TunnelBear review

Last updated on 16/09/2019 by Melvyn and co.

Snapshot

TunnelBear’s apps are super fun, illustrated beautifully and would win hands down in a prettiness contest! They are also not a bad choice for service provider either! With a fantastic choice of 22 free worldwide server locations, a pretty fair zero logs policy and great speeds, if you’re a first timer or looking to test a free service, TunnelBear are a great choice!

Compatible with
Apple(Logo)(2)
Windows(Logo)(3)
Android(Logo)(2)
Linux(Logo)(2)
Rating

Our score:

4.4

4.4/5
Pricing

Price from:

$0.00

per month

Pros
  • Protect 1 device with 500Mb monthly allowance + earn more data
  • Fast download speeds of 51Mbs during our testing
  • Connect to 22 worldwide server locations
  • Kill switch, DNS leak protection, 256-bit AES encryption
  • No card or payment details required to sign up
Cons
  • 500Mb monthly allowance is extremely low compared with other providers
  • Doesn’t work with Netflix of BBC iPlayer
  • No live chat support

Introduction

TunnelBear offer a pretty good free VPN service with its fantastic selection of worldwide servers, great speeds, decent security measures coupled with a fair zero logs policy.

With a monthly allowance of only 500Mb, that free service really isn’t going to last too long! Thankfully however, they do offer some nice extras that allow users to ‘earn’ more data such as by tweeting @theTunnelBear asking for 1 free GB of data each month which puts your allowance up to 1,500Mb. The only limitation with this method is it requires you to a) have a Twitter account b) know how to tweet, but they do have multiple other ways users can earn more data which we think is a pretty cool feature!

Back to the ‘important’ stuff… users are protected by their military grade AES-256 encryption running on our favoured OpenVPN protocol. The app comes with built in DNS leak protection and also includes the must have VPN kill switch. They do all they can to allow their users to browse the internet in total privacy!

The apps are super fun and really easy to use which will no doubt suit both beginners and people who love ‘cute’ things (we’re sure old pro’s will enjoy their user-friendly apps too!)! There’s also an ‘auto’ connect button for those who are looking for a really easy ‘plug and play’ solution.

Pricing

It’s totally free and doesn’t cost a thing! No catches or cons. You don’t even have to add any payment or card details on sign-up either which we’re a big fan of!

We’ve shown pricing for their paid plans below just in case you were undecided or curious about how much their paid services would cost, and for payment, TunnelBear accept all major credit and debit cards (including American Express), as well as PayPal and Bitcoin.

Free plan

$ 0
00
per month
  • Billed $0.00 every month
FREE

1 month plan

$ 9
99
per month
  • Billed $9.99 every month

1 year plan

$ 4
99
per month
  • Billed $59.88 every year

Features

TunnelBears free VPN service lets users tunnel around the globe, accessing servers in 22 countries, while staying completely hidden from prying eyes. With an allowance of only 500Mb per month, most users will fly through this (as mentioned earlier, you can ‘earn’ more data), but is a great way to test out the TunnelBear service before potentially committing to a premium package.

Even though it’s free, it’s full of great security features too including encryption delivered by the best AES-256 unbreakable encryption and strong VPN protocols so you can browse the internet in total privacy.

It’s a good pick for unblocking geo-restricted content as well as accessing sites and applications blocked by government censorship thanks to its proprietary ‘GhostBear’ obfuscation. They are also a no logs VPN provider too meaning anything you do when using their VPN isn’t recorded or viewable by any third parties.

Platforms and devices

The free version of TunnelBear allows you to protect one device per account and their user-friendly apps can be downloaded on both mobile and desktop operating systems including MacOS, Windows, Android, iOS, as well as Linux (additional configuration required). They also have free browse extensions for the likes of Chrome and Firefox, though these don’t provide the same levels of protection as their desktop and mobile apps.

Streaming

TunnelBears free VPN doesn’t unblock any of the popular streaming sites we all know and love such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer. Even if it did… with only 500Mb data allowance per month, you’d only be able to watch 5 minutes and it would run out!

If you’re shopping for a VPN mainly for streaming, we recommend you either purchase a full plan from Windscribe where you can effortlessly stream HD content from Netflix, Hulu and other popular sites, or take a look at some of our other recommended providers and try one of those. It’s also worth visiting our best VPN for Netflix page here which lists the most popular VPNs for streaming.

Torrenting​

TunnelBears service does allow P2P file sharing on its servers which is pretty cool for a free VPN, but without trying to repeat ourselves over and over again, 500Mb really isn’t going to last long… which is also a shame due to their pretty good download speeds and decent security measures!

For those looking at heavy torrenting, we recommend viewing our best VPN for torrenting guide here.

Speed

TunnelBear delivered some surprisingly good speeds in testing both locally and on distant connections which are comparable to some paid services. Local download speeds of 51Mbps were achieved which is no doubt thanks to its wide server choice. Even connecting to the USA from the UK, we saw speeds of around 33Mbps which is still very respectable.

Security

TunnelBear impresses when it comes to security. Users IP address is concealed by military grade AES-256 encryption whilst using our favourite OpenVPN protocol. They also use additional protocols including IKEv2/IPSec and L2TP/IPSec depending on which device you are using. Advanced features include DNS leak blocking, first-party DNS and a VPN kill switch which protects you in the event your VPN loses connection.

Applications

The TunnelBear apps are probably the most fun and certainly the most creative out there. Users can either select their server by a standard list or by clicking on locations scattered across a visually pleasing world map. There’s an ‘auto’ connect button for those after quick and easy, no thoughts required protection, and along the bottom of the screen it also displays your data usage letting you know how much of your monthly allowance is remaining. In summary, its ideal for beginners who will be able to get to grips with it in seconds!

Customer service

TunnelBear seem to focus their customer service on a helpful online section found on their website coupled with email support. When we sent over a couple of tester emails, generally speaking we found responses to be quick and solved all our queries. In the past, we’d have said that would have been more than acceptable, but these days, live chat support really is a must and we’re hopeful they’ll add this function in the not so distant future.

Log policy

TunnelBear clearly take user privacy seriously which of course is a big positive. They collect no user data or usage logs which ensure your activity is hidden should any third-party request access. The only information they log is basic connection data and bandwidth usage. This minimal information cannot be linked back to any individual user, so we are happy to recommend TunnelBear as a no logs provider.

Jurisdiction

TunnelBears headquarters are in Toronto, Canada, which isn’t the most ideal VPN location. Canada is subject to invasive privacy laws and data sharing schemes with the likes of the USA. However, given they don’t log user activity, we aren’t too concerned by this as even if a third-party law enforcement agency requested it, there isn’t any usable data to be handed over.

The verdict

TunnelBear provide a pretty good free VPN with its decent speeds and robust security, but like hide.me’s free offering (2GB per month), it’s majorly let down by its 500Mb per month data allowance. Most users will fly through that in minutes!

Like most free VPNs, unblocking US Netflix and BBC iPlayer isn’t possible, however they do allow P2P torrenting on their free servers which many other providers simply don’t accept. As mentioned in our streaming and torrenting sections above, users looking at a VPN to utilise either of these areas would definitely be best considering spending a few dollars per month on a paid subscription without the worry of capped data.

The TunnelBear free VPN app contains the same security features as that from its premium service and is also highly user-friendly, making it an ideal choice for beginners who those looking to trial a VPN before committing to a paid for product.

Melvyn and the team at comparemyvpn.com rate TunnelBear pretty highly but feel the lack of data allowance per month is a real stumbling block. If you’re good with tech or enjoy using twitter, you should be able to unlock more free data relatively easy, but for those looking for a simple solution, another free provider, or even better, a paid plan, may be your better option.

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