iPhone and iPad

Set Up A VPN On Your iPhone In Minutes With Tunnelbear

Mark O'Neill 17-10-2013

For those of you who want to have absolute privacy and no geo-restrictions while browsing the Internet, a Virtual Private Network is the way to go. However, by virtue of the name itself, a VPN may sound very daunting to a lot of people, and so it is probably dismissed as something which can’t be done by someone with no tech knowledge. I am happy to tell you that it is extremely easy to set it up. In fact you can have it up and running in minutes, and I am going to show you how.


The VPN that I am going to use today is Tunnelbear.  This is without a doubt my favourite VPN and I haven’t hesitated to say so in the past Tunnelbear VPN Adds Privacy Protection & "Always On" Security Tunnelbear have introduced two things which users will greatly appreciate, given recent events about intelligence agencies spying on our Internet usage - Privacy Protection & "Always On" Security. Read More , and neither has Erez Access US-Only Websites Internationally For Free With TunnelBear If 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... Read More . It’s reliable, fast, available for mobile and tablet devices, offers a minimum of AES 128-bit encryption, and if you are willing to pay a nominal $5 a month, you can have unlimited service (free users only get an initial 500MB a month, then an extra 1GB a month – and that’s only after they tweet on Twitter about the service).

Set Up A VPN On Your iPhone In Minutes With Tunnelbear tunnelbear1

Today’s article will show how to set it up on an iOS device, but it is also available for Android devices as well as PCs and Mac OS X. Just head on over to the Tunnelbear download page and grab your installation file. I should point out though that the only country where Tunnelbear doesn’t work is China.

Setting Up

Once you are on the Tunnelbear download page, click on your operating system.  I am using an iOS device, so this takes me to iTunes where you can get it sent to your desktop iTunes app. Or alternatively, look in the App Store on your phone.

Go ahead and install the app to your device. I don’t think you need me to tell you how to do that, so we’ll skip that bit and move swiftly on. Once Tunnelbear has been installed, open it up and you will see the main screen.
Set Up A VPN On Your iPhone In Minutes With Tunnelbear 2013 10 15 19
I’m assuming you don’t have an account yet, so go ahead and make one. I’ll wait.


Once you have made your account and logged in, you will then see this message on your phone.
Set Up A VPN On Your iPhone In Minutes With Tunnelbear tunnelbear3
Tap Yes, and your browser will open up to show this :
Set Up A VPN On Your iPhone In Minutes With Tunnelbear tunnelbear4
As the screen says, Tunnelbear needs to install the necessary settings on your phone, so tap I’m Ready!, and let Tunnelbear do its job.

Set Up A VPN On Your iPhone In Minutes With Tunnelbear tunnelbear5

At this stage, go ahead and tap on Install. But then you will see this:

Set Up A VPN On Your iPhone In Minutes With Tunnelbear tunnelbear6


This sounds scary and might put a lot of people off installing Tunnelbear. But you can take it from me – yes, it alters some settings, but not for the worse. And if the day ever comes when you decide you don’t want Tunnelbear anymore, all you have to do is go into your iOS settings, then General > Profile. Find Tunnelbear and delete it. Simple as that. So everything is easily reversible.

The profile will be instantly applied to your phone, and you’ll be informed that it is ready to be used with a link to Open the App. Tapping on that link, you’ll see the sleeping bear:

Set Up A VPN On Your iPhone In Minutes With Tunnelbear tunnelbear7

In the top right hand corner is your remaining amount of data (F being Full and E being Empty). Mine doesn’t show because I am a paying customer, therefore I have the unlimited plan.


Controlling Your VPN

You can now close the app, as you don’t really need it (unless you want to check on how much data you have left).  The controls to Tunnelbear are in your iOS settings. If you go into your Settings app, you will now see that you have a new section called “VPN”.

Set Up A VPN On Your iPhone In Minutes With Tunnelbear tunnelbear8

Click on that and you will see this:

Set Up A VPN On Your iPhone In Minutes With Tunnelbear tunnelbear9


Simply choose which country you want to browse from. For example, the United Kingdom will give you BBC iPlayer. Browsing from the US will get you US-only sites such as Hulu and certain geo-blocked videos on YouTube and IMDB. Or maybe you want to give your spies and enemies a migraine and randomly choose a country for a few hours.

Tap on the one you want, make sure the tick mark is next to it, then tap on the VPN slider button at the top. When the button goes green and the status says “Connected”, that’s it. You are officially in another country. Congratulations.

And just to show you that it works, I am in Würzburg, Germany.  But when I chose United Kingdom and connected, I went to WhatIsMyIP and it said I was living in Maidenhead in England.

Set Up A VPN On Your iPhone In Minutes With Tunnelbear tunnelbear10

Before you get all excited and start downloading illegal stuff, I should point out that Tunnelbear has specifically said [Broken Link Removed] that they do not allow port forwarding, as they do not want Tunnelbear to be used for illegal purposes (like torrenting). So just use it for your browsing, your emailing, and your IM’ing, and leave the torrents out of it. You are also only going to get 75-85% of your normal Internet connection speeds, as everything will now be routed through Tunnelbear’s servers. So even if you could get torrents, it wouldn’t go spectacularly fast anyway.

That’s It

And that is how easy it is to set up a Virtual Private Network on your iPhone. I highly recommend you give Tunnelbear a go. If you don’t want to pay for it, then free users get 500MB of data every month, which really isn’t a lot.  Start as a free user, get your 1.5GB a month free and see how you like it. I’m sure you’ll soon be tempted, like I was, to upgrade to that $5 a month plan.

I don’t pay for very much on the Internet, but I absolutely didn’t hesitate to swipe my wife’s credit card from her handbag for this.

Image Credits: PlaceIt

Related topics: Smartphone Security, VPN.

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  1. Helen
    June 29, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    to use the vpn s data on iphone, would i need to just turn on cellular? how can i make sure im not using my carriers data?

    • Rogerio
      June 26, 2017 at 3:31 am

      VPNs work on any type of connection. I have a few VPN apps on my Android, of course you can run only one at a time. Tunnel Bear mobile app is actually quite problematic since it is "resource hungry" and causes battery drain. I had to switch to SecurityKISS with their lightweight app which does not have so many graphics.

  2. kainer
    December 21, 2014 at 11:47 am

    Does not work out of the box with wifi and iphone.

  3. Susi
    April 8, 2014 at 5:54 am

    The PC version also works in China, iPhone app is downloadable, but you can't install the profile :o( but just the PC version works great and is fast haaaaaa!

  4. Mark O
    March 14, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Yes, it can be used by desktop owners. It can be used by PC's, Mac, Android, and iOS devices.

    With VPN browsing, everything you do is hidden behind the VPN. You can visit any website, and it can't be traced back to you, because you are using the VPN's IP address. Unless the VPN keeps records, but the better ones don't.

  5. Sylvio Haas
    March 13, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    My English is not so good (I'm brazilian), so I'm not sure if I understood everything: is this VPN also usable by desktop PC owners? My O.S. is Windows 7 Home-Premium SP1, 32 bits. What is the strongest concept behind VPN browsing, can it be compared to the security of a sandbox, or even better? Or is the main benefit only the ability do watch programs from other countries? Thank you.

  6. Jeanne
    October 29, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    " if the day ever comes when you decide you don’t want Tunnelbear anymore, all you have to do is ...Find Tunnelbear and delete it. Simple as that. So everything is easily irreversible."


    • Mark O'Neill
      October 29, 2013 at 1:34 pm

      Oops, that's what happens when I do work late at night, fuelled by too much Red Bull! LOL! Obviously, I meant "reversible". :-)

      I have asked the head honchos to change it.

      Thanks for being so eagle-eyed :-)

  7. Mubashra S
    October 19, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Hey Mark I also reside in Germany and I am also using O2. I followed all the steps correctly but when I switched on the vpn on my iphone 4 in order to connect it, it takes too long and then a msg pops up saying: "The L2TP-VPN server did not respond. Try reconnecting. If the problem continues, verify your settings and contact your Administrator."

    I reinstalled the vpn profile but the same msg pops up.. Please help...

    • Mark O
      October 19, 2013 at 11:21 am

      As I said to Riotrock, without seeing your phone, and seeing any possible errors you may have made, I cannot show you where you went wrong. The only thing I can advise is that you wipe the Tunnelbear profile from your phone and start again.

      Of course, it could just be that your Internet connection is a bit slow at the moment. So maybe wait and try again later, before you go through the whole process all over again....

  8. Riotrock
    October 18, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    I cant connect it says authentication failed help

    • Mark O
      October 19, 2013 at 8:50 am

      Without seeing your phone and what you did, I can't tell you what you did wrong. All I can advise is that you start again. Sorry.

  9. Guillermo A
    October 17, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Been using it for a while, very easy to set up and you do get that extra 1GB each month just for tweeting.

    • Mark O
      October 19, 2013 at 8:51 am

      Yes but when you are using a VPN, 1GB is not as much as it sounds. Especially if you are watching videos.

  10. Melroy D
    October 17, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    "free users only get an initial 500GB a month, then an extra 1GB a month", I was surprised for a moment there. Good article though

    • Mark O
      October 19, 2013 at 8:51 am

      Glad you caught that :-)

      It has been fixed, thanks.