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Windscribe and TunnelBear are some of the most well-known freemium service providers in the VPN industry, but which one is better? In this Windscribe vs TunnelBear comparison, I will discuss every aspect that needs to be considered when choosing a VPN service that suits your personal needs.
Both services offer browser extensions and dedicated apps for most devices and their pricing plans are also more or less the same. Both offer a free service, but Windscribe offers you more data than TunnelBear. Windscribe also offers a greater variety of locations across the globe, with TunnelBear offering only 34.
Both services are based in Canada and form part of the Five Eyes surveillance alliance, but neither company logs and sells your personal information, so there’s less to worry about if it is privacy that you are after. If it’s speed you are looking for, Windscribe will most probably be your best bet as they offer the WireGuard tunneling protocol to premium users.
When I ran some security tests, no leaks were detected on either application and both have built-in kill switches that provide a second layer of security. Torrenting is also possible with both providers.
Windscribe is the clear winner when it comes to Netflix and streaming. Customer service is also something that I checked out and both offer only a ticketing system and no live chat option, but the service I received from both was decent. When it comes to China, TunnelBear struggles to bypass the Great Firewall, whereas Windscribe works really well.
|“Best for” nominee||Fastest VPN, best free VPN||N/A|
|Price starts from||$1.00/month||$3.33/month|
|Review||Windscribe review||TunnelBear review|
Speed and performance
Both service providers limit the amount of data you move around if you are using their free plans, but in terms of speed, Windscribe wins the contest. In our test, TunnelBear ‘s download rate was around 5.34 Mbps while the upload rate was around 3.41 Mbps. Windscribe’s download rate was around 109.76 Mbps and their upload rate was a lot faster as well.
|Owns all servers||No||No|
|P2P servers||Not all||Yes|
Windscribe has servers in over 60 countries across the globe and seems to be adding more on a regular basis while TunnelBear only offers servers in 34 countries, which in all honesty isn’t really a lot since most VPN service providers cover at least 25 countries on average. However, TunnelBear has a larger server count, but that is a mild difference compared to WireGuard and country count so Windscribe is the victor in this regard.
|Free trial||Yes (1 day)||Yes (for Teams)|
|Money-back guarantee||Yes 3 days or 10GB of data||No|
Both Windscribe and TunnelBear are pretty even when it comes to pricing. Users can expect to pay around $5 per month if they subscribe to an annual subscription which is not too expensive.
The great thing about both services is that they offer a free service if you don’t feel like paying out. If you get to a point where you require more data, you can simply sign-up for the paid services.
One of the major differences is that Windscribe offers considerably more data than TunnelBear on the free service. They also offer a customizable plan which can be significantly cheaper for users who only need a handful of locations to choose from. What’s more, is that their refund policy is better. This makes Windscribe a more appealing choice and thus wins in this category.
|Protocols||WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2, Stealth, Wstunnel||OpenVPN, IKEv2, GhostBear|
|DNS and IP leaks||No leaks||No leaks|
|Security features||Ad & malware blocker, split tunneling, Stealth VPN, SOCKS5 proxy, Shadowsocks, HNS, port forwarding, Double Hop|
Security is one of the most important parts of a VPN as if your IP address is not being hidden, it’s pointless paying out for the VPN in question. Both TunnelBear and Windscribe use AES-256 data encryption, which is one of the strongest around, ensuring top-notch security. Both also experienced no leaks when I tested them.
Windscribe also offers a bit more in terms of features, at least if you’re a premium user. It has more tunneling protocols to choose from, split tunneling, port forwarding, ad blocking, and even static IPs. Compare that with TunnelBear’s proprietary GhostBear protocol, which is useful against DPI (deep packet inspection) and it becomes clear that you get more bang for your buck from using Windscribe.
|Logging||No identifying logs||More than minimal logging|
When it comes to privacy, these two services are very much alike. Both are based in Canada, a member of the Five Eyes alliance. They also claim to not keep any logs, but so far there are no court cases to prove it. It should be noted though, that Windscribe claims they have received approximately 400,000 DMCA and 34 law enforcement data requests but chose to comply with zero of them. In terms of anonymous payment, both provide an option through the most popular cryptocurrency – Bitcoin.
I could go into further differences between their privacy policies or account creation methods, but the fact is that both are located in a country that isn’t perfect for privacy. Thus, Windscribe and TunnelBear are tied in this category.
Do they work in China?
|Works in China||Yes||No|
|Tor over VPN||No||No|
The Chinese government is doing its utmost to ensure that no VPNs work in the country, but some of the best ones are able to bypass the Great China Firewall (for the time being at least). Both Windscribe and TunnelBear offer special protocols to get around the Great Firewall (Stealth and GhostBear respectively).
Unfortunately, TunnelBear doesn’t seem to be doing so great. You might be lucky enough to get it working, but it will disconnect often. Windscribe, on the other hand, works extremely well in China, so it wins hands down in this particular comparison.
Apps and extensions
|Major dedicated apps||All||All|
|Other dedicated apps||Fire TV, Fire Stick, Nvidia Shield, Kodi||N/A|
|Browser extensions||Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Edge||Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Edge|
|Manual setup||Routers, NAS||N/A|
Both of these providers are available on mainstream devices, such as PC, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux (limited support from TunnelBear). They also have extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Edge and Opera browsers.
Yet these VPNs start to diverge when it comes to home entertainment systems. WindScribe has additional support for Amazon Fire TV, Fire Sticks, Nvidia Shield, and Kodi, while TunnelBear does not. Additionally, TunnelBear doesn’t even provide configuration files for routers, while Windscribe does.
Finally, with a premium subscription, Windscribe allows you to connect an unlimited amount of devices, while TunnelBear lets you connect only 5.
|Other Netflix libraries||Yes||No|
Netflix has stopped many VPNs from accessing their services and unfortunately, TunnelBear falls into this category. Windscribe, however, has four dedicated Netflix servers that can still do a good job at streaming your favorite TV shows. These are the Windflix US, UK, CA, and JP servers.
For other services, you may need to pay a little extra to get a dedicated IP, because otherwise, you’ll have no luck with either service when trying to access BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, or Disney+.
|Free SOCKS5 proxy||Yes||No|
|Split tunneling||Yes (Android only)||Yes (Android only)|
Windscribe allows torrenting and even offers tutorials on uTorrent, VUZE, Deluge, and qBittorrent. There’s also the added benefit of a SOCKS5 proxy, split tunneling (currently only on Android), and even port forwarding. However, not all servers support torrenting, so it’s best to make sure that they have a P2P-friendly server close to your location.
TunnelBear also allows torrenting, yet it’s not the best option as split tunneling is also only on Android, there is no additional proxy or even port forwarding. Speed and security are paramount when torrenting, so I can’t give extra points to TunnelBear.
Both TunnelBear and Windscribe have a decent customer support system although neither of the two service providers offers a live chat option – they only have a ticketing system.
However, both services have extensive knowledge bases on their websites. These will allow you to troubleshoot any kind of problems yourself quite easily. The guides are categorized by topic and are easy to navigate through.
So, if you prefer a live chat option you will need to continue shopping around, but overall we were quite impressed by their service, even on the free plan. Both support teams are professional and reply fast.
Windscribe vs TunnelBear: best VPN by category
|Speed and servers||Wins✔️||Loses❌|
|Total wins||7 out of 9||0 out of 9|
Windscribe vs TunnelBear – which is better?
It seems abundantly clear that Windscribe is the winner in this comparison. The service is significantly better when used for free, while the premium version unlocks a huge amount of extra features for a fair price. And if you don’t need all of that you can simply build your own plan.
TunnelBear, on the other hand, offers a measly 500MB of encrypted traffic per month, which is barely enough for browsing and not even close to what you might need for streaming. But that doesn’t matter because you won’t unblock any geo-restricted content with this VPN. And the lack of support for routers and other devices is very disappointing.
Honestly, I’m having a hard time figuring out when you should use TunnelBear over Windscribe. The latter is a superior choice in almost every regard.
Perhaps you disagree? Let me know if I missed some important aspects by leaving a comment.
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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.