Features and Pricing Summary:
Network: Servers in 20 countries
Software: Win, Mac, iOS, Android
Refund Policy: Free Trial
Retail Price: $6.99/mo
Discount Price: Save 41% Off
TunnelBear has got to be the most interesting VPN that we have reviewed. This Canadian company does a really good job with marketing, and all icons, images, and references are to bears. They even tweaked the Android robot to look like a bear. They are certainly very clever, and in this review, we will take a look at their features but first, we will look at their pricing.
Pricing and Discounts
There are two plans offered by the bears. The first is called the Giant, and is $6.99/mo. The other plan is called the Grizzly, and a year of service is $49.99. That makes your final price $4.16/mo. They do have a tiny 500mb free account, but you can’t do much on it.
TunnelBear gives you several ways to pay for your service. Those are credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, and even the very unique option of “Jars of Honey”. Please be aware that we were unable to find a conversion rate on the honey, but the prices for the VPN plans are in USD.
As is always, features can be determining factors in a provider selection. Tunnelbear has quite a few features that allows them to compete with some of the bigger services. We will discuss them below.
The first feature we want to mention is IntelliBear. This feature allows you to use TunnelBear for specialized tunneling of specific websites, as noted by the purple arrow. The Vigilant option is their kill switch feature. By clicking the box, the TunnelBear will kill your internet connection so you are not vulnerable should the VPN connection drop. TCP override is what you would use if your connection is choppy. It is not quite as fast as the regular OpenVPN (UDP) protocol, but it will smooth out that issue. GhostBear is a designed feature as shown by the green arrow for restrictive networks. If you are in a country that censors, that is the feature for you. The combination of all these features makes TunnelBear stand out from others.
TunnelBear does not have servers in many countries when compared to other providers, but you can be sure that they strategically placed them. Here is a list of the countries where they offer servers:
- Hong Kong S.A.R.
As you can see, they offer servers in popular countries. Most users will not need any more than the ones listed here. Added to this list are India and Australia, but those are for the paying accounts only. One unfortunate thing we have found is the inability to choose a server in specific cities. That is ok if you don’t have a preference, but it will cause a problem if you are trying to connect to a certain region of a country.
When choosing a VPN provider, speeds can be important, especially if you are streaming content. When you have an encrypted connection, you may expect some speed loss, and that could be up to 25%.
As you can see in our image, we got a very slight speed loss of about 10%. Though that is in the acceptable range, we can not honestly say that the result we received is consistent. We got several fluctuations where their speed was not quite as close. However, we only tested US connections. Other servers may have different numbers depending on various factors.
Security and Privacy
One of the primary reasons for using a VPN is security. TunnelBear uses the OpenVPN protocol, with AES-256 encryption. They also use the SHA256 bit security key. They offer the OpenVPN protocol which is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Android. Be aware that AES-256 SHA1 is offered through a method called IPsec. That is all that is allowed by iOS.
TunnelBear does not offer much in the way of support. They have a knowledge base and an email address to ask them questions. They do not mention a turn around time, so it is unknown how long it will take for them to answer their emails, or what the hours of support operation are. However, in sending an email to the TunnelBear team, We received a response back in 2 hours. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and funny. As you could probably guess, the customer service representative stayed in character.
TunnelBear offers apps for Windows, Mac, iOS. and Android. They also have a Linux setup guide. Please be aware they do not support Windows XP, or any other devices but the ones we just mentioned. If you do have problems, we advise checking the knowledge base or sending them an email.
Sign Up Process
Signing up for TunnelBear is easy, and we are glad to see that they require very little information to get started. After expressing an interest in signing up, you only need to create a TunnelBear account by using your first name, email address, and password. From there, you fill out the payment information and download the client. It is that easy.
How to Use TunnelBear for Desktop
TunnelBear makes it a point to mention that securing your privacy can be easy. That is true with their client. In our demonstration, we will use the Windows client to show how easy it is. After downloading and launching the client, you will see a box pop up that looks like this.
- In the image to the right, you see the console. The green arrow points to a dropdown menu of the servers, or you can connect to the closest server. Once you choose your server, click the dial just to the left that says on.
- If you want to change any of the settings like we showed you in the features section, just click the gear as shown by the blue arrow.
- Click the dial from the “Off” to the “On” position.
- Enjoy the benefits of using a VPN and proceed doing whatever it is you planned on doing.
How to Use TunnelBear for Mobile
For the mobile TunnelBear, we will use the Android version. In the image, after you login, click the button that says get tunneling. At the top of the next screen, you may slide TunnelBear to on, and at the bottom, you can change the location.
On the third screen, make sure you check the box stating that you want to trust TunnelBear to create a VPN connection. Now, if you want to change servers, either find a tunnel on the map, or go to the three horizontal lines at the top left.
Favorite features of TunnelBear:
- Easy to use interface
- No logs policy
- Free trial (500mb/mo)
- 5 simultaneous connections
- Very reasonably priced
- Advanced features
Thoughts to make TunnelBear better:
- Offer more methods of support
- Add the ability to select cities
- Add additional countries
- Add support for other devices
In conclusion, TunnelBear offers a great service that is very reasonably priced, simple, and easy to use. They offer advanced features for those that want them and have decent speeds for anything you want to do. The website, graphics, and interface are very polished and fun. To be honest, it is hard to say anything bad about a company that adds such humor to the industry while taking the user’s privacy seriously. Though they do not offer as many country locations as other providers, TunnelBear is perfect if you are looking for a friendly, easy to use VPN. Upgrading to the “Giant” or “Grizzly Bear” levels of service is well worth the money. Click the button below to start now.