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TunnelBear vs PIA

Winner: PIA

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:

  • Jurisdiction: Are PIA and TunnelBear based in a safe jurisdiction it not?
  • Logging Policy: Reviewing the logging policy of both the VPNs to see which one is secure and private.
  • Pricing: Which VPN is more affordable in terms of pricing plans?
  • Speed: Speed test to see which VPN is faster in terms of connection speeds.
  • Servers: The number of servers and server locations offered by both the VPNs.
  • Device Compatibility: To see which VPN is compatible with more devices and operating systems.
  • Torrenting: Which VPN is compatible with P2P file sharing?
  • Netflix Streaming and UnblockingTo see which of the VPNs can bypass firewalls and unblock restricted sites like Netflix.
  • Security Features: Which VPN offers more security features and protocols?
  • Customer Support:  To test which VPN offers better customer support.

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.

FactorsTunnelBearPIA
JurisdictionCanadaUSA
Logging PolicyNo logsNo logs
Pricing$4.17/mo$2.69/mo
Speed76.75 Mbps91.00 Mbps
Server Network22+ servers
23 countries
35,912+ servers
77 Countries
Customer SupportEmail/tutorialsEmail/form based
query submissions
TorrentingSupportedSupported
Netflix UnblockingNot supportedInconsistent
SecurityStrongStrong
WebsiteTunnelBearPIA VPN

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.

TunnelBearPIA
Canada
(Five Eyes – Unsafe)
USA
(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.

Winner: Its a Tie

Both PIA and TunnelBear are headquartered in the unsafe jurisdiction of the United States and Canada respectively.

2. Logging Policy: TunnelBear vs PIA

Result:  Both TunnelBear and PIA have a vague logging policy as both VPN providers log some amount of user data. However, TunnelBears Privacy policy is clear. 

TunnelBearPIA
Stores some personally identifiable information including connection logsNo traffic logs, but the overall policy is vague

TunnelBear Logging Policy:

TunneTunnelBear does keep some connection logs. It isn’t perfectly clear, however, if they keep other logs such as timestamps. Some information that TunnelBear does keep logs of according to their privacy policy, include:

  • 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.

No-Logging-Policy-PIA-VPN

However, if you look closer, you will see a heading in PIAs privacy policy called “Disclosure and use of personal information.” According to this, PIA complies with all subpoena requests, which goes against its so-called “no-logs policy.” Therefore PIA’s logging policy is very confusing.

To know more about VPN services’ logging policies, read this dedicated guide.

Winner: Its a Tie

Both TunnelBear and PIA store connection logs and other user information that shows that both dont have a true no-logs policy.

3. Pricing Plan: TunnelBear vs PIA

Result: PIA is 33.26% cheaper than TunnelBear, and also offers a 30-day refund policy. 

TunnelBearPIA VPN
Monthly: $9.99/moMonthly: $11.96/mo
Yearly: $4.99/moYearly: $3.33/mo
2-Year: $4.17/mo2-Year: $2.69/mo
Get TunnelbearGet 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.

TunnelBear-Pricing-Plans

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.

PIA-Pricing

Payment Methods & Refund Policy

TunnelBearPIA VPN
PayPalPayPal
Credit CardsCredit Cards
BitcoinBitcoin
Does not accept MintMint

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.

Payment-Methods-TunnelBear

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.

pia-vpn-payment-methods

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.

Winner: Private Internet Access

PIA is cheaper than TunnelBear and accepts more payment options. PIA also offers 30-day money-back guarantee, whereas, TunnelBear does not offer any refunds.

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.

Server LocationTunnelBearPIA
US76.75 Mbps91.00 Mbps
UK74.59 Mbps88.56 Mbps
Australia73.56 Mbps85.65 Mbps
Canada67 Mbps53.17 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.

Speed-PIA-USA

TunnelBear offered a download speed of 76.75 Mbps and an upload speed of 86.84 Mbps on its US server.

TunnelBear-USA-speed

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.

nordvpn-speed

On the UK server, TunnelBear managed to offer a decent download speed of 74.59 Mbps which was slower than PIA.

Tunnelbear-UK-server

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 PureVPNYou can also check our in-depth , where PIA also managed good speeds at a 100 Mbps connection.

TunnelBear-speedtest

TunnelBear, on the other, had managed to offer a speed of 73.56 Mbps with very low pings of 23 ms.

pia-new-york-speed

Winner: Private Internet Access

PIA offered faster connection speeds on all its server locations as compared to TunnelBear.

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.

TunnelBearPIA
22 servers
23 countries
35,912+ servers
77 countries

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.

TunnelBear-Servers-List

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 Hong Kong, and others.

PIA-servers-in-the-world

Winner: PIA

Suffice to say, TunnelBear vs PIA comparison for servers is not even a competition. PIA is a clear winner here.

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.

TunnelBearPIA VPN
WindowsWindows
MacMac
AndroidAndroid
iOSiOS
ChromeChrome
FirefoxFirefox
Does not offer apps for RoutersDD-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-vpn-for-windows

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.

pia-vpn-linux-app

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-Connected

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.

Tunnelbear-ios-interface

 

Winner: PIA

Private Internet Access offers compatibility for a wide range of devices as it can also be configured on a router, making it a good option for Smart TVs, PS4, Xbox, and more. TunnelBear on the other hand supports limited devices.

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.

Winner: Private Internet Access

PIA is a better choice for torrenting. Both PIA and TunnelBear are based in the unsafe jurisdiction of the US and Canada respectively, so we dont recommend using these for P2P file sharing, but if we had to choose one, it will be PIA.

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.

pia-unblocks-us-netflix

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.

tunnelbear-not-working-with-netflix

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.

Does PIA work in China? 

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.

Does TunnelBear Work in China? 

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.

Winner: No Winner’s here! 

Both PIA and TunnelBear dont work with a lot of streaming services as we could only manage to get Netflix US with both VPNs. It failed to unblock other geo-restricted sites like BBC iPlayer. Therefore, none of these services are a great option for Chinese users because they cannot unblock popular geo-restricted sites.

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.

TunnelBearPIA VPN
No ad tracker or malware trackerAd, tracker, and malware blocker
No SOCKS5 proxySOCKS5 Proxy
OpenVPN, IPSec/IKEv2OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP/IPSec
AES 256 bit encryptionAES 256 bit encryption
No WireGuard ProtocolWireGuard 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:

pia-vpn-ip-dns-webrtc-leak-tests

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. 

TunnelBear-DNS-Leak-Test

Winner: PIA

The above information shows that PIA has more tools in the box to safeguard your online activity. With more protocol options and a malware blocker, PIA has the means to defend you on the mean streets of the internet. Also, with PIA you have all the features for all devices. In TunnelBear, some features are only available for Android, or Chrome extension.

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.

SupportTunnelBearPIA VPN
Live ChatNoNo
Email SupportYesYes
Tutorials/Setup GuidesYesYes

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.

TunnelBear-support-section

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.

PIA-customer-support

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.

one-user-never-face-any-problem-with-pia-vpn

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.

negative-comment-on-reddit-about-pia-vpn

When it comes to TunnelBear, one user says that he hasn’t faced any issues downloading torrents with TunnelBear. tunnelbear-review-reddit

FAQs

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.

No, Private Internet Access clearly states in their privacy policy that they dont keep any user logs. However, it is based in the USA and its privacy policy is a little vague. Therefore, it is not our first choice when it comes to log-less VPNs.

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.

 

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