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US-based IPVanish and Canada-based TunnelBear are two well-known VPN solutions on the market. Both use AES-256 encryption and the OpenVPN tunneling protocol in their software. TunnelBear is known for its free version and love of bear puns. Meanwhile, IPVanish stands out with its online file storage and sync feature.
But a VPN doesn’t need a load of unique gimmicks to make it a viable option. What matters is connection speed, security & privacy features, unblocking capabilities, device compatibility, and much more. I’ll compare IPVanish vs TunnelBear in these categories to see which one is the better choice overall.
|“Best for” nominee||Best for Linux, Best for Fire Stick, Best for Kodi||N/A|
|Price starts from||$3.75/month||$3.33/month|
|Review||IPVanish review||TunnelBear review|
Let’s start with a basic speed test. I’d use our own VPN speed test, but TunnelBear is not on it yet. So instead, I’ll test these two manually using their OpenVPN protocols on the Ookla speed test. Base speeds are 294 Mbps for download and 308 Mbps for upload.
|Download||85 Mbps||268 Mbps|
|Upload||33 Mbps||22 Mbps|
|Download||236 Mbps||262 Mbps|
|Upload||81 Mbps||9 Mbps|
|Download||181 Mbps||184 Mbps|
|Upload||10 Mbps||6 Mbps|
|Download||174 Mbps||288 Mbps|
|Upload||38 Mbps||66 Mbps|
TunnelBear has performed surprisingly well in this test, maintaining download speeds above 200 Mbps on almost all fronts. Yet upload speeds are quite abysmal.
IPVanish fumbled particularly badly in the US but kept its face in other countries. It’s also worth mentioning that IPVanish not connecting is a common issue among users. And the upload speeds did not dip as low as they did for TunnelBear. Still, TunnelBear maintained download speeds much better than IPVanish and is the clear winner in this category.
|All physical servers||Yes||No|
|Owns all servers||Yes||No|
IPVanish has over 1500 servers in more than 75 countries and manages its network without third parties. TunnelBear has 1800+ servers in 34+ countries and has to rely on others for their server infrastructure. Neither VPN has RAM-only servers, but that’s still a pretty rare feature. Both allow P2P traffic on their servers. However, TunnelBear is against torrenting and will throttle your speed if it detects P2P traffic.
|Free trial||No||Yes (for Teams)|
|Payment options||Credit card, PayPal||Credit card, PayPal, Stripe, Bitcoin, Litecoin, CoinPayments, Paymentwall, gift card|
IPVanish pricing plans
IPVanish has two payment plans – a monthly and yearly one. But that’s not it. There are extra costs if you’d like to get the SugarSync online file storage feature. Additionally, after the first month or year, the subscription price will increase depending on your chosen plan.
The regular monthly plan costs $10.99 per month. With SugarSync, it goes up to $12.99/month.
The yearly plan for just the VPN costs $3.75 per month for the first year. After that, it’s $7.49/month, or $89.99 every year.
With SugarSync, the yearly plan is $4.58/month for the first year. Once it’s over, it goes up to $8.33/month or $99.99 per year.
You get a 30-day money-back guarantee, but only for the yearly plans. Plus, no free versions or trials either. But you can find plenty of IPVanish deals online. Furthermore, payment options are credit cards and PayPal only.
TunnelBear pricing plans
TunnelBear offers a free version that’s loaded with 500 MB of monthly browsing data. Besides that, you can choose between the Unlimited and Teams plans.
The unlimited plan is not for unlimited time but unlimited data. It comes in three pricing plans:
- $9.99/month for a monthly plan
- $4.99/month for a yearly plan
- $3.33/month for a three-year plan
The Teams plan is for large companies, and the cost will depend on your team size. The estimated price is about $5.75/user per month. You can also try this plan out for free for 7 days.
Unfortunately, TunnelBear does not come with a money-back guarantee. Whether you get your money back or not gets decided on a case-by-case basis.
At least TunnelBear has more payment options, such as credit card, PayPal, Stripe, cryptocurrencies, Paymentwall, and gift cards.
|Protocols||OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP||OpenVPN, IKEv2, GhostBear|
|Kill switch||Yes||Yes (VigilantBear)|
|DNS and IP leaks||No leaks||No leaks|
|Security features||Split tunneling, SOCKS5 proxy||Split tunneling (Android only)|
These two providers are not so different so let’s have a look at some similarities. Unsurprisingly, both are using the standard AES-256 encryption cipher. Both also utilize OpenVPN and IKEv2 tunneling protocols, have kill switches, and no IP or DNS leak issues.
Next, TunnelBear has an additional tunneling protocol called GhostBear. It masks your VPN traffic and makes it look like regular internet traffic. There’s also split tunneling, but only for Android users.
Meanwhile, IPVanish has IPSec, L2TP, and PPTP as extra tunneling protocols. Additionally, they have split tunneling and a SOCKS5 proxy.
An uncommon feature for VPNs is secure online file storage. IPVanish implemented that and called it SugarSync. For an extra cost, you get 500 GB of online file storage and sync across all of your devices.
|Logging||No-logs policy||No-logs policy|
|Anonymous payment||No||Yes, Bitcoin|
IPvanish claims to have a strict “zero-logs” policy. However, its reputation in this regard is quite tarnished. It did provide the authorities with logs of personally identifiable information in a criminal case, thereby aiding in the conviction of a suspect. The company that owns IPVanish is registered in the US, which is one of the least privacy-friendly locations for VPN companies.
TunnelBear, on the other hand, is based in Canada, a Five Eyes country just like the US. McAfee acquired it in 2018, but it still operates from Canada. While TunnelBear claims to have a no-logging policy, it keeps some data logs, including your OS version, app version, authentication time, and monthly bandwidth usage.
|Major dedicated apps||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android|
|Other dedicated apps||Amazon Fire TV & Fire Stick, Android TV||N/A|
|Browser extensions||No||Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera|
|Manual setup||Routers, firewall, NAS, Linux||N/A|
When it comes to device compatibility, IPVanish is definitely one step ahead. It has dedicated apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. No apps for Linux though, you’ll have to configure your connection manually.
Additional apps exist for Amazon Fire TV and Fire Stick, plus Android TV. There are no browser extensions, but you can manually configure IPVanish routers, firewalls, and NAS (Network Access Storage). All of that with no limitations on simultaneous connections.
TunnelBear has dedicated apps for most mainstream platforms (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android), but nothing else. There are browser extensions for Chrome, Edge, Opera, and Firefox. With the regular plan, you can connect up to five devices simultaneously.
|Other Netflix libraries||No||No|
Both of these VPNs are fairly decent for streaming content. Neither service has dedicated servers for streaming and no Smart DNS, but they did manage to unblock Netflix US. YouTube was also a simple obstacle to overcome, but you couldn’t say the same for BBC iPlayer.
In essence, if streaming is a priority for you, you may want to look at our top VPNs for streaming.
Torrenting and P2P
|Allowed on||All servers||All servers|
|Free SOCKS5 proxy||Yes||No|
|Split tunneling||Android, FireOS||Yes (Android only)|
This one’s easy. IPVanish is one of the better options for torrenting and P2P file sharing, while TunnelBear simply doesn’t support torrenting. It’s still possible to torrent on TunnelBear servers, but the download speeds will be heavily throttled.
Neither service has port-forwarding, but IPVanish has a SOCKS5 proxy in case you don’t want to use a VPN for anything except torrenting.
|Works in China||No||Yes|
|Stealth VPN||No||Yes (Ghostbear)|
|Tor over VPN||No||No|
As for usage in China, TunnelBear is the favorite pick among users as the GhostBear feature works well there. It masks your VPN traffic and makes it seem like a regular internet connection, making it impossible to block. This feature is available on the free version as well, though the 500 MB/month data cap won’t be enough for most users.
Meanwhile, IPVanish does not have raving reviews about working in China. It doesn’t have any specific features for getting around the Great Firewall of China and cannot be recommended.
For other options to circumvent such censorship, check out our list of best VPNs for China.
IPVanish ticks all the boxes in the customer support area. They have 24/7 live chat, communication through email, an extensive knowledge base, and even the option to call via phone. Users can call American, British, Mexican, Spanish, Australian, Brazilian, and German phone numbers.
TunnelBear, on the other hand, offers no 24/7 live chat support. You only get access to a help database, an FAQ section, and support tickets. The response time for those tickets can range from just a few hours up to one day.
Best VPN by category
|Speed and servers||Loses❌||Wins✔️|
|Total wins||4 out of 9||3 out of 9|
IPVanish vs TunnelBear – which is better?
It was an exciting back and forth between these two, but in the end, IPVanish stands victorious. Let’s recap how we got here.
TunnelBear started off strongly with faster download speeds and a better long-term pricing plan. But IPVanish recovered by having a stronger arsenal of security features.
Neither stood out with exceptional privacy practices, thus reaching a tie in this category. After that, IPVanish scored another point with wider compatibility among devices.
Both providers are OK for streaming, reaching a tie once again. Subsequently, IPVanish wins more points in the torrenting and customer support categories. Meanwhile, TunnelBear proves to be better at tunneling around the Great Firewall of China.
Overall, these VPNs are good choices, but only IPVanish is considered one of the best VPN services that the industry has to offer.
Which VPN will you choose? Voice your opinion by leaving a comment!
Is IPVanish worth the price?
That depends on your priorities. IPVanish does not have the fast WireGuard tunneling protocol that other VPN providers have. However, it does have the option to include secure online storage, something that other VPNs normally don’t have.
Does IPVanish have a free plan?
Unfortunately, IPVanish does not have a free plan. Additionally, it does not even have a free trial.
Is TunnelBear a good VPN?
TunnelBear is an average VPN. It does not have a lot of security features or tunneling protocols to choose from. But if you’re considering this VPN, you can try out the free version and see if it has what you need.
Can TunnelBear hide your IP address?
Yes, like any other VPN, connecting to TunnelBear hides your real IP address.
Which is the best VPN?
According to our extensive research, NordVPN is currently the best VPN. It has a wide array of security and privacy features, plenty of servers to choose from, great device compatibility, and an affordable price.
Disclaimer: Affiliate links help us produce good content. Learn more.
Ethan is a security researcher and digital privacy advocate. He spends his time unraveling various anonymity and security tools, plus contributing to open-source projects. Otherwise, he keeps a low profile by hiking or cycling around the countryside.