Hotspot Shield is a very popular service boasting over 650 million users worldwide. This service will suit you if you are looking to access geo-restricted content from anywhere in the world. In terms of security, however, Hotspot Shield’s reputation is not the best. Their free version has been accused of spying on users’ data and selling it to advertisers for targeted marketing campaigns.
TunnelBear is the more security-conscious, but slower service. It has an easy to use interface and, therefore, is suited for total beginners. The service was recently acquired by McAfee causing some concerns over privacy.
Both these VPN services are big names within the VPN space but which one is better? We compare the two and see which service emerges top.
Read our full Hotspot Shield Review
Read our full TunnelBear Review
Security and privacy
Both services offer industry-standard encryption, secure tunneling protocols, and security features (including a kill switch, leak protection, other goodies). Hotspot Shield has a secure cloud protection service. It also uses its own patented VPN protocol called Catapult Hydra Protocol, which is a modification of OpenSSL and TLS. Meanwhile, TunnelBear has a stealth feature for use in restrictive countries.
Hotspot Shield claims not to log activity that can be linked to any of its users, however, they have been accused by the Center for Democracy and Technology of logging connections and using third-party tracking to help their advertising. TunnelBear beats Hotspot Shield when it comes to security because of their ethical approach, which includes submitting their service for an annual independent security audit.
Speed and Performance
Hotspot Shield is a clear winner here. The service has over 1800 servers around the world. Its users can also connect to the servers in a span of 2 seconds. An astonishing fact is that the speed remains high despite a huge number of users (albeit most of those are using the free version). The Catapult Hydra Protocol creates multiple channels for data in order to increase speed, reliability, and performance.
As for TunnelBear, the speed is just bearable. They have a smaller network of servers and operate in only 34 countries. However, for such a small number of servers that speeds are not all that bad.
Ease of use and support
TunnelBear is easy to use. It also has good app design with that delightful bear theme. With that said, we’d say that Hotspot Shield wins in the ease of use department. After the client has been launched, the users just click the big power button and voila you can begin to access restricted content. Therefore, Hotspot wins for ease of use.
When it comes to support, Hotspot Shield wins again. Its live chat support feature is not only helpful but also very fast in responding to questions from the users. If you are looking for a VPN service that answers your queries and listens to you then we would recommend Hotspot Shield.
Torrenting and P2P
Hotspot Shield allows torrenting with various server choices and unlimited bandwidth. Furthermore, the service gives protection against malware and phishing attacks giving you not only fast and reliable speeds but also a secure torrenting environment.
On the contrary, TunnelBear does not have support for P2P file sharing and as such cannot be used for torrenting. When it comes to torrenting and peer to peer file sharing, Hotspot Shield wins again.
Unblocking Netflix and other entertainment platforms
Hotspot shield has support for Netflix giving users great speeds of 190 Mbps with the premium version. This means that you will be able to access the U.S library regardless of your location. It also does a good job with other streaming services such as BBC iPlayer content.
As for TunnelBear, you may not be able to access the geo-restricted Netflix US library. Therefore, when it comes to Netflix streaming, it is wise to choose Hotspot Shield over TunnelBear.
How good is it for China and other restricted countries?
TunnelBear is able to use its GhostBear feature to bypass China’s great firewall. Users can also connect to servers located in Hong Kong. Therefore, TunnelBear wins when it comes censorship in China. The Chinese government has managed to block Hotspot Shield from functioning within the country.
Both these services provide support for multiple platforms such as Windows, macOS, Android, iOS. They also offer browser extensions for all the reputable browsers like Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Chrome. Hotspot Shield, however, has no support for routers, gaming consoles, or the Amazon Fire TV Stick. The compatibility race is a close one but TunnelBear carries the day because of the support for extra devices such as routers and gaming consoles.
Hotspot Shield vs TunnelBear: which one is better?
The winner is Hotspot Shield, but there are caveats. While the service is clearly better for entertainment, TunnelBear is the more secure service and has a more ethical outlook on the VPN business.
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Mikaela is an investigative journalist that likes to cover the ever-changing world of technology. She tries to keep her finger on the pulse of digital trends and share her insights on the most relevant topics, including big tech, security, privacy, and data breaches.