A VPN service adds security and privacy to your internet activities. It is especially useful to hide sensitive information like your credit card details, IP address and login credentials. Although these providers started catering to companies, today, many VPN services target individual users. One such provider is TunnelBear, which is based in Canada.
Whether you’re getting a VPN for business or personal use, TunnelBear fits the requirements. It’s lightweight, easy to use and low-cost, factors that may convince you to try this solution. But first, let’s find out details and what benefits and features this VPN delivers.
In this guide, we reviewed the key aspects of the VPN, including the strengths and weaknesses. We hope that after reading this TunnelBear VPN review, you’ll feel more confident about your decision.
10 Key Features of TunnelBear We Like
Before we drill down to details, it’s important to articulate the main reasons why you need a VPN. Is it to protect your data? To allow you to access restricted sites? Or, hopefully not, to download pirated content? If your reason is either of the first two, TunnelBear is a shoo-in choice. If the reason is for illegal use, forget it; the provider doesn’t allow P2P sharing and BitTorrent. That said, here are the main features to consider when assessing the product.
It’s free. How can you feel bad about something that’s free? The VPN service allows up to 500MB of data in its free plan. That’s good for occasional web visits but not for serious streaming. You can even increase the data limit when you tweet about TunnelBear. Even so, the free offer is designed more of to lure you to the paid plan and not as a long-term proposal. You’ll find it limiting and won’t allow you server access to some countries.
Low cost. If you plan to do a lot of streaming or internet activities, you need the paid TunnelBear plan. You’ll realize it’s quite affordable at $9.99 per month; if you subscribe for the yearly plan the price drops to $4.99. That’s $60 savings in one year, or to put it in another perspective, six months of free service if you compare it with month-to-month payment. The provider allows payments via credit card or bitcoin.
Intuitive UI. The first thing you’ll notice about TunnelBear is its play on its brand. You get a lot of bear hugs and the like. These aren’t just being trivial; the light treatment applies to the UI itself. Non-technical users will find the setup easy to do and the features are nothing overwhelming. You log in with an email and password, install the app and you’re ready. A map shows the server locations, click one and you’re now officially using the internet from that place. The simplicity of the interface belies the complex operations at the backend; the VPN has advanced features that work hard to protect your data (later on these).
It has advanced features. TunnelBear has sophisticated tools that enhances data privacy and security. Its Trusted Networks lets you whitelist secure wifi connections. When you use a line outside of this list, the VPN is automatically activated to protect your data. Another advanced tool is the Vigilant Mode, which blocks unsecured traffic when you get disconnected. For example, you’re sending credit card information and the internet snaps off; the VPN works offline to block potential threats to your credit card details when the site’s firewall you’re visiting is inaccessible. On the other hand, the GhostBear feature hides your connection with a normal HTTPS setting to bypass areas that restrict VPN traffic. However, using this feature slows down performance by as much as 50%, so it’s not advisable to turn it on unless it’s urgent. As we’ve mentioned above, TunnelBear does not allow P2P sharing and BitTorrent, a major deal for users who stream illegally sourced content.
Optimal performance. In the scheme of speed ratings, TunnelBear hovers around above-average both for downloading and uploading. Sure, there are faster and slower VPN services compared to it. We think the middle-ground rating matches its market positioning: a VPN service to guard your personal data against hacking. Small businesses may benefit from its low-cost and solid VPN server network, all 900 units worldwide. To be honest, the difference in speed between using the VPN and not using it is negligible unless a few seconds do matter to you. The drawback here is the VPN service uses fixed protocols, which shuts off your options. It uses OpenVPON for Windows, Android and Mac, and IKEv2 for iPhones.
Varied server locations. TunnelBear has 900 servers in 20 countries, including the U.S., U.K., Australia, India, Singapore and Canada. It also covers non-English areas such as Spain, Germany, Japan, France and Brazil. Its wide network is good enough to access the most important media, e-commerce and government sites around the world. The main disadvantage, however, is it has no server in Russia, Turkey, Africa and the Middle East. Unless you’re specific about these locations, this network limitation may really not impact on your internet activities. While it cannot match other services with 3,000 servers in over 200 countries, TunnelBear serves your personal requirements.
Multi-device access. The VPN service is compatible with Windows, Mac, Android and iOS. It also has a plugin for Chrome and Opera. You have access to it from virtually any device and platform. You can leave your PC or laptop at work or home and continue your internet activity on your phone without compromising data security or privacy. You can even connect five devices to the VPN all at once. It fits the needs of a small team.
No footprints. When you log into TunnelBear your activities are not saved. There’s no footprint that can be traced to you. Since the provider is based in Canada, it’s not required to save user data. In fact, when you tap a VPN service, this is one major factor to consider: is it saving your activities? If yes, you may be compromising the very reason you needed a VPN. TunnelBear also discloses that it does not deal with third parties for user data. Plus the fact that the VPN doesn’t display ads, there’s no reason it needs to capture your data even general data like your geolocation.
Ad-block options. Aside from this TunnelBear review, we also get to know a separate plugin from the same provider. You get to install a standalone browser plugin to manage ads. What’s nice about this TunnelBear add-on it gives you options on how to do this. You don’t really want to block ads because that will self-defeat your access to free content. Instead, you can control what to block, for example, only ad trackers and not the ad itself. You can also block Flash ad videos, which can slow down page loading and fingerprinting.
Highly secure. The VPN service uses AES 256-bit encryption to protect your data from hacking. The firewall also blocks ad trackers to give you privacy while browsing the internet.
TunnelBear is a low-cost VPN service with reliable security and rich feature set. It meets the needs of personal online security and privacy, as well the requirements of small teams. It’s easy to setup, has an intuitive interface and low price point. We hope this TunnelBear review will guide your purchase decision.