TunnelBear Free VPN Review (Updated 2021)
TunnelBear Free VPN is hugely popular among the free VPN community. But is the paid version any better or worth paying the hefty $4.17/mo price? Find out about the pros and cons of TunnelBear in this 2021 review.
TunnelBear is a fairly renowned VPN service provider, yet it’s not because of its paid version that people use this VPN service. In fact, if you’re looking to purchase this VPN service, I highly suggest you stick with the free version.
Even though TunnelBear offers servers in 23 countries, is compatible with iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, and browsers, offers 256-bit encryption, and supports various payment methods, it’s still not as good as some other VPN services like PureVPN.
Not only is TunnelBear incapable of unblocking Netflix, but it’s also headquartered in an unsafe jurisdiction of Canada, is quite expensive, has a sketchy no-logs policy, and works quite slow while torrenting. Overall, after compiling this TunnelBear review, I have given this VPN service 3.4/5.0 stars.
If you wish to check out other VPNs that are free, please check out our list of best free VPN services.
My Rating Criteria
To test out TunnelBear, I used my 9 step rating criteria mentioned below:
- Jurisdiction – Where is TunnelBear located?
- Security – Is TunnelBear safe?
- Leaks – Does TunnelBear leak IP, DNS & WebRTC?
- Servers – Where are TunnelBear servers located?
- Speed – Is TunnelBear fast?
- Streaming – Does TunnelBear work on Netflix?
- Compatibility – Which devices can I use TunnelBear with?
- Pricing – How much does TunnelBear cost?
- Trustworthiness – Trustpilot Ratings, Reddit Reviews, Support & Audit Report
Jurisdiction – Where is TunnelBear located?
TunnelBear is unfortunately located in Toronto, Canada’s unsafe jurisdiction, which just so happens to be a member of the much-hated five-eye alliance. If you don’t know, five eyes is an alliance that conducts and shares surveillance information on everyday folks like you and me. To know about the consequences of choosing a VPN located in five eyes, nine eyes, and 14 eyes territories, read our exclusive guide.
Jurisdiction is an essential factor that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Government agencies force many tech companies in Canada to hand over user data, which violates users’ right to privacy. However, if you put aside jurisdiction for a moment, TunnelBear is indeed a quality VPN provider that can go toe-to-toe against top-class VPN providers such as CyberGhost.
So if the jurisdiction doesn’t matter for you much, you can think about getting TunnelBear. We recently compared the two VPN providers. Check out CyberGhost and TunnelBear comparison for further details.
Security – Is TunnelBear safe?
Yes, TunnelBear is safe to use. In fact, on the security front, TunnelBear offers a decent array of features. To start, TunnelBear offers 256-military grade encryption. TunnelBear also offers a comprehensive list of tunneling protocols like OpenVPN, IPsec, and IKEv2, which is seriously impressive. Personally, I recommend TunnelBear’s OpenVPN protocol as it the most secure option you can use.
Does TunnelBear keep logs?
Yes, TunnelBear actually stores connection logs despite claiming to be a no logs VPN service. Here’s some of the information that TunnelBear keeps logs of:
- Operating system version
- TunnelBear app version
- Active this month
- Total data used this month
Complies with GDPR
Additional Security Features
Aside from encryption and protocols, TunnelBear also offers a few extra features as well. Let’s start with the Kill Switch, or as TunnelBear likes to call it – VigilantBear:
TunnelBear VigilantBear – (Kill Switch)
This feature works as a Kill Switch and kills your connection to protect your sensitive information. TunnelBear calls this feature VigilantBear. Aside from killing your connection in case of a leak, the VigilantBear feature is also designed to detect IPv6 and DNS leaks. This feature is available on Windows, macOS, and Android.
TunnelBear GhostBear Feature
Now you might be wondering, what is GhostBear in TunnelBear? Well, this feature might sound gimmicky. However, it’s actually quite useful. It basically obfuscates your encrypted VPN connection making it undetectable to governments and ISPs. These features can be beneficial in countries like China or the Middle East, where there is strict online censorship. GhostBear is available for Windows, macOS, and Android, but not for iOS.
The Auto Tunnel feature is designed to automatically connect users to a server location with the lowest pings. This ensures that your data travels through a short distance which in turn offers you fast connection speeds.
SplitBear is a new feature that currently works on Android devices and is essentially a split tunneling feature. This feature lets users control which apps are allowed to pass through TunnelBear’s secure and encrypted tunnel.
In addition to the VPN extension, the brand also offers a blocker for Google Chrome. This tool is not a simple adblocker. In fact, it halts many forms of tracking, including Email tracking, Ultrasonic tracking, and fingerprinting. It also allows you to manage your flash player with more efficiency.
Leaks – Does TunnelBear leak IP, DNS & WebRTC?
TunnelBear is actually a leak-proof VPN service. IP leaks can be detrimental to your online security. VPN leaks can give away your location, making your VPN virtually useless.
IP Leak Test
In my test for IP leaks, TunnelBear passed without any issues. Here’s a screenshot showing a Romanian IP address instead of my true IP address.
DNS Leak Test
As for the DNS leak test, I connected to a US server this time. From the screenshot below, you can see that my original IP address is nowhere to be seen:
WebRTC Leak Test
Lastly, I also checked for WebRTC leaks using the US server, and TunnelBear passed without leaking. Check out the screenshot:
Bonus: App File Check
Although TunnelBear passed all my leaks tests without any issues, I wanted to see whether the TunnelBear apps contained any hidden malware. Luckily, the results of the test came up clean. No surprise since TunnelBear is actually owned by the Antivirus giant – McAfee.
For more information about IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks, read our VPN leak test guide.
Servers – Where are TunnelBear servers located?
TunnelBear servers are located across 23 countries around the world. Some of the locations include the US, UK, Canada, Germany, Japan, Australia, France, Netherlands, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, Hong Kong, and many more.
Is TunnelBear good for Torrenting?
Although TunnelBear supports torrenting, you can only utilize it properly for p2p with the paid version. I tried downloading many small to medium-sized torrent files, and I was impressed by the overall performance. All in all, since TunnelBear previously did not support torrenting and P2P, it’s at least nice to see that they now support this feature.
Does TunnelBear work in China?
Yes, at the moment, TunnelBear works in China. Not only does TunnelBear offer a server in Hong Kong that can be used to access Chinese content, but it also supports the GhostBear obfuscation feature to bypass the Great Firewall (GFW). That being said, there’s no telling whether the service will continue to work in the future or not as The People’s Republic of China has some of the harshest censorship regulations.
Speed – Is TunnelBear fast?
When it comes to speeds, TunnelBear is quite fast. When conducting my TunnelBear speed test, I was quite surprised by the speed test results. Here’s a brief table with all the speed test results compiled for your convenience.
|Server location||Download speed||Upload speed||Pings|
|Australia||75.5 Mbps||69.8 Mbps||233 ms|
|Canada||67 Mbps||74.44 Mbps||301 ms|
|France||66.2 Mbps||82.9 Mbps||296 ms|
|India||72.6 Mbps||83.77 Mbps||372 ms|
|Netherlands||75.89 Mbps||80.4 Mbps||310 ms|
|Singapore||67.2 Mbps||73.3 Mbps||122 ms|
|Switzerland||52 Mbps||72.3 Mbps||314 ms|
|United Kingdom||72.45 Mbps||79 Mbps||277 ms|
|United States||78.45 Mbps||81.5 Mbps||286 ms|
Streaming – Does TunnelBear work on Netflix?
Unfortunately, TunnelBear doesn’t work with U.S Netflix. Despite connecting to different U.S servers, Netflix didn’t work for me.
For more information, see our guide on TunnelBear for Netflix.
Does TunnelBear work with Hulu & Other Streaming Services?
As for BBC iPlayer and other geo-restricted streaming services like Hulu and Disney plus, TunnelBear did manage to unblock these services. However, the performance was quite laggy and below average.
Compatibility – Which devices can I use TunnelBear with?
In terms of compatibility, TunnelBear supports only a handful of devices. From TunnelBear’s official website, you can only use TunnelBear on Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and browsers (Chrome, Firefox & Opera). It’s a great free VPN for PC. TunnelBear currently doesn’t support Kindle/eReaders, Windows mobile phones, Apple TV, Android TV, gaming consoles, and even modems/routers.
You can set up TunnelBear for Kodi or use it with Roku devices (through manual configuration). This can come in handy if you desire to use the VPN while using these apps/devices.
If you’re having problems with the VPN, you can find some easy fixes in this TunnelBear not working guide.
TunnelBear for Windows
The TunnelBear Windows client is attractive and can be navigated without any difficulty. It is uncomplicated and gets the job done without any complex menus or configurations.
The client allows you to connect with different server locations through its map. You can access servers from 23 different countries by simply clicking on their respective tunnels.
The client allows you to toggle between GhostBear, VigilantBear, and other security features. It does not confuse you with a plethora of options but does allow you to configure the software as per your liking.
TunnelBear for macOS
Similar to the Windows app, the macOS app of TunnelBear is just as good. Server selection is quite snappy, and everything just works effortlessly. Here’s how the user interface looks like:
TunnelBear for Android
As I have explained above, this VPN has a sleek app for Android OS. I used the app myself, and my experience was enjoyable.
Like the Windows app, the Android app of TunnelBear allows you to easily select different servers by navigating through a simple and intuitive map.
TunnelBear for iOS
The iOS version of TunnelBear is quite good. The app is lightweight and works without any glitches. Not only that, but I also really like the subtle animations throughout the app.
Pricing – How much does TunnelBear cost?
TunnelBear charges $4.17/mo for a 2-year plan which is rather expensive. In comparison, Surfshark’s 24-month plan only costs $1.99/mo.
At present, it offers three paid plan and one absolutely free plan, which more or less works as a free trial of TunnelBear:
Although quite expensive, all paid subscription plans allow you to secure five devices simultaneously, which is still somewhat good. However, there is no refund policy, so if you want to cancel TunnelBear, there’s no guarantee you will get your money back. This is why it would be wise to use the free version first and only proceed with the paid subscription if you’re delighted with it.
Not a clear money-back policy is a big drawback as most of the top-tier VPN provider like NordVPN clearly state the money-back policy on their websites, which increase the trust level of the potential customers. However, despite this drawback, TunnelBear still performs toe-to-toe with the likes of NordVPN in many different VPN factors. You can view its performance in our TunnelBear and NordVPN comparison.
TunnelBear accepts all major payment methods except for PayPal. You can purchase TunnelBear through either VISA, Master Card, American Express, and Bitcoin.
Is TunnelBear really free?
Yes, TunnelBear is actually free. You don’t need to provide any credit card details and still use the service for free. Nevertheless, TunnelBear free plan has some limitations. You only get 500 MB of data per month, which is enough for casual browsing but will run out quickly if you stream movies or download torrents. That said, you can get an additional 1 GB of data free if you just Tweet about TunnelBear.
One amazing feature about TunnelBears free version is that it offers similar server access to both premium and free users. For example, on its free version you get access to servers in France, US, Canada, Germany, Netherlands and even Singapore. Therefore, its one of the best free VPNs for Singapore.
TunnelBear does not offer any refunds. Unlike PureVPN or even Surfshark, as of that matter that offers 30-days refunds, TunnelBear offers no designated money-back guarantee. That being said, TunnelBear may offer refunds on a certain basis. However, it’s not clear what these basics are. If you’re just looking to try out TunnelBear, I highly suggest trying the free version rather than purchasing the premium subscription.
Trustworthiness – Trustpilot Ratings, Reddit Reviews, Customer Support & Audit Report
On Trustpilot, TunnelBear has an average 2.8 rating. Out of 59 user reviews, 27% of users have rated the service as excellent, and 44% of users have rated TunnelBear as bad. From Trustpilot reviews, it’s clear that people generally don’t like this VPN service.
TunnelBear Review Reddit
Although the paid version of TunnelBear is not for me, I still wanted to see what Reddit has to say about TunnelBear. Here are a couple of comments praising TunnelBear VPN:
When I reviewed TunnelBear, I found its customer support system to be weak. There’s no live chat support option at all, which is a major disappointment. At present, TunnelBear is handing all user queries through their “Help” section.
The help page consists of various subcategories, which I found to be quite extensive.
- Getting Started
- Billing & Payments
- TunnelBear for Teams
- Contact Us
Unlike many other VPNs, TunnelBear is extremely forthcoming about its business. This is the reason why the VPN organizes an independent audit of its service by a third party.
One must commend the providers for taking this extra step to bring their userbase into confidence. You can read the 2018 audit report right here.
Comparison between PureVPN and TunnelBear
So far in this TunnelBear review, I’m not satisfied with the service. If you’re like me and want something else, here’s a brief comparison between PureVPN and Tunnelbear:
|Servers||3000+ in 94 Countries||Servers in 23 Countries|
|Compatibility||All Devices||Windows, Android & iOS|
|Jurisdiction||The British Virgin Islands||Canada|
|Logging Policy||Zero Log||Does not keep logs|
|Customer Support||Live Chat & Email Support||Forum & Email Ticketing|
|Trust Pilot Score||4.6||2.8|
Alternatives to TunnelBear
- Avast VPN Review
- ExpressVPN Review
- Private Internet Access Review
- PureVPN Review
- Windscribe Review
- AVG VPN Review
- NordVPN Review
Do I Recommend TunnelBear?
Yes, but only the free version of TunnelBear.
After concluding this TunnelBear, It’s clear that the service is good but not flawless. Even though TunnelBear works with Hulu and Torrenting, offers decent security features, and doesn’t leak, I would suggest opting for PureVPN rather than TunnelBear.
Let’s not forget that Tunnelbear is one of the recommended free VPNs in the world. It is the best free VPN in the Philippines and in many other countries.
Well, for one, TunnelBear is quite expensive. Not only that, but Tunnelbear is also headquartered in an unsafe jurisdiction, stores logs, offers no refunds and live chat, supports a handful of devices, and has an average Trustpilot rating. Overall, I have given this VPN service a 3.4/5.0 stars rating in this TunnelBear review.
If you want to know about VPNs other than TunnelBear, check out our unbiased VPN reviews.