You are reading a TunnelBear VPN review of their free version. See our full review of their paid services to find out what they can really do! TunnelBear has been in the VPN service industry since 2011. The McAfee-owned company is considered one of the popular providers, with 4,000 servers across 22 countries.
The VPN provider has a host of nifty security features, such as extra traffic encryption and advanced kill switch functions. It also has a stringent “No Logs” policy that ensures your data would not be seen by anyone else.
We found the plans to be sufficient, but the free version is more limited than what we expected. The customer support is also a bit cumbersome to use since you need to create an account first before you can make contact. Still, TunnelBear is a good option if you want a very secure VPN for a good price.
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One of TunnelBear’s major security features is VigilantBear, which acts as a kill switch. This feature automatically blocks off any unsecured traffic from coming in and going out of your connection in case of disruptions. One main difference this feature has from regular kill switches is that, once a stable connection is established, the app automatically restarts everything.
The provider also has an Auto Tunnel feature, which determines the best server to connect to based on the ping time. The feature is available for Windows, Mac, and mobile devices. Another notable TunnelBear feature is GhostBear which further encrypts your traffic. This makes your traffic less likely to be detected by outside parties.
TunnelBear is one of the few providers that offer a free VPN plan. To use it, you just sign up for an account and download the VPN app. This plan is very limited, giving you a monthly data cap of only 500 MB. The company does provide additional free data through promos that are available within its app and on Twitter. You can also easily upgrade from the free plan to a paid one through the app, which we highly recommend you do in order to really use it to the fullest.
Servers and countries
TunnelBear claims to have over 4,000 servers in 22 countries, including:
- The United Kingdom
- Hong Kong
The number of locations TunnelBear has is smaller than some of its major competitors, but the large server densities for most locations will give you plenty of options for a fast server.
Reliability and speed tests
TunnelBear is one of the faster providers we have tested. It registered an average download speed of 28.2 Mbps, which is good for most uses. The servers can achieve a maximum speed of 118 Mbps during short bursts.
We also didn’t detect any instances of IP address leaks, indicating that the connection is properly encrypted.
Pricing and Payments
TunnelBear offers three different plans:
- Little: Free, with a 500MB data cap monthly
- Giant: Monthly plan with unlimited data, $9.99 per month
- Grizzly: Yearly plan with unlimited data, $59.99 for 12 months or $5 per month
All plans will let you run up to five different connections and switch to different servers as many times as you want. You can upgrade your current plan within the TunnelBear app, which we find to be convenient. The company only accepts payments made through credit cards.
TunnelBear mainly provides customer support through email, but you need to have an account to contact the support staff. TunnelBear also has a Facebook page and a Twitter account where you can send your questions. It responds quickly on both channels.
TunnelBear’s site does have a fairly decent Help center/knowledge base section where you can read about account setup and troubleshooting tips. There is a handy search button to find specific articles quickly. TunnelBear also frequently posts announcements regarding issues with their servers.
Policies and Logging
TunnelBear states that it tries to collect only a minimal amount of data from you for delivering its services. The company’s site declares that TunnelBear collects specific information like:
- Email addresses
- Account status
- Operational data like app version and total data usage
- Billing information
The site states that such details are used only for TunnelBear’s intended purposes and are not shared with third parties.
Under its “No Logs” policy, TunnelBear states that it doesn’t collect or store the following information:
- IP addresses visiting TunnelBear’s website
- IP addresses connecting to TunnelBear’s servers
- DNS queries
- Details of the apps or devices you used to connect to TunnelBear’s VPN service
The site says that all data are immediately deleted from the servers after your session, ensuring that you remain anonymous. We’re still a little uneasy with this statement as it implies that they are collecting data at all.
TunnelBear states that, while the payments you paid for the services are generally not refundable, there are times when the company may grant such requests. To make that request, you need to contact the support team first. TunnelBear also states that it has full discretion on whether to grant the requests.
TunnelBear gives one of the best free VPN performances we have observed, with fast speeds and reliable data protection. The VigilantBear and Ghost Bear features provide an additional layer of security for surfing online. We also like how easy it is to set up the VPN app.
The company’s prices for paid services a bit higher than other providers once you decide to upgrade. The free VPN plan will leave you wanting more, many people can burn through the data limit in under a week.
TunnelBear is a good option if you need a VPN provider that has strong security features. Due to the small data cap, the free version is more suitable for quick searches and Internet surfing rather than for data-heavy uses like streaming media. We recommend giving the free version a try, but you’ll need to upgrade if you want to do any serious online activities.
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