TunnelBear: The Easiest VPN For Protecting Your Privacy
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There are many reasons to take an active interest in VPNs. Countless providers are all vying for your business. With so many to choose from, how do you decide?

One strong contender is the Canadian provider TunnelBear. It aims to simplify the VPN, making it useful for everyone. Its commitment to protecting your privacy online makes it a great provider. We’ve put TunnelBear through its paces — so, how does it stack up?

Why Should You Trust Us?

As a site, we pride ourselves in covering a wide range of tools that you can use in a variety of settings. We know that everyone has differing needs and priorities. That’s why we have covered a large number of VPN services in the past and will continue to do so. Just have a look at our Best VPN Page The Best VPN Services The Best VPN Services We've compiled a list of what we consider to be the best Virtual Private Network (VPN) service providers, grouped by premium, free, and torrent-friendly. Read More to see what we mean!

Our writers are based all around the world and together we represent a diverse range of views and priorities. It helps us recognize that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach. We highlight the pros and cons of any tool to help you make the best choice for your needs.

Easy Setup

Many people first come into contact with VPNs at their workplace. Used to securely connect you back to your office, they are often complicated, temperamental affairs. TunnelBear cuts through all the complex VPN setup with its remarkable simplicity.

TunnelBear: The Easiest VPN For Protecting Your Privacy TunnelBear Connected

The setup experience is well thought-out and uncluttered. There are no options to work your way through, and no complicated terminology. TunnelBear’s bear mascot makes a number of animated appearances that actually had me chuckling during the installation. It might seem like a novelty, but it enforces how the company places importance on making the experience friendly, inviting, and simple.

TunnelBear: The Easiest VPN For Protecting Your Privacy TunnelBear Settings

In keeping with the minimalist, easy-to-use aesthetic, once the app is installed it is ready to use without any further setup. Simply choose a server in one of 20 supported countries and you are ready to go. You could even use the auto connection feature that chooses the best performing server.

Here are just a few of the supported countries with TunnelBear servers:

  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Canada
  • Germany
  • France
  • Switzerland

If you want to dive into the settings there are only a couple of options. For more experienced users, this lack of customization may be a point of frustration. However, when the software just works out-of-the-box then there’s no need to add in complexity. It is without a doubt the easiest experience of any VPN provider you are likely to come across.

Pricing and Payments

TunnelBear offers three plans; Little, Giant, and Grizzly. Little is a free plan with 500MB of data per month. Giant offers unlimited data at $9.99/month, while Grizzly offers unlimited data for a year for an upfront payment of $59.88. Grizzly is the best value plan, working out to an equivalent cost of $4.99/month.

TunnelBear proves its credibility as a trustworthy, privacy-focused VPN by offering payment either via card or anonymously using Bitcoin.

TunnelBear: The Easiest VPN For Protecting Your Privacy TunnelBear Pricing

Many providers are either free or premium, with little crossover. The general wisdom is that if a service is free, you are the product You Are The Product, Not The Client: The Personal Data Economy Explained You Are The Product, Not The Client: The Personal Data Economy Explained As Andrew Lewis once said "If you're not paying for something, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold". Think about the implications of that quote for a moment – how many free services... Read More . As TunnelBear has a premium option it is likely that those services subsidize the free plan.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that 500MB does not stretch far — I used it up in less than two hours of browsing. The free account is probably best used as security when on public Wi-Fi. If you are looking for a more comprehensive solution, you should choose either the Grizzly or Giant plans.

Speed and Performance

Speed is one of the most important factors when choosing a VPN. If the service dramatically slows your connection down you’ll either end up not using it or losing performance and streaming capability. Fortunately, TunnelBear doesn’t cause any major slowdowns or performance issues. During testing, I only found marginal impacts on speed, even when connecting to geographically distant servers.

TunnelBear: The Easiest VPN For Protecting Your Privacy speedtest tunnelbear2
Tunnelbear running
TunnelBear: The Easiest VPN For Protecting Your Privacy speedtest tunnelbear
Without Tunnelbear

Running a speed test without a VPN provided 60.67 Mbps, while a US TunnelBear server returned 52.32 Mbps. We expect a slight drop in speed, and that’s what we had.

Speed tests are great, but real world performance is the deciding factor. The TunnelBear connection never got in my way or impacted my browsing. In fact, sometimes I’d forget it was even running.

Overcoming Geo-blocking

One of the most popular reasons for a VPN is to access content that is only available in specific countries. By connecting to a UK server while in the US you can access services like BBC iPlayer, which is restricted only to UK residents. Connecting to a US server while on vacation means you can still access Pandora or Hulu.

TunnelBear: The Easiest VPN For Protecting Your Privacy TunnelBear Pandora

TunnelBear’s regional servers are able to unlock geo-restricted content seamlessly. Since I’m based in the UK, I tested this by connecting to a US server and accessing music streaming service Pandora, which is only available in the US, Australia, and New Zealand. Other services also worked without any issue, with one major exception. Netflix.

This isn’t necessarily TunnelBear’s fault though. Netflix began vigorously clamping down on VPN use after complaints from rights holders in 2016. As a result, there are very few VPNs that are actually able to stream content on Netflix.

Privacy, Security, and Logs

Accessing geo-blocked content is an important concern when choosing a VPN, but security and privacy should be the number one focus. Aside from simplicity, TunnelBear’s biggest claims lay down its approach to privacy. Of course, it’s easy to make statements about commitment, so how do its actions hold up?

Privacy

Unlike some companies, TunnelBear’s Privacy Policy is simple, short, and clear. Everything is explained in plain English rather than in legal jargon. The company does not collect usage logs, and even states:

“TunnelBear does NOT store users originating IP addresses when connected to our service and thus cannot identify users when provided IP addresses of our servers.”

TunnelBear: The Easiest VPN For Protecting Your Privacy TunnelBear Privacy

The personal data that it does store is very clearly marked along with a rationale for its collection. TunnelBear even goes to the length of providing examples where the trade-off between performance and data collection occurs. The data created by credit card transactions is kept to the bare minimum to prevent fraud. If providing your financial information makes you a little uncomfortable, there is the option to pay anonymously using Bitcoin.

Security

To protect your privacy and security TunnelBear uses AES-256 encryption to scramble all your data in transit. The company even provides a detailed breakdown of the other encryption and data authentication components. No one will eavesdrop on your data, and you’ll be protected from man-in-the-middle attacks.

TunnelBear: The Easiest VPN For Protecting Your Privacy TunnelBear Privacy Policy

In addition to the underlying protections, there are some optional extras available in the app:

  • The VigilantBear service allows you to block all traffic while TunnelBear connects and reconnects. It operates as a killswitch preventing you from compromising your privacy and security while connecting.
  • The GhostBear service makes your encrypted data appear more like regular data in order to prevent blocking or throttling by ISPs or governments.

What About Torrenting?

While it is starting to fall out of favor for file sharing, torrent support can still be a dealbreaker for many when looking for a VPN. If that’s you, then TunnelBear might not be the best choice. As it states on its website:

“Although we realize that BitTorrent can be used for totally legal purposes, due to a high volume of complaints from content providers, TunnelBear was put in the unfortunate position…to disable BitTorrent ports. While we philosophically dislike blocking anything, we prefer this option to being forced to collect information about our users.”

While this decision may not have pleased everyone, it does emphasize the company’s commitment to user privacy. By choosing to block torrents rather than collect data, TunnelBear sent a clear message that it puts users first — an important trait when looking for a privacy-focused VPN.

What About DNS Leak?

When you type a website address like “www.makeuseof.com“, a Domain Name System (DNS) server converts the text into an IP address like “54.221.192.241”. Even before Congress voted to allow the sale of your browsing history, for the privacy-conscious allowing your ISP to see every website you visit would be a problem.

TunnelBear: The Easiest VPN For Protecting Your Privacy TunnelBear DNS Test NEW 1

Using a VPN is sold as a one-stop privacy solution, but some providers suffer from DNS leak, where websites and your ISP may still be able to see your true IP address. Fortunately, this is not a problem with TunnelBear. Using the websites dnsleak.com and dnsleaktest.com, testing showed that with TunnelBear connected there was no DNS leak.

Are You Ready To Bear-Owse?

TunnelBear is a rarity in the VPN market. Rather than making a trade-off between privacy and simplicity it chooses both. With pricing options ranging from free to $9.99/month, it is one of the more affordable services on the market.

It is available on most modern operating systems including Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows. There is even a lightweight browser extension for Chrome and Opera. Additionally, you can have up to five devices connected simultaneously.

Sure, TunnelBear does lack manual setup or an option for Linux devices, but that’s because TunnelBear isn’t really for power users — it’s for everyone. Simplicity is the goal and it achieves it.

VPNs are important to protecting your privacy and security, but complexity is a huge roadblock to getting people to use them regularly. TunnelBear’s approach means that anyone, from a digital novice to an experienced user, can use it. This brings easy, affordable privacy and peace-of-mind to users around the world.

Have you tried TunnelBear? Did you notice any effects on your browsing speed? Did you find it easy to use? Let us know your experience and thoughts in the comments below.

Image Credit: christitzeimaging.com via Shutterstock.com

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  1. Ana
    August 30, 2017 at 7:25 pm

    Very good

  2. eldes
    August 28, 2017 at 6:17 am

    good enough

  3. Tammy
    August 9, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    Never used it. Looks like. I should

    • James Frew
      August 10, 2017 at 9:03 am

      Definitely -- especially since you can try it out using their free account.

  4. solozzo
    July 31, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    I've never used it, should I?

    • James Frew
      July 31, 2017 at 9:25 pm

      Absolutely. Especially if you haven't used a VPN before. Good luck!

      • solozzo
        July 31, 2017 at 10:29 pm

        Yes, I have used it but uninstalled it

        • James Frew
          August 1, 2017 at 8:58 am

          What was your reason for uninstalling?

  5. dragonmouth
    July 18, 2017 at 12:41 am

    "TunnelBear does lack manual setup or an option for Linux devices, but that’s because TunnelBear isn’t really for power users"
    That is a lame excuse. One does not need to be a power user to use Linux. You might as well say that VPNs are for power users.
    BTW - what IS a "power user"? Somebody who knows what 'command line' is and how to use it? Based on my very informal research, VPNs are mostly used to circumvent regional blocking restrictions of content.

    "VPNs are important to protecting your privacy and security"
    Don't you think that Linux users need to protect their privacy and security also? Or are Linux users being treated like the poor relations again?

    • wek45
      July 18, 2017 at 4:06 am

      why bother coding software for the 5 people using linux? it's a waste of time and resources

      • dragonmouth
        July 19, 2017 at 12:10 am

        Maybe by the end of the decade there will be 10 Linux users and Gartner will declare them as the emerging market.

        • James Frew
          July 19, 2017 at 8:42 am

          Latest figures put Linux at just over 2% market share, which is still three times less than Windows XP.

        • barry
          July 21, 2017 at 9:30 am

          @James Frew:

          > Latest figures put Linux at just over 2% market share, which is still three times less than Windows XP.

          Abandoned, exploit-filled XP? Is that the one? Like I said in an earlier response - you guys are living in a 'denial bubble'. What have you got after XP? Windows 10 - the ultimate surveillance OS. Putting a VPN on Windows 10 is like using tissue paper to protect you from a hurricane.

        • James Frew
          July 21, 2017 at 9:34 am

          I wasn't commenting on their relative merits - I was comparing the market share. If less than 2% of all devices worldwide run Linux then it isn't likely (rightly or wrongly) that it is going to be a high priority. Plus, as I mentioned, they do have an option for you to run it within the browser. Certainly not a perfect solution - but considerably better than no option at all.

      • barry
        July 21, 2017 at 9:22 am

        > it's a waste of time and resources

        This made me burst out laughing... It's like a 'denial bubble' you guys are in. Why bother running a VPN on a surveillance & data sharing machine that's Windows 10? Seriously... it's like putting a band-aid on a 3rd-degree burn victim.

    • James Frew
      July 18, 2017 at 9:42 am

      You are right to point out that you don't need to be a power user to use Linux. However, the majority of people will use the OS that comes installed on their machine and in most cases that's either Windows or macOS. Developing for Linux is also more complicated because of the variations between Linux distros. TunnelBear does give you an option though - if you use either Firefox or a Chromium-based browser then you can install their extensions.

  6. infmom
    July 17, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    I've used the TunnelBear Chrome extension for about a year. It's easy to set up and easy to use.

    While I'm still with the Free option, you should note that you can get an extra gig of data every month by tweeting TunnelBear and asking for it. That is plenty enough data for my uses.

    • James Frew
      July 18, 2017 at 9:37 am

      I wasn't aware that you could add multiple rewards on top of each other every month. Thanks for letting us know!

      • infmom
        July 18, 2017 at 5:10 pm

        Oh, sorry, I didn't make it clear. You only get one data add-on per month.