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Hotspot Shield vs TunnelBear VPN in 2023

Hotspot Shield vs TunnelBear

Hotspot Shield and TunnelBear are two pretty popular VPN providers. They provide commendable services, such as streaming, torrenting, unblocking geo-restricted content, and bypassing online censorship. However, one of them is better.

If you’re willing to learn which VPN provider comes with better perks, read our thorough Hotspot Shield vs. TunnelBear comparison and find out what benefits await you.

Hotspot Shield vs. TunnelBear: specifications

Hotspot Shield is a reputable VPN provider that offers 1800+ servers across 80+ countries. It even comes with a unique VPN protocol known as the Hydra protocol. Due to this, Hotspot Shield has pretty fast speeds and consistent connections.

On the other hand, TunnelBear comes with the same amount of servers but much smaller country coverage. Furthermore, it doesn’t provide the best streaming capabilities and device support isn’t as expansive as its competition.

Therefore, the overall winner of our Hotspot Shield vs. TunnelBear comparison is Hotspot Shield. Join us to learn more!

Hotspot Shield logotunnelbear logo
⭐Our rating7.6 ⭐7.2⭐
💸Current offerGet Hotspot Shield 77% OFF!Get Tunnelbear 50% OFF!
💰Price starts from$7.99/month$3.33/month
💳Money-back guarantee45 daysNo
📖No-logs policyNot auditedNot audited
🌐Servers1800+ servers in 80+ countries1800+ servers in 48+ countries
🔒VPN protocolsHydra, IPSec/IKEv2, WireGuard (Android-only)WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2
🍿StreamingNetflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, and moreNetflix US, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube TV
🖥️PlatformsWindows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, routersWindows, macOS, Android, and iOS

Hotspot Shield vs TunnelBear: pricing

Plans and paymentsHotspot Shield
Free versionYesYes
Free trialYes, 7-daysNo
One month$12.99/month$9.99/month
One year$7.99/month$4.99/month
Three year
Money-back guarantee45 daysNo
Payment optionsCredit card, PayPalCredit Card, Bitcoin

Pricing affects your VPN choice pretty much. That’s why we decided to look at Hotspot Shield’s and TunnelBear’s subscription options. Both services offer a free version, but only Hotspot Shield includes a free trial and a money-back guarantee. While TunnelBear is cheaper in the long run, you won’t be getting a refund if you device to cancel the subscription. As such, it’s somewhat of a tie.

Hotspot Shield pricing

Hotspot Shield comes with a free trial and a free version at the same time. Besides this, it also has a 45-day money-back guarantee that may come in handy for the paid plans. So, let’s check out its paid plans:

  • $12.99/month for one month
  • $7.99/month for one year

The free Hotspot Shield version, understandably, comes with limitations. Users get only 500MB of daily data and the only servers you can connect to are in the US. Furthermore, it doesn’t support streaming and the speeds are throttled.

Hotspot Shield prices 2023

Regarding payment methods, Hotspot Shield accepts payments with credit cards and PayPal, which makes it a bit limited. It lacks any anonymous payment methods, which would be great for those who want their VPN purchases to be untraceable back to them.

TunnelBear pricing

Like Hotspot Shield, TunnelBear also offers a free plan. However, it lacks a free trial and doesn’t insure the subscriptions with any money-back guarantee. At least the paid plans are affordable, so let’s see what you can choose from:

  • Monthly plan for $9.99/month
  • Annual plan for $4.99/month
  • Three years plan for $3.33/month

The free TunnelBear version comes with a 2GB/month data limit and 1 simultaneous connection. Moreover, 24/7 support is only available to premium users, so you’re likely to get sidelined if a VPN issue occurs.

TunnelBear subscription options

You can pay for your desired plan by using your credit and debit cards, PayPal, American Express, and Bitcoin. As TunnelBear accepts cryptocurrencies, you can even make anonymous payments.

Speed comparison

Speed is the second round of our TunnelBear vs. Hotspot Shield comparison. And this time, the winner is Hotspot Shield.

Hotspot Shield has 1800+ servers in 80+ countries. To improve its speeds, it employs a unique Hydra protocol. Then there’s the speedy WireGuard and the reliable IKEv2 for stable and speedy performance.

In comparison, TunnelBear employs the same number of servers – 1800+ in 48+ countries. While it works with robust VPN protocols – WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2 – it doesn’t retain initial internet speed as well as Hotspot Shield does.

Hotspot Shield vs. TunnelBear: which is more secure?

Hotspot Shield
LoggingNo-logs policyNo-logs policy
Kill switch
Leak protection
RAM servers

Your online security should always be on a high level. But with Hotspot Shield and TunnelBear, this might not be possible. In this round of our Hotspot Shield vs. TunnelBear, we have a tie. Let’s see what these VPNs have in common:

  • AES-256 encryption
  • Kill switch
  • IP and DNS leak protection

Other security aspects these competitors have in common are unfavorable jurisdictions, unaudited no-logs policies, and lack of any RAM-only servers. In essence, you’re getting the same level of security no matter if you pick Hotspot Shield or TunnelBear.


Hotspot Shield and TunnelBear belong to countries that are part of the 5-Eyes Alliance. While Hotspot Shield is located in the US, TunnelBear operates from Canada. Due to this, people doubt the safety of these providers, as they might be coerced to collect and share your data with the government. It certainly doesn’t help that both don’t run their fleets of RAM-only hardware and that their no-logs policies aren’t verified by a trusted third party.


If you have a VPN with a no-logs policy, it means that you get a guarantee that the provider won’t collect your personal data. However, while Hotspot Shield and TunnelBear come with no-logs policies, they aren’t audited. We don’t have proof that these services don’t log user data.

Servers location

Server specificationHotspot ShieldTunnelBear
All physical serversNoNo
Owns all serversNoNo

Regarding server location, we have a clear winner. Hotspot Shield has an edge advantage over TunnelBear as it comes with larger country coverage.

More precisely, Hotspot Shield offers 1800+ servers across 80+ countries, while TunnelBear has the same amount of servers but only in 48+ countries. Other than that, neither have anything special going on regarding hardware. There are no RAM-only servers, both don’t own any data centers, and there’s no information whether the servers are 10 Gbps.


FeaturesHotspot Shield
Smart DNS
Ad & malware blocking✅Yes (built-in)✅Yes (Chrome)
Split tunneling
✅Yes (SmartVPN)✅Yes
Specialized servers

Besides fast speeds and advanced security, your VPN must provide versatile functionality for it to be a good investment. In our case, such a VPN is Hotspot Shield. Let’s see why.

Smart DNS

The Smart DNS feature allows you to connect your VPN on a device that doesn’t support it. As a result, you’ll be able to unblock your favorite geo-restricted content, stream, and torrent on any device. However, neither VPN offers this handy feature.

Ad & malware blocker

To stay safe from malicious links and annoying adware, your VPN should include an ad & malware blocker. This feature detects suspicious activity and blocks ads, links, and sites that may contain viruses.

Luckily, you’ll get this feature with both Hotspot Shield and TunnelBear. Hotspot Shield has it built-in on all of its servers. Furthermore, it offers an antivirus solution. TunnelBear, on the other hand, offers the ad blocker only on its Chrome add-on.

Split tunneling

Split tunneling contributes to enhanced VPN performance. More precisely, this feature lets you choose which apps can use the VPN and reduces the pressure on the VPN server. So, if this feature is essential for you, you may go with both VPN providers, as they both offer split tunneling.

Obfuscated servers

If you want to effectively bypass online censorship, then you need a VPN with obfuscated servers. They hide your VPN usage and show it as regular browsing traffic. Fortunately, TunnelBear has strong obfuscation that will keep your anonymity, while Hotspot Shield doesn’t come with obfuscated servers.

Specialized servers

Only Hotspot Shield additionally offers specialty hardware for specific needs:

  • Auto. Great for general browsing (up to 1 Gbps).
  • Streaming. For Netflix, YouTube, and other video platforms.
  • Gaming. For playing Fortnite, Roblox, and other online games.
  • Social networks & chat. For TikTok, WeChat, and other social media websites.

Other features

Other notable Hotspot Shield perks include Auto-protect, which automatically turns on the VPN once you connect to an unsecured Wi-Fi network, and a built-in password manager called 1Password.

Netflix and streaming comparison

Streaming platformsHotspot Shield
Netflix US
Other Netflix libraries
Amazon Prime Video
BBC iPlayer✅Yes❌No
YouTube TV✅Yes✅Yes

As we’re slowly heading toward the end, we encounter yet another expected win. Hotspot Shield wins the streaming round of the TunnelBear vs. Hotspot Shield comparison.

Hotspot Shield allows you to unblock your favorite Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer content. Furthermore, since the speeds are simply sublime, you’ll enjoy UHD quality without any buffering to ruin the experience.

On the other hand, TunnelBear works with a sizable range of streaming platforms, but it doesn’t unblock foreign Netflix libraries. And we had trouble getting access to Disney+ and BBC iPlayer, which doesn’t help matters at all.

Device compatibility

Device supportHotspot ShieldTunnelBear
Major dedicated appsWindows, macOS, Linux, iOS, AndroidWindows, macOS, iOS, Android
Other dedicated appsAndroid TV
Browser extensionsChrome, Edge, Firefox, Brave, OperaChrome, Edge, Firefox, Brave, Opera
Manual setupRouters, Amazon Fire TV Stick
Simultaneous devices10Unlimited

Next in our detailed comparison is the device compatibility, and it seems like Hotspot Shield wins once again. It simply supports a much wider range of devices and even some popular streaming peripherals. And although TunnelBear’s unlimited simultaneous connections might seem enticing at first, it doesn’t mean much if you can’t install the service on any device you need.

Desktop applications

Both services have applications for Windows and macOS. Recently, Hotspot Shield had a major redesign, resulting in slick, intuitive desktop clients. TunnelBear, on the other hand, sticks to a cartoony design that’s a hit or miss depending on the person.

Speed test of Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield retains the same level of security no matter which OS you’re using, Windows or macOS. In terms of functionality, the clients are highly different. While Windows owners get a wide range of features, macOS havers can only toggle split tunneling.

TunnelBear desktop app interface on Windows

As for TunnelBear, we’d say it’s trying to be a fun VPN service, as indicated by all the bear animations and roaring sounds whenever you connect to a server. At least you’re getting the same security and features across the board with this provider.

Mobile applications

If you want to use your VPN on your phone, you can choose both VPNs because they have Android and iOS apps. Again, Hotspot Shield is sleek and modern, while TunnelBear sticks to a cartoon style.

Hotspot Shield for iOS

Hotspot Shield seemingly favors Android as this app gets way more features and setting options than iOS. The iOS only includes the split tunneling feature. And there’s no WireGuard.

TunnelBear for iOS Settings

TunnelBear managed to make decent apps for desktop but we can’t say the same for mobile. Both Android and iOS apps are laggy and cluttered. Another big drawback is that the iOS app lacks a kill switch.


P2P specificationsHotspot ShieldTunnelBear
Allowed on✅All servers✅All servers
Free SOCKS5 proxy❌No❌No
Split tunneling✅Yes (Windows, macOS, iOS, Android)✅Yes (Windows, macOS, iOS, Android)

Hotspot Shield and TunnelBear both support torrenting on all of their servers. However, they also lack an additional security layer that is crucial for a safe P2P file transfer, the SOCKS5 proxy. Neither offers port forwarding as well, but it’s somewhat of a rarity even among premium VPN services.

But we don’t have a tie. As Hotspot Shield has better speeds than TunnelBear, it means that it’s better for torrenting. Therefore, Hotspot Shield wins this round.


SpecificationsHotspot Shield
Works in China❌No✅Yes
Stealth VPN❌No✅Yes(Ghostbear)
Tor over VPN❌No❌No

This round of our TunnelBear vs. Hotspot Shield comparison goes in TunnelBear’s favor simply for the fact that it works in China.

The Great Firewall of China imposes strong online censorship that only a secure VPN with the proper tools can surpass. To achieve this, the VPN must come with obfuscated servers or StealthVPN in general so that Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) doesn’t detect VPN traffic.

While Hotspot Shield has encryption, it lacks obfuscated servers. In other words, it’s not suitable for bypassing online censorship. Fortunately, TunnelBear gets around these restrictions quite effectively because of its obfuscation.

Customer support

Support optionsHotspot Shield
24/7 live chat
Phone Line❌No❌No
Email ✅Yes✅Yes

Lastly, we have customer support. Here, the winner is Hotspot Shield because of the minor advantage over TunnelBear.

Hotspot Shield offers 24/7 customer support via email and knowledgebase. Pretty similar to it, TunnelBear also comes with email and knowledgebase support, but its expert team isn’t available 24/7. And at least Hotspot Shield offers a live chat option.

Hotspot Shield vs. TunnelBear – which is better?

Hotspot Shield🥇TunnelBear🥈
Device compatibility
Customer supportWins✔️Loses❌
Total wins7 out of 101 out of 10

In the end, Hotspot Shield outperformed TunnelBear. While TunnelBear is the cheaper option, it lacks a lot of the functionality Hotspot Shield offers. We’re talking about better speeds, larger device support, a broader toolkit, and the ability to unblock all the popular streaming platforms.

Best Black Friday VPN offers

You may also like to read:
TunnelBear vs IPVanish
TunnelBear vs CyberGhost
Hotspot Shield vs PIA
Hotspot Shield vs NordVPN


Is TunnelBear better than Hotspot Shield?

No, Hotspot Shield is better than TunnelBear. It has a vast server network, incredible speeds, and better streaming capabilities. Furthermore, it supports a wider range of devices and offers lots of useful features.

Which is faster – TunnelBear or Hotspot Shield?

Hotspot Shield is faster than TunnelBear as it has more servers and robust VPN protocols like Hydra, WireGuard, and IKEv2.

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  1. Neisha812 April 26, 2019 at 6:07 am

    I have to mention that the popularity of Hotspot Shield is reduing over time, and with the restriction imposed by the Chinese government, I would foresee that Tunnel Bear would soon overthrow Hotspot Shield as they seem to be more genuine and ethical business.

  2. Mazry April 23, 2019 at 1:02 pm

    It’s strange that you can’t use Hotspot Shield in China and you can do it with TunnelBear. Both should work fine there and I wonder why Hotspot Shield doesn’t just find a way to get in. I also like that TunnelBear is much more transparent than HS and than most VPNs on the market.

  3. Marcus Shea April 16, 2019 at 3:57 pm

    I really like that TunnelBear opens themselves up for an independent audit. When it comes to something like a VPN, you can’t take a VPN service at their word concerning security features like a no logging policy. I don’t care how good a VPN’s reputation is, things can change quickly. In fact, a quarterly audit would be even better in my opinion.

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