NordVPN vs TunnelBear in 2020

Last updated: November 28, 2020
NordVPN vs TunnelBear

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Choosing between VPNs is tough unless it’s NordVPN vs TunnelBear. If you’re an experienced VPN user, you probably know the winner already. And those who still have doubts are welcome to read my TunnelBear vs NordVPN comparison and see how uneven this battle is.

To answer is NordVPN really the best, I will be evaluating safety, speed, ease of use, price, and other criteria. Don’t want to read the whole comparison? Just take a look at this side-by-side overview of NordVPN and TunnelBear to see where one does better than the other.

NordVPNTunnelBear
Our rating9.67.2
“Best for” winnerBest overall, Best for Netflix, Best for P2P, Best for China, Fastest VPN
Price starts from$3.49/month$3.33/month
ReviewNordVPN reviewTunnelBear review
Websitenordvpn.comtunnelbear.com

NordVPN is a #1-ranked behemoth with the best speeds and top-notch security. In the meantime, TunnelBear has a free version and a mascot but is otherwise nondescript. This Virtual Private Netwok isn’t even mentioned on any of our “best for” lists and its cheapest price is only a few cents smaller than that of NordVPN.

Security of NordVPN vs TunnelBear

Winner: NordVPN

NordVPNTunnelBear
EncryptionMilitary-gradeMilitary-grade
ProtocolsNordLynx, OpenVPN, IKEv2OpenVPN, IKEv2
Kill switch
Internet kill switch, app kill switch, Always-on VPN for AndroidInternet kill switch, unavailable on iOS
DNS and IP leaks
No leaksNo leaks
Security featuresDouble VPN, Tor over VPN, CyberSec, SOCKS5 proxy, Obfuscated serversGhostBear, TunnelBear Blocker, SplitBear

Is TunnelBear safe? There’s no point in asking this about NordVPN, which is a clear winner of this round. And to answer it, TunnelBear is safe as long as you don’t have anything to hide.

Both services come with military-grade encryption, but NordVPN steals the show with its proprietary WireGuard protocol named NordLynx. Not only does it offer superior security, but it also enables unprecedented speeds, leaving other tunneling protocols behind.

In the meantime, TunnelBear doesn’t even allow us to choose between OpenVPN and IKEv2. In fact, the latter is available on Windows and iOS only. To make things worse, the more reliable TCP version of OpenVPN is available as a “TCP Override” feature for desktop.

NordVPN two kill switches

A kill switch is an essential feature of any VPN. Here NordVPN wins big again, providing two versions, one app-level and one for the whole connection. TunnelBear offers only the latter option and still doesn’t have a kill switch on iOS.

TunnelBear for Windows Security Settings

After testing, I was happy that both VPNs had no leaks, meaning that your IP address should be safe most of the time. And speaking of extra security features, NordVPN has way more to offer. TunnelBear has a stealth VPN (GhostBear) and a malware blocker for Chrome (TunnelBear Blocker), but they’re far less reliable than NordVPN’s CyberSec and Obfuscated servers. There’s also SplitBear for Android – a split tunneling feature that NordVPN’s Android app also has.

All in all, NordVPN easily wins this round against TunnelBear, both in quantity and quality of security features. The latter struggles with the basics, such as providing a kill switch for all major apps or a simple tunneling protocol selection.

Privacy features of NordVPN vs TunnelBear

Winner: NordVPN

NordVPNTunnelBear
JurisdictionPanamaCanada
LoggingIndependently-audited no-logs policyLogs more than minimum
Anonymous payment
CryptocurrenciesBitcoin

The second round of the NordVPN vs TunnelBear fight again goes to the former service. NordVPN operates from Panama, a country that doesn’t have data retention laws and doesn’t have ties to the Fourteen Eyes surveillance alliance. Additionally, this VPN has a strict no-logs policy that has been audited independently.

In the meantime, TunnelBear is based in Canada but has been bought by McAfee, a cybersecurity giant from the US. Both countries are members of the Five Eyes alliance, which is a red flag for political activists and journalists working with sensitive topics. If that wasn’t enough, TunnelBear clearly states that they collect and store some logs like your authentication time and may send that data to unspecified third-party service providers.

NordVPN payment options - cryptocurrencies

NordVPN allows the anonymous purchase – you can pay with a bunch of different cryptocurrencies and use a throwaway email account. In contrast, TunnelBear offers to pay with Bitcoin only and uses your email as a username. Therefore, when it comes to privacy, NordVPN is better than TunnelBear in every possible way.

TunnelBear vs NordVPN: speed and performance

Winner: NordVPN

NordVPNTunnelBear
Average speed
132 Mbps76 Mbps
Servers5400+1000+
Countries
5920+
Download
Germany server
252 Mbps (15% drop-off)171 Mbps (42% drop-off)
US server
213 Mbps (28% drop-off)177 Mbps (40% drop-off)
Upload
Germany server87 Mbps (71% drop-off)6 Mbps (98% drop-off)
US server88 Mbps (70% drop-off)9 Mbps (97% drop-off)
Ping
Germany server46 ms151 ms
US server136 ms120 ms

NordVPN is faster than TunnelBear about two times. Why TunnelBear is slow? For starters, it doesn’t have WireGuard, which provides much better speeds than any other protocol available.

Next, TunnelBear’s server coverage is poor when compared with NordVPN. It has more than five times smaller server fleet located in just 20+. In contrast, NordVPN has a truly global coverage that spans over 59 countries.

To better show the difference, I did a TunnelBear vs NordVPN speed test from Europe. I got 295 Mbps download and 296 Mbs upload without a Virtual Private Network. Then I connected to each VPN’s servers in Germany and the US and compared the results, coming up with the average speed that includes both download and upload.

TunnelBear’s download speeds seem fast until we compare them with NordVPN’s. What’s more, the upload, though not that important, is really sluggish. Finally, the ping of TunnelBear in Germany was way too high.

TunnelBear vs NordVPN: apps and ease of use

Winner: NordVPN

NordVPNTunnelBear
Major dedicated apps
AllWindows, macOS, Android, iOS
Other dedicated apps
Fire TV & Fire Stick, Android TV
Browser extensions
Chrome, FirefoxChrome, Firefox, Opera
Manual setup
Routers, firewalls, NAS
Simultaneous devices
65
Customer support
24/7 live chat, email, FAQ, tutorialsSupport ticket, knowledgebase

While NordVPN is easy to use, TunnelBear is easy and fun to use. It has the best mascot in the VPN industry which alone might be enough for some to buy this service. Also, both providers invested in creating beautiful server selection maps when most just list them alphabetically.

NordVPN server map

TunnelBear even shows its mascot dig tunnel from your location to the selected server. This animation never gets dull and whenever I use this service I wait until the bear will emerge from the tunnel, roaring. Sadly, there’s not much to be found behind TunnelBear’s great app design.

TunnelBear for Windows server map

Both VPNs have dedicated apps for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, but TunnelBear lacks Linux. In fact, it doesn’t support any other device type, not even routers. TunnelBear’s compatibility is severely limited, especially when you can connect only five devices at the same time. NordVPN’s six simultaneous connections are not much either, but you can configure it on your router and forget about limits.

TunnelBear is fun until you start having connection problems or any other concerns. This Virtual Private Network doesn’t have live chat or any type of 24/7 support. Your only options are to either search their knowledgebase or submit a ticket, which might take up to 24 hours to get answered.

In contrast, NordVPN has excellent 24/7 live chat customer support. The agents are polite and knowledgable, while the knowledgebase is deep enough to find most answers on your own.

Torrenting and P2P: NordVPN vs TunnelBear

Winner: NordVPN

NordVPNTunnelBear
Allowed on
Selected serversNot allowed
Free SOCKS5 proxy
YesNo
Split tunneling
Android onlyAndroid only

When it comes to torrenting, which one is better, NordVPN or TunnelBear? The answer is simple – NordVPN is the best VPN for torrenting. It’s located in privacy-friendly Panama, has two great kill switches and no leaks. Additionally, NordVPN has P2P-optimized servers that provide fast connection, especially if you’re using the NordLynx protocol. While it has split tunneling on Android only, you can use their free SOCKS5 proxy to protect only your P2P traffic.

You shouldn’t use TunnelBear for P2P, though. While it may work, it’s not officially supported. Furthermore, Canada’s laws require all VPNs and ISPs to log identifiable user data. That’s why not even a kill switch or having no leaks can help you.

As you can see, NordVPN is the clear winner of this round. No other service can compete with NordVPN in terms of security and speed, which are the two key criteria for P2P enthusiasts.

TunnelBear or NordVPN – which one is better for Netflix and other streaming platforms?

Winner: NordVPN

NordVPNTunnelBear
Netflix US
YesNo
Other Netflix libraries
YesNo
Other platforms
YesNo

The answer is clear cut because TunnelBear unblocks neither American Netflix nor any other library. That’s a real shame given that its speeds would be enough to stream in 4K (UHD) in most locations.

NordVPN unblocks Netflix

Is NordVPN good for Netflix? Actually, it’s the best VPN for streaming. NordVPN easily unblocks Netflix not only in the US but in other countries, such as Canada, the UK, or the Netherlands as well. You will also have no problem watching other streaming platforms like BBC iPlayer, Disney+, or Hulu in HD or even 4K (UHD).

What’s more, NordVPN has apps for Android TV and Amazon Fire TV & Fire Stick, which is great if you want to watch your favorite movies and shows on a big screen. You can also install this VPN on your router and stream on Apple TV or other smart TVs.

At least TunnelBear is friendly for Kodi. It’s fast enough to allow streaming in high quality and safe enough to protect your IP. NordVPN users will be happy to find that Kodi works with their VPN too.

NordVPN or TunnelBear – which one to use in China and other restricted countries?

Winner: NordVPN

NordVPNTunnelBear
Works in China
YesYes/No
Stealth VPN
YesYes
Tor over VPN
YesNo

Another round, another win for NordVPN, which is the best VPN for China. Unfortunately, we won’t find TunnelBear on that list. While it may work in China, it’s far from reliable service.

Both VPNs have the so-called stealth VPN feature. NordVPN named it Obfuscated servers and TunnelBear went for GhostBear. When turned on, this feature makes your traffic look like you’re not using a VPN, allowing you to bypass China’s Deep Packet Inspection.

Using stealth VPN significantly reduces your connection speed, though this shouldn’t be an issue because TunnelBear and NordVPN are fast enough. However, the latter is both faster and more reliable with many more servers and countries in Asia. Finally, NordVPN officially supports Tor over VPN that provides extra anonymity, which is always good when you’re online in China or any other surveillance-loving country.

TunnelBear vs NordVPN: pricing comparison

Winner: NordVPN

NordVPNTunnelBear
Free version
NoYes, 500 MB/month
One month
$11.95/month$9.99/month
Six months$9.00/monthN/A
One year
$4.92/month$3.33/month
Two years
$3.71/monthN/A
Three years
N/A$3.33/month
Money-back guarantee
30 daysNo

Is TunnelBear free? Yes, and that’s a big argument against NordVPN. However, users are limited to one device and 500 MB per month, which can be upgraded to 1 GB if you write a tweet about this provider. Even with the upgrade, the free version feels more like a free trial without a time limit, unless you use the internet mostly for browsing.

The situation changes drastically when we move to the premium section. TunnelBear has cheaper monthly and annual plans, but NordVPN catches up with the 2-year offer. But it’s the bang-for-the-buck ratio that leaves TunnelBear way behind.

NordVPN accepts multiple payment methods, including credit cards, PayPal, AliPay, and cryptocurrencies, among others. There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it out risk-free. TunnelBear accepts credit cards and Bitcoin only and doesn’t offer a money-back guarantee, though the free version more than makes up for it.

Given the number of features that NordVPN offers, there’s no way that TunnelBear could offer a better deal. Honestly, if you decided to buy a VPN, would you go for one that doesn’t unblock Netflix, doesn’t allow torrenting, and doesn’t have live chat support? Thought so.

NordVPN or TunnelBear – which one is better?

Winner: NordVPN

NordVPNTunnelBear
Security
WinsLoses
Privacy
WinsLoses
Speed
WinsLoses
Apps
WinsLoses
Torrenting
WinsLoses
Streaming
WinsLoses
China
WinsLoses
Prices
WinsLoses
Total wins
8 out of 80 out of 8

NordVPN is a superior tool for your privacy and security. Winning all eight rounds, it provides military-grade encryption, 24/7 live chat support, and best-in-the-industry connection speeds. That’s a lot of value for money – something that its competitor lacks clearly.

TunnelBear’s biggest asset is its free version. There’s virtually no reason to spend money on this fun and easy-to-use, but not exactly great VPN. I can recommend it only if you’re a big fan of bears and not really into torrenting or streaming.

While I love doing VPN comparisons, I couldn’t put everything in one article. Therefore, if you’re keen to learn more about the winner, read our NordVPN review. And if you’re a big fan of bears who’s not really into streaming or torrenting, check out the TunnelBear review.

Top VPN providers
NordVPN
9.6 / 10
30-day money-back guarantee
Military grade encryption
Friendly support
Surfshark VPN
9.4 / 10
Strong encryption
Excellent performance
Unlimited simultaneous connections

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8 comments
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  1. kKk

    the main plus of tunnelbear is that they have free version. nordvpn could do something like this as well. i agree with Soup187, that the fact that tunnelbear is part of the 5 eyes group says it all.


  2. Kristof

    TunnelBear is not the worst provider, but also not the best. I like that they have such a cool and sweet mascot. However, the speed could be better. And my main concern is the location. US jurisdiction? Emm, noo. VPN must be ULTRA secure, and it begins with its location. British Virgin Islands – ExpressVPN, Panama – NordVPN. Also, I don’t understand – “doesn’t offer a money-back guarantee”? Isn’t there any laws that oblige to pay back if the customer is not satisfied with the quality? Anyways, at least they have a free version.


  3. globalexpat

    TunnelBear works, only if you are looking to cover some of the basic offerings that they currently have. I used it when I was in China, and it worked okay. Like it is mentioned in this article, you shouldn’t be expecting a great service from them though.


  4. Jakob Hermansen

    NordVPN blows away most competition and TunnelBear is yet another victim in its wake. As Soup187 mentioned, TunnelBear’s presence in the Five Eyes group is enough to keep me from using it. When you compare the two, TunnelBear seems to come up short in just about every area. Why would you go with a loser?


  5. Mazur_1978

    This is simply no contest. Nord is better a well as cheaper option. Nord beats Tunnelbear in every comparision parameter. More, Tunnelbear offers no money-back guarantee.


  6. Terrence Y

    The fact that NordVPN is Panama based is a good thing for your privacy, I thinks it’s one of the few to be based outside of prying countries. NordVPN wins it all in this comparison, it’s the best of all to me.


  7. Soup187

    I honestly only read the security and privacy part, that’s really the most important thing for me haha. And the fact that TunnelBear is part of the 5 eyes group says it all.


    1. Julie Cole Author

      Yup – in general, we never recommend going with a free VPN, since the paid ones are much more powerful but have pretty low prices. NordVPN is much better in every metric here 🙂

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