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Tunnelbear is one of the most popular VPN services in 2021 and but what does it have to offer that others don’t?
In this review of the Tunnelbear VPN, we are going to look at the pros and cons of Tunnelbear in order to establish how it compares with other popular VPN services.
I hope that by the end of this review you will be able to establish whether it is the best VPN for your particular needs.
We will look at its performance in various aspects…
Like streaming, connection speeds as well as torrenting support, among others.
So let’s get started.
Tunnelbear is a VPN company based in Canada that enables you to access the internet securely using very powerful encryption protocols and at fast speeds… rivalling that of premium VPNs like NordVPN.
In order to be able to provide great connection speeds, a VPN needs to have a huge collection of servers to ensure that the server loads are evenly distributed.
This ensures that the servers are not too slow during peaks hours when everyone is trying to get online.
At the time of writing this review of Tunnelbear, they only have a collection of 900 VPN servers that are spread out in 22 different countries.
As you can see, Tunnelbear server collection is not something to brag about at them moment…
Soon, we’ll establish how these handful of servers actually perform. There are cases where a company has few servers but performs exceptionally, like the case of PrivateVPN.
Let’s now look at how Tunnelbear servers performed when it comes to streaming.
Streaming content online, especially from popular video streaming platforms like Netflix, is a very common activity online. But these platforms usually restrict their content to certain geographical areas.
So in order to make the most of your subscription, you need to use a VPN to spoof your IP address to make you look like you are physically based in these countries.
This way you get to stream content libraries in any of these regions.
Unfortunately for streamers, Tunnelbear is not a very great VPN for streaming on Netflix, Hulu or even Amazon Prime.
From the tests I conducted, all the Tunnelbear IPs are blocked on these platforms.
What this means is that if you try to stream videos on, say Netflix when connected to a Tunnelbear VPN server, you’ll experience proxy server errors… technically you’ll be blocked.
If you are really interested in a VPN for streaming, then I would recommend these streaming VPNs instead.
Speed is something that I really obsess about when choosing a VPN to buy.
This is partly because it is where I can get to drop out most VPNs that have great marketing but can’t actually deliver fast speeds for a smooth browsing experience.
So I tested the connection speeds of Tunnelbear to establish what it really has going on for itself.
In order to test the Tunnelbear speeds for this review, I connected to three of their servers based in three different countries i.e. US, UK and Hong Kong.
I then used speedtest.net to measure the download, upload and ping before and after connecting to their servers… and here is what I found out.
Before connecting to any of Tunnelbear servers my download speeds were 18.57Mbps.
While connected to the Tunnelbear servers based in the United States, my speeds dropped to 11.65Mbps… which is 63% of my original speeds.
That is not great.
On the UK based server I had extremely fast speeds.
In fact, I keep 100 percent of my original connection speeds because I had 18.74Mbps. Even the Hong Kong based server proved up to task as their speeds were 18.44Mbps which is 99% of my original speeds.
As you can see, Tunnelbear really has great speeds but you have to connect to their UK or Hong Kong based servers if you want to enjoy the best speeds.
On average, Tunnelbear has speeds that are 87% of the original connection speeds which give it a speed rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars.
So I would say in this review of Tunnelbear that they have fast speeds as I consider anything above 80% of original speeds to be great, if not excellent.
Will you be able to download torrent files while connected to Tunnelbear servers?
If you are a seasoned torrent fanboy then you know better than to download torrent files without first connecting to a VPN or proxy server.
You already to how critical it is that you hide your real IP address.
When it comes to torrenting, this is a gray area I find with Tunnelbear.
At the time of writing this Tunnelbear review in 2021, there are no specialized P2P servers on their apps that you can connect to if you want to torrent.
Worse still, Tunnelbear does not even mention support for any torrenting activities on their website.
In light of all this, I would say that Tunnelbear is not a great VPN for torrenting as they do not mention any support for such activities… and add this to the fact that they keep your bandwidth usage, as we’ll discover later, I don’t recommend it for downloading torrent files.
If you really want to stay anonymous and torrent privately, then I recommend these VPNs for torrenting.
The objective of having a VPN is to be able to keep you internet adventures private and only known to you.
In order to achieve this, a VPN makes a tunnel through which you can direct your traffic… away from the prying eyes of your internet service provider or government.
It therefore means that the ISP should not keep any records at all of your internet activities.
In the event that the VPN keeps logs, it beats the whole purpose of using a VPN in the first place and I advice you to run from such VPNs as fast as you can.
To begin with, Tunnelbear is located in the Canada, a country that is a founding member of the 14 eyes surveillance alliance countries. Such countries are not a great place to base a VPN company.
That being said, while writing this review of Tunnelbear in 2021, I established that Tunnelbear does not keep logs of your internet activities that can be used to identify you.
This is to mean that there are no logs of your IP address, DNS queries or even the VPNs servers that you connected to.
However, you should know that Tunnelbear will keep logs of you bandwidth usage every month whether you are a free member or a premium member.
Even though this in and of itself should not be an issue, I would prefer they didn’t keep my bandwidth usage.
Overall, though, Tunnelbear is one of the best VPNs for privacy and anonymity online since they don’t keep any logs that can be used to identify you.
They’ve even proved this by allowing an independent security firm to audit their VPN software source code and servers to establish if there are any logs kept there that can be used to identify any particular individual.
Encryption and Data Protection
Apart from keeping your internet browsing activities invisible to you ISP, a VPN is also supposed to make you invisible to malicious hackers.
A hacker will try to hijack your internet traffic as it flows through a wifi network and decrypt it in order to find any sensitive information that you might have been transmitting.
This could be in the usernames and passwords… or any other thing for that matter.
Your sensitive personal information in the wrong hands can mean a ton of things that you don’t want… ranging from blackmail, to your accounts being hacked and used for malicious activities.
Tunnelbear is well aware of this and protects your internet traffic before it leaves your device all the way to the VPN servers and back.
It uses the AES 256-bit encryption protocol that is military grade and tamper proof.
So it is impossible for a hacker to decipher the actual message in your network packets… even if they hijacked the packets as they are transmitted.
In addition to this powerful encryption, Tunnelbear also employs the use of VPN connection protocols that have proven impossible to crack. In the desktop apps, Tunnelbear uses OpenVPN protocols while the iOS apps use IKEv2/IPSec protocols.
Both of these protocols are great for security.
Your data is therefore completely safe when connected to a Tunnelbear server.
If you are looking for a VPN that guarantees the security of your personal information when connected to the internet, then Tunnelbear is one of the best VPNs for security.
Being able to block ads is becoming a popular need among internet users.
This is for the very reason that most websites and advertisers have become very aggressive with their advertising to the extent that it becomes annoying.
In fact, the more ads there are on a website, the poorer the user experience.
Will you be able to just block these ads when connected to Tunnelbear and enjoy an ad free browsing experience?
At the time of writing this Tunnelbear review in 2021, there are no ad blockers in any of their apps… They do have an ad blocker but it comes as a separate Chrome extension… it’s not part of their VPN apps.
So it means that ad networks will still be able to build a profile of you and track you around the internet as you browse.
If you really want a VPN with an ad blocker that really works, then I have compiled a list of the best VPN ad blockers for you to check out.
Every time you connect to a v server, you should know that you are assigned a shared IP address.
This means that there could be hundreds, if not thousands, of people using the same IP address at the same time as you.
And this is for good reason.
The more people are on an IP address, the harder it becomes to trace back certain activities on this IP to any particular person. Works great for keeping your anonymity online.
However, there are some instances when you need to be able to use the same IP address… for example when connecting to your home camera security feed.
In this case you need a dedicated IP that is only used by you that you can whitelist in your networks and use for secure remote access.
Does Tunnelbear have dedicated IPs for single person use?
All you get with Tunnelbear is a shared IP address any time you connect to the server.
In fact, you don’t even get to choose which server you want to connect to, other VPNs give you that option… but with Tunnelbear, you can only choose the country that you want to connect to and it chooses the server for you behind the scenes.
That being said, here are other VPNs that work very well with dedicated IPs.
You should know that while a VPN will keep any internet access private and secure, this is only the case as long as you remain connected to their VPN servers.
If for whatever reason, your VPN app disconnects from the server, any apps that continue to access the internet will be unsecured.
So how do you ensure that your internet access is always secured no matter what?
Enter VPN kill switches.
An internet kill switch will ensure that your connection to the internet is blocked anytime that your VPN app disconnects from the server. It could be when there is an internet connection drop or even when you are switching servers.
Does Tunnelbear have a kill switch?
Yes, Tunnelbear has a kill switch that goes by the name VigilantBear.
Once turned on, VigilantBear will ensure that all your internet traffic is first encrypted before being transmitted over the internet.
So in the event that your VPN app disconnects from the Tunnelbear servers, VigilantBear will block internet access for your entire device until a secure connection is reestablished.
This way, your ISP never gets to know what you are doing online… ever.
There are some apps that do not work well with VPN tunnels… just like I already mentioned in the dedicated IPs section. In such cases, you might want to exempt these apps from your VPN tunnel.
This is to say that you want their traffic to flow normally through your ISP while the other traffic goes through your VPN tunnel.
Take for example an app that runs backups on the background…
This app will definitely be slowed down by the speed drops caused by a VPN connection.
So does Tunnelbear support split tunneling so that you get to whitelist these apps in your vpn?
At the time I was writing this review of Tunnelbear VPN, it does not support any kind of split tunneling. So any time you are connected to a Tunnelbear server, all your internet traffic is encrypted and there are no exceptions…
If you really need a VPN with a split tunnel, then I have compiled another list of the best VPNs with split tunnelling here.
Works in China?
China is the best example of countries where the government has tight control of what you can or can’t access online.
In fact, in this country most popular websites like Google.com are completely censored. To make it even worse, you are not allowed to use a VPN to access these websites.
China has a powerful firewall that will detect any kind of VPN traffic and either throttle it or block it altogether… because they know that you are probably using it to access censored content.
It is for this reason that most VPNs will not work in China.
However, there exists some VPNs that are able to beat this DPI technology of the great firewall of China and access censored content from within China.
Does Tunnelbear work in China?
Tunnelbear has a VPN mode called GhostBear. Once activated, this mode is able to obfuscate your VPN traffic and make it look like normal HTTPS traffic to the firewall.
The end result is that your VPN traffic is treated like normal traffic and bypasses the firewall.
If you want a VPN that will be able to access the internet while in China, then Tunnelbear VPN really has your back when it comes to bypassing the Chinese firewall.
IPv6, DNS and WebRTC Leaks
While most VPNs do a great job of hiding your IPv4 IP address, the new IPv6 address has proven a little harder for some VPNs to conceal.
If a website can see your IPv6 IP address then you are not anonymous anymore, and so it beats the whole point of using a VPN in the first place.
A good VPN should be able to hide both your IPv4 and IPv6 address.
I conducted a leak test using ipleak.net and established that Tunnelbear does not leak IPv6 addresses, nor does it leak your DNS queries.
All DNS queries are channelled through the Tunnelbear VPN servers, so your ISP does not get to see your DNS requests either. These tests also proved that Tunnelbear does not leak your IP address when using real-time technologies like WebRTC.
Tor is a popular browser that you can use if you want to browse the internet anonymously.
It makes it impossible for the websites that you visit to know who you are by bouncing your requests through several servers.
But in and of itself, it is not tamper proof.
What most people don’t know is that the entry node to the Tor network always sees your actual IP address. In order to make this foolproof you need to add a VPN to the mix.
A VPN obfuscates your real IP so that the IP address that the network sees is not your actual IP.
However, not all VPNs support the Tor browser.
Does Tunnelbear work with Tor?
Just like torrenting, Tunnelbear is very silent about their support for the Tor network. However, after running some tests, I established that I can use Tunnelbear VPN with Tor.
I would appreciate if this was clear from the Tunnelbear website including tutorials on how to get it to work with this amazing browser.
So how much will it set you back to use Tunnelbear?
With a VPN that is not any good for the two most popular activities online, streaming and torrenting, how much should they even ask for?
As we near the end of this Tunnelbear review, let’s look at their various pricing plans and see which one gives you the best discount… and whether it’s worth it anyway.
Tunnelbear has a 1 month plan that costs $ 9.99/month… just like most VPNs. However, you get a 50% discount if you purchase a 1 year plan as you only get to cough out $ 4.99/month… billable upfront as $ 59.88.
Better still, you get to save some big bucks if you go for their 3 years plan.
With this plan you only pay $ 3.33/month, billable as $ 120.
So when it comes to their pricing, I would say they are rather a budget-friendly VPN as this is what you’ll pay with other premium VPNs like NordVPN.
That being said, Surfshark is still able to offer you all these functionalities and a lot more for dirty cheap… just $ 1.99/month.
What payment options does Tunnelbear provide?
When it comes to VPNs, I am always keen to find VPNs that support anonymous payment options… it speaks a lot to their intention to keep your identity private.
One of the main anonymous payments methods I look out for is Bitcoin.
Paying with crypto ensures that you give as little information about yourself as possible because you don’t need to provide a billing address.
Some Tunnelbear reviews online claim that Tunnelbear accepts cryptocurrency payments. I don’t know where they are getting this information from.
At the time of writing this review of Tunnelbear in 2021, they only accept credit card payments… as you can see in the screenshot above.
And since credit card payments need a billing address, it is not the best if you need to keep your identity hidden from the start.
Tunnelbear does not accept cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, neither do they accept PayPal payments.
What happens if you purchase Tunnelbear VPN and then realize you are not impressed by the merchandise…
Can you get your money back, or that’s a lost case?
In 2021, providing money-back guarantee is kind of a right… and shoppers expect a reputable company to dare them with a 100% no questions asked money-back guarantee.
So does Tunnelbear have a refund policy?
If you purchase a Tunnelbear subscription, you have upto 30 days from the day of purchase to evaluate their services and decide if you want to keep it.
In the case that you are not impressed, you can reach out to customer support and ask for your money back.
Tunnelbear has a 30 days money back guarantee.
But if you don’t want to reach a point where you have to ask for a refund, then check out the free trial section below.
What if you still would like to try the Tunnelbear VPN but don’t want to risk any money upfront?
Does Tunnelbear have a free trial?
If you want to try Tunnelbear before purchasing then I strongly recommend their trial. It is completely free and you can have the free account as long as you want… it is not limited to 3 days, or 7 days or 14 days.
However, you should realize that the free account is limited to 500MB of bandwidth per month.
What does this mean?
It means you only access the internet while connected to Tunnelbear free plan and download a maximum of 500MB before your are blocked.
While that’s too little for a heavy internet user like me, I think it’s good enough for having a feel of the app and their speeds before you decide to make a purchase of the pro plan.
All free plans have the same functionalities as the pro plan… except bandwidth limit.
If you are like me, I am always connected to the internet on multiple devices at the same time.
So if we are going to venture into this VPN thing, you need to tell me that you’ll be able to secure all my devices… or no deal.
A good VPN should be able to support multiple simultaneous devices… at least 5. Anything less is scam… kidding 🙂
How many devices can you connect to when on Tunnelbear?
Currently, Tunnelbear allows you to connect upto 5 devices at the same time. While not a huge number, it’s something to work with if you want to share your connection with your other devices or family.
How about the platforms that it supports.
While writing this Tunnelbear review in 2021, I established that Tunnelbear has VPN apps for Windows, Android, Mac and iOS. Even though they don’t have an app for Linux, there are installation guides that will help you get it to work with your Linux desktop.
If you need to share your VPN connection with even more people, the best option is to set up a router that can then secure everyone connected to the wifi and still count as only one connection.
Unfortunately, Tunnelbear does not have any support for routers.
So if you want to secure your network through your router, then Tunnelbear won’t be of help… instead check out my review of the best VPNs for routers.
Let’s finish this review of Tunnelbear in 2021 by looking at the kind of customer support that you should expect.
Even though the Tunnelbear VPN apps are quite simple and easy to use, there are times when you might get into trouble and need some quick help or guidance.
Can you reach Tunnelbear customer support?
In an age where real time chat support is the order of the day, it is unfortunate that Tunnelbear still doesn’t think so. So Tunnelbear does not provide real time chat support.
Your only option if you need to access customer support is through raising a ticket and receiving a reply through email.
Contrary to what you’d expect though, Tunnelbear email response times are more that excellent. I almost always get a response within 2 hours… only a few companies can pull this off consistently.
So even though I still have a thing for real time chat support, you can believe me that you’ll be amazed by their email support… timeliness and detail.
In addition to the email support, there is also a knowledge base with a ton of articles that will guide you on how to troubleshoot and resolve some common connectivity issues with the Tunnelbear VPN apps.
There you have it… A complete review of Tunnelbear in 2021.
So do I recommend Tunnelbear?
YES and NO.
If you want a simple to use VPN with great speeds and are not interested in streaming Netflix or downloading torrent files, then I recommend Tunnelbear.
However, if you are keen on enjoying your favourite Netflix and Hulu shows, while also downloading some torrent files anonymously, then stay away from Tunnelbear.
Have you used Tunnelbear before?
Please share your experience in the comments below.