With over 20 million users in the world, TunnelBear VPN is one of the most popular services. Undoubtedly, the base for its popularity is none other than the TunnelBear free version. Since many users simply want to access geo-blocked web content, such as social media sites and YouTube, even the TunnelBear free VPN could be of use.
This VPN service has good security and privacy features, including a kill switch and obfuscation, impressively fast speeds, and easy-to-use VPN apps. However, the TunnelBear free VPN monthly data cap may put you off.
Let’s see now in more detail what the TunnelBear free VPN has to offer, and whether it’s worth using.
General risks of free VPN services
In general, there are several risks when you’re using a free VPN service. These mostly relate to your online privacy and security, which is why you want to use a VPN in the first place, right? But there are other downsides as well.
Here’s a list of the most common free VPN issues and risks:
- Too much logging, including personal data in certain cases (originating IP address)
- The provider may sell your personal information to third parties
- No 24/7 live chat support
- You could be exposed to third-party ads
- Some free VPNs can be infected with malware (mostly the mobile versions)
- Slow speeds
- Limited server fleet
- Limited monthly or daily data usage
- No access to Netflix and other popular streaming services
- Free VPNs might leak IP addresses and DNS requests
Fortunately, the TunnelBear free app is one of the best and most secure free VPN services. We can even call it reliable. But how much so? Let’s see!
How secure is the TunnelBear free VPN
The good news is that the TunnelBear free VPN is just as secure and anonymous as the paid version. This provider appears to be dedicated to keeping your privacy intact while using its VPN service.
TunnelBear annually performs independent security audits to prove they do not “monitor, log, or sell any of your browsing activity.” This provides an extra layer of transparency and a base for trust.
This VPN doesn’t have a wide variety of protocols to offer. Still, the OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols should be enough for your online activities with a free VPN. The default VPN tunnel protocol is OpenVPN over UDP. If you want a more reliable connection for a particular server, you can change this to TCP. Keep in mind that your speed may drop as a consequence though.
TunnelBear location and jurisdiction
TunnelBear LLC. is based in Canada, which is definitely not the best or most optimal for an online privacy service. Canada is one of the founding fathers of the so-called Five Eyes international surveillance alliance. This means that the government collects a lot of data on citizens and the collected information can also be shared with other member states.
With that said, your privacy may still remain intact if the VPN provider has a true no-logs policy. When the VPN service doesn’t log personally identifiable information, it can’t share anything useful with the authorities.
TunnelBear was acquired by McAfee, the US-based cybersecurity giant, last year. This might mean more privacy issues.
The good news is that the TunnelBear free VPN does not collect and log the following:
- IP addresses visiting the website
- IP addresses upon service connection
- DNS queries while connected
- Any information about the applications, services, or websites users use while connected to the service
This is what this provider means by “no logs.” So, in this sense, TunnelBear is a safe VPN to use.
Vigilant Mode – VigilantBear
The TunnelBear VigilantBear feature is indeed a kill switch. Without it, you might leak vital sensitive information like your IP address and your DNS requests. If you switch on the Vigilant Mode, all your apps connecting to the internet will be blocked when there’s a connection drop or you’re changing servers. This is to make sure that no internet traffic will route automatically via your ISP.
The GhostBear feature is the TunnelBear way of obfuscation. In essence, GhostBear uses double encryption so that your encrypted VPN traffic would seem like normal internet traffic. This feature should be used in censorship-freak countries like China or in any other case when your VPN or fake IP gets blocked. The GhostBear feature isn’t available for iOS.
TunnelBear free VPN features – what you get for free
You can use the TunnelBear free VPN client on the following supported platforms: Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. This VPN also has “lightweight” browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. These extensions only tunnel your internet traffic inside the browsers.
As we have already mentioned, the free version provides you with the same security and privacy features as the paid version. However, there are also some limitations to the free VPN.
First off, you have a ridiculous 500 MB monthly data cap, which you can drain in a matter of minutes. In fact, running 4-5 speed tests will annihilate this free data amount. This naturally calls into question the usability of the TunnelBear free VPN.
On a more positive note, it’s possible to “top up” your data cap and add an extra 1 GB to it. All you need to do is tweet about TunnelBear. Your client will notify you about this opportunity.
TunnelBear doesn’t support P2P file-sharing, so no torrenting for you with this free VPN for sure. But you will also experience issues with bypassing Netflix detection as well as most other entertainment platforms.
The TunnelBear free VPN offers 20+ locations to connect to. This seems like a rather small network no doubt. However, our most recent speed tests show improved performance. In fact, we were impressed to see such speeds with the free VPN.
TunnelBear free VPN speed test
While this VPN only offers 20+ countries or VPN locations globally, we experienced unexpected download and upload speeds during our tests.
Check out our latest TunnelBear free VPN speed test results:
- Ping: 116 ms
- Download: 94 Mbps
- Upload: 12 Mbps
- Ping: 42 ms
- Download: 86 Mbps
- Upload: 26 Mbps
- Ping: 332 ms
- Download: 9 Mbps
- Upload: 3 Mbps
With these fast speeds, everything you do online should be smooth and seamless. However, remember that you have 500 MB (plus 1 GB) free data usage.
How to use TunnelBear free VPN
After launching your TunnelBear free VPN, you need to sign in first. For this, you need to create a free account.
This VPN is famous for its VPN apps. For beginner users, the TunnelBear free VPN can be a good choice. Its funny bear-filled theme makes the whole experience joyful.
After you sign in, the app shows your physical location (indicated by sheep) and notifies you to turn on the VPN. If you leave the Auto Tunnel option selected – instead of choosing a location –, TunnelBear will offer the closest and fastest server with the lowest ping.
To change your location, use the interactive map and click on a country, i.e., a tunnel. Or, as an alternative, click the drop-down menu at the top next to the On/Off toggle.
The TunnelBear free VPN has an extremely small monthly data cap (500 MB), which is not good for anything serious.
This is what we had to face after running our VPN speed tests:
Still, it’s worth having a look at what kind of settings this VPN offers.
TunnelBear free VPN settings
There are four tabs within the Settings menu, allowing you to configure a few parameters.
Possibly the most important setting here is the TCP Override. If you switch it on, your VPN connection will become more stable and reliable. However, this stability may come at a price: speed.
Here, you can toggle the two main security features: VigilantBear and GhostBear.
To protect your device while connecting to wifi, you can add trusted networks so that TunnelBear knows when to protect your internet connection automatically and when not.
If you want to manage your account or log out, this is where you can do it.
All in all, the TunnelBear free VPN is a cute and intuitive tool for all supported platforms.
Conclusion – what is TunnelBear free VPN good for?
After all of the above, it’s time to summarize what this free VPN is good for. As you can see, this TunnelBear free VPN app has great security and a good level of privacy along with good speeds. But this doesn’t mean it’s a useful tool for all VPN users.
The biggest drawback is definitely the 500 MB monthly data cap. Even if you manage to expand it with the 1 GB extra free data option, the versatility and usability of this service are rather limited. Users have been asking how to get unlimited TunnelBear for free, but, unfortunately, we see no way how this could be achieved.
You won’t be able to stream any popular entertainment centers like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. It’s also not possible to use this free VPN for torrenting.
Basically, what you can do with the TunnelBear free VPN is to discover what a VPN is, spoof your location, and access geo-blocked web content to read. Anything else could drain your data cap in no time. If you have 1.5 GB to burn on the digital highway, that gives you a little bit more freedom. But, at the end of the day, this free VPN is all about convincing you to purchase a paid plan.