TunnelBear VPN Review 2023: Browse Securely With Anonymity

TunnelBear VPN promises privacy, no DNS or WebRTC leaks, and no logging, yet it may lack speed and streaming capabilities. Read more about where this VPN wins and where it fails.
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Virtual private networks (VPNs) provide a lot of value when it comes to protecting your data and privacy while browsing the internet. They can also protect your local device information when you use Wi-Fi in public locations. However, not all VPNs are created equal, and many may not be secure as they appear. Aside from that, many VPN software solutions have high prices associated with them.

One VPN service that offers affordable pricing with guaranteed data protection and privacy is TunnelBear VPN. After testing this software, we feel confident that this VPN delivers on its promises of no logging, secure VPN protocols, and minimal data leaks. Although it does provide a lot of security and privacy, this VPN does not allow for proper streaming on Netflix, which could be a drawback for some users

Continue reading our TunnelBear review to learn how it measured up after the tests we conducted, as well as its privacy features that stand out among many other secure VPN options currently on the market.

In this article
TunnelBear VPN overview
Who is TunnelBear VPN best for?
TunnelBear VPN features
TunnelBear VPN test results
TunnelBear VPN compatibility
TunnelBear VPN customer support
TunnelBear VPN prices and subscriptions
TunnelBear VPN FAQs
Bottom line: Is TunnelBear a good VPN?

TunnelBear VPN overview

Price $3.33-$9.99/mo
Free version Yes
Max number of connected devices Unlimited with paid subscription
Number of servers 40+ servers
VPN protocol WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2
No-logs policy No logs
Headquarters Canada
Netflix access No
Details Get TunnelBear

Prices as of 6/20/2023.

Who is TunnelBear VPN best for?

  • Recommended for users who want guaranteed online VPN privacy.

TunnelBear is a strongly encrypted and protected VPN option for those wanting privacy while browsing online regularly. It can also be a great option for those who are often traveling or utilizing public Wi-Fi.

This VPN can also stretch across a multitude of operating systems to provide more internet protection for you and your family. We found that this VPN provides minimal data leaks from local devices and internet protocol (IP) information, and it offers unlimited connected devices with a paid subscription.

The only real disadvantage to TunnelBear VPN is that it is slow to switch servers and can reduce internet speeds for your household. This VPN also does not work with some streaming services, such as Netflix.

TunnelBear VPN pros and cons

Pros
  • Unlimited devices with paid subscription
  • Strict no-logs policy
  • Minimal local IP data leaks
Cons
  • No Netflix access capabilities
  • Slow to switch and connect to a VPN server

TunnelBear VPN features

TunnelBear VPN has a lot of notable features for those looking for better browsing security. For starters, users that opt to pay for one of the premium subscriptions are able to protect an unlimited amount of devices with this VPN. In addition to protecting your data on public Wi-Fi, it can also help you browse the web anonymously without being tracked by websites or advertisers.

Server count and countries

  • Multiple servers within 47 countries

You’ll find that TunnelBear VPN has a targeted range of servers within 47 countries to use for its online anonymity. Unfortunately, TunnelBear does not publicly disclose how many direct servers are utilized within those 47 countries. As a result, TunnelBear VPN has limited server options in comparison to competitors like ExpressVPN and NordVPN.

During our testing, we did find that larger countries, such as the U.S. and Canada, had more server connections than other countries. There were 13 servers available in the U.S. and three in Canada. While it emphasizes privacy to its users, these limited servers can make your browsing experience more challenging due to slow internet speeds and high user congestion issues.

No-logs policy and headquarters

  • TunnelBear VPN logs policy: No logs
  • TunnelBear VPN headquarters: Canada

TunnelBear prides itself on its strict no-logs policy and user anonymity with its VPN. As stated in its user help guide, ”TunnelBear does not keep logs. This means we do not collect any information regarding what you 'bear'owse while connected to our secure and private VPN.”

Additionally, TunnelBear VPN is headquartered in Canada, which means it falls under the protections of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) developed by the European Union (EU), in addition to its privacy policy. While the GDPR provides a good deal of protection to consumers, it is important to also know that Canada is part of the Five Eyes Alliance. So, TunnelBear could be subjected to internet activity surveying for the purposes of national security efforts.

Many users often choose a VPN with a no-logs policy for privacy from their internet service provider (ISP) regarding their internet usage. If your ISP is able to detect increased browsing activity, it can also cause your internet speeds to throttle.

Being based in Canada can also better protect users in the event of government or law enforcement log requests. While TunnelBear was acquired by McAfee in 2018, the service is still transparent and dedicated to user privacy.

According to its website, “When TunnelBear receives a request from governmental authorities, law enforcement agencies or in connection with a legal proceeding, the request is reviewed by our legal counsel to verify that the request is valid and to determine the appropriate nature and scope of our response.”

Kill switch

Countless VPNs on the market offer a “kill switch” with their product. TunnelBear VPN does include a kill switch, called VigilantBear. The goal of this feature is to stop your traffic automatically if you disconnect or if the VPN connection is disrupted. This ensures your device will not revert to the default internet connection.

TunneBear also has the GhostBear feature, which allows your encryption data connection to appear as regular internet data. These features allow users to stay protected from issues such as censorship or local data leaks. It can be especially beneficial to prevent data theft if your device isn’t protected on a public Wi-Fi network.

Split tunneling

Regular VPN users often value a feature called split tunneling. This feature allows the user to have greater control over which apps are tunneled through their VPN’s secure and encrypted connection. TunnelBear does provide this feature, called SplitBear, to its Android and iOS users.

SplitBear allows you to route some web traffic to your ISP and some through an encrypted VPN tunnel. This feature is important to protect yourself from potential data leaks, but also to use on sites or applications that require your location or local IP access.

Encryption

TunnelBear utilizes multiple end-to-end encryption methods. These encryption types include AES-256 along with a secured hash algorithm (SHA) and the Diffie–Hellman (DH) key exchange for optimal encryption that is nearly unbreakable.

This combination is known to be effective and fast without requiring too much computing power. Additionally, AES-256 has been considered a “military-grade” level of encryption among the technology industries.

VPN protocol

In collaboration with the AES-256 encryption, TunnelBear’s VPN uses WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2 protocols. According to the company, the goal of the AES-256 bit encryption and the multiple protocols is for users across multiple platforms to feel secure while browsing the internet freely.

The provider website breaks down how and which operating systems utilize each VPN protocol by stating, “On Windows and iOS, you’ll use either OpenVPN or IKEv2. For macOS and Android, use OpenVPN.”

TunnelBear VPN free plan

Similar to countless other VPN providers on the market today, TunnelBear VPN also offers a free plan. The TunnelBear VPN free version is limited to 500 MB of data per month. While that may be a low amount of data, this is a great free plan to save money on a VPN if you don’t use a high amount of data for streaming.

TunnelBear VPN has also stated on its website that its free VPN plan comes with the same level of encryption that promises no data leaks or logging. However, for those wanting to use their VPN on multiple devices, we recommend purchasing one of their upgraded plans.

TunnelBear VPN test results

In order to see the best of its ability, we looked at multiple factors while testing the TunnelVPN software. For starters, we wanted to see whether or not using a VPN would throttle internet speeds for users.

We also took the time to research whether or not the claims behind this military-grade encryption were accurate. Therefore, we conducted a DNS leak test and a WebRTC leaks test to see if TunnelBear VPN was true to its claims of no data leakage.

Speed tests

  • TunnelBear VPN speed test results: Passed

While many other providers can impact your internet speed when utilizing the VPN software, TunnelBear’s VPN ultimately passed the speed test. The test was done on a Windows operating system (OS). We tested non-VPN and VPN-connected internet for North American countries and other countries. For users based in North America, there was minimal lag and a marginal reduction in overall internet speed.

Without the VPN, our internet speeds were approximately 77 Mbps for downloading and 11 Mbps for uploading. Once connected to the VPN, the speeds were reduced to approximately 70 Mbps of download and 10 Mbps of upload. While there was a reduction, the impact was minor and the lag was nearly nonexistent.

A speed test taken while using TunnelBear VPN from US to US servers.

Speeds with TunnelBear VPN from U.S. to U.S. servers.

A speed test taken while using TunnelBear VPN from U.S. to Canadian servers

Speeds with TunnelBear VPN from U.S. to Canadian servers.

Although most of the North American-based servers did not depict a large reduction in internet speeds, this was not the same once we tested TunnelBear servers based internationally. When utilizing the same Windows OS to test the VPN internet speeds in both Australia and the United Kingdom, we saw a larger reduction in the internet speed internally. The further away your local IP address is from the server, the greater the reduction in speeds for both downloading and uploading.

A speed test taken while using TunnelBear VPN from U.S. to U.K. servers.

Speeds with TunnelBear VPN from U.S. to U.K. servers

A speed test taken while using TunnelBear VPN from US to Australian servers.

Speeds with TunnelBear VPN from U.S. to Australian servers.

TunnelBear VPN speed test results

Test type No VPN US to US US to EU US to AU
Download speed 77.23 Mbps 70.73 Mbps 55.31 Mbps 24.10 Mbps
Upload speed 11.21 Mbps 10.53 Mbps 8.06 Mbps 4.96 Mbps
Latency (ping) 12 ms 19 ms 126 ms 206 ms
Download speed % difference N/A 8.79% 32.69% 37.34%
Upload speed % difference N/A 6.26% 125% 153.6%
Latency % difference N/A 45.16% 165.22% 177.98%

Test results as of 1/24/2023

TunnelBear VPN Netflix tests

  • TunnelBear VPN Netflix test results: Failed

Many users like to watch Netflix on their VPN in order to stream shows available in other countries. While this practice is not completely against the terms of use for Netflix, in certain countries it is against data privacy laws to use a VPN while watching Netflix.

When testing this VPN, it originally let us stream a show while connected to a U.K.-based server. However, an alert message kept popping up stating the device was connected to a VPN. It is possible that users can still stream from the U.S. to the U.K., but that message likely will appear regularly due to it being EU-based.

Countries under the legal region of the EU and Australia have banned the use of VPNs while streaming Netflix. The following error message was received while using Canada servers, U.K. servers, and U.S. servers, and the page error was received while using Australia servers.

A Netflix error page that pops up while using TunnelBear VPN from the U.S. to the U.S., U.S. to the U.K., and U.S. to Canada.

Netflix availability with TunnelBear VPN from the U.S. to the U.S., U.S. to the U.K., and U.S. to Canada.

A Netflix error page that pops up while using TunnelBear VPN from the U.S. to Australia.

However, we noted that other TunnelBear users reported the VPN unblocked other streaming services, such as BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video.

TunnelBear VPN Netflix test results

US to US US to UK US to Canada US to Australia
Did it work with Netflix? No No No No

Test results as of 1/24/2023

DNS leak tests

  • TunnelBear VPN DNS leak test results: Passed

A Domain Name System (DNS) is often the website address associated with the server IP address. A DNS leak test signifies that the VPN you are using is not using the private DNS servers provided by them. When there is a DNS leak present within VPN software, this means that the VPN is not fully protecting your information from your ISP DNS queries or from traffic monitoring that may be done on that website.

The TunnelBear VPN that was tested within this review was found to secure DNS information from leaking while using the VPN. The screenshot below shows the DNS leak test results conducted as having no leaks present.

DNS leak test results for TunnelBear VPN from U.S. to Canadian servers.

TunnelBear VPN from U.S. to Canadian servers DNS leak results.

WebRTC leak tests

  • TunnelBear VPN WebRTC leak test results: Passed

Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) enables websites and web applications to capture and simultaneously stream audio and video media together or individually. WebRTC also exchanges arbitrary data between browsers without requiring an intermediary to communicate between the web server and browser effectively.

The goal of testing this WebRTC leak is to see if the VPN can provide a seamless stream of audio and video experience for the user without leaking local IP or device information. When we tested TunnelBear VPN, it was found to secure WebRTC information from leaking while using the VPN. The screenshot below shows the WebRTC leak test results were found with no WebRTC leaks present.

WebRTC leak test results for TunnelBear VPN from U.S. to Canadian servers.

TunnelBear VPN from U.S. to Canadian servers WebRTC leak results.

TunnelBear VPN from U.S. to Canadian servers WebRTC leak results

TunnelBear VPN compatibility

VPNs provide consumer data and privacy protection. Some of the best VPN vendors offer those security measures across multiple platforms. With TunnelBear VPN, its software is optimized to run efficiently on macOS and Windows, as well as on Android and iOS with the TunnelBear app. It also includes browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

TunnelBear VPN customer support

TunnelBear VPN offers a variety of customer support options. If you are looking for general information about the product or some of its features, you can search for your questions on the TunnelBear help forum. This user support site is also a convenient place to search for answers regarding common technical, account management, or billing issues.

These online user guides are helpful and easy to navigate for the majority of users. In addition to the support pages, they also offer email support for both free and paid users.

TunnelBear VPN prices and subscriptions

TunnelBear offers a free VPN tier that is capped at 500 MB of data per month for all connected devices. They also have upgraded paid tiers that offer unlimited data, devices, and more dedicated customer support. There is a 1-year plan for personal users priced at $4.99/mo, or $39.99 for the first year. For the best cost savings for this VPN provider, we recommend purchasing a 3-year plan for $3.33/mo, which comes out to a $120.00 bill every three years.

Compared to other VPN providers, TunnelBear VPN’s free version provides a lot of data security for no cost. Its paid subscription choices are also around the same price as longer subscriptions from other notable VPN vendors, such as Surfshark or NordVPN. However, where this VPN is pricier is in the month-to-month option for users. For this reason, we recommend a multi-year plan for greater cost savings and ease of payment options.

TunnelBear only takes Google or Apple Pay and most major credit cards as its payment options. Users wanting to use other payment sources, such as PayPal and bitcoin, will not be able to do so directly with TunnelBear.

TunnelBear VPN cost

Plan
Best Value
3-year plan
1-year plan
1-month plan
Unlimited $3.33/mo $4.99/mo $9.99/mo

Prices as of 6/20/2023.

TunnelBear does provide a free version for up to 500 MBs of data per month for one device. As stated by its return policy, “returns are offered on a case-by-case basis,” so there is no official money-back guarantee.

TunnelBear VPN plan comparison

Features Free Unlimited
Server count 40+ servers 40+ servers
# of devices Unlimited Unlimited
Device-level encryption
Unlimited data
No-logs policy
Details Learn More Learn More

The free version does not have a device limit. However, data is capped at 500 MB per month for all of your connected devices.

TunnelBear VPN FAQs


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Is TunnelBear safe?

Yes, TunnelBear VPN is safe and effective to use for those wanting guaranteed data privacy and security.


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Is there a TunnelBear browser extension?

Yes, TunnelBear offers browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.


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Is NordVPN better than TunnelBear?

Each of these VPNs has pros and cons. NordVPN overall can be more affordable than TunnelBear VPN and it can have a quicker response time when connecting to international VPN servers. For more information to compare these two, we recommend reading our review of NordVPN.

Bottom line: Is TunnelBear a good VPN?

Overall, TunnelBear VPN has a lot to offer users. If you want to have tried and tested privacy and security while browsing online freely, then this VPN is great for that. The free version offers a reliable VPN that gives you all the tools you need to enjoy a safe and secure browsing experience. The only drawback to the free version is the limited data capability.

If you want more features, including more country-specific servers and greater support for all major platforms and devices, then upgrading to the paid version is worth it. While there may be limited server locations, the test results guarantee no logging or data leaks.

Compared to other VPN vendors on the market, what TunnelBear VPN may be lacking with slower connectivity and internet speeds, it makes up for with robust encryption and data security. If you are looking for speed and features, you can always test out another VPN provider like Surfshark, which we have previously tested as well.

Learn More
On TunnelBear's website

Author Details
Amanda is a technical content writer based in Illinois, USA. She has a Master of Science in Cybersecurity. After years of working in the tech and cybersec field, she pivoted her career to content marketing and writing within these industries.