TunnelBear VPN is a well-known and popular service. It has a fun brand and a free version, both of which help to explain how TunnelBear has come to accrue more than 22 million users across the globe. Another reason is its simple and easy to use client, which makes learning how to use TunnelBear VPN intuitive even for newbies.
Just as most VPN services, TunnelBear claims to operate under a no-logs policy. What makes it stand out, however, is its determination to prove the security of the VPN by ordering annual independent audits. While security is much is appreciated, it doesn’t change the fact that TunnelBear Inc. is based in Canada and was acquired by McAfee (a US company) in 2018. Neither country is a good place for data protection.
TunnelBear VPN has managed to stay away from scandals and maintain a good reputation so far. Its free version, while only giving 500 MB, is a big plus when most competitors don’t even offer that. The paid version of TunnelBear is a good choice as well if you’re not looking for top-notch privacy and anonymity. For those who just want to hide their IP address and unblock some content, TunnelBear should be more than enough.
What TunnelBear VPN is good at
While TunnelBear VPN certainly has its limitations, most paid-version users will probably not notice them. What they will surely notice are the following pros:
- IP address spoofing
- Obfuscating your encrypted traffic to look regular
- Easy installation and use
- Good connection speeds
- Browser extensions that work on most devices and platforms
- Extra security from using both the app and the browser extension at the same time
- Works in China (even the free version)
- Unblocking the US Netflix library
So while there’s more than one reason to give TunnelBear VPN a go, we must also mention a few areas which this service is not so good at, starting from where we left off – Netflix. Accessing Netflix libraries aside from the Netflix US library may be difficult, especially when the TunnelBear country list is at least two times shorter than what the competition offers. Also, torrenting is not supported, and there’s no 24/7 live chat support to offer you a shoulder to cry on.
If the aforementioned issues didn’t scare you away, we highly recommended trying at least the free version of TunnelBear VPN to see if it fits your needs. Below, you will find the instructions for installing the TunnelBear client on your machine.
How to download and install the TunnelBear VPN client
Downloading and installing TunnelBear is as easy as it gets. We advise starting from the free version to see if you’re interested in this service because TunnelBear doesn’t offer a money-back guarantee. While 500 MB/month bandwidth will certainly not be enough for anything other than casual browsing, there’s a way to increase it by an extra 1 GB. To do this, you have to tweet about TunnelBear from your public Twitter account. But first, make sure you have a decent number of followers as TunnelBear will also put this into consideration when deciding whether to give you the bandwidth bonus.
Downloading the free version of TunnelBear
TunnelBear VPN has simplified the download process, going from very simple to super simple. Previously, you had to create an account before downloading the client. Now you can do that right away, no questions asked. This applies to the clients for Windows, Mac, Android or iOS, and browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. Just click on either Download at the top navigation menu or the Get Started, It’s Free call-to-action button.
You will be taken to the page where you can select your platform or browser. Windows and Mac users will also find a link about the changes made in the latest iteration, which might be useful for free version users as the Windows installation is 80+ MB, and iOS is 50+ MB. With only 500 MB or 1.5 GB of bandwidth, downloading each minor TunnelBear VPN update might not be worth it.
Windows and Mac app buttons will let you install .exe and .dmg respectively, whereas Android and iOS will redirect to the Google Play store or Apple store. Installing an extension for your current browser is two-clicks away. To download the extension on the other browser, just open the TunnelBear website on it and follow the same instructions. You might get a browser security prompt about adding TunnelBear VPN. If so, just press Add.
We feel obliged here to remind you that the browser extension protects your browser traffic only, meaning that using another app for streaming or gaming leaves your IP address exposed.
Installing the free TunnelBear version
Once you have the installation pack downloaded, it’s all about clicking Next without thinking too much. The Windows version installation starts with accepting the terms of the agreement and confirming the default installation path. By contrast, Apple drops you straight into creating a free account. If you already have one, just log in. If not, you will need to go to the email that you’ve provided to verify your account.
You will probably want to use the same TunnelBear VPN account on at least two devices – your computer and smartphone. Feel free to do so, just remember that the maximum number of simultaneously-connected devices per account is five. Therefore, you should think twice about sharing accounts.
With this in mind, for multi-user accounts, we recommend using TunnelBear for Teams. Its $5.75/month annual contract is pricier than $4.17/month for a regular one, but you will save time by paying one bill for all, while also getting priority email support.
How to use the TunnelBear VPN client
If we had to choose one VPN client which would be left without a “How to” article, it definitely would be TunnelBear. Not only is it user-friendly and intuitive, but it’s also fun to use with all those bears making tunnels across the map. We can imagine TunnelBear VPN used as an example in schools to teach kids about cybersecurity and internet safety. Nevertheless, here are some guidelines on using TunnelBear so you can show your own kids how to use it.
After launching TunnelBear VPN, users get a 3-step tutorial and then end up on the home screen with a map showing your location and a default server option (in the United States). On the list of 22 countries, there’s also an Auto connect mode, which selects the fastest server (the default option on the Windows client).
Using it is okay if you’re not trying to access content available only in a particular location. Speaking of locations, clicking an arrow on the bottom left corner will bring Mac users back from exploring the map to their current geo-position. Windows users have a minimize screen option in that corner.
Preferences for both Windows and Mac users are mostly self-explanatory. The more confusing one on the General tab is TCP Override. This option, available on the Mac and Windows apps, forces TunnelBear to only use the TCP protocol instead of User Datagram Protocol (UDP), which is slower but more reliable. You should mark it only if you have a good internet connection and turning the VPN on makes your streams choppy or download times slow.
The Security tab offers two options – VigilantBear and GhostBear. The former is another name for the kill switch, which should be on if you don’t want to leak your IP address in the event that you get disconnected from the VPN. GhostBear should be used if you’re unable to connect without it, which might mean your traffic is recognized as coming from a VPN and thus blocked. Both Bears are available on Windows, Mac, and Android.
The Trusted Networks tab allows you to add Wi-Fi networks which you see as safe enough to connect to without a VPN. While our advice is to always have your VPN on, there are situations when the extra speed is worth more. In any case, adding your trusted networks means that should they be unavailable, you will be connecting safely with TunnelBear VPN on.
Free version users will also be getting notifications about their bandwidth situation, with a friendly reminder to upgrade and roam the internet wilderness free as a bird. Or a bear.
You should not have any issues with installing and using TunnelBear VPN. It’s one of the most user-friendly VPNs out there. While it certainly has its limitations, such as prohibiting torrenting or no 24/7 live chat support, those who have good enough bandwidth for the US Netflix library and no need to connect smart TVs or gaming consoles should feel happy with TunnelBear as their VPN of choice.