In our series of reviews on the best VPN services, we will today take up the review of TunnelBear. While a few of the VPN services that we have so far discussed have been lesser known, TunnelBear does not need any sort of introduction. Founded in 2011, TunnelBear has grown consistently over the years and is known to have servers positioned across 20 countries around the globe. How effective is it in providing the kind of services you would be expecting from a VPN service? Let us try finding out the details.
TunnelBear Cyber Monday VPN – An Overview
TunnelBear was founded in 2011 in Toronto, Canada. Canada being one of the founding nations of Five Eyes, it may not be the right one for a VPN to set up a shop, but then you can be assured of getting access to an improved and enhanced service quality in terms of security levels offered on the platform.
TunnelBear has been one of the prime options for an enhanced service that provides you access to a high speed internet service with servers located in over 20 countries across the globe. Owned by the cybersecurity firm McAfee, TunnelBear has been one of the excellent options for an improved experience ever.
How secure is TunnelBear as a VPN service? TunnelBear focusses on the AES 256 encryption. In fact, it makes use of several parameters for an improved performance characteristics. The VPN service makes use of AES-256 for data encryption, SHA256 for data authentication, and 2048-, 3072-, or 4096-bit DH group for handshake encryption.
AES 256 encryption has been known for an enhanced level of performance. It is one of the best options for a fast, secure, and doesn’t use much computing power. As for the protocols, TunnelBear VPN service makes use of OpenVPN, IKEv2 and IPsec. In fact, OpenVPN has been rated to be the gold standard in terms of best VPN protocols.
The server network on TunnelBear is considerably smaller. The small footprint of the servers should not necessarily mean a negative factors as long as you get the right quality of service performance. Unlike most of the VPN services that boast of their large server numbers, TunnelBear does not share any specific number of servers.
The service has its servers spread across 22 countries. A host of the servers are located in Europe, while you will find four in the US, four in Asia and one each in Australia and new Zealand.
Speed Tests and performance
Whichever VPN you choose, you will find the speeds decreasing when used with a VPN service. Our tests indicated that there were almost 55 to 60 percent reduction when you use the TunnelBear VPN service both on Mac and Windows operating system. Under a wide range of tests, we found that there was a reduction of up to 43 percent on Mac and a reduction to the tune of 53 percent on Windows.
As opposed to the huge reduction in the download speeds, we observed that the upload speeds ideally remained unaffected on Mac, while a reduction of around 80 percent on Windows. This may be something quite annoying if you are a Windows user.
In essence, TunnelBear does not provide a huge speed performance. Especially, if you are on Windows, it may be necessary to have a really high speed internet connection to stay unaffected by the heavy reduction in speeds.
Does TunnelBear log your data?
Logging policy of a VPN service does have a lot to do when picking the right service. A stronger and strict no lo logs policy will ensure more level in terms of privacy and a protection from any sort of data breaches.
“TunnelBear explicitly does NOT collect, store or log the following data:
- IP addresses visiting our website
- IP addresses upon service connection
- DNS Queries while connected
- Any information about the applications, services or websites our users use while connected to our Service”
If you are a very privacy conscious customer, you will find that TunnelBear should be the right choice for most of your requirements.
However, it should be noticed that TunnelBear is headquartered in Canada which belongs to the Five Eyes alliance. From that perspective, we would definitely expect it t share your data as requisitioned by the Canadian law. This is true of any VPN service located in Canada. However, you will find them collecting the data such as your name, email address, OS version, amount of data used, and the last four digits of your credit card number. The service will not save any other details such as full credit card number.
Is TunnelBear Good for Streaming?
If you are looking to use TunnelBear for streaming your favourite content, you may be out of luck. The VPN service does not work with a wide range of streaming services. Especially with Netflix, it is a huge No No.
We checked the VPN service with a host of servers, and in most of the cases, it could not unblock Netflix. In fact, we could not get it working on Hulu and BBC iPlayer as well. The only streaming service that we found it working on was HBO Go. In case you want the best streaming experience on your VPN service and want to unlock the content on different Netflix versions, it may be a good idea to choose other VPN services such as NordVPN and ExpressVPN.
Is TunnelBear good for Torrenting?
TunnelBear initially did not support torrenting during the initial days. However, that has changed now and you can perform your torrenting activities as per your preferences. Do note that while the service does not clearly mention that they support torrenting, a chat with the customer care let us know that it supports torrenting.
You can use the P2P torrenting with ease. However, finding the servers specifically optimised for torrenting are not available on the service. You may need to try out different servers. You can also get access to the TOR network for a secure browsing experience.
TunnelBear Customer support
The customer service and its quality are a few of the features that you would find extremely important aspects you need to give a serious thought to. TunnelBear does provide you access to a great degree of experience when it comes to an enhanced and improved service quality and customer support.
The email ticketing system that TunnelBear provided in the earlier days was not much impressive. However, that has changed today. You can expect one of the excellent email ticketing service quality on TunnelBear these days.
TunnelBear however does not support any Live Chat support. The FAQ section available on the official website does not come with answers to any specific queries. Most of the queries on the FAQ section have been observed to be quite generic in nature.
The Apps and Extensions on TunnelBear VPN
If you are looking to experience the Windows app from TunnelBear, you would find it one of the excellent options for almost all your requirements. It does not take more than a five minutes to download and install your app. Do remember, however, that you need to be at last on Windows 8.1 for using the service.
The Windows client is quite simple and easy to use. The server will connect you to the random server and if you need to connect to any specific server, you can choose it manually. You would also have access to the VigilantBear kill-switch and GhostBear stealth mode that can be helpful in bupassing the firewalls.
Along with Windows, TunnelBear also has clients for a few other platforms. The iOS VPN client provides you access to the L2TP/IPsec encryption. There is no option to use OpenVPN protocol, but you can make use of the third party OpenVPN connect software tools. The Android app from the service uses OpenVPN protocol. You will also have access to the Linux client and you will need to use third party tools to connect to OpenVPN protocol.
The apps and their functionality is quite similar across all the platforms. All of them are simple and easy to use. You can get the similar connection speeds across platforms.
That apart, TunnelBear VPN also provides you access to browser extensions wherein you would not need to use any client on the platform. The browser extensions are available for Chrome and Opera. However, you do not have an extension for Firefox. While a browser extension is a great option, it should also be noticed that it may not always provide you the kind of services as offered by the full VPN apps.
How much does TunnelBear VPN cost?
TunnelBear does not provide you any of the moneyback options. However, unlike most other service providers, they do offer you a free trial option for its VPN service.
Here are the details of the plans offered by TunnelBear VPN service.
- Free Plan – The Free plan comes with a 500 MB of data per month and offers you access to a complete security through its secure servers. The free plan comes with access to all the servers on the platform.
- Unlimited Plan –In case you are looking for an all day security and comfortability. The plan charges are $ 3.33 per month. You can get access to a unlimited secure browsing and a priority customer service. You can get access to up to 5 connected devices.
- Teams Plan-The plan is best suited for users who have more than two users and looking for an enhanced experience with a pricing of $5.75 per user per month. The service provides you access to up to 5 devices per user. The dedicated account manager and centralised team billing.
TunnelBear VPN service can accept payment from a wide range of payment options that include credit cards and internet banking. It also accepts payment through cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. You are also allowed to make payments through PayPal.
A Few Pros and Cons
- A strict no logs policy
- Availability of free version that works for as long as you use it
- Audited by the third party audit.
- Customer support is not one of the best
- No streaming service compatibility
The Concluding Thoughts
So, is TunnelBear VPN service worth the buying? If you value privacy, plans and the ease of use, the TunnelBear VPN should definitely be the best options you would be comfortable with. If you do not have issues with the lower speeds (especially on Windows) and a poor customer service, you would find it to be one of the prime options you would want to go with.
Of course, the VPN service is not the right one to go with in case you want to find a good VPN service for streaming. Except for HBO Go, we could get the TunnelBear working with any of the other streaming services including Netflix, Hulu and BBC iPlayer.
Is TunnelBear VPN safe?
TunnelBear VPN is safe to use by every count. It does make use of the best encryption techniques. In fact, it makes use of plenty of encryption techniques. Use of AES-256 for data encryption, SHA256 for data authentication, and the Diffie-Hellman exchange (2048-, 3072-, or 4096-bit) has proved to provide a huge degree of performance enhancement and improved service quality.
Does TunnelBear VPN available for free?
TunnelBear VPN provides both free and paid options. Under the free plan, you can make use of 500 MB of data per month. If you want to use more data, you will need to opt for any of the paid options.
Is TunnelBear Illegal?
It isn’t illegal to use a VPN service in any case. However, you do not need to worry about using the VPN services. No one will prosecute you for having used a software.
Who owns TunnelBear?
TunnelBear was lunched in 2011 by Daniel Kaldor and Ryan Dochuk. However, the company was acquired by mcAfee. The TunnelBear VPN service is now owned by McAfee.