Access US-Only Websites Internationally For Free With TunnelBear

tunnel   Access US Only Websites Internationally For Free With TunnelBearIf you’re living outside of the United States, here’s a familiar scenario for you. You’re reading your favorite tech blog, and suddenly see a post about the latest and greatest in web services. Maybe it’s a new way to stream music or watch TV, maybe it’s an awesome new bookstore. Excited, you click through to try it out – only to find out that it’s limited to US customers only, and that the original post didn’t even bother mentioning this, because the writer simply assumed everybody lives in the US.

TunnelBear is a slick VPN (Virtual Private Network) service that can help solve a part of that problem, by making it seem like you’re surfing from within the US. It’s not a new idea, and there are other free services that do this (most famously, Hotspot Shield). But TunnelBear is slick and simple to use. Maybe it’s what you’ve been looking for all along.

What You’ll Be Getting

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Before I even get into TunnelBear itself, I wanted to show you what you’ll be getting. TunnelBear is not perfect. Not all websites play nice with it, and I think you should know a bit about the end result before reading about how to install it. The screenshot above comes from Hulu, and I took it while I was connected to TunnelBear. Other services (Pandora, for example) had no problem working with TunnelBear – but Hulu just flat-out refused to work, insisting that I’m still outside the US.

Another thing you should know right off the bat. The free version of TunnelBear supports up to 500MB of data per month, and you can get an extra 1GB for free if you tweet about them. To get unlimited data, you need to pay $5/month – not an expensive subscription compared to most VPN providers, and the TunnelBear client is far slicker than most VPN clients I’ve seen. 500MB is enough for a few hours of music, or lots and lots of books.

Next there’s the matter of speed:

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This is the result of a SpeedTest test I ran while connected to TunnelBear. The downstream was 1.25Mbps. This may seem slow by broadband standards, but it is actually more than adequate for streaming high-quality music without stuttering or long silent periods of buffering:

TunnelBear10   Access US Only Websites Internationally For Free With TunnelBear

Pandora worked very well for me, and so did Rdio. Even Google Books worked well, until I tried buying a book:

TunnelBear13   Access US Only Websites Internationally For Free With TunnelBear

TunnelBear can fake your location, but can’t set you up with an American credit card and billing address.

So, to sum up what you’ll be getting – 500MB for free (up to 1.5GB if you tweet), most music services work very well, Hulu doesn’t work, and Google Books works fine until you try buying something. If you’re mainly after music, that’s a pretty good deal.

Setting Up TunnelBear, Step By Step

TunnelBear setup is actually very easy. First, you need to go to the TunnelBear homepage and click the huge Download TunnelBear button. Next, install it and start the wizard, where you will be asked to log in or open an account:

TunnelBear   Access US Only Websites Internationally For Free With TunnelBear

You need to provide the basic account information like everywhere else, not too invasive (and no credit card needed):

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Provide your Twitter ID if you want to tweet about TunnelBear and get that extra 1 gig for free. They even say you can get more than 1GB for free if you get extra-creative with your tweet.

Next is a little screen showing the plans:

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We’ll be going with Little TunnelBear for now. When you click Next, TunnelBear will send you a confirmation email containing a link you must click. Once that’s done, TunnelBear will install an OpenVPN driver on your computer:

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….and that’s about it, you’re ready to roll! This is what the TunnelBear client looks like when you’re not connected:

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Pretty elegant. Wood is a bit of a cliché but I think it works here. You can clearly see how much data you still have on your free plan; you can flick the right-hand switch to choose if you want to connect via the US or the UK, and then click the left button to flip it on and connect:

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This is what TunnelBear looks like when it’s connected. You can see the speed meter, as well as the spikes caused whenever Pandora switches to a new song (the song buffers, and then the line is quiet).

Using this simple next-next-next procedure you can find yourself with a fully functional VPN connection in a matter of minutes. If you’re living outside the US, give it a shot and tell me what you think!

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Installed this software and tried to play videos on both ABC and NBC networks. Although the software got past the restriction notice none of the videos would buffer at higher enough speed to make them playable viable. A great idea but simple to slow for a VPN.


What ya got for HULU?


Haven’t tried this one yet, but in the past I was able to watch Hulu by changing time zone and/or local settings in Windows.

Chris Hoffman

Lack of a US billing address will definitely be a problem if you want to use paid services. Looks nice for free services, though — although you’ll quickly run out of the free data if you’re streaming video.


Does it work for Netflix?

Erez Zukerman

 Good question — you need a Netflix account to test that, which I don’t have. Do let me know if you find out!

Mark O’Neill

I upgraded to the paid plan because… works with the BBC iPlayer if you are outside the UK!!! 

Upgrading is pretty much necessary because stuff like iPlayer completely chews up the free bandwidth cap in no time at all.

Erez Zukerman

That’s awesome! Did you know the app before the post? Or did I actually help you find a way to listen to the iPlayer? :)


firefox addon anoymox would have substituted nicely

David Payne

Have used this in the past when there was something I wanted to see in a hurry.  It works well would recommend it to all :)

Erez Zukerman

Thanks David!

Android VPN

Been using this on my PC and it works very well. The only problem is the speed sometimes becomes so horribly slow. But for checking emails and visiting facebook it works very well.

Erez Zukerman

Just out of curiosity (if you don’t mind me asking), where are you in the world that you need TunnelBear to access Facebook?


I know this article is a couple of months old, but I just used TunnelBear to watch The Daily Show on Hulu, from Canada, and had no issues. Maybe they’ve fixed whatever the problem was.

Erez Zukerman

Thanks for the update, Kr! Glad to know it’s working.


I have tried it with hulu right away and it works wonderfulllll. I recomend it to everybody who wants to use it as a tunnel.


Okay. I am so NEW, green.
I have done all of this. NOW what do I do? I am staring at a little virtual wooden box with spikes. I’m not seeing any BBC tv. How do I do that with Tunnel Bear? What am I supposed to click, touch, punch or key in and where?

Erez Zukerman

Once you activate TunnelBear, open up a browser (Chrome, Firefox) and access whatever site was previously blocked. Magic. :)

cormier john h.

been a paid up member of “tunnelbear” for months….today…cannot “sighn-up” TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!