Disclosure: We review VPNs independently, however we may earn commissions if you buy a VPN via links on our site.

TunnelBear VPN Review

 Rated 5 out of 5 
2 user reviews
Screenshots of TunnelBear's Desktop App
Simon Migliano

Simon Migliano is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times and more.

Ask Simon About TunnelBear VPN

Our Verdict

7.47.4/10
How is this calculated?

Our overall rating is reached by combining several subcategories. The subcategories are weighted as follows:

  • Logging & Jurisdiction: 30%
  • Speed & Reliability: 25%
  • Security & Features: 20%
  • Streaming: 10%
  • Torrenting: 5%
  • Ease of Use: 5%
  • Support: 5%

See our full methodology in how we review VPNs.

TunnelBear is a freemium VPN aimed at beginners. The service has an acceptable logging policy and industry-standard security features. It unblocks US Netflix at high speeds, but its server network is small, and its free app has a very limiting 500MB monthly data cap.

Ranked #29 out of 56 VPNs

TunnelBear VPN Category Ratings

  • 3.53.5/10
  • 5.95.9/10
  • 9.59.5/10
  • 8.78.7/10
  • 7.17.1/10
  • 8.58.5/10
  • 7.47.4/10
  • 7.87.8/10
  • 7.47.4/10
  • 77.0/10

TunnelBear VPN Pros & Cons

  • Very fast speeds on nearby servers
  • Privacy-friendly logging policy
  • Torrenting allowed on all servers
  • Unblocks US Netflix & HBO Max
  • No IP or DNS leaks
  • User-friendly applications

  • Not recommended for streaming
  • No money-back guarantee
  • Occasional VPN connection drops
  • No live chat feature & slow email support

Why Trust Our Review?

We’ve spent thousands of hours testing and reviewing 56 VPN services using our impartial review process to recommend you the best VPN software.

Here are some of our key VPN testing statistics:

Total Hours of Testing30,000+
Weekly Speed Tests3,000+
VPN Services Reviewed56
Streaming Platforms Tested Daily12
IP & DNS Leak Tests Performed9,500+
How Much We've Spent On Testing$25,000+

TunnelBear is a popular VPN service owned by McAfee. In this TunnelBear review, we’ll highlight its strengths and weaknesses.

The VPN offers both a free and a premium version. Both use secure AES-256 encryption, allow unrestricted torrenting, and have a privacy-friendly logging policy.

The free version of TunnelBear comes with a monthly data cap of 500MB, though. This is far too restrictive, even for a free VPN service.

Both versions of the VPN service use OpenVPN and IKEv2, two very secure VPN protocols. TunnelBear’s apps also include key security features like a VPN kill switch and obfuscation tools.

Four independent security audits provide additional reassurance around the VPN service’s security.

Sadly, it’s not a great solution for bypassing streaming geo-blocks. Furthermore, there are servers in only 47 countries to choose from.

In short, TunnelBear isn’t the best VPN, but it’s adequate for masking your IP address and securing your public WiFi connections.

TunnelBear VPN Key Data

Data CapSpeedLogging PolicyData LeaksJurisdictionServersIP AddressesCountriesUS NetflixTorrentingSimultaneous ConnectionsWorks In ChinaSupportCheapest PriceOfficial Website
Premium
Free
Unlimited500MB
89Mbps92Mbps
Anonymous Server Usage DataAnonymous Server Usage Data
NoNo
Canada (Five Eyes Member)Canada (Five Eyes Member)
Not disclosedNot disclosed
Not disclosedNot disclosed
4747
YesNo
UnlimitedPermitted
55
UnreliableUnreliable
Email & Online Resources OnlyEmail & Online Resources Only
$3.33/mo over 3 yearsFree
Tunnelbear.com

Privacy & Logging Policy

A safe VPN despite its jurisdiction

9.59.5/10
How is this calculated?

We dissect the logging and privacy policies of every VPN. A VPN should never log:

  • Your real IP address
  • Connection timestamps
  • DNS requests

A base of operations outside of 14-Eyes or EU jurisdiction is preferable..

Tunnelbear isn't a zero-logs VPN, but it’s still a trustworthy service. It monitors how much data you use, but it doesn't collect any identifiable information. Multiple security vulnerabilities have been detected in past audits, but Tunnelbear's willingness to implement fixes and face regular inspections proves that it is a safe and reliable VPN.

Ranked #22 out of 56 VPNs for Privacy & Logging Policy

TunnelBear VPN does not log usage data that can lead back to you.

Its logging policy is simple, privacy-friendly, and transparent, listing all the data collected alongside reasons for doing so.

To summarise, TunnelBear logs:

  • Bandwidth usage.
  • OS version.
  • App version.
  • Whether or not you have used the VPN in a given month.
  • Total data used each month.
  • Operational events (e.g. created an account, made a payment, online ad referrals).

Close to being no-logs

Crucially, TunnelBear doesn’t keep browsing history records, DNS requests, originating IP address, or connection timestamps. In other words, the service is close to being completely no-logs.

TunnelBear Logging Policy

TunnelBear has a safe logging policy

The only personally identifiable information TunnelBear logs is your email address, to prove you have an account. There are no logs that reveal which websites you’ve visited.

TunnelBear’s transparency reports

The company also issues an annual transparency report detailing any government requests for user data.

Worryingly, TunnelBear admits to confirming a user’s email address to authorities, although it has never handed over usage information.

No server breaches or logging scandals

There have been no known incidents of server breaches or logging scandals associated with TunnelBear.

TunnelBear is based in Canada

TunnelBear was established in 2011 in Canada by Daniel Kaldor and Ryan Dochuk. It was subsequently acquired by antivirus software company McAfee in early 2018.

The VPN company still operates a separate team within McAfee, meaning the same employees continue to work on the VPN post-acquisition.

As the privacy policy states, by using TunnelBear you are authorizing the company to:

“Use your information according to Canada’s laws, regardless of which country you are located in.”

Subject to Canada and US data laws

While TunnelBear’s headquarters are in Toronto, its new ownership means that it’s also subject to US data laws.

Both the US and Canada form an integral part of the Five-Eyes data-sharing alliance, an organization designed for powerful nations to collect and share surveillance intelligence.

Moreover, both jurisdictions are known to prosecute for minor copyright violations, which is important information if you want to use a VPN for torrenting.

While TunnelBear can be subpoenaed by Canadian and US authorities, its robust logging policy and regular transparency reports prove it’s still a trustworthy and private VPN.

Independent audits prove TunnelBear is safe

To prove its commitment to transparency and user safety, TunnelBear has undergone several independent security audits.

In January 2017, Byte 255 looked into TunnelBear’s code and published the results on Hacker Noon. The article concluded the VPN has no privacy flaws and doesn’t collect any unnecessary telemetry data.

TunnelBear also commissioned cybersecurity company Cure53 to carry out four yearly independent security audits since 2017. These audits looked into TunnelBear’s apps, code, and infrastructure.

In 2019, Cure53 discovered 12 vulnerabilities of varying severity, and helped TunnelBear fix them and future-proof them. The audit concluded that TunnelBear is “a clear frontrunner among its VPN competitors when it comes to security.”

In 2020, there were “two low, two medium and one high-risk vulnerability” identified. TunnelBear claimed to fix the high-risk vulnerability immediately.

While it’s great that TunnelBear commissions regular audits, we are concerned that the auditor continues to find vulnerabilities.

Speed & Reliability

Both premium and free are surprisingly fast

8.78.7/10
How is this calculated?

Speed ratings are calculated using upload speeds, download speeds, and ping (latency).

We test average speeds regularly using a dedicated 100Mbps connection in London, UK. Local download speed is considered the most important factor.

TunnelBear is a fast VPN, both locally and internationally. Its free version is as fast as the premium one, too. It's slower than the best, and far less reliable, but most users won't notice a considerable drop in connection performance.

Ranked #22 out of 56 VPNs for Speed & Reliability

TunnelBear has been slow in the past, but our most recent speed tests show promising improvements.

On local connections, TunnelBear is even faster than top VPNs like ExpressVPN, IPVanish, and Surfshark.

Surprisingly, the free version of the VPN is just as fast as the premium version, if not faster at times.

To test the VPN service’s speeds manually, we recorded our internet speed before and after connecting to TunnelBear.

Local Speed Test results before using TunnelBear VPN:

  • Download Speed: 96.24Mbps
  • Upload Speed: 99.52Mbps
  • Ping: 1ms

Local Speed Test results with TunnelBear VPN:

  • Download Speed: 89.02Mbps
  • Upload Speed: 93.03Mbps
  • Ping: 6ms

Download speed loss when TunnelBear VPN is running: 8%

In essence, TunnelBear’s speed performance has been improving over time, with fast speeds on both local and international connections.

However, we did experience some connection drops during testing, and it generally took a number of seconds for the app to connect.

Long distance speed tests

TunnelBear’s international speeds are very strong. We recorded a speed loss of just 30% connecting from the UK to the US.

This UK-to-US speed loss is similar to what the fastest VPNs deliver.

TunnelBear’s speeds connecting to Europe are also very fast, which is optimal for streaming European video content buffer-free.

Below are the average download and upload speeds we recorded connecting from the UK to global servers:

  • USA:
    • Download: 67Mbps
    • Upload: 16Mbps
  • Germany:
    • Download: 81Mbps
    • Upload: 91Mbps
  • Singapore:
    • Download: 54Mbps
    • Upload: 20Mbps
  • Australia:
    • Download: 56Mbps
    • Upload: 10Mbps

Connecting to Australia was slower – a 43% drop – but this is typical considering the distance, and is actually a very good result.

Equally, just 15% speed loss connecting to Germany from our UK location is very strong.

TunnelBear’s speeds aren’t the best international ones we’ve tested – Hotspot Shield’s are even quicker. Nevertheless, they’re more than fast enough for smooth HD streaming.

TunnelBear’s speed compared to rival VPNs

We tested TunnelBear’s speed manually, but we also run automated speed tests using our in-house speed test tool.

The graph below shows TunnelBear’s average download speed loss compared to rival VPNs. The lower the percentage the better.

These results are based on daily tests we run on our New York server. We cap speeds at 100Mbps to recreate a typical home internet connection.

Provider speed comparison chart

As you can see from the chart above, TunnelBear is lagging behind top VPNs both in speed and consistency. At times, speed loss was as high as 45%.

The ideal VPN is consistently fast, like ExpressVPN, with only 5% speed loss.

TunnelBear’s ping score over this period isn’t good, either. Latency was as high as 71.48ms. On the other hand, NordVPN’s was only 3.03ms.

Streaming

Works with US Netflix but not with BBC iPlayer, Disney+, or Hulu

3.53.5/10
How is this calculated?

Streaming is rated by the number of different services unlocked, how many regional libraries are viewable, and how consistently the VPN can access them.

Netflix, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, DAZN, and Amazon Prime Video are all tested on a weekly basis.

TunnelBear is not a good VPN for streaming. It can unblock US Netflix and HBO Max, but it fails to unblock other major streaming platforms such as BBC iPlayer, Disney+, or Hulu.

Ranked #34 out of 56 VPNs for Streaming

TunnelBear is a mixed bag when it comes to streaming. It does manage to unblock region-restricted content on US Netflix and HBO Max, but it fails when it comes to Disney+, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu.

All other Netflix libraries, and other platforms we tested, all detected that we were using a VPN or proxy.

If the US server that streams Netflix stops working, the lack of city-level server locations means there are no backup options.

Clearly, TunnelBear hasn’t invested any resources into unblocking streaming services.

However, we did have success streaming from US-exclusive HBO Max and Amazon Prime Video. If you’re fans of these platforms you can use TunnelBear. But we can’t guarantee its reliability.

TunnelBear Free Streaming: Unblocks US Netflix

TunnelBear Free is currently able to access US Netflix – one of the only free VPNs to do so. It can also get around HBO Max georestrictions and UK blocks to access BBC iPlayer, All 4, and ITV Hub.

TunnelBear US Netflix Test

TunnelBear gets around blocks to access US Netflix

The problem is its 500MB data cap that won’t allow you to stream for long.

The one positive is that free TunnelBear data accumulates instead of refreshing from scratch every month. So if you don’t use it for a few months, you’ll have far more data to stream.

Torrenting

We don't recommend TunnelBear for torrenting

5.95.9/10
How is this calculated?

We calculate the average download bitrate of every VPN using a bespoke torrenting setup.

Testing also factors in the percentage of servers which permit P2P, plus useful features like port forwarding.

TunnelBear's servers permit torrenting but they're not P2P-optimized and we don't recommend this VPN for torrenting. Its bitrate is too low and the company is quite strict when it comes to the sharing of copyrighted material. It's also based in Canada, which is one of the strictest when it comes to copyright law.

Ranked #33 out of 56 VPNs for Torrenting

Although you can torrent on any TunnelBear server, the VPN is not very good for torrenting. None of the service’s servers are optimized for P2P.

Officially, if the company believes you have violated copyright law, it retains the right to terminate your account without notice.

The company’s support team clarified to us that users should be able to share files on the network. They recommended using servers in Canada, US, UK, Romania, Netherlands, Germany, or Sweden.

We tested TunnelBear’s torrent speeds using qBittorrent and uTorrent. The VPNs torrent speeds were much slower than the top-rated torrenting VPNs.

TunnelBear qBittorrent Test

We tested TunnelBear with qBittorrent

TunnelBear recorded an average bitrate of only 2.9MiB/s. This is poor compared to IPVanish’s download bitrate of 9.9MiB/s, and ExpressVPN’s of 9.4MiB/s.

At least the VPN’s kill switch, “VigilantBear,” worked well on Windows, macOS, and Android devices. It kept our IP address concealed during sudden VPN connection drops.

We also didn’t detect torrent IP leaks, plus the VPN’s logging policy is private enough for safe torrenting.

Torrenting is also permitted on TunnelBear’s free VPN. But the 500MB/month data cap prevents you from downloading many files.

Security & Extra Features

Solid Security But Lacking Configurability

7.47.4/10
How is this calculated?

Top-rated VPNs offer OpenVPN or WireGuard protocols, AES-256 encryption, and a functional kill switch. We also consider additional security features and the global spread of VPN servers.

TunnelBear's security is safe, and leak-free, but it's not extensive. There are hardly any configuration options or advanced features. However, there is a split tunneling feature on Android.

Ranked #26 out of 56 VPNs for Security & Extra Features

ProtocolsAvailable in TunnelBear VPN
IKEv2/IPSecYes
L2TP/IPSecNo
OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)Yes
ProprietaryNo
PPTPNo
SoftEtherNo
SSL VPNNo
SSTPNo
TLS VPNNo
WireGuardNo
EncryptionAvailable in TunnelBear VPN
AES-128No
AES-192No
AES-256Yes
BlowfishNo
ChaCha20No
SecurityAvailable in TunnelBear VPN
DNS Leak BlockingYes
First-party DNSYes
IPv6 Leak BlockingNo
Supports TCP Port 443No
VPN Kill SwitchYes
WebRTC Leak BlockingNo
Advanced FeaturesAvailable in TunnelBear VPN
Ad BlockerYes
Dedicated IPNo
Double VPNNo
Smart DNSNo
SOCKSNo
Split TunnelingYes
Tor over VPN ServerNo
Tracker BlockerNo

Despite its playful design, TunnelBear takes its privacy seriously. This is a secure VPN.

Both the free and paid versions are highly encrypted, using the AES-256 cipher for Windows, macOS, and Android.

OpenVPN protocol is default and the WireGuard and IKEv2 protocol is also available on iOS and Windows.

Both IKEv2 and OpenVPN are secure and reliable VPN protocols, though OpenVPN is the current industry-standard.

IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks

IP and DNS leaks can expose personal information like your IP address, physical location, and browsing activity.

Using our IP and DNS leak test tool, we can confirm TunnelBear passed all our VPN leak tests.

The kill switch also worked to shield our IP address on Windows, macOS, and Android.

TunnelBear operates its own zero-log DNS servers and it doesn’t record any of the websites you visit. This also ensures your ISP isn’t able to monitor your web browsing activity.

When Mozilla released Firefox 73.0, many VPN browser add-ons began to leak WebRTC requests. So did TunnelBear’s, but the service’s engineers fixed the issue almost immediately. Now all of TunnelBear’s browser extensions are leak-free.

Full disk encryption and private DNS servers

A report by the Center for Democracy & Technology also reveals that each TunnelBear server is protected by full disk encryption, malware scans, and intrusion protection software.

TunnelBear VPN also uses private DNS servers, perfect forward secrecy and a secure Diffie-Hellman key exchange. The latter ensures you’re connecting to a verified TunnelBear server every time you use the VPN.

Narrow range of good security features

TunnelBear offers a small selection of advanced security features, including:

VigilantBear (Kill Switch)

TunnelBear’s VPN kill switch is called “VigilantBear.” It blocks web traffic if the VPN connection gets disrupted. This prevents your true IP address from being exposed, and is an essential feature of any top-tier VPN.

VigilantBear is available on Windows, Mac, and Android devices, but not on iOS devices.

This is very common due to Apple’s strict guidelines, but it’s not impossible and VPNs like Private Internet Access offer a kill switch on iOS.

GhostBear (Obfuscation)

Another useful feature is TunnelBear’s GhostBear protocol.

It’s designed to mask your VPN traffic as ‘normal’, making it harder for governments, businesses, and ISPs to detect and block your VPN connection. It will slow your traffic, though.

There’s also RememBear (password manager) and SplitBear (split tunneling) for Android.

TunnelBear Features

TunnelBear has a number of additional features

Missing extra tools

Aside from the features above, TunnelBear isn’t very configurable and lacks more advanced security settings.

For example, there is no port forwarding or double (multihop) VPN, and you can’t control your encryption settings.

Trackers, malware, and permissions

We used the εxodus tool to scan TunnelBear’s Android app for trackers and dangerous permissions.

Reassuringly, we can confirm the Android app contains no trackers whatsoever.

This result is ideal for privacy and isn’t as common as you’d think. Some of the best VPNs contain marketing and bug trackers – even NordVPN has seven.

While TunnelBear might need to wait for users to report crashes instead of actively tracking them, this method is preferable for those seeking the highest levels of privacy.

The app also uses eight permissions, none of which are of concern. Finally, we put TunnelBear through a virus and malware scan to test for any malicious software it may contain, and we found none.

Server Locations

Servers in 47 countries

7.17.1/10
How is this calculated?

The global spread and coverage of the VPN server network is the most important factor here.

We also consider the number of city-level servers, plus how many IP addresses are maintained.

This rating does not directly contribute to the Overall Rating, but instead makes up a portion of the Security & Features rating.

TunnelBear has increased its server list to 47 countries, but it still lags behind the very best VPNs for quantity and spread of locations. It has also introduced city-level options, but the locations are heavily concentrated in North America.

Ranked #41 out of 56 VPNs for Server Locations

Globe with a blue flag
47 Countries
Image of a city landscape
47 Cities
Image of a pink marker
Undisclosed number ofIP Address

TunnelBear has a reasonable server network that covers 47 countries.

You’ll find servers in the the most popular server locations: US, UK, and Australia, as well as France, Germany, and the Netherlands.

There are also servers in Japan and Singapore, and limited options in Mexico and Brazil. TunnelBear has no VPN servers at all in Africa.

TunnelBear removed its India servers after the country introduced a law demanding VPNs log user data as well as its Ukraine server following the Russian invasion.

If you want a large number of server locations, then we don’t recommend choosing TunnelBear. It’s not terrible, but we’ve tested top VPNs that operate servers in upwards of 100 countries. For example, Private Internet Access has servers in 84 countries.

Undisclosed number of servers and IP addresses

TunnelBear isn’t transparent about the exact number of servers or IP addresses it maintains. There is no way of knowing how well distributed traffic is in any given location.

City-level servers in the US & Canada

TunnelBear has city-level choices in the US and Canada only. This is an improvement as it used to have no choices at all. But a large country like Australia would also benefit from city-level options.

Tunnelbear server menu

TunnelBear owns its bare-metal servers

All TunnelBear servers are physical (bare-metal), rather than virtual. They are physically located where you expect them to be.

Furthermore, TunnelBear owns its entire server network, so no additional third parties are involved in the maintenance of its servers.

Controlling your server infrastructure goes a long way in preventing security incidents. The NordVPN hack proved that using third-party data centers can pose significant risks.

Bypassing Web Censorship

GhostBear obfuscation tool available

8.58.5/10
How is this calculated?

Our remote-access server in Shanghai, China routinely tests if a VPN can beat restrictions and access a free, open internet. Obfuscation technologies and nearby servers are also a contributing factor.

This rating does not directly contribute to the Overall Rating, but instead makes up a portion of the Security & Features rating.

GhostBear is designed to get around strict government censorship, but it's unreliable in China. We do recommend TunnelBear if you're in a country with less robust censorship like Iran, which TunnelBear targets as part of its anti-censorship initiative.

Ranked #13 out of 56 VPNs for Bypassing Web Censorship

On paper, TunnelBear has the right tools to bypass strict web censorship, especially in China.

In reality, it can’t beat aggressive web censors, unlike these anti-censorship VPNs.

Its obfuscation feature, GhostBear, is still good for connecting out of less aggressively-censored countries like Turkey or Iran.

In fact, as part of an anti-censorship initiative, TunnelBear has offered 10GB of free data to its Iranian, Venezuelan, and Belarusian users.

The GhostBear protocol disguises (obfuscates) VPN traffic to bypass deep packet inspection (DPI) and VPN blocks. The protocol is built into the app and included on Windows, macOS, and Android.

To enable the GhostBear feature, access the settings menu and navigate to “security.” Here, check the box marked “GhostBear.”

Device & OS Compatibility

Limited device compatibility

How is this rated?

A quality VPN should maintain functional, fully-featured applications and extensions for as many platforms and devices as possible.

This does not directly contribute to the Overall Rating, but instead makes up a portion of the Ease of Use rating.

TunnelBear has apps for the most popular devices but you can’t install it on router. There are no apps for streaming devices like Fire TV Stick, either. This means that TunnelBear is useless if you want to use a VPN on your Smart TV or games consoles. Consider this VPN only if you want to use it on desktop or mobile.

Apps

  1. Windows
  2. Mac
  3. iOS
  4. Android
  5. Linux

TunnelBear comes with native VPN apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android devices. The VPN can also be manually installed on Linux devices, too.

Both the free and paid versions of TunnelBear allow you to use up to five simultaneous devices using just one subscription, which is the standard limit for VPN services.

No router support and no Fire TV Stick app

It’s not possible to set up TunnelBear on a router. There are also no apps for Amazon Firestick or Android TV, and no Smart DNS tool.

Basically, you won’t be able to use TunnelBear on games consoles, Apple TV, Roku and smart TVs.

This disappointing lack of compatibility clashes with its user-friendly image.

As such, we recommend more plug-and-play VPN solutions for your PlayStation, Xbox, and more. For example, read about ExpressVPN’s MediaStreamer feature, online gaming VPNs or even Fire TV Stick VPNs.

Browser Extensions

A TunnelBear plan includes browser extensions for:

  1. Chrome
  2. Firefox

Both browser add-ons are easy to add to your browser with no manual configuration necessary.

There used to be an Opera one, but that was stopped.

Remember that browser extensions only encrypt web traffic from your browser, while the full VPN client encrypts all traffic to and from your device.

It’s shame that TunnelBear’s browser extensions don’t include any extra features like an ad-blocker, for example. However, the company operates a standalone ad-blocker extension simply called Blocker.

Ease of Use

Simple apps easy to install

7.87.8/10
How is this calculated?

This rating mainly consists of the intuitiveness of setup and everyday use.

Device or platform compatibility and customization options are also a factor.

TunnelBear's design is delightful, and the apps are simple to use. They're not very advanced, which is good for usability but bad for experts. The iOS is especially lacking features.

Ranked #29 out of 56 VPNs for Ease of Use

How to Install & Set Up TunnelBear VPN

TunnelBear’s apps are extremely simple and easy to use.

The small number of advanced features on offer may not satisfy experienced users, but if you’re just getting started with using a VPN it makes the process easier.

Setup is also very easy for the custom apps – just download the software from the TunnelBear website and sign in. It’s a little more complicated for Linux, but there are simple step-by-step instructions for Linux installation on the TunnelBear website.

All the TunnelBear apps use the same design, so you’ll have a familiar experience no matter which device you’re using.

That said, there is some variability in the features available on each platform. The iOS app has no VPN kill switch or obfuscation technology, and there is no option to switch between protocols on macOS.

We’d like to see a server search function to help users easily find their closest location. Basic information such as load and ping time would also be an excellent addition for usability.

Overall, TunnelBear opts for a unique approach that’s best suited to beginners. The mobile and desktop applications are practical and fine for simple use, but there are lots of better and more feature-rich VPNs available. Experienced users looking for lots of advanced settings might be happier with a different provider.

Windows

By default, TunnelBear’s Windows client only shows you what’s absolutely necessary: your location, the tunnel you’re using, and the location you’re connected to.

The main screen consists of a large black and white map with green tunnel icons where each of TunnelBear’s servers are located. You can click on the tunnels to connect to a particular server, or use the drop-down list at the top of the app. There’s also the option to connect to the ‘Fastest’ server, which is usually the one closest to your physical location.

When the VPN is connected the slider at the top will turn orange and say ‘On’, and the map will change to full color. To disconnect, just click the slider.

By clicking on the cog symbol on the left-hand side of the app you can access TunnelBear’s settings menu.

The client doesn’t have many settings, but the few you get are useful. There’s obfuscation and a VPN kill switch, along with the option to load the VPN automatically when Windows starts. You can also set the client to automatically connect whenever you use a WiFi network that you haven’t marked as “trusted”.

TunnelBear has improved its Windows app as you can now change protocols via its settings. This wasn’t possible before.

Overall, TunnelBear’s Windows client isn’t bad. If your needs are simple you might find it’s the perfect way to encrypt your connection without any hassle. However, there’s lots of scope for improvement and the client’s interface and basic feature list could disappoint more experienced users.

macOS

TunnelBear macOS appTunnelBear’s macOS client is a menu bar app, which isn’t as easily accessible as the other free-standing apps on offer.

It’s much like the Windows app with a colorful map and bear animations, making it much easier on the eye compared to other VPN apps.

You’ll find the the same features in the settings menu too, which include:

  • GhostBear
  • VigilantBear
  • Trusted Networks
  • TCP override

However, you still cannot change your protocol on macOS.

Android

The Android app is almost exactly the same as TunnelBear’s desktop apps, but with even fewer settings. There’s obfuscation and a VPN kill switch, but no Trusted Networks or TCP Override.

The ability to use split tunneling is unique to the Android app, though. This feature allows you to select apps or services to route outside of the VPN tunnel, which can be useful for websites that need access to your real location.

There are also a couple of features that add to TunnelBear’s cutesy approach to online security. There are Bear Sounds and Cloud settings, which enables cloud graphics to float over the map.

iOS

As is usually the case with VPN iOS apps, TunnelBear’s iOS client is the most stripped-back of all its native applications.

The only settings on offer are Trusted Networks and Bear Sounds. There’s no VPN kill switch or obfuscation technology. The iOS app also automatically selects the VPN protocol – either OpenVPN or IKEv2.

Customer Support

No live chat support

7.47.4/10
How is this calculated?

This rating is based on our assessment of each VPN’s:

  • Email support
  • Live chat support
  • Online resources

Not every VPN offers all of these, and they often vary in quality and response time.

TunnelBear's support is disappointing as its hard to get in touch with a human being. The live chat feature is automated, and you have to answer lots of questions before you can get a proper reply, which is only sent to your email. You have to be a subscriber to get any sort of help, including if you just want to contact support through an email form. Online resources aren't extensive, either.

Ranked #33 out of 56 VPNs for Customer Support

Customer SupportAvailable in TunnelBear VPN
24/7 Live Chat SupportNo
24/7 Email SupportNo
Live Chat SupportNo
EmailYes
Email Support via Online FormNo
No Support AvailableNo
Tutorial VideosNo
Online ResourcesYes

TunnelBear does not offer live chat support. Instead, there is a chatbot incapable of answering many simple questions.

Alternatively you can send an email via an online form. But you have to be an already existing TunnelBear customer.

For a VPN aiming to provide a simple experience for beginners, the inability to provide immediate customer support or answer questions is disappointing.

Many premium VPN services like ExpressVPN offer 24/7 live chat to help troubleshoot user queries.

Good ticketing system

At least, the company’s ticketing system works well. We received full responses in a fast, polite, and friendly manner. That said, it’s certainly not as convenient as the instant support live chat provides.

Online resources

There is also an online help section covering troubleshooting, FAQs, and billing.

The focus is on VPN newbies, so there’s not much information regarding protocols, encryption, or technical implementation.

The connection issues page does contain information about ports and tethering, but there’s no in-depth information to be found.

Price & Value

Expensive with no refund guarantee

77.0/10
How is this calculated?

Price & Value for Money receives a rating, but is not factored into our Overall Rating. We believe the reader should decide what is or isn’t a reasonable price.

A good rating here isn’t just based on how cheap the VPN is, but for the value it offers overall.

Considering its flaws, TunnelBear is overpriced. It also don't offer a money-back guarantee, although it may offer a refund on a case-by-case basis. You can trial the service through its free version, but we think there should be a way for unhappy customers to get their money back.

Ranked #23 out of 56 VPNs for Price & Value

The paid version of TunnelBear has three subscription plans:

  1. Monthly

    US$9.99/mo

    Billed $9.99 every month
  2. 12 Month(s)

    US$4.99/mo

    Billed $59.88 every year
    Save 50%
  3. 3 Year(s)

    US$3.33/mo

    Billed $120.00 every three years
    Save 58%

There is no free trial without data caps, or a money-back guarantee. TunnelBear had removed its one-month plan but has reintroduced it.

There are two other plans available: a yearly plan that costs $4.99 per month, and a three-year plan that costs $3.33 per month.

These prices are towards the low end of the typical VPN price range. However, we think the VPN is overpriced given its number of weaknesses.

There is a student discount available, however, which very few VPN services offer.

Payment & refund options

You can pay for a TunnelBear subscription the following ways:

  1. American Express
  2. Bitcoin
  3. Mastercard
  4. Visa

TunnelBear accepts a limited number of payment methods, including credit and debit cards and Bitcoin.

We like the option to pay via anonymous cryptocurrency. But you can’t pay using PayPal, which is uncommon for a VPN service.

There isn’t an option to use other international methods like AliPay or UnionPay, either.

The Bottom Line

A VPN for newcomers only

TunnelBear is a fun, well-designed, and safe VPN. It makes a great choice for newcomers looking to secure their traffic and hide their IP address at home or on public WiFi.

It’s a good choice for privacy with top-notch encryption, multiple security audits, and a solid logging policy. That said, its Canadian jurisdiction and identified vulnerabilities might put some of the most privacy-conscious users.

Though secure, TunnelBear is not aimed at VPN experts. There’s a limited number of server locations, a lack of advanced security features, and it doesn’t work in highly-censored countries like China.

For entertainment needs it fails, too – it cannot unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer, or Hulu, and it isn’t compatible with routers or other streaming devices like Fire TV Stick or Apple TV.

We’d like to see improvements to TunnelBear’s iOS app, automated live support, and overall platform compatibility.

If you’re an advanced user looking to stream content from overseas or play with lots of configurable settings, we’d recommend looking elsewhere.

If you’re a beginner and you simply want to securely hide your IP address for a half-decent price, TunnelBear might be the VPN for you.

 

Additional research by David Hughes

Alternatives to TunnelBear VPN

CyberGhost

CyberGhost

99.0/10

Unlike TunnelBear, CyberGhost is great for streaming, with dedicated servers that unlock Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and more. It has more configurable options but is still very easy to use. You can install CyberGhost on routers, too. Read CyberGhost review

Surfshark VPN logo

Surfshark

9.29.2/10

Surfshark is another beginner-friendly VPN, and it provides over double the number of server locations that TunnelBear has. It also works well with streaming services and devices. Read Surfshark review


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