Tunnelbear Review

TunnelBear has for ages been a crowd favourite. However, things change, and they need to be re-evaluated considering they are now owned by McAfee which is a large American cybersecurity company.

Does this change things for end users, or is the TunnelBear VPN still a worthy option?

tunnelbear account and password

Overall Rank:# 29th Out Of 74 VPN’s
Usability:4/5
Log Files:No Logging (Contradictory)
Locations:350+ Server Locations In 20 Countries
Support:Ticket system
Torrenting:Not Allowed
Netflix:Not Working
Encryption:OpenVPN, IPSec & Ikev2
Jurisdiction:Canada
Money Back Guarantee:No Refund
Free Version
Speeds:Average
Encryption:OpenVPN protocol and 256-bit AES encryption

Privacy and Security

Location

TunnelBear is based in Canada which is in the 5-eyes jurisdiction, but also recently acquired by McAfee which as stated is a vast American based Cybersecurity company.

With this in mind, it is still being operated from Canada, but knowing how the future will unfold is anyone’s guess.

Either way, they would still fall under 5-eyes jurisdiction.

At this point, it is worth mentioning the TunnelBear “No Logs” policy, but in their privacy policy, they mention data which is collected, and this can be seen here:

  • Operating system version
  • TunnelBear app version
  • Active for the month (1 or 0)
  • Monthly bandwidth usage

Some information is required by VPN Company’s, but it would be better if they adjusted their wording to avoid any confusion.

Kill Switch

The TunnelBear version of a kill switch is “Vigilant Bear” and blocks all traffic when there isn’t a VPN connection.

This can be activated in the client but isn’t set by default. Once set though, it does work as it should on Windows and on the MacOS. Setting up VPN to use this feature was simple from a clear and easy to use interface.

No leaks were detected from either client software which is good news.

It should also be noted here, you can obfuscate your location using Ghostbear which masks your traffic as coming from a VPN. This feature could be more worthy of the service supported torrents or Netflix.

Encryption

TunnelBear support for encryption is well catered for and is as good as any other VPN provider.TunnelBear Encryption

They use the 256-bit AES OpenVPN protocol for Windows, Mac OS, and Android while the IKEv2 protocol is used for iOS because of the iOS restrictions.

TunnelBear Chrome is a little different and users might wonder why they need to use a browser add-on. When you look at the TunnelBear tutorial, the company explains why.

With this add-on you can layer your encryption, and to do this, you use one server for your VPN client connection, and then select another server with your browser extension. This aids in making a much more private VPN

Performance

Speed Test

As with many other reviews, the base speed was 100 Mbps, and the tests were conducted from Europe.

There are numerous factors which affect speed, and being in Australia can be one of the largest.

If a VPN company has an extensive network, then this might not be a problem, but TunnelBear’s network isn’t the largest so the first couple of hops can cover quite a distance.

  • Switzerland server: 54 Mbps
  • France Server: 34 Mbps (ExpressVPN speed in France was 65+ Mbps)
  • USA: 13.87 Mbps
  • UK Server: 50 Mbps

There were more speed results, but for Australian users, there was no reason to list them, and it’s evident to see, in most countries your connection is going to be very mediocre.

One other aspect of performance is the Great Firewall of China, and unfortunately since February 2018 when the Chinese government began blocking VPN’s TunnelBear in China is no longer a very good option.

Devices

First up, TunnelBear can’t be installed on routers, and for Australian homeowners, this is the best option for protecting their home connection. Apps are available for the following:

  • Android
  • Windows
  • MacOS
  • IOS
  • Linux is supported, but no official app
  • Other devices can be supported when you download VPN browser extensions.

Customer Service

Customer support is conducted via a ticket system with no option for a live chat. With this though any queries are answered within a few hours (business hours). They can be easily connected in the TunnelBear premium account section on their website.

TunnelBear to access NetflixIt should also be mentioned, they are not a VPN for torrents as they aren’t allowed, and they don’t support US Netflix. And, for many users, this could be the breaking deal.

Pricing/Deals

TunnelBear is one of the few top-rated VPN providers which offers a free version, but, as this is capped to 500mb per month, it should only be used as a taster of the full package.

For their packages, they only have two options which are as follows:

  • Giant – $9.99 per month – Unlimited data
  • Grizzly – $5.00 per month – Billed as $59.99 every 12 months.

Because they offer a free version, there is no money back guarantee, and certainly no refund.

One good thing with TunnelBear’s free version is, you have access to the full suite of features and all the network unlike some which give cut back versions.

Also adding to this, there are never many TunnelBear coupons around because you have the option to test before you buy.

If you do decide to go ahead with TunnelBear, you can quickly sign up and then you will have your confirmation TunnelBear account and password, and then it is a matter of downloading the client software on any of the five devices you choose.

Cons

If Australian users just wish to be private, then TunnelBear could be an option which is relatively affordable. However, there are some significant factors to consider, and one of the largest is the lack of speed.

Streamers will more than likely need to look for other options. With no Netflix, and it might be the same case for other streaming services not being supported, there is also the speed factor which would quickly induce buffering.

Final Verdict

This VPN offers excellent security and encryption for a decent price. But because it has speed issues and can’t connect to various streaming services or allow torrents, it seems there is not much left on offer apart from a secure connection.

This might suffice for some users, but for the general Australian population they might be looking for more, and this, unfortunately, can be found with many other VPN services for a similar price.