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TunnelBear Review: Paws, Privacy, and Puns, Oh My!

In this world, three things are certain: death, taxes and adorable bears. The latter has long been a staple of entertainment for both children and adults, from charming Winnie the Pooh to endearing Paddington to potty-mouthed Ted, and now there’s a new bear on the scene: TunnelBear.

TunnelBear may not be able to trawl the woods for honey or show you the best berry bushes, but it does claim to transport your internet traffic through a global network of encrypted tunnels, protecting it from the myriad predators that lurk along the forest trail, like hackers, ISPs and governments. Our TunnelBear review will examine its speeds, security, app design, and value to determine whether this VPN is worth your time or simply delivers the bare minimum.

Before we begin, a word of caution: there will be bear puns. We are not liable for any sighs, groans or eye-rolls that ensue; continue at your own risk!

TunnelBear Features

  • Vigilant mode – if your connection gets disrupted or dropped for any reason, TunnelBear will block all unsecured internet traffic until it’s safely reconnected
  • Always on – once connected, you’ll stay connected, that is until you turn the TunnelBear service off
  • Closest tunnel – TunnelBear chooses connections that are nearby (aka the lowest “ping”) so you keep and maintain a fast internet connection
  • No logging policy – TunnelBear doesn’t store the websites you visit in a database
  • Fast internet
  • Safe Wi-Fi experience – TunnelBear protects your computer when you’re connected to insecure networks, like those at coffee shops; in other words, they provide a local firewall for protection and an encrypted tunnel for internet privacy
  • A worldwide network consisting of more than 1,800 servers in 22 countries
  • Strong encryption (AES 256-bit)
  • Anti-VPN blocking so you can stream content from services like Netflix and Hulu
  • Support for multiple devices/platforms
  • Up to 5 simultaneous connections

If You’re In a Rush and Just Want Our Concise Opinion …

If you’re looking for a VPN that’s easy to set up, simple to use and packed with privacy protections, search no more: TunnelBear is just what you’re looking for. Bonus: cute bears everywhere!

About TunnelBear

TunnelBear was founded in 2011 by Canadian tech entrepreneurs Ryan Dochuk and Daniel Kaldor. Dochuk, a former Microsoft employee, manages the corporate end of the company, while Kaldor, who studied math at Cambridge, leads the technical side.

In March of 2018, TunnelBear was acquired by McAfee, an American computer security company best known for its antivirus software. Despite the acquisition, TunnelBear continues to be headquartered in Toronto and run by its original founders.

TunnelBear Usability


TunnelBear website

Most VPN websites these days look, for the most part, very similar: navigation at the top, a large introductory banner with a catchy slogan and, as you scroll down, panels of features complete with minimalist-style graphics. It’s not a bad layout, per se, but it does make all the companies that use it blend into one another.

TunnelBear adheres to the same basic layout as its competitors, but with one notable difference: bears. They’re everywhere, from the animated grizzly, teeth bared and claws unsheathed, that pops out of a tunnel on the homepage to the smaller ones that populate the features panels, gnawing through security camera cords and reaching through computer screens to swat away threats.

All of TunnelBear’s employees are introduced on the About page, along with mini-bios and (of course) bear-ified portraits. Aside from being cute, it’s a personable touch that makes the company feel more human, unlike many other VPNs whose creators and staff are nameless and faceless.

While the bears are enchanting, to be sure, it’s hard not to wish that some of the effort put into them had been redirected towards the website’s actual content instead. Some of TunnelBear’s features, like its VigilantBear kill switch and GhostBear traffic obfuscation, get their own informational pages, but most get nothing more than a sentence or two, plus a bear graphic.

Most of the informative content is found in the “Help” section. Though the articles here are well-written and easy to understand regardless of technical skills, there aren’t that many of them; additionally, quite a few contain links to TunnelBear blog posts that promise more information, but the entire blog appears to be dead and the links redirect to a slightly different version of the current homepage.

With no details regarding topics like encryption, protocols or DNS and only bare-bones information on its main selling points, TunnelBear’s website isn’t likely to satisfy anyone with even novice-level technical knowledge. Cuteness aside, there’s simply not a lot of substance here.

Supported Devices

TunnelBear supported devices

TunnelBear provides apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android. Browser extensions are offered for Chrome, Firefox and Opera; the latter is a fairly unique offering among VPNs, as most providers only provide extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

In its help desk article about device support, TunnelBear mentions that it provides “limited support” for Linux and links to a manual configuration guide; however, this guide was located on the now-defunct blog and is unreachable. We plugged the link into the Wayback Machine and pulled up the most recently archived version, which provides step-by-step instructions as well as a download of the required OpenVPN configuration files, but the guide was last updated in June of 2017 and is likely to be obsolete by now.

You won’t find manual configuration guides for any other devices – no routers, no gaming consoles, no smart TVs, no streaming boxes, no e-readers. If you’re crafty and have some IT experience under your belt, you may be able to get TunnelBear running on an unsupported device by using the OpenVPN configuration files from the archived Linux guide, but we haven’t tested this and you’re probably better off with a VPN that officially supports your target device.


TunnelBear Apps

So far, TunnelBear has trended towards simplicity and visual pleasantness over heaps of content and techie jargon. It may not have been the most effective approach for the website, but it works better for the apps.

Open the TunnelBear app and you’re shown a map of the world that’s dotted with little tunnels that denote countries with servers. It’s cute, much like the rest of the company’s aesthetic, and is reminiscent of the old Super Mario games – a pleasing twist of modern and retro design elements.

You can select a tunnel on the map, pick a country from a traditional list or let the app’s Auto Tunnel feature select the server with the lowest ping. Toggle the VPN on and a bear will “tunnel” from your real location to your chosen server, popping its head out of the tunnel opening and confirming your connection.

It’s perhaps the easiest server selection mechanism we’ve seen, but if you like to choose your server based on criteria like city, bandwidth load or latency, you’re out of luck. TunnelBear doesn’t provide any of this information; the best you can do is pick a country or, if speed is your main concern, let the Auto Tunnel consult its secret list of ping times and choose a server for you.

Settings are pretty minimal yet surprisingly advanced at the same time: you can’t change your protocol (save for switching between TCP and UDP for OpenVPN) or alter your DNS, but you can set up a list of trusted networks (allowing the VPN to automatically connect when you’re on a non-trusted network) and enable the kill switch and obfuscation features. On Android, you can also enable split tunneling (renamed here to SplitBear), a neat feature that lets you direct some apps to use the VPN while letting others use your regular connection.

TunnelBear’s iOS app lacks most of these features due to Apple’s developer restrictions, but you can still create a list of trusted networks. Both mobile apps include a few just-for-fun features that you can enable, such as bear sounds and clouds floating around the map.

Usability Score: 7/10

This was a tricky score to decide on because TunnelBear is, for the most part, extremely usable. There’s virtually no learning curve and everything is explained clearly enough that even computer newbies should have no trouble getting connected.

The apps are lovely to look at and smooth to use, without extraneous features bogging them down or unnecessarily complicated interfaces, and they’re available for the four most popular OSes. All in all, TunnelBear’s user experience is fantastic for casual users, families, those who are new to the internet and anyone who wants a simple, stylish VPN.

But there are other kinds of users for whom TunnelBear’s usability is likely to fall short: those who choose their servers based on statistics, computer whizzes who need the ability to fine-tune their tech, Linux users, curious minds seeking more technical information and users of streaming boxes or game consoles. For these folks, TunnelBear’s simplicity may be a con rather than a pro, as advanced functionality and detailed documentation are set aside in favor of slick design and straightforward setup.

There’s no reason why introductory and in-depth information couldn’t coexist on TunnelBear’s website; we hope that more detailed content is added in the future. We’d also like to see server stats and a few more options, like DNS configuration, included in the apps.

For all that it lacks, however, TunnelBear succeeds in making VPNs accessible to just about anyone, the importance of which can’t be understated. With online privacy under threat across the globe, it’s imperative that everyone, not just techies, take steps to protect themselves, and TunnelBear’s user-friendly approach makes that task so easy, a bear could do it.

TunnelBear Performance

Servers and Locations

TunnelBear servers

Geographic diversity is a critical aspect of a VPN for multiple reasons – more international streaming capabilities, access to a wider range of geo-restricted websites and faster connections for users around the world. Numbers aren’t everything, but larger server arrays allow for better load management, which in turn ensures that your speeds don’t suffer during peak usage times.

TunnelBear has servers in 22 countries. North America is home to servers in Canada, the USA and Mexico; Europe’s servers are located in the UK, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Romania, France, Sweden, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland and Norway.

Asia is represented by servers in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and India, while Australia and New Zealand connect Oceania to the network. South America’s only server location is Brazil; Africa and the Middle East don’t have any servers at all.

While TunnelBear’s overall country count is much lower than its competition (VyprVPN’s servers are spread out over 64 countries; ExpressVPN has servers in 94 countries), its server distribution is fairly typical for VPNs. Europe and North America are usually the most popular regions, followed by Asia and Oceania, so it makes sense for providers to focus their attention on those areas.

However, many providers are beginning to offer more servers in Africa, South America and the Middle East – underrepresented regions where VPNs are often sorely needed due to internet censorship and government surveillance. We’d like to see TunnelBear expand its server array into these areas as well.

Unlike most VPN providers, TunnelBear doesn’t provide a full server count, nor does it disclose the cities its servers are located in; you can pick a country, but that’s it. The lack of further information is peculiar, especially given the size of countries like the USA and Australia, where the speed difference between cities on opposite coasts could be massive.

The USA, at least, seems to have servers in multiple cities – users have reported that they’ve connected to TunnelBear servers in New York City and San Francisco. It isn’t clear whether servers in other countries are spread out or concentrated in one city.

Sometimes, VPNs will divide a single physical server into multiple virtual ones, which function as individual servers and can be configured to appear as if they’re in different countries than they actually are. While TunnelBear does run virtual servers as needed for load management, their locations are never altered; all servers, virtual or not, state their true location, which assuages concerns about sensitive data passing through different countries without your knowledge.


Speed isn’t everything when it comes to a VPN, and you’re unlikely to replicate any given user’s speed test results even if you’re using the same VPN. Any number of bottlenecks – outdated or faulty hardware, bad weather, overloaded bandwidth, long distances – could negatively impact your connection speed; it’s so individualized that it’s impossible to say for certain how fast you’ll be able to browse with TunnelBear.

Complicating things even further is the fact that TunnelBear doesn’t disclose the city you’re connected to, only the country. If, for example, you’re connecting to the USA from the UK, your speed will be significantly lower if your target server is in San Francisco rather than New York – those several thousand miles make a huge difference in speed and latency.

Overall, though, TunnelBear’s speeds are great over short distances and acceptable over longer ones. Local connection speeds in North America and Europe are generally within 75% of baseline connection speeds, so if your regular connection is around 75Mbps, your closest TunnelBear connection should reach 60Mbps or higher.

Overseas connection speeds are highly variable, again due to the vague server locations provided by TunnelBear. Europe to North America connections range from 70% to 30% of baseline speed, and since you can’t choose your server based on city, reaching the upper end of that range is a matter of luck.

Interestingly, some of TunnelBear’s far-off servers, like those in India and Singapore, delivered relatively excellent speeds compared to the competition. While other providers’ servers in these countries struggle to achieve 10% of your normal speed, TunnelBear’s servers can reach 30-60%, an impressive figure that’s likely to be a big draw for travelers and residents of these regions.


Streaming TunnelBear VPN

The world has caught on to the practice of using a VPN to circumvent geo-restrictions put in place by Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer and many other streaming sites. For a while, it was almost too easy to change your location with a VPN and stream content from any country you wanted, regardless of your actual location and any licensing restrictions placed on your chosen movie or TV show.

But as more and more people started doing just that, streaming sites began to intervene, blocking VPN IPs as soon as they’re identified and utilizing advanced technologies like deep packet inspection (DPI) to detect new VPN connections. As a result, just about every VPN company has struggled to provide consistent access to streaming sites.

TunnelBear is no exception here. Users are rarely able to access US Netflix, and most other streaming sites, including international Netflix as well as BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video, are completely inaccessible.

While TunnelBear doesn’t tout itself as a streaming powerhouse like some of its competitors, its lack of streaming support is a bit disappointing nonetheless. Most VPNs are at least able to access US Netflix and BBC iPlayer, which are two of the most-desired streaming sites; while you may occasionally be successful with the former, don’t count on consistent access with TunnelBear.

Performance Score: 3.25/5

As with usability, there’s nothing particularly wrong with TunnelBear’s performance. The company doesn’t make any claims that don’t hold up, and everything works well for what it is.

The problem is that, for the most part, TunnelBear lags behind its competitors. While its servers are well-distributed, there’s no transparency regarding their quantities, statistics or even cities; other providers cover more countries and disclose more information about their servers.

Streaming is another sore spot here. Even though TunnelBear doesn’t advertise itself as being good for streaming, functionality in this area is pretty much nonexistent, so you’re better off with another provider if you plan to do any streaming at all.

With that said, TunnelBear’s speeds are quite competitive – they may not reach the same peak highs as other providers’, but they’re consistently solid throughout all regions and across long distances. This is a rare achievement and we commend TunnelBear for maintaining such a strong global network.

Bottom line? If you don’t need international streaming, tons of connection statistics or dozens of countries on your server roster and simply want a VPN with a bit of geographic diversity and reliably strong speeds, TunnelBear’s offerings will be as sweet as honey.

TunnelBear Security

TunnelBear security

VPN Protocols

To choose a VPN protocol is to choose your security strength, encryption type, connection processing speed and network detectability. TunnelBear offers two protocols but, as with many of its features, simplifies things by taking user choice out of the equation; rather, the protocol you use is determined by your device.


If you use Windows, MacOS or Android, you’ll be using OpenVPN with TunnelBear. This is a good thing – it’s probably the best VPN protocol currently in existence, combining optimized speeds with ultra-secure AES-256 encryption to deliver a balanced VPN experience.

You do get a bit of choice here, as you’re able to choose whether OpenVPN communicates over TCP or UDP. Choose UDP if your connection is solid and you want top speeds; choose TCP if you’re willing to sacrifice a little bit of speed for greater data integrity and a lower risk of detection by network administrators.


TunnelBear’s iOS app doesn’t support OpenVPN. Apple doesn’t include native OpenVPN support in iOS and heavily restricts the way app developers can implement it, so the vast majority of VPN apps for iOS (including TunnelBear) use IKEv2/IPsec instead.

IKEv2/IPsec offers the same AES-256 encryption as OpenVPN, so you’re no less protected on iOS than on any other OS. The one downside is that IKEv2/IPsec must use UDP port 500; to network administrators, traffic over this port is a strong indicator of VPN usage, so they may block it and render your VPN unusable on that network.

Interestingly, a reverse engineer by the name Byte 255 examined the source code of TunnelBear’s Windows app and found that it is capable of using IKEv2/IPsec as well as OpenVPN. For whatever reason, though, there’s no option to do so in the app; perhaps it’s a sign of an upcoming feature.

VigilantBear Kill Switch

VigilantBear kill switch

Most VPNs now offer kill switches, which we heartily approve of. A kill switch is a critical feature for the security-conscious, as it prevents any unsecured data from being transmitted in the event of a VPN disconnection or network interruption.

TunnelBear’s kill switch has a bear-themed name, VigilantBear, but other than that, it’s much like any other kill switch: turn it on and it’ll block all incoming and outgoing internet traffic if your VPN connection fails suddenly. That way, you won’t accidentally send sensitive data over an unsecured connection.

VigilantBear is available on Windows, MacOS and Android; we appreciate its inclusion in the Android app as most VPN providers simply instruct users to enable the system kill switch, a feature that’s not available to the 61% of users who aren’t using Android 8 or higher.


VPNs prevent your internet activity from being monitored, your browsing history from being monetized and your connection from being selectively throttled. Naturally, they’re loathed by ISPs and governments, who regularly engage in and profit from these and similar practices.

To combat VPN use, many ISPs, governments, businesses and other authorities use DPI and other technologies to detect and block VPN connections. TunnelBear fights back against this with its GhostBear obfuscation feature, which alters your connection metadata so it doesn’t look like a typical VPN connection, thus allowing it to circumvent DPI and network filters.

GhostBear is available for Windows, MacOS and Android. It’s disabled by default as it slows down your connection and isn’t beneficial unless you’re dealing with VPN blocks, but if you’re ever unable to establish a VPN connection, GhostBear is there to help.


TunnelBear blocker

Chrome users, rejoice: you don’t even need to be a TunnelBear subscriber to use the company’s powerful browser extension, Blocker. Ad blockers are nothing new, but TunnelBear designed Blocker to be a comprehensive tracker prevention tool.

Blocker can stop pop-ups and malicious redirects in their tracks, but it also protects you from the less-obvious trackers that now proliferate the internet: pixel trackers in emails that let senders monitor if and when you read their messages; ultrasonic trackers that use inaudible frequencies to link you and your devices to the ads you see on TV; browser fingerprinting that tracks you through your unique browser profile; and social network plugins that let Facebook and Twitter know which websites you’ve visited.

In short, Blocker is like a big bear-hug for your browser – no ads, trackers or nefarious scripts will be able to loosen its grasp.

Security Audits

One of the best trends to hit the VPN industry in recent years is independent auditing. A VPN provider can hire a cybersecurity company to examine its systems and code for security vulnerabilities as well as adherence to stated policies and practices.

For the past two years, TunnelBear has undergone an annual independent audit from cybersecurity firm Cure53. The comprehensive audit is conducted over the course of a month and places every aspect of the VPN under high scrutiny.

You can view the results of the 2018 TunnelBear audit here (PDF link). It’s a fairly technical document, but the gist of it is that the auditors found several security vulnerabilities in the TunnelBear apps that would permit the granting of administrator privileges to a guest user with physical access to the computer on which the app was installed.

These local security vulnerabilities, which did not involve or effect the actual VPN connection, were immediately fixed upon discovery. Several other minor issues were also resolved, and the auditors concluded that TunnelBear had demonstrated both commitment and skill with regards to security.

Anyone can say that their product is safe and secure, but it shouldn’t be up to the customer to take on the risk of testing that statement. By undergoing an independent audit every year and publicizing the results, TunnelBear rightfully removes that burden from the user and replaces it with unbiased, comprehensive proof of its security.

Security Score: 5/5

When it comes to security, TunnelBear is all claws – and that’s a very good thing.

Two protocol options may not seem like a lot, but they’re the two most secure ones out there, and the lack of outdated protocols like PPTP and L2TP makes things both easier and safer for VPN newbies.

We wish VigilantBear was enabled by default as it’s a critical VPN feature, but we’re glad to see it included in the TunnelBear Android app where it can provide protection for all Android users, not just those with the latest devices. GhostBear probably won’t be necessary for most users, but for those who do need it, such as activists and surveillance targets, it could be a literal lifesaver.

It’s always nice to see VPNs and other internet companies looking out for all web users, not just paying customers. TunnelBear’s Blocker app is its contribution to the wider internet, raising awareness of a new generation of invasive trackers and providing a way to defeat them; it could easily have been a premium VPN feature, but instead it’s free for everyone.

Security-wise, the real proof is in the PDF – that is, the public audit undertaken every year by TunnelBear. It takes both humility and confidence to publicize security audit results; by doing so, and by promptly patching the vulnerabilities detailed in them, TunnelBear establishes itself as veritably worthy of your trust.

TunnelBear Privacy and Policies


Privacy TunnelBear VPN

TunnelBear is based in Canada, which is likely to set off a few alarm bells if you’re well-versed in privacy politics.

As a member of the international surveillance alliance Five Eyes, Canada engages in the monitoring and sharing of data that flows within its borders. The true extent of this is, of course, top secret, but NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden have revealed that Canada shares data with its fellow Five Eyes members (the USA, the UK, Australia and New Zealand) and even requests that they spy on Canadian citizens in order to circumvent laws against domestic surveillance.

But there are no mandatory data retention laws in the nation, so TunnelBear doesn’t have to store any of your data, and live traffic surveillance would only reveal heavily encrypted data that’s currently unbreakable and essentially useless in its garbled state.

Though TunnelBear does have to comply with lawful requests from authorities for user data, it has a dedicated legal team for handling such requests, plus it can’t turn over what it doesn’t have. As we’ll see in the next section, the minimal user information TunnelBear possesses is impossible to link to your activity and is devoid of anything that authorities are likely to find useful.

Logging Policy

TunnelBear does not log any IP addresses, DNS queries or session activity. The latter encompasses everything you do after connecting to the VPN, including timestamps, the websites you visit, the apps you use and the files you download; at no point is anyone except you able to know anything at all about your browsing activity.

The minimal information that is logged by TunnelBear is done so for account creation and troubleshooting purposes. Your email address is stored as an account identifier and you’re free to use an anonymous email address if you wish; the only other personal information stored is your account status (free or paid), your subscription expiry date (if you’re a paid user) and your Twitter ID (if you signed up through a Twitter promotion).

A few pieces of technical data are stored in order to provide troubleshooting and customer support, including your OS, your TunnelBear app version, your total monthly bandwidth usage and whether or not your account was used in the past month. Some events, such as creating an account or posting a payment, are also logged for account and payment troubleshooting purposes, but these do not include any events related to your VPN usage or session activity.

If you pay with a credit card, TunnelBear will store your last name, the last four digits of the card number and the date of the payment. Additionally, the third-party payment processors used by TunnelBear store your billing address, card expiration date and your device type and IP address at the time of payment; these processors are subject to extremely strict privacy laws and this information is only accessed in the event of credit card fraud.

Most VPNs, even the ones that posit themselves as no-logs providers, do store these types of information in order to provide technical support. This information can’t connect you to any of your online activity, none of which is logged in any way, and you can avoid disclosing any of your real information by using an anonymous email address and paying with Bitcoin.

TunnelBear’s privacy policy is one of the most thorough we’ve seen. Everything is stated in easy-to-understand language and no detail is left unexplained, from the purpose of each and every website cookie to the types of data that used to be (but are no longer) collected.

Torrent Policy

On the topic of torrenting, TunnelBear takes no official stance either way – neither torrents nor P2P filesharing in general is mentioned on the website at all. While the terms of use contain the standard “no piracy” clause, so do those of every other VPN provider, even those who promote themselves as torrent-friendly; besides, these clauses are unenforceable thanks to the traffic encryption provided by VPNs.

With no explicit torrent ban, it’s allowed by default. Users report being able to torrent freely on all servers with no issues, so it’s safe to say that whether you’re a casual downloader or a power seeder, you’ll do just fine with TunnelBear.

Privacy and Policies Score: 4.25/5

Privacy and policies for TunnelBear

We’ll concede that Canada isn’t the best place for a VPN to be headquartered, but it’s far from the worst, too. It may not have the renowned privacy protections of Switzerland or the extensive corporate rights of Panama, but it lacks the draconian data retention laws of the UK and it’s been at the forefront of some promising news in recent months, including its proposed digital privacy enhancements and its very public pressuring of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to address his company’s privacy violations.

Regardless of jurisdiction, a VPN is only as vulnerable to authorities as its logs are detailed, and TunnelBear’s logs contain, well, the “bear” minimum. It’s entirely possible – and very easy – to completely anonymize your TunnelBear account, and the technical data that’s associated with it contains nothing that would be of interest to anyone except a tech support representative.

The company is forthcoming and plain-spoken regarding the minimal customer data it stores and how it uses it, which is more than we can say for many of its competitors. Overall, TunnelBear is one of the most transparent VPNs we’ve reviewed when it comes to privacy, setting a standard that we hope other providers adopt as well.

TunnelBear Service and Value

Customer Support

TunnelBear customer support

If you need help with your TunnelBear account or VPN connection, you have one option: email. There’s no live chat or phone support like you’d find with other VPNs, but that’s not as big of a problem as you might think.

All too often, live chat support reps are poorly trained and respond with generic answers that don’t apply to your query. Instant support is pointless if it’s not helpful, and TunnelBear has decided that it would rather take a little extra time to provide excellent customer service via email.

It may take a few hours rather than a few minutes to receive a reply to your question, but it’ll be written by a real person who read your message and understands how to solve your problem. Support reps are friendly, well-spoken and armed with seemingly endless bear puns – for this kind of service, the wait is well worth it.

Pricing and Payment

TunnelBear price

TunnelBear offers two service tiers: free and paid.

The paid tier gives you unlimited bandwidth and five simultaneous connections; your customer support queries are prioritized as well. Service costs $9.99 per month, but this cost is halved to $4.99 per month if you prepay for a year in advance and both plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

The free tier affords you all the features of the paid tier but with a 500MB monthly data cap and lower-priority customer support. It’s mostly useful as a way to test out TunnelBear before upgrading your account, but if you only need a VPN once in a while for banking or business correspondence, this may be as right for you as Baby Bear’s bed was for Goldilocks.

TunnelBear accepts Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Bitcoin as payment methods. As we discussed in the “Logging Policy” section above, paying with a credit card will require you to let TunnelBear store some of your personal information, so if you’re uncomfortable with that, Bitcoin is the way to go.

Amusingly, jars of honey are also listed as an acceptable payment method. It’s almost certainly a joke and it’s not clear what the honey-to-USD exchange rate is anyway, but it’s a cute touch – when’s the last time you smiled while punching in your payment information?

TunnelBear payment

Service and Value Score: 4.5/5

The phrase “customer support email” drudges up feelings of frustration and memories of endless inbox refreshing, but TunnelBear’s implementation subverts our expectations. Reps are personable, helpful and quite timely in their responses; though it would be nice to have the option of contacting them through a live chat for simple queries, it’s more of a wishlist item than a missing feature.

While the free tier is pretty limited, it functions well as a full-featured trial or minimal-usage VPN, and we appreciate that TunnelBear offers it at all – most VPNs no longer offer free trials of any kind. Prices are lower than average and you can pay anonymously with Bitcoin, which should set your mind and your wallet at ease.

Final Score: 4.1/5

Some VPNs have servers in over a hundred countries; some provide speeds that max out your regular connection; some offer apps and support for every device and streaming site under the sun. TunnelBear doesn’t fall into any of these categories, but we believe in judging VPNs for what they are.

TunnelBear is, ostensibly, a VPN for the average Joe – someone who wants security without fancy features and innumerable options, who doesn’t want to have to enroll in CompSci 301 to configure their VPN, who doesn’t need instant access to a world’s worth of foreign films and far-off servers. It’s for families, students, businesspeople and all manner of folks who simply want a trustworthy and affordable VPN that works.

And TunnelBear provides just that. It’s easy to use, it delivers great speeds, it’s got a seal of approval from one of the world’s foremost cybersecurity firms and it puts your privacy before all else.

Though we’d like to see more technical content on the website and more transparency regarding server locations and stats, these complaints have little bearing on the fact that TunnelBear’s cute and cuddly facade hides a ton of privacy-enhancing power. Power users will likely look elsewhere, but everybody else should take a look inside TunnelBear’s den – it might be just right for you.

Related Questions

After grinning and bearing it through all these puns, you deserve a hibernation in an article that’s barren of bear jokes… like one of these!

Which VPNs Offer Free Trials?

It’s always nice to take a VPN for a test drive before handing over your payment information. Some companies, like VyprVPN, offer short free trials that let you try before you buy, while others, like TunnelBear, let you tunnel for free indefinitely with a bandwidth cap.

What are Web Trackers?

Advertisers love trackers – tiny pieces of code that capture tons of information, which can then be used to show you targeted ads, track your browsing history and assemble a shockingly detailed profile of you for their profit. From pixel trackers that serve as email read receipts to Facebook “Like” buttons that don’t even need to be clicked to connect to your profile to your web activity, trackers are both invasive and omnipresent… but with a little effort, they can be defeated!

Would You Like More Privacy, Unrestricted Streaming, and a More Secure Internet Experience?

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