TunnelBear is a Toronto-based VPN provider that started in 2011. In March 2018, TunnelBear was acquired by McAfee, one of the leaders in the cybersecurity industry. McAfee wisely retained the brand of TunnelBear, which already had over 20 million users.
TunnelBear uses a simple, funny, bear-animated VPN app that is available on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. The provider also offers browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, and instructions for manual configuration on Linux. Aside from its VPN service, TunnelBear also ventured into corporate accounts with TunnelBear for Teams, and a password management app called RememBear.
We tested TunnelBear’s VPN service and found it decent at first glance. They are not the best VPN provider we’ve tested, but they are a good mid-pack choice
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TunnelBear has features that are not so different from other VPN providers. It just changed the names, but the features work the same. The features include the following:
All these features, plus the provider’s claimed no-logging policy, don’t make TunnelBear particularly special. Other VPN providers have these features and no-logging claim too. They are a good choice, for sure, but they’re not the best choice.
TunnelBear has servers in 22 countries, including:
22 countries is on the lower end of the spectrum, with top providers offering closer to 60 or more. They have managed to set up servers in the most popular countries for geo-blocking and avoiding censorship, so that is good to see from them.
They don’t disclose the exact number of servers they control, although it says that it is still expanding to more countries. We might see a lot more server locations in the future.
While VPN speed depends on several factors, one way of testing this is to do speed tests before and after connecting to a VPN. This is what we did with TunnelBear.
Our speed and latency count before connecting to TunnelBear was this:
Here is our speed test result when we were connected to TunnelBear:
While download speed went down by four Mbps, latency jumped to a high value. We couldn’t even load a YouTube video in 720p HD. This was unusual.
Aside from the increase in latency, we also experienced a drop in connection when we switched to a different server location.
TunnelBear has a freemium VPN service, with the free tier capped at 500 MB per month. This is a great way to test the VPN service. You can even get an additional one GB if you tweet about the provider, which, well, can get annoying if you follow the VPN industry as it creates a lot of spam.
TunnelBear’s regular subscription price is $9.99 per month. Signing up for one year offers 50% savings as you will only need to pay $59.88 for the whole year, or $4.99 per month. This yearly rate is still slightly above other comparable VPN providers who can go as low as $2.50 per month.
TunnelBear’s Help section consists of FAQs which are categorized into the following:
The section also contains a link to service announcements and the contact form which seems to be the only means to reach customer support. We filled out the contact form, and we needed to wait for 48 hours for someone to get back to us.
TunnelBear also has Facebook and Twitter accounts. Response time could be faster when questions or inquiries are sent through these social media accounts.
Although TunnelBear doesn’t collect and store IP addresses and usage history, it stores the following information:
TunnelBear seems decent enough. It is operated by a well-known cybersecurity company, McAfee, and has all the basic features of a VPN. It is not a great choice though for streaming or unblocking geo-restricted video contents; it only has a few servers, and the latency is quite high based on our testing. TunnelBear’s free tier will let you test out these aspects yourself.
We are bothered by TunnelBear’s use of Google Analytics, especially those that require the IP address of website visitors. Although TunnelBear uses Google Analytics’ IP addresses anonymizer, only the last octet of IPv4 addresses and the last 80 bits of IPv6 addresses are masked with zeros. As a workaround, you can use an anonymous email address and opt out of cookies before you visit TunnelBear’s website.
We like TunnelBear, and know that they have many users out there. They’re an average VPN provider with a great marketing tactic that could meet some particular needs of specific users, such as those who want to package a VPN and a password manager together. They’re not the best of the best, but they are adequate and can be recommended.
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Our ratings for tunnelbear review are based on our professional experience and extensive tests with VPN providers between April 2014 – July 2014, taking into account user feedback and reviews we receive. As a friendly disclosure, some VPN providers do compensate us for customers we refer them, but this in no way effects their ranking on our website, nor our reviews.
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