Canada’s Tunnelbear claims to have around 22 million users, placing it among North America’s biggest Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). And it’s easy to see why. Solid encryption, a generous free trial package, and a simple, ...
Number of servers: No. of servers: 1000
Price from: $5.00
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VPN kill switch
Operate their own servers
Great browser extensions
What others say about TunnelBear:
“ You might suffer a bit on the speed side, but there’s no disputing that it’s very easy to use and does offer solid security. “
“ If you're looking for an affordable and user-friendly VPN service to secure and anonymize your Web traffic, TunnelBear is worth checking out. “
“ It's not the largest, fastest or most powerful of VPNs, but TunnelBear's ease of use and strong focus on opening up its systems to scrutiny deserve a lot of credit. “
“ It is a feature-packed VPN with software for all platforms that keeps extremely minimal and non-invasive connection logs about its users. “
What is TunnelBear VPN
Based in Toronto, Canada, TunnelBear is a VPN service used by more than 22 million worldwide. Attracting such a large audience in just 7 years is no easy task for VPN services. TunnelBear managed largely because of their free version. They also have a great brand with a funny attitude, cartoons instead of photographs, etc… But mostly it’s the free version.
TunnelBear’s slogan is “Simple, private, free access to the open Internet you <3”. They hold to the promise of being simple by keeping both their website and their client design minimalistic, free from advanced features and options. “Free access” stands for the free version that they still offer in an industry where paid-only software is becoming a norm.
As for the privacy – TunnelBear has a “no logs” policy and does independent audits of their service on a yearly basis. Yet there’s no way to forget that Canada is a member of the 5-eyes alliance.
In 2018, TunnelBear was bought by cybersecurity grizzly McAfee, meaning the VPN provider now has to comply with the US jurisdiction, which is even more problematic when it comes to privacy and anonymity issues. So, while TunnelBear VPN might not end up on the “Top VPN” lists across the web, it sure is one of the best free VPN options.
Where TunnelBear VPN is based and why it's important
TunnelBear VPN is based in Canada which is one of the 5-eyes countries. What is more, the company was bought by security giant McAfee, linking it to the US and its legal context, which is even worse when it comes to privacy and anonymity. So TunnelBear is subject to data retention laws and the power of US intelligence agencies, as well as the 5-eyes intelligence-sharing agreement.
Canada and the US have an intelligence-sharing agreement with the UK, Australia, and New Zealand (and, to a lesser extent, 9 other countries). This means your personal data may theoretically end up in the hands of any of this countries’ intelligence agencies. While VPNs are not as susceptible as regular Internet service providers, one must be aware of possible spying either by the NSA or other government institutions.
What does a TunnelBear location say?
Member of 5 eyes international surveillance alliance
Potentially liable under Canadian and US laws
Tough anti-piracy laws
Used to be the biggest file-sharing nation
Compare TunnelBear VPN to other providers
While TunnerBear VPN is yet to win its first comparison on our website, it has to be mentioned that its competition has been fierce so far. All three VPNs are are in our “Best of” list and two sit at the top, fighting for the Number one spot. This means you should expect the results to change in TunnelBear’s favor.
TunnelBear comparisons written on VPNPro
Available plans and pricing
The most attractive TunnelBear pricing plan is the free version, which allowed the service to gain popularity across the globe. But there are a few caveats here. One is the bandwidth limit. You can only use 500 MB/month, which you will deplete after watching a few YouTube videos. There’s an option to extend the bandwidth limit to 1.5 GB, but for this, you must have a public Twitter account with a decent amount of followers where you will have to tweet about TunnelBear. Another caveat is that the free TunnelBear version does not include Australian servers.
TunnelBear’s plans might seem fishy because there’s no money-back guarantee. We assure this is a legit VPN company with years of experience and one should understand that their free version acts as an unlimited returns policy.
Speaking of the actual pricing plans, there’s only two of them. The first one is a standard monthly deal which is cheaper than those offered by top VPNs. The second one is for 12 months where you pay $49.99 or $4.17/month. This one is even cheaper considering the competition. There is also a special plan for teams, available for an annual fee of $69 (which makes it $5.75/month per person).
It allows 5 simultaneous connections from different devices, meaning you don’t have to buy a plan for every employee. Additionally, team plan owners get priority support, which is important considering TunnelBear still lacks 24/7 live chat support (which is almost a must in today’s business climate).
Payment options available to TunnelBear customers include Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. Luckily, there’s also an anonymous option to pay with Bitcoin. We hope that TunnelBear VPN will add PayPal, AliPay and other options in the future.
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Platforms TunnelBear VPN supports
TunnelBear VPN has apps for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. There is no Linux app at the moment and we doubt we’ll see one soon – TunnelBear’s target audience is unlikely to use this OS.
There are also browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. One of their best features is that the extensions will work on any operating system as long as it supports one of the three browsers, making it really easy to use the TunnelBear browser extension on different platforms.
Often a VPN doesn’t have a dedicated app for a certain OS or device but it can still be configured to work. Unfortunately, in the case of TunnelBear, there’s virtually no support for routers, gaming consoles or devices like the Amazon Fire TV stick. It is not clear whether any of this is in their pipeline but we sure hope to see TunnelBear extending the range of supported devices in 2019.
TunnelBear VPN for streaming, torrenting, and China
TunnelBear for Streaming
Understandably, using the free version of TunnelBear for Netflix is not an option due to the limited bandwidth. However, using the paid one we were able to access Netflix US. In short, it seems to be decent for accessing Netflix (although we would still advise trying for yourself with the free version).
We were unable to access BBC iPlayer content using the UK server, getting the message “this content is not available in your location.”
TunnelBear for Torrents
Gone are the days when TunnelBear was blocking P2P file sharing and torrenting. That doesn’t mean downloading and sharing copyrighted content became legal. Also, TunnelBear VPN is yet to be optimized for this activity by offering dedicated servers and static IPs.
TunnelBear for China
We can recommend using even the free version of TunnelBear in China. This VPN should work fine. Just make sure you install it before arriving. If it doesn’t work, you can try using GhostBear for Windows, Mac or Android. It should make your encrypted data impossible to detect for governments and internet service providers.
TunnelBear VPN history
As of now, TunnelBear VPN hasn’t been involved in any scandals, maintaining their reputation. On the contrary, they have been submitting to independent audits for the second year in a row. It’s been over seven years since this VPN has started running and we don’t see it leaving the market anytime soon. Nevertheless, the potential for damaging their reputation remains high as both the developer’s company and its owner McAfee are based in 5-eyes countries.
TunnelBear leaves the cave
The company was founded by Daniel Kaldor and Ryan Dochuk in Toronto, Canada.
First self-initiated audit
TunnelBear makes a statement to the VPN industry, announcing an independent audit of their services.
McAfee acquires TunnelBear
On March, McAfee buys TunnelBear, keeping its headquarters in Canada.
Self-initiated audits become annual
On October, a second audit was made, making this an annual effort.