Digital privacy is talk of the town. Due to the recent controversies and data scandals, more and more users are realizing the dangers present on the web.
However, there is little knowledge among the masses about the efficacy of different VPN services. This is why; it is important to keep the netizens informed about different digital privacy providers.
My TunnelBear vs PIA review aims to educate the users on the strengths and limitations of these services. You should also check this VPN chart where I have provided comparisons of more than 60 providers. Before we go into the detail, here is a brief overview of different criteria on which we have performed the PIA vs TunnelBear comparison:
Private Internet Access vs TunnelBear: Head to Head
PIA is the winner!
I concluded that PIA VPN is the winner because it outweighed TunnelBear in these areas:
- Price: $2.69/month
- Fast Speed: 91.00 Mbps
- Server Network and Countries: 35,912+ servers in 77 countries
- Refund Policy: 30 days
Quick Overview of PIA vs TunnelBear 2021
Here is the summary of the comparison between TunnelBear and PIA VPN.
|Logging Policy||No logs||No logs|
|Speed||76.75 Mbps||91.00 Mbps|
|Server Network||22+ servers|
|Customer Support||Email/tutorials||Email/form based|
|Netflix Unblocking||Not supported||Inconsistent|
1. Jurisdiction: PIA vs TunnelBear
Result: Both providers are located in Five Eyes countries
Jurisdiction is an important factor to consider when selecting a VPN for your privacy and security. TunnelBear is Canada-based while Private Internet Access (PIA) is based in its neighboring USA.
(Five Eyes – Unsafe)
(Five Eyes – Unsafe)
Both countries are part of the five eyes, which is an alliance of five countries that spy on their citizens and share their information with each other. Therefore, both providers cannot guarantee that they won’t have to hand over your data to agencies if asked for it.
Numerous tech companies in the US and Canada are forced by government agencies to hand over user data which violates user’s right to privacy. Therefore, we’d recommend you to think twice about purchasing either of these two for yourself. Moreover, keeping jurisdiction aside, 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 it with CyberGhost and to see the full brawl, check out CyberGhost vs TunnelBear comparison.
2. Logging Policy: TunnelBear vs PIA
|Stores some personally identifiable information including connection logs||No traffic logs, but the overall policy is vague|
TunnelBear Logging Policy:
- Operating system of the user
- TunnelBear app version the user is currently using
- Active time per month
- Total data used per month
PIA Logging Policy:
PIA has a vague logging policy and there’s no clear, unambiguous information about what type of logs, if any, they store. For this reason, TunnelBear has a better logging policy with clearer transparency. PIA mentioned on their official site that they dont log any user activities. They just collect the basic information that is necessary for creating a PIA account.
To know more about VPN services’ logging policies, read this dedicated guide.
3. Pricing Plan: TunnelBear vs PIA
Result: PIA is 33.26% cheaper than TunnelBear, and also offers a 30-day refund policy.
|Monthly: $9.99/mo||Monthly: $11.96/mo|
|Yearly: $4.99/mo||Yearly: $3.33/mo|
|2-Year: $4.17/mo||2-Year: $2.69/mo|
|Get Tunnelbear||Get PIA|
TunnelBear Price: TunnelBear can be categorized as a cheap VPN. It is available for $4.17/month through its 2-year package. In addition, you can avail of this service free of cost, but with a 500 MB/month bandwidth limit.
PIA Price: However, PIA bests TunnelBear as a cheaper VPN with the price of $2.69/month on its 2-year package. Similarly, its yearly package costs around $3.33/mo only.
Payment Methods & Refund Policy
|Credit Cards||Credit Cards|
|Does not accept Mint||Mint|
TunnelBear allows multiple methods of payment. Most notably, it allows anonymous payments through the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. You can purchase TunnelBear through either VISA, Master Card, American Express, and Bitcoin. TunnelBear does not have a refund policy, however, their free plan makes up for that.
In comparison, PIA accepts payment through numerous methods. It accepts way more anonymous and non-anonymous payments than TunnelBear. PIA offers 30-day money-back guarantee on all of its plans, so you can cancel PIA VPN anytime.
Not having a clear money-back policy will be a serious disadvantage to TunnelBear especially when it is compared with the VPN industry’s top-tier VPN providers such as NordVPN, which offers a clear 30-day money-back guarantee. Despite being at a disadvantage, TunnelBear can still go toe-to-toe with NordVPN on different VPN factors. If you are interested to see its show-down with NordVPN, then check out our TunnelBear vs NordVPN comparison.
4. Speed Test: TunnelBear vs Private Internet Access
Result: PIA is faster than TunnelBear
To test the download speed, a 100 Mbps base connection was used.
|US||76.75 Mbps||91.00 Mbps|
|UK||74.59 Mbps||88.56 Mbps|
|Australia||73.56 Mbps||85.65 Mbps|
|Canada||67 Mbps||53.17 Mbps|
TunnelBear only managed to reach the maximum speed of 78.45 Mbps of download speed on its US server. PIA, however, clocked in an average speed of 91.09 Mbps, on its US server making it considerably fast. Based on these stats, PIA is significantly faster than TunnelBear
Here are the details of the speed test:
Speed Test #1: PIA vs TunnelBear US server
On its US server, PIA delivered a high speed of 91 Mbps. Both uploading and downloading speeds were inconsistent.
TunnelBear offered a download speed of 76.75 Mbps and an upload speed of 86.84 Mbps on its US server.
Speed Test #2: PIA vs TunnelBear UK server
PIA offered a fast download speed of 88.56 Mbps on its UK server with extremely low pings at 10 ms. Therefore, it is a great VPN for gaming, especially on its UK server.
On the UK server, TunnelBear managed to offer a decent download speed of 74.59 Mbps which was slower than PIA.
Speed Test #3: PIA vs TunnelBear Australia
On the Australian server, PIA managed to deliver a download speed of 85.65 Mbps with very low pings coming at 30 ms. comparison between PIA and PureVPN. You can also check our in-depth , where PIA also managed good speeds at a 100 Mbps connection.
TunnelBear, on the other, had managed to offer a speed of 73.56 Mbps with very low pings of 23 ms.
5. Servers: Private Internet Access vs TunnelBear
Result: PIA has 35,912+ servers as compared to TunnelBear’s 23 servers
Extensive sever coverage is essential for VPN service. This is because many of us utilize VPN for bypassing geo-blocked content.
TunnelBear Servers: TunnelBear provides 23 servers in an equal number of countries. This makes the server network one of the smallest in the whole VPN industry. Some of the locations include the US, UK, Canada, Germany, Japan, Australia, France, Netherlands, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, Hong Kong, and many more.
PIA Server: Comparatively, PIA offers 35,912+ servers in 77 countries. There are not many VPNs with a server network as large as Private Internet Access’s. Some of its server locations include U.S, Canada, the U.K, Switzerland, Netherlands, Sweden, France, Germany, Romania, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, and others. Due to this reason, it is the best VPN in multiple countries and one of the best choice VPNs in Hong Kong.
6. Device Compatibility & Ease of Use: PIA vs TunnelBear
Result: Both providers are compatible with multiple platforms
Both TunnelBear and PIA VPN are compatible with common popular devices and operating systems. However, PIA is compatible with routers and TunnelBear does not provide such convenience, as shown in the following TunnelBear vs PIA VPN review table for compatibility.
|Does not offer apps for Routers||DD-WRT, Tomato, PfSense routers|
Private Internet Access: PIA offers apps for various platforms including Windows, Andriod, iOS, macOS, and more. PIA also offers browser extensions for Google Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. You can also configure PIA VPN on router and use it with devices that dont have native VPN support. Meaning, you can manually set up PIA on Roku by using a router.
PIA is also officially available on the Amazon app store, so you can easily set up PIA VPN on any FireStick device as well as use it with platforms like Kodi. You can also use PIA VPN on your Linux devices. PIA has a simple interface, with a dark theme and professional-looking app that gives a modern aura. It is also easy to use as everything is accessible from the home screen.
TunnelBear: TunnelBear offers limited support for devices as compared to PIA. Its apps are available for iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS. TunnelBear also offers extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. However, you cannot configure TunnelBear on routers.
TunnelBear currently doesn’t support Kindle/eReaders, Windows mobile phones, Apple TV, Android TV, gaming consoles, etc. You can set up TunnelBear for Kodi or use it with devices like Roku (through manual configuration).
TunnelBear has a cute app and is also very simple to use. The app has tons of cartoon bears guiding the user throughout the app.
7. Torrenting: TunnelBear vs Private Internet Access
Result: PIA allows P2P file sharing on all its servers. TunnelBear on the other hand suggests users use only limited servers for torrenting.
Torrents and other P2P applications provide a convenient way of sharing content. However, you cannot have your cake and eat it too. Torrenting seems harmless but it can be detrimental to your online security. While torrenting, your IP address is exposed to numerous strangers. Moreover, as you may know, that is not a good thing.
Since TunnelBear and PIA are both located in countries with strict anti-piracy laws, these VPNs discourage torrenting. As such, you can’t rely on these services if you want to safely download torrents.
Also, check out our article on the best VPN for torrenting.
Private Internet Access: PIA allows torrenting on all of its servers. PIA also offers SOCKS5 protocol that is perfect for torrenting because it offers fast download speeds. Even though PIA is based in the US, it reroutes your traffic to servers that are safe for torrenting like the Netherlands and Switzerland.
TunnelBear: TunnelBear allows P2P file sharing, but it suggests users use its servers in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Romania, the Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden. If you try torrenting on other servers, you will not be able to download anything because P2P traffic is blocked on most of its servers.
8. Netflix Streaming & Unblocking: TunnelBear vs PIA VPN
Result: Both VPNs failed to unblock major streaming platforms like BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and more.
Netflix has recently become extremely strict against VPNs, blocking many of these services. Unfortunately, PIA and TunnelBear no longer work with Netflix, so if you’re looking to stream your favorite shows on a region of your choice, these VPNs aren’t cut out for this purpose. For more information about the ability of different VPNs to work with Netflix, see our article on Netflix VPN.
PIA – Netflix Testing: During testing, we managed to access Netflix US, however, it was a hit-and-miss scenario. On most servers, we got the Netflix proxy error, and when we contacted customer support, they said they have been blocked by Netflix in most of the locations. Therefore, if you want to use PIA for Netflix streaming, you will have to try multiple servers and hope to find the one that works.
Unfortunately, PIA does not work with other geo-restricted streaming sites either – including Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, and more. This was also the case in Private Internet Access vs IPVanish where PIA was unable to unblock any other streaming platform apart from Netflix US.
TunnelBear – Netflix Testing:
TunnelBear does not work with US Netflix or any other Netflix region for that matter. We tried connecting to its different US servers but it did not work. Just like PIA TunnelBear does not work with other streaming services either including BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and more.
Chinese Restrictions: PIA vs TunnelBear
China has imposed strong restrictions and censorship in the country. Therefore, not many VPNs can bypass the Great Firewall of China. Let’s see if these services can work in China and circumvent censorship and internet restrictions.
PIA does work in China, but only if you manually configure the VPN properly. However, we dont recommend it for Chinese users because it is not reliable. If you try using PIA within China, it tells its users to switch VPN protocols from OpenVPN to L2TP/IPSec, which is not secure.
TunnelBear does work in China and it also offers servers in Hong Kong. This VPN service offers a feature called GhostBear feature that obfuscates your encrypted VPN connection making it undetectable. This is especially useful for users in countries like China with online restrictions and censorship.
9. Security Features
Result: PIA offers better security features than TunnelBear
The core function of a VPN is to protect the users from digital threats. This cannot be achieved without an effective combination of potent security tools.
To secure their users from online ghouls, both TunnelBear and PIA offer several unique features.
|No ad tracker or malware tracker||Ad, tracker, and malware blocker|
|No SOCKS5 proxy||SOCKS5 Proxy|
|OpenVPN, IPSec/IKEv2||OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP/IPSec|
|AES 256 bit encryption||AES 256 bit encryption|
|No WireGuard Protocol||WireGuard Protocol|
Private Internet Access Security: PIA offers 256-bit AES encryption and a variety of VPN protocols including OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, and the WireGuard protocol. It also offers DNS and IPv6 leak protection, a kill switch, and a feature called MACE that blocks ads, trackers, and malware. PIA also offers an SOCKS5 proxy for additional security.
During our testing, PIA VPN did not leak any information regarding IP, DNS, and WebRTC:
TunnelBear Security: TunnelBear offers 256-bit AES encryption, with OpenVPN, and IPSec/IKEv2 protocols. Here are some of TunnelBear’s security features:
- It offers a kill switch called VigilantBear which is available only for Windows, macOS, and Android.
- GhostBear feature for obfuscating your traffic making it untraceable.
- SplitBear feature for split tunneling. But it is only available on Android devices
- Auto Tunnel helps users automatically connect to a server with the lowest pings
- TunnelBear Blocker for the Google Chrome extension only. It blocks ads.
Upon testing, we found out the TunnelBear does not leak any IP, DNS, or WebRTC information.
10. Which VPN offers better customer support? PIA or TunnelBear
Result: Both providers lack live chat support which is disappointing
Good customer support goes a long way in providing a good VPN experience. This is because VPN users require help in a variety of things. Sometimes they need assistance in configuring a service while in other instances they have general queries.
TunnelBear VPN does not offer live chat support or any telephone option, but it does have a lot of information that you can find on their website. It also offers an email-based contact form that you can fill and the customer reps will contact you after some time.
Similarly, PIA also doesn’t have any live chat support for users. It has a ticketing system, which requires users to create a ticket in case they dont find help from their support library.
Winner: Its a Tie
The TunnelBear vs PIA match for the customer support can be declared as a draw. Both services provide somewhat similar support options to the customers, but not in an ideal way as there is no live chat support.
PIA vs TunnelBear Reddit Review
If you want genuine opinion and user experience about a VPN, there is no better platform than Reddit. Therefore, we also decided to see what Reddit users have to say about PIA and TunnelBear.
Most Reddit users were in favor of PIA VPN and they were happy with the service. As one user says that they have had no issues with PIA and they have not faced any connectivity issues. The user also seems pleased with the customer support as they responded within hours.
Similarly, one user says that PIAs old servers are blacklisted by most restricted sites, but they constantly refresh their IP addresses and servers to fix the problem.
When it comes to TunnelBear, one user says that he hasn’t faced any issues downloading torrents with TunnelBear.
TunnelBear was established in the year 2011, but later it was acquired by McAfee in 2018. McAfee is an American Intel Security Group, headquartered in California, USA.
Yes, TunnelBear is good for gaming because of its high speeds and low latency. It is also a popular choice among gamers because of its simple interface that is easy to use.
PIA uses both 128-bit and 256-bit AES encryption, and TunnelBear on the other hand uses 256-bit AES encryption.
PIA vs TunnelBear: Conclusion
With more servers, additional protocols, and better compatibility, PIA has a clear edge over TunnelBear. Hence, this TunnelBear vs PIA review concludes that the latter is much more capable than the former.
However, TunnelBear can be useful if you’re looking for a free VPN and aren’t bothered by the small bandwidth limit.