TunnelBear is a public virtual private network (VPN) service that offers both free and paid VPNs. TunnelBear VPN is one of the few providers that actually offers a completely free VPN service. However, TunnelBear’s free version restricts you to only 500MB of data per month. Tweeting about the company can earn you more data, which can raise your limit to a total of 1GB for one month. The company was founded by Daniel Kaldor and Ryan Dochuk in 2011. Recently, in March 2018, TunnelBear was acquired by McAfee. Compiling both their pasts, they have experience working at Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, RIM, and a mobile security startup. So they’ve certainly done their time in the tech world.
TunnelBear is based in Toronto, though their 350+ VPN servers spread throughout 22 other countries around the world, including servers in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
TunnelBear has a freeware client available on Android, Windows, macOS, and iOS. The software also has its dedicated browser extensions on both Google Chrome and Opera. Linux distros are also compatible with TunnelBear after an easy configuration. TunnelBear (like most other VPN services of its caliber) has the ability to bypass content blocking in most countries. It has varying displacement options, allowing the user to appear in one of 22 different countries (including Ireland, the United States of America, Sweden, and Italy).
Both free and paid TunnelBear users to use AES-256 encryption with the exception of the client for iOS 8 and earlier. These clients use AES-128. Again, like most VPNs, the user’s actual IP address will not be visible to the websites visited, when connected. The websites will be forced to receive the spoofed IP address provided by TunnelBear VPN. As an added extra, TunnelBear also offers a corporate VPN service called “TunnelBear for Teams.”
For its class of VPNs, TunnelBear is an all-rounder. It gives you what it promises and has its own unique interface. However, like all things, there are two sides to it. While offering a standard and unique VPN service at affordable prices, it has its own unique pros and cons. Let me list some of them.
Now that is excellent news for privacy-conscious users. TunnelBear isn’t going to be selling any of your data and that when law enforcement comes knocking, they don’t have anything interesting to give them.
- No Leaks: Sporting a user-friendly interface and rock-solid encryption, Tunnelbear is a leak-free VPN and a solid choice. It makes use of OpenVPN by default, paired with the most advanced, uncrackable encryption standard on the market in AES-256. They have a running gimmick that your browsing activity is “protected by a bear,” using a whimsical-looking cartoon bear to illustrate that point over and over again.
- A Free Plan & Works on Multiple Devices: TunnelBear has a free mode with tons of features, although it’s capped at 500mb. That’s quite small but it will be enough for you to decide if you’ll buy the other features. TunnelBear also works on multiple devices with dedicated apps on android and iOS and well-rounded extensions on PC browsers
- TunnelBear is extremely Safe and Secure: one thing about choosing VPNs is that no matter how cheap the VPN, you need to know that it’s safe. TunnelBear assures this as it uses industry-standard OpenVPN protocol on Windows, Mac, and Android devices.
- Special Features: TunnelBear offers some great features, such as: Anonymous IP, Kill-Switch (VigilantBear). TunnelBear also lets you maintain simultaneous Connections. The anonymous service hides the fact that you’re using a VPN to fool some businesses and governments, but not all.
With all these appealing features, TunnelBear also has some faults that they won’t be advertising. I’ll list some of the most interesting ones here.
- Speed Problems (Slow) TunnelBear is such a nice VPN and everything goes so well with TunnelBear until you test their server speeds. A lot of its users have recorded good download speeds. But not always, in common speed tests, 100 Mbps connections sometimes drop down to 52.26 Mbps when using the EU servers. That’s a pretty large drop.
- Netflix: Netflix has been getting better at blocking VPNs. After successfully blocking many larger VPN providers (including PIA) with more servers in more places around the world, TunnelBear was a walk in the park. If you really want to use a VPN on Netflix then you need another provider.
- Router Installation: Sadly, TunnelBear doesn’t allow installing its VPN software directly on your router. For users who weren’t planning on doing this anyway, it’s no big deal. But for those who
are considering using a VPN this way for the increased protection and ease of use, you’ll need to find another provider.
The big question; is TunnelBear worth using? Well, I’d say that it largely depends on what you need a VPN for. For people that just want something to protect their privacy while they browse without getting complicated options and interfaces in your way, then it’s a great choice. TunnelBear might make you suffer a bit on the speed side, but there’s no disputing that it’s very easy to use and does offer solid security. For users that need more than that, then it’s probably best for you to choose another VPN. TunnelBear recently improved its customer service and the new ability to torrent. They will now take your complaints and reply pretty decently I’d say it’s a good VPN all round but their lackluster speed means I can’t recommend this for everyone.