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TunnelBear VPN Review: Is It Secure To Use In 2023?

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TunnelBear is a product of McAfee, a renowned US internet security company. The company has a reputation for protecting its users’ online security with award-winning antivirus. The company introduced its VPN provider to ensure users browse the web safely. However, the company always falls into the gray area because of its invasive jurisdiction. Users are often worried about their digital privacy with this VPN. 

TunnelBear VPN is a versatile VPN provider that offers a free and premium version. It uses strong encryption, a verified no-log policy, and basic security and privacy-boosting features that ensure a secure user experience. The following table gives a quick overview of the VPN provider, so have a look: 

Security and Privacy:

  • AES-256 bit encryption
  • SHA-256 for data authentication
  • 2048, 3072, or 4096-bit DH group for handshake encryption
Jurisdiction
  • Canada
Log Policy

Follows a no-log policy with security audits

Security Features
  • Vigilant Bear
  • SplitBear
  • GhostBear

Streaming and Torrenting

List of Compatible Streaming Platforms 
  • Netflix
List of Torrenting Features
  • SplitBear
  • Torrent IP leak protection

User-friendliness 

No. of Servers 
  • Multiple servers in 47+ countries
Pricing
  • $3.33/m for an unlimited plan
  • $5.75/m for the teams plan
Customer Support 
  • Live chat support
  • Email support
  • Online resources
Compatible Devices 
  • Android
  • iOS
  • macOS
  • Windows

TunnelBear VPN emerges as a solid VPN provider that has a lot to offer to the users. However, it’s crucial to know that does the VPN are honest with its claims? This TunnelBear VPN review investigates if the VPN is honest with all its claims so, let’s get started with this. 

Security and Privacy

The most crucial elements are security and privacy when choosing a VPN provider. A VPN must maintain users’ online privacy using the industry’s highest encryption standards and secure tunneling protocols. In addition, a VPN is responsible for keeping your online activities anonymous.

Hence, it must comply with a strict no-log policy followed by security and log audits to prove that they are honest with its words. The VPN must belong to a secure jurisdiction and possess a clean historical background, free of any security incidents. Having extra privacy and security-boosting features is an added benefit that further improves your digital presence and enables you to browse the web more privately. 

– What Type Of Encryption does tunnelBear VPN Use?

TunnelBear is a secure VPN provider to use. Whether you use the free or premium version, it uses standard encryption to protect your data traffic. The VPN uses:

  • AES-256 for data encryption
  • SHA-256 for data authentication
  • 2048, 3072, or 4096-bit DH group for handshake encryption. 

The 2048-bit DH is used for the Windows platform, 3072-bi DH for MacOS and iOS, and 4096-bit DH for Android platforms. The encryption standard TunnelBear VPN uses is enough to protect your data traffic which is a good sign. Besides this, TunnelBear VPN uses perfect forward secrecy and private DNS servers. They ensure that your digital security isn’t compromised, and no one can intercept your online communications.

Moreover, TunnelBear VPN used perfect forward secrecy and private DNS servers. They ensure that your digital security isn’t compromised, and no one can intercept your online communications.

– Jurisdiction of TunnelBear VPN

Two individuals, Daniel Kaldor and Ryan Dochuk, established the TunnelBear VPN provider in 2011 in Canada. The VPN operated from Canada until, in 2018, the US internet security company McAfee bought it. However, the VPN still functions as a separate brand from Canada within the same McAfee team. 

In short, TunnelBear has its headquarters in Canada, which is a leading member of the five eyes alliance and is subjected to invasive Canadian laws. But, because of its new ownership, the US data laws also apply to the TunnelBear users. 

Both countries follow anti-privacy and data logging laws; they are not the ideal VPN jurisdiction. This concerns the users because they worry about recording and sharing their data. 

– Logging Policy – Does it Keep Logs?

TunnelBear VPN claims to follow a strict zero-log policy. It keeps all your browsing activities private by not recording your IP address, DNS requests, and browsing data. 

However, TunnelBear VPN’s privacy policy gives mixed signals and, on various occasions, and hints that the company might use your data according to Canadian laws. 

Tunnelbear logs

In its privacy policy, the VPN provider also accepts that it collects your email address. Additionally, it does record your bandwidth, OS version, app version, monthly data used, and other information. But it does give the reasons for doing so.

Tunnebear log policy

Furthermore, TunnelBear VPN has undergone various independent security audits to prove its commitment to providing robust online privacy. 

Byte 255, in January 2017, tested the TunnelBear code and concluded that the VPN was free from privacy flaws. Also, it confirmed that the VPN doesn’t collect any data nor violates users’ privacy. 

The company hired the well-known Cure53 to perform four-yearly independent security audits in 2016. The prime objective for these audits was to look into TunnelBear’s apps, infrastructure, and codes

In 2019, the company found 12 vulnerabilities of different levels and soon helped the TunnelBear VPN fix them. The following year, they discovered two low, one high, and two medium-risk vulnerabilities. The TunnelBear VPN immediately fixed the high-risk vulnerability and guarantees maximum security. 

 Besides this, the company also issues annual transparency reports informing users about government requests for users’ data. The yearly security audits and transparency reports show that the VPN provider is committed to providing a top-notch level of online security.

But there’s no mention of the VPN service offering the same level of privacy in the free version.  So, to enjoy better and enhanced privacy, opting for the premium version of TunnelBear VPN is best

– Which Tunneling Protocols Does it offer?

TunnelBear VPN uses different tunneling protocols for different devices to protect your data. According to the its website, if you are using an Android, Mac, or Windows device the connect to the OpenVPN protocol. While if you’re using an iOS device, use the IPSec protocol. Both protocols are considered reliable to use. 

OpenVPN is an open-source protocol that uses AES-256 bit encryption with an Open SSL library. It offers a perfect balance between speed and security and doesn’t have significant drawbacks except for its complicated manual configuration.

The IPSec protocol is used with IKEv2 and is one of the best protocol for iOS devices. It proves to be a handy when switching between the Wi-Fi network and mobile data. Also, IPSec uses different secure algorithms and ciphers that guarantee maximum online security. 

However, like other VPNs in the industry, TunnelBear VPN doesn’t support the WireGuard protocol. It is an advanced protocol that offers the utmost security and stable internet speed. The protocol uses a smaller codebase, takes up less bandwidth and hence offers fast speed. Additionally, it utilizes strong encryption ciphers that secure your activities and online data traffic. 

TunnelBear VPN must consider introducing the WireGuard protocol across all supported devices that’s best suited for fast speeds and maximum security. Similarly, it must think to expand existing tunneling protocols on all platforms and operating systems.

– How good is tunnelBear VPN in bypassing Censorship?

TunnelBear VPN offers an impressive stealth VPN (obfuscation feature) known as GhostBear. It hides your VPN traffic and helps get around internet restrictions and deep inspection packets. Hence, by enabling this feature, you can browse the web freely and even access the blocked streaming services and sites. 

The VPN provider also provides the Encrypted Server Name Indicator (ESNI) TLS extension in their Android apps. The extension encrypts the SNI field so that it can’t be read by a sensor or any third party, making it easy for users to bypass censorship. 

Moreover, TunnelBear VPN has introduced OpenVPN3 with pluggable transport that helps deploy new anti-censorship technologies. By supporting the Pluggable Transport API and making extensions in the OpenVPN protocol TunnelBear significantly improved its “connection failures” issues, specifically for Android users.

On the downside, TunnelBear VPN doesn’t offer servers in highly restrictive countries like Russia, UAE, or Turkey. But, the VPN has servers in Singapore, so you can connect to it and use the VPN in China to access the blocked websites and services. However, since the exact number of servers is not revealed, it’s hard to predict the performance.

Past History of tunnelBear VPN

TunnelBear VPN provider has a clear past track record, giving users another reason to trust them. There have been no incidents related to server breaches or data logging. One of the most impressive things about TunnelBear VPN is that the VPN is not accused of violating your privacy, even if you’re using the free version. 

Extra Privacy and Security Features by tunnelBear VPN

It is crucial to see if the VPN offers any extra privacy and security features since these features enhance user experience and online privacy.  The more features a VPN offers, the better it performs and the more reliable it is. Unfortunately, TunnelBear VPN has limited features compared to top-rated VPN providers like NordVPN, Surfshark, or ProtonVPN. Here’s the summary of the features provided by TunnelBear VPN: 

– SplitBear 

SplitBear is the TunnelBear VPN’s split tunneling feature that gives you complete control over your network traffic. It lets you exclude such apps and websites that you don’t want to encrypt with a VPNwhile all other traffic remains protected. It is a handy feature during torrenting and improves your downloading speed. However, this feature is only available for Android and iOS devices with limited functionality. For instance, on Android devices, it allows you to select apps from your TunnelBear connection, while on iOS devices, you can choose certain websites that you want to encrypt.

– GhostBear 

Another impressive feature of TunnelBear VPN is that it makes your data and activities less traceable to ISPs, governments, and surveillance agencies. It disguises your VPN traffic as non-VPN traffic by using unique algorithms and encryption. Doing so helps bypass censorship blocks and gives you unrestricted access to the web. 

However, turn off this feature when you don’t need to use is better because it can make your connection slower. 
You can use this feature on your Android, MacOS, and Windows devices. To enable this feature Go to Settings/ Preferences > Security > Toggle on the GhostBear option.

– Vigilant Bear

TunnelBear’s kill switch feature is called a vigilant bear. In case of connection drops, it disconnects you from the internet and protects your IP address from leaking until the VPN connection establishes again. Besides this, TunnelBear VPN doesn’t expose your IP address, DNS requests, and WebRTC leaks. It offers built-in protection against VPN leaks and boosts your online security. 

This security-enhancing feature is available on Android, Windows, and MacOS devices. To enable this feature Go to Settings/Preferences > Security > Tap on the Vigilant Bear option. 

Unfortunately, the VPN provider lacks various advanced features like the double VPN or port forwarding feature. Also, the available feature offers limited device compatibility, meaning that TunnelBear isn’t very configurable.

Streaming and Torrenting

A VPN’s popularity also stems from its ability to unblock the streaming content from all popular platforms and unlimitedly download torrents. Both activities are full of privacy risks. For instance, if you get caught while torrenting, you can get warning letters from the courts or, in extreme situations, even lead to hefty fines. 
Also, you have zero anonymity and protection in the P2P swarm, and there’s a high risk of downloading bogus or fake files. Similarly, while accessing the geo-blocked content, the streaming platform can block your IP address and make it impossible to watch your favorite content. Thus, using a reliable VPN for torrenting and streaming is crucial.

– Compatible Streaming Platforms

Many people use a VPN to access blocked streaming content. TunnelBear VPN lets users watch geo-blocked content in free and premium versions. 

With TunnelBear VPN, you can watch your favorite TV shows and movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime. However, the VPN doesn’t work perfectly well on other streaming sites like BBC iPlayer, Hulu, DAZN, and DisneyPlus. One reason for this is the limited server network and slow speeds. Also, the VPN doesn’t offer the Smart Play feature that allows you to watch streaming content on streaming devices and gaming consoles.

– Is tunnelBear VPN Good For Torrenting?

TunnelBear VPN allows unlimited torrenting in the premium version. You can use the VPN for P2P file sharing and downloading torrents. The VPN uses secure encryption, protects from IP leaks, and doesn’t log your data which keeps your torrent traffic secured. In addition, TunnelBear uses the split bear and vigilant bear feature that boosts your security while downloading torrents. 

However, speeds can be an issue while torrenting because the VPN provider has a limited server network. For stable downloading speeds, it’s recommended to connect to the OpenVPN protocol. 

TunnelBear VPN operates in Canada, but its parent company belongs to the US. Both countries have strict laws for downloading and sharing copyrighted content. This makes TunnelBear VPN not an ideal option for downloading torrents. Follow this link if you’re looking for the best P2P file-sharing and torrenting VPN.

– How Fast Is TunnelBear VPN?

TunnelBear VPN is not at all the fastest VPN provider. It offers a pretty average connection speed that is stable enough to carry out your routine activities. You can get most of the speeds when using the OpenVPN protocol. Similarly, if you’re using the TunnelBear VPN on your mobile device, the IKEv2 protocol can ensure reliable internet speed. 

Meanwhile, if you’re using the TunnelBear free version, you get 500 MB of monthly daily. For this reason, the VPN offers a slow speed full of connection drops with limited data while using the free version. However, to improve the connection speed and allow users to enjoy the fastest speed across all the available servers, TunnelBear VPN consider introducing the WireGuard protocol and add more servers to its network. 

Limited server network is one prominent reason why you might experience average or above average speed while browsing, streaming, and torrenting while using TunnelBear VPN.

User-Friendliness 

TunnelBear VPN offers native apps for all supported devices and operating systems. The apps are simple in design and easy to use and download. The VPN also has a clean and intuitive interface with limited customization features. 

– The Number of Servers TunnelBear VPN Provides 

TunnelBear VPN, doesn’t disclose the exact number of servers it comprises. There’s no information about the number of servers on its website except that you can connect to servers in 47+ countries. 

The VPN provider does offer servers in all major and famous locations. You can find TunnelBear servers in countries like: 

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • France 
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands 
  • UK
  • US 

One impressive feature of TunnelBear VPN is the fastest tunnel that connects you to the best fastest location close to you. However, the VPN still seems to have a minimal server network because it offers no servers in countries including Vietnam, UAE, and Turkey. Also, it lacks specialty servers specially designed for seamless streaming and downloading experience. 

TunnelBear VPN must expand its server network to compete with other top VPN providers. If you’re looking for a VPN with a vast server network, consider ExpressVPN or CyberGhost VPN.

– How Good is tunnelBear VPN Customer Support?

While using a VPN provider, if you encounter any issue, the best way to resolve it is to connect with the support team. TunnelBear offers limited methods to get live assistance. You can connect with the customer support team member via email or the live chat option. However, the email support doesn’t provide a quick response, and it might take a few hours or days to get a reply.

On the downside, users must have a TunnelBear user account to initiate the live chat. If you’re an existing user, you can take advantage of this feature but if you’re a potential user and wants immediate assistance then this option won’t work for you. It is also important to note that the VPN has made no claims about whether the free version users can use the live chat feature.

Besides this, the VPN provider has vast online resources to help confused users. You can find various blog articles, FAQs, news, and troubleshooting. Also, you can connect to the support team on Twitter and tell them about your issue. As a whole, TunnelBear VPN offers pretty decent customer support service, but it needs to improve on providing much better live assistance.

– What Devices Is tunnelBear VPN Compatible With?

TunnelBear VPN is compatible and available for download on the following devices: 

  • Android
  • iOS
  • MacOS
  • Windows 

However, people have shared mixed reviews about the TunnelBear VPN apps. Some say the VPN worked well on Android and Mac, while others disagree. A user has criticized the Windows app slows down the speed and often causes DNS leaks, while the Mac app gives stable connection speed. Similarly, the iOS app gives mediocre speeds that sometimes aren’t enough to perform regular activities. 

The VPN offers no support for Linux or routers. Also, there are no apps for FireStick TV or other streaming devices and gaming consoles. In other words, you can’t use TunnelBear VPN on your smart TV, which is another major drawback and might distract users from using it. 

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FAQs

How much does TunnelBear VPN cost? 

TunnelBear VPN offers a free and paid version. You can use the free version by signing up for a user account, but it’s recommended to subscribe to the paid packages. The VPN provider offers two premium plans according to your needs. An unlimited plan allows unlimited secure browsing with unlimited device connections and access to privacy and security features for $3.33/m. 

The VPN also offers a team plan for securing your business and can accommodate more than two users at a time. This plan provides a dedicated account manager and centralized team billing and management feature for $5.75/m. 

What payment methods does TunnelBear VPN accept? 

You can buy the TunnelBear VPN subscription by paying through conventional payment methods, including credit/debit cards, Jars of Honey, and American Express. Surprisingly, TunnelBear also allows users to keep their identities hidden while subscribing to its service by accepting Bitcoin payments.

Does TunnelBear VPN offer a free trial?

TunnelBear VPN offers a free version, so you can start using it if you want to try out its features. However, the premium plans are backed with a money-back guarantee offer. You can demand a refund if you’ve bought the subscription and later feel dissatisfied. You can contact the customer support team and request a refund, but the refund isn’t always guaranteed, and the refunds are given depending on your case. 

Is the free version of TunnelBear VPN worth using? 

TunnelBear VPN has a free version that most people find amazing to use. You can consider using the free version of TunnelBear VPN because it uses strong encryption and doesn’t leak your data, but it’s not the best option to use because: 

– It offers 500 MB of monthly data. The allocated data isn’t sufficient enough to perform high-bandwidth activities like streaming and torrenting. 
– The VPN provider allows you to access the blocked streaming content from Netflix. Still, your streaming experience will be full of buffering and connection lags because of limited data allowance. 
– There’s no proof available that the VPN doesn’t log your data, even in the free version. 
– You won’t access the blocked sites or services or bypass the censorship. 
– The VPN provider doesn’t make it clear that whether the free version users can benefit from the advanced features.

For all these reasons, it’s better to avoid using the free version of TunnelBear VPN.

How many simultaneous device connections does TunnelBear VPN allow? 

TunnelBear VPN allows unlimited simultaneous device connections during using free or premium versions. 

What are the other alternatives for TunnelBear VPN? 

TunnelBear VPN needs many improvements and lacks in many areas, so if you want to use a VPN as an alternative, you can use ProtonVPN, Surfshark VPN, or VyprVPN. These VPN providers are affordable and offer excellent service and features that ensure the best user experience. Although you can also use NordVPN or ExpressVPN, only go for these options if you have the budget because they are pretty expensive

Final Verdict 

TunnelBear VPN is a great choice for newcomers or if you want to use it for a limited time. It uses strong encryption, has various features like a kill switch, and even protects from VPN leaks

However, TunnelBear VPN doesn’t meet entertainment needs. It doesn’t work with popular streaming sites, which is a big drawback. Also, its small server network and limited device compatibility feature don’t make it a great option. It’s jurisdiction puts a big question on its reliability, but the regular security audits and transparency reports prove that you can trust the service provider. If TunnelBear VPN wants to attract advanced users, it needs to work on its weak areas.

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Rebecca James is an IT consultant with forward thinking approach toward developing IT infrastructures of SMEs. She writes to engage with individuals and raise awareness of digital security, privacy, and better IT infrastructure.

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