user data, operational data, payment data, and additional operational data if using TunnelBear’s optional privacy feature. They also explain exactly what they do with it.

Unfortunately, TunnelBear is adamantly against P2P and does not support it when using its service. If P2P support is important to you, check out BestVPN.com’s list of the best VPNs for torrenting.

The Website

TunnelBear review
TunnelBear has a charming, nicely-designed website that’s easy to navigate and heavy on bear puns. Unlike most VPN websites, which put all necessary information on the front page (sometimes to the point of being overwhelming), TunnelBear keeps its landing page clean and image-dense.

You can find all need-to-know information via TunnelBear’s neatly organized tabs at the bottom of the front page. These include Download, Features, Pricing, Help, My Account, and About Us. In addition there are dedicated pages for each supported platform and links to their social media pages. Their terms of service and privacy policy are also easily found here, which is a nice change. With some VPN providers you need to do quite a bit of digging to find this information!
TunnelBear website
TunnelBear also has a blog. While it is not frequently updated (once every few months), the company updates and industry news articles there are high-quality, so it’s worth a read.

Support

TunnelBear has a dedicated Help page that consists of articles on Status Updates, Getting Started, Accounts & Payments, Browser Extension Help, Windows App Help, Mac OS X App Help, iOS App Help, and Android App Help. These articles are easily navigable thanks to the page’s search button. This saves users from having to read through dozens of articles to find the information they’re after.
TunnelBear help section
If you cannot find the answer you want on the TunnelBear help page, you can contact the company directly. Unfortunately, the only way to do so is via an online contact form. I was disappointed by such limited support options. I hope that in the future TunnelBear considers adding live chat, email, or even a phone number.

To test out the TunnelBear customer support, I sent them a question regarding encryption via the online contact form. A message informed me that I would receive a response within 24 hours.
TunnelBear customer support
True to their word, I received an email response within the day. The reply was personalized, courteous, and informative. It gave me a direct response in addition to links to their website for further reading. They also asked me to contact them again if I had any further questions. Checkmarks all round!

The Process

Signing Up

Signing up for TunnelBear is a straightforward process. All you do is put in your email address and desired password, and the site automatically directs you to the download page.
create TunnelBear account
Once at the download page, you simply click the download button for your platform of choice. Downloading the software should take seconds, after which you can launch the setup wizard. From there you will be prompted to log in to your account. After that TunnelBear will walk you through what a VPN does for you. Finally, it will ask you to check your inbox for its account confirmation email.

Once you verify your account, all you have to do is open TunnelBear and log in.

For the sake of this TunnelBear review, I chose to try out their Little Bear plan.

The TunnelBear Windows VPN client

At first glance, the TunnelBear Windows VPN client is sleekly designed. It features more of the same cheeky bears and animations that fill the website. Once turned on, you’ll be connected to a random server (you can change this to click on your tunnel of choice).
TunnelBear VPN review

By clicking on the dropdown menu in the upper left corner, you can navigate away from the map to Settings. Under the General tab you can set things such as having TunnelBear start with your computer and being sent notifications.
TunnelBear settings
Under the Security tab you can enable or disable your kill switch (dubbed the VigilantBear), as well as GhostBear.
TunnelBear security
Under Trusted Networks you can do as the name implies – add trusted networks. Additionally, you can enable TunnelBear to activate whenever you connect to an unknown network.
TunnelBear client
The last tab, Account, is self-explanatory. There, you can manage your account, log out, or request help from support staff.
TunnelBear account

Performance (Speed, DNS, WebRTC and IPv6 Tests)

TunnelBear download speed
TunnelBear upload speed
The graphs show the highest, lowest and average speeds for each server and location. See our full speed test explanation for more detail.

Speed tests were conducted in Central Europe using 30 Mbps as a baseline. Despite the fact that TunnelBear claims that GhostBear slows down your internet, I didn’t find much disparity between it being enabled and disabled. This was a nice surprise. However, overall I was not particularly impressed with the speeds.

I didn’t detect any DNS leaks during the speed tests for this TunnelBear review, which is always a relief. If you want to test for yourself, you can use ipleak.net to check for both DNS and WebRTC leaks, and test-ipv6.com for IPv6 leaks. doileak.net is also an option, as it’s a mix of all the aforementioned tests. At BestVPN.com we strongly recommend that you run these tests every now and again to ensure that your VPN is working properly.

Other Platforms

In addition to Windows, TunnelBear also has clients for OS X, Android, and iOS. The client is the same across platforms, meaning that you get a fast, smooth experience no matter what your operating system or device.

TunnelBear also boasts a browser extension that is free to download and compatible with Chrome and Opera. The browser extension has a nice, simple design. It’s multiplatform (it works with Linux, Chrome OS, OS X, and Windows), and is easy to install. It is a lightweight version of its other apps, and only encrypts your web browser data.

TunnelBear Review: Conclusion

I liked

  • Five simultaneous connections
  • Good customer support
  • Servers in over 20 countries
  • Tough encryption protocols
  • Transparency
  • No-logs policy
  • Optional GhostBear feature
  • Browser extension

I wasn’t so sure about

  • Based in Canada
  • Limited support options
  • Medium speeds

I hated

  • Nothing

Let’s recap this TunnelBear review. While the website and VPN client are heavy on the puns and graphics, the Canadian provider still delivers a decent service. It uses tough encryption and enforces a no-logs policy to protect the privacy of its users. Furthermore, it is incredibly transparent when it comes to what data it does and does not collect. Its customer support, while limited in options, is fast, friendly, and no-nonsense.

TunnelBear’s client is also deserving of praise, thanks to its ease of use and sleek design. That said, the download and upload speeds could definitely use some improvement.

If I’ve piqued your interest in TunnelBear, you can give them a test run by signing up for a free account via the button below!

Visit TunnelBear »


Katrina Power Canadian writer currently living in Hungary. Avid lover of travel, technology, politics, fashion, and French music.

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3 responses to “TunnelBear VPN Review

  1. Really, really not impressed.
    It slows down all my online activity.
    I turn it off so I can access things quicker.
    I tried to ask them for help and eventually got an email response a few days later that told me to get help elsewhere basically. They blamed my nternet provider.
    No offer of trying to solve the problem.
    They are not as good as the stars make out.
    Very disappointed.
    Think before paying.

    What do you think of TunnelBear? Share your thoughts in the comments box!

    1. Have tried for six days to get help from customer service at Tunnelbear. No response at all, even though the claim is made on their website that they will get contact within 24 hours.
      I am a long time customer and as Tunnelbear contact can only be made via an online request, I find the lack of customer service and no response frustrating.
      When it works it is great…when broken…you are on your own!

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