Last update: 07.12.2019
Choosing between VPNs is tough. We’re trying to make that easier for you by running side-by-side comparisons of some of the most popular VPNs. Today we’re looking at heavyweight NordVPN and the old-school TunnelBear, which was recently purchased by McAfee.
Comparing NordVPN vs TunnelBear is a bit unfair. The first is a behemoth that has thousands of servers, great speeds, and top-notch security. The second has a free version, some nice features, and a mascot, but is otherwise nondescript.
Security and privacy
Security and privacy are the two most important things for any VPN service. They can turn into a selling point or ensure your VPN will never make an honest top 10 list.
NordVPN sticks to their promise of a no log policy. They have:
- Strong data encryption (AES-256 coupled with a 2048-bit handshake)
- A wide range of security protocols (SSTP, L2TP/IPSec, OpenVPN, IKEv2, and PPTP)
- There are no leaks to speak of (DNS, IPv6, or WebRTC)
- Two different types of kill switch to secure your connection
- Double VPN, VPN over Tor, and Onion over VPN tools for optimal subscriber safety and anonymity.
NordVPN operates from Panama, a country that doesn’t have data retention laws and doesn’t have ties to the 5-Eyes or even the 14-Eyes surveillance framework. The speeds are inversely proportional to security because the more you want speed, the less you will encrypt your traffic. NordVPN may not be the fastest of VPNs, but at least they strike a balance between speed, security, pricing, and customer service.
In the meantime, TunnelBear also takes advantage of strong encryption and authentication. It has a huge crowd and it’s very popular. This VPN also uses:
- Military-grade encryption (AES-256)
- Secure tunneling protocols (IKEv2, OpenVPN, and IPSec)
- Two bear-themed security features – VigilantBear, which serves as a kill switch, and GhostBear, which is a stealth protocol to bypass advanced methods used to block VPN traffic (particularly in China)
The speeds are decent – maybe not the fastest – but those with a high baseline speed will still get a good streaming experience. TunnelBear is now a subsidiary of the California-based McAfee, which doesn’t sound so good to those extremely concerned about their privacy. So, expect privacy issues common in 5-Eyes countries.
TunnelBear says it has a fierce no-logs policy, but it does collect some basic data.
Verdict: in short, if we compare NordVPN vs TunnelBear in terms of security/privacy, we will come to the conclusion that favors Nord – not because TunnelBear is bad, but rather because Nord is just too good.
TunnelBear offers a very intuitive, but fun-to-use user interface. Accessing the Settings menu, you can find the Gear icon that is located below the Globe icon on the left side. There you will see submenus like General tab, Security tab, Account tab, and Trusted Networks. You just have to play around with them to set the features you want.
Torrenting and P2P
On the other side, TunnelBear doesn’t allow torrents. You also can’t do any other kind of P2P file-sharing.
On the flip side, TunnelBear doesn’t have live chat support, but it has a well-built social media presence.
Netflix and other entertainment platforms
Technically, Netflix doesn’t allow its subscribers to stream content while connected to a VPN. However, you can maneuver their geo-blocking technology by using a reliable VPN.
TunnelBear’s free version isn’t adequate for Netflix because you only get 500 MB to use per month. The paid version is the real thing, however. You can unlock Netflix, but you can’t stream from BBC iPlayer.
Apps and extensions
TunnelBear has apps for:
It has Opera and Chrome browser extensions as well.
Geo-coverage and use in China
TunnelBear’s GhostBear feature should allow you to use the service in China. With that said, they have exponentially fewer servers at just over 60 in 20 countries. The additional speed decrease due to the obfuscation may make your experience frustrating.
- Free version – limited to 500 MB/month
- Giant – $9.99/month
- Grizzly – $4.99/month
- No money-back guarantee
NordVPN vs TunnelBear: the bottom line
NordVPN is a superior tool for your privacy and security. Strong encryption, customer support, and averagely priced packages get you a lot of value for money. TunnelBear is fairly safe if all you’re doing is some basic browsing, accessing geo-blocked or censored content, and other such things. However, TunnelBear simply can’t compare with the flawless product offered by Nord.
Read our full reviews: