TunnelBear VPN Review 2024: Browse Securely With Anonymity

TunnelBear VPN promises privacy, no DNS or WebRTC leaks, and no logging, yet it may lack some speed. Read more about where this VPN wins and where it fails.
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4.2
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On TunnelBear's website

VPN
TunnelBear
  • Unlimited devices with paid subscription
  • Strict no-logs policy

TunnelBear VPN is a cute, easy-to-use, and full-featured VPN. After testing this software, we feel confident that it delivers on its promises of no logs, secure VPN protocols, and minimal data leaks. Our speed tests did leave a little room to be desired when connecting to far-away servers like Australia, but other than that, everything was solid.

Virtual private networks (VPNs) like TunnelBear 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, so you have to make sure you choose one of the best VPNs available.

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.

Pros
  • Unlimited devices with paid subscription
  • Strict no-logs policy
  • Minimal local IP data leaks
Cons
  • Headquartered in a Five Eyes Alliance country
  • Slow to switch and connect to a VPN server
In this article
Overview
Our experience
Who is TunnelBear VPN best for?
Prices and subscriptions
Features
Test results
Compatibility
Customer support
Alternatives
FAQs
Bottom line

TunnelBear VPN overview

Price $3.33-$9.99/mo
Free version Yes
Max number of connected devices Unlimited with paid subscription
Number of servers 5,000 servers in 47 countries
VPN protocol WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2
No-logs policy No logs
Headquarters Canada
Netflix access Yes
Details Get TunnelBear

How we test and rate VPNs

We complete standardized hands-on tests for each VPN we review so we can put their claims to the test. This includes vigorous third-party testing by comparing our internet speed while connected to different servers, checking for DNS leaks, making sure the kill switch actually works, and more. We also make sure we can comfortably access popular streaming sites, like Netflix, and still do our day-to-day work without interruption.

Once we’ve completed the testing, our editorial rating is calculated by taking into account key features you’d expect from a good product. We score each VPN in the following categories and use a weighted average to calculate the final rating out of 5 stars: price, server count, speed, security, and features.

Our experience

Our experience testing TunnelBear was overall positive. It was easy to install, easy to use, and did what it promised. The only downsides were that connecting to servers took about 10 seconds (which feels like a lot when testing different servers) and we saw some major reduction of speeds when looking at certain far away servers.

From the beginning, TunnelBear puts the "bear" theme in everything it does, from the payment page to the tutorial. The software you download is also referred to as your "Bear," as if you were downloading a virtual pet. This was honestly adorable — but made it very difficult for us to cancel our subscription.

TunnelBear cancellation screen

The bright side is it was pretty easy to find how to cancel our subscription, which is something that can be a total goose chase with other software. This is a big plus for people who hate auto-renewing subscriptions.

Once you get the software downloaded, connecting to a server was easy. You actually had three options:

  • Hit the switch at the top to connect to the recommended fastest server near you
  • Choose a location on the map
  • Click the dropdown icon to see a full list of servers and choose from there

TunnelBear disconnected server list

Once connected, TunnelBear gives you a desktop notification so you can easily see when the connection was successful. They put a hat on the bear depending on which country you're connected to, which is a fun touch.

All the settings were easy to find, located by just clicking the cog icon on the left-hand menu. Everything there was neatly displayed and well explained.

TunnelBear settings

So after completing all necessary testing with our "Bear," we were left feeling satisfied. Everything worked as intended for the most part, with no major hiccups getting in the way of enjoying our browsing.

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.

TunnelBear VPN prices and subscriptions

Plan
Best Value
3-year plan
1-year plan
1-month plan
Unlimited $3.33/mo (billed every 3 years) $4.99/mo (billed annually) $9.99/mo

TunnelBear offers a free VPN tier that is capped at 2 GB of data per month for all connected devices, which is a lot of data security for no cost. They also have upgraded paid tiers that offer unlimited data and devices.

For the best cost savings for this VPN provider, we recommend purchasing a 3-year plan for $3.33/mo (billed every 3 years), which comes out to a $120.00 bill every three years.

In comparison to other VPNs, TunnelBear's paid subscription choices are 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 credit cards for payment. Users wanting to use other payment sources, such as PayPal and bitcoin, will not be able to do so directly with TunnelBear.

TunnelBear does provide a free version for up to 2 GB 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 5,000+ servers 5,000+ servers
# of devices Unlimited Unlimited
Device-level encryption
Unlimited data
No-logs policy

The free version does not have a device limit. However, data is capped at 2 GB per month for all of your connected devices.

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

  • 5,000 servers within 47 countries

You’ll find that TunnelBear VPN has 5,000 servers within 47 countries, which puts it right in between NordVPN's 6,300 servers and Surfshark's 3,200.

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 12 servers available in the U.S. and three in Canada.

Finding servers and switching between them was easy, with the option to choose a server from a map or from an alphabetical dropdown.

TunnelBear's Server List

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.

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.

TunnelBear's kill switch in settings

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, which it calls SplitBear

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.

TunnelBear's split tunneling settings

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 other VPN providers on the market today, TunnelBear VPN also offers a free plan. The TunnelBear VPN free version is limited to 2 GB 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. We also made sure the kill switch worked as intended.

Speed tests

  • Speed test results: TunnelBear decreased download speed by 43% on average, with close-by servers only reducing by 29%.

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) in Canada. 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.

TunnelBear VPN speed test results

Test type No VPN CA to US US to EU US to AU
Download speed 219.40 Mbps 156.53 Mbps 126.07 Mbps 97 Mbps
Upload speed 54.64 Mbps 49.52 Mbps 51.21 Mbps 49.06 Mbps
Latency (ping) 15 ms 43 ms 95 ms 240 ms
Download speed % difference N/A -29% -43% -56%
Upload speed % difference N/A -9% -6% -10%
Latency % difference N/A 187% 533% 1500%

Test results as of 5/24/2024

Without the VPN, our internet speeds were approximately 219.40 Mbps for downloading and 54.64 Mbps for uploading. Once connected to a servey in New Jersey, the speeds were reduced to approximately 156.53 Mbps of download and 49.52 Mbps of upload. While there was a reduction, the impact was minor and the lag was nearly nonexistent.

Speed test results when connecting to a U.S. TunnelBear server

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 using 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.

TunnelBear VPN Netflix tests

  • Netflix test results: Passed

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.

While connected to TunnelBear servers, we were able to access both U.S. and U.K. Netflix libraries from Canada:

Connected to U.S. Netflix with TunnelBear

Connected to U.K. Netflix with TunnelBear

That said, when trying to view Canadian and Australian Netflix while connected to TunnelBear, we kept being shown the U.S. library. 

TunnelBear VPN Netflix test results

US to US US to UK US to Canada US to Australia
Did it work with Netflix? Yes Yes Not really Not really

Test results as of 5/24/2024

DNS leak tests

  • 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.

TunnelBear VPN 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.

Kill swtich test

  • Kill switch test results: Passed

VigilantBear is what TunnelBear calls its kill switch function, which is designed to block internet traffic if the VPN server is disconnected for any reason. This is meant as a safeguard against your real IP address leaking when you're switching servers or if the VPN were to fail entirely.

We tested VigilantBear by running ipleak.net test while switching from a Canadian VPN server to an American one. TunnelBear passes this test because our real IP in New Brunswick, Canada didn't show up during the switch:

TunnelBear passing the kill switch test

TunnelBear VPN compatibility

TunnelBear is available on the following platforms:

  • Desktop: Windows, macOS, Linux (with limited support)
  • Mobile: Android, iOS
  • Browser extensions: Chrome, Firefox

TunnelBear VPN customer support

TunnelBear VPN offers two support options: detailed guides or a form you can fill out to send an email to customer service. They also have an AI chat service, but that's basically just a glorified search engine for their support guides.

While standard, we would rather they included a chat option and/or phone number for more immediate issues.

Online guides

If you're looking for general information about the product or some of its features, you can search for your questions on the TunnelBear support site. We found their guides to be easy to access and thorough, covering common technical, account management, or billing issues.

When doing the research for this article, we found most of our answers through search on their help page pretty easily. This is not always the case with software, so we were happy with their guides.

Email technical support

In addition to the support pages, they also offer email support for both free and paid users. The support team aims to get back within 48 hours of submission.

To send an email, navigate to the TunnelBear support page by going to Help then clicking Contact support. Once there, you'll be given a series of questions to answer, which will open up a relevant form for you to give more information.

TunnelBear VPN Support Page

Top alternatives

If you're not 100% satisfied with TunnelBear's offerings, check out three of the absolute best VPNs we've tested:

Price $3.99–$15.99/mo $2.19–$17.95/mo $2.03–$12.99/mo
Free version
Max # of connected devices 10 Unlimited 7
# of servers 6,300+ servers in 111 countries 3,200 in 100 countries Servers in 100 countries
VPN protocol NordLynx (WireGuard), OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2 Lightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2
Encryption AES 256-bit AES 256-bit AES 256-bit
No-logs policy No logs No logs No logs
Headquarters Panama The Netherlands Romania
Netflix access
Learn more Get NordVPN Get Surfshark Get CyberGhost

TunnelBear VPN FAQs


+

Is TunnelBear safe?

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


+

Is there a TunnelBear browser extension?

Yes, TunnelBear offers browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.


+

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.

Compared to other VPN vendors on the market, the area that TunnelBear VPN is lacking the most is slower connectivity and internet speeds. If you're looking for speeds, you can read our comparison guides against top VPN options:

4.2
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On TunnelBear's website
VPN
TunnelBear
  • Unlimited devices with paid subscription
  • Strict no-logs policy
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.
Kalleigh Lane is a passionate digital security advocate and the Lead Editor at All About Cookies. After completing her Master of Arts in English Literature, Kalleigh has gained over 5 years of editing and writing experience in the fields of cybersecurity, tech, and finance. She has been featured in major media outlets such as The Globe and Mail and CTV News, emerging as an advocate for digital security.