TunnelBear VPN 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. Although the company is somewhat dominant in the cybersecurity industry with its antivirus and pre-existing VPN services, Avast VPN, it also acquired TunnelBear VPN in 2018.
While McAfee may have a good reputation for its antivirus software, Avast VPN is often frowned upon due to its shady log policy. On top of that, while McAfee operates as an independent brand from Toronto, Canada, it is subjected to US and Canadian laws. The two countries are an integral part of the five eyes alliance, making people cautious of Avast VPN and TunnelBear VPN.
But given the benefit of the doubt, what is to say that McAfee did a much better job on TunnelBear VPN instead of Avast VPN? The answer to that question lies in this detailed TunnelBear review starting from this short overview:
Security and Privacy:
- AES-256 bit encryption
- SHA-256 for data authentication
- 2048, 3072, or 4096-bit DH group for handshake encryption
Follows a no-log policy with security audits
- Vigilant Bear
Streaming and Torrenting
- Torrent IP leak protection
- Multiple servers in 49 countries
- $3.33/m for an unlimited plan
- $5.75/m for the teams plan
- Live chat support
- Online resources
Today, TunnelBear VPN emerges as a solid VPN provider that offers a free version. Even the free version has a lot to offer and ranks as the best free VPN provider. However, along with the pros, the VPN provider has several cons that you might need to look into. This TunnelBear VPN review covers all the notable drawbacks and investigates if the VPN is honest with all its claims?
Security and Privacy
The most crucial elements are security and privacy when choosing a VPN provider. A VPN provider must maintain users’ online privacy by using the industry’s highest encryption standards and secure tunneling protocols. Moreover, a VPN is also responsible for keeping your online activities anonymous.
Hence, it should comply with a strict no-log policy followed by security and log audits to prove that they are honest with its words. The VPN should also have a secure jurisdiction and a clean historical background, free of any security incidents.
Besides, 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 the:
- 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.
Moreover, TunnelBear VPN used perfect forward secrecy and private DNS servers. They ensure that your digital security doesn’t get 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, 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 are also applicable to the TunnelBear users.
Both countries follow anti-privacy and data logging laws; they are not the ideal VPN jurisdiction. This disappoints the users because they worry about their recorded and shared 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.
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 any privacy flaws. It also doesn’t collect any data that violates users’ privacy.
Later, the company hired the well-known Cure53 to perform four-yearly independent security audits in 2017. 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. They discovered two low, one high, and two medium-risk vulnerabilities in the following year. But, the TunnelBear VPN immediately fixed the high-risk vulnerability and emerged to compete with its competitors regarding security.
Besides this, the company also issues annual transparency reports that inform the users about the 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, you it is best to opt for the premium version of TunnelBear VPN.
– Which Tunneling Protocols Does it offer?
TunnelBear VPN uses different tunneling protocols for different devices to protect your data. According to the TunnelBear website, if you’re connecting to the OpenVPN protocol, you are using an Android, Mac, or Windows device. While if you’re using the iOS device, you’ll be using the IPSec protocol. Both the protocols are considered reliable to use.
The OpenVPN is an open-source protocol that offers up to 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 protocols used for iOS devices. It proves to be a handy protocol when switching between the Wi-Fi network and mobile data. Also, the IPSec uses different secure algorithms and ciphers that guarantee maximum online security.
However, like other big names 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 and hence takes up less bandwidth and offers fast speed. Also, it utilizes strong encryption ciphers that keep your activities and online data traffic secured.
TunnelBear VPN should consider introducing the WireGuard protocol across all supported devices to transfer the data packets safely across the network. Similarly, it should also 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) known as GhostBear. It hides your VPN traffic and helps get around internet restrictions and deep inspection packets. Hence, you can browse the web freely and even access the blocked services and sites by enabling this feature.
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 also introduced 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.
TunnelBear VPN doesn’t offer servers in highly restrictive countries like Russia, UAE, or Turkey.
But, the VPN does have servers in Singapore, so by connecting to these servers, you can use the VPN in China and 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 the VPN provider. 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.
Any 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 are there to 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 pretty limited features compared to top-rated VPN providers like NordVPN, Surfshark, or ProtonVPN. Here’s the summary of the extra features provided by TunnelBear VPN:
SplitBear is the TunnelBear VPN’s split tunneling feature that gives you complete control over your network traffic. If you’re using any website or app you don’t want to protect via the VPN; you can do it with the SplitBear feature. It lets you exclude such apps and websites while 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.
Another impressive feature of TunnelBear VPN is that it makes your data less traceable to the 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, it’s better to turn off this feature when you don’t need to 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.
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.
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.
Unfortunately, the VPN provider lacks various advanced features. For instance, while using the TunnelBear VPN provider, you won’t access the double VPN or port forwarding feature. Also, the available feature offers limited device compatibility, which shows that TunnelBear isn’t very configurable.
Streaming and Torrenting
A VPN’s popularity is also stemmed from its ability to unblock the streaming content from all popular platforms and download torrents unlimitedly. 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 during searching torrents 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 the blocked streaming content. TunnelBear VPN lets users watch the 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 the 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 anywhere. 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 from Canada, but its parent company belongs to the US. Both countries have strict laws for downloading and sharing copyright content. This makes TunnelBear VPN, not an ideal option for downloading torrents.
Follow this link if you’re looking for the best VPN for P2P file-sharing and torrenting.
– 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. But if you’re using the TunnelBear VPN on your mobile device, the IKEv2 protocol can ensure reliable internet speed.
Meanwhile, if you’re using TunnelBear free version, you get 500 MB of data each day. The VPN offers a slow speed full of connection drops with limited data.
However, to improve the connection speed and allow users to enjoy the fastest speed across all the available servers, TunnelBear VPN should implement the WireGuard protocol and add more servers to its network.
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, unlike other VPN providers, 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 various servers in 49 countries.
The VPN provider does offer servers in all major and famous locations. You can find TunnelBear servers in countries like:
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 should 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?
TunnelBear VPN has a fast and responsive customer support team. The chat agents of the customer support team are pretty knowledgeable and answer your queries quickly. You can contact them via the recently introduced virtual support bear feature. The chat agents help you with the VPN features, getting started, subscription, troubleshooting issues, and setup guides.
However, since the chat agents are not real people, a solution is not guaranteed if you have some technical query. This is a significant drawback as you won’t receive an instantaneous reply on technical issues.
The VPN does not offer the email support option, but you can contact them only if you have a user account. Besides this, TunnelBear has a help section including FAQs, announcements, blogs, and troubleshooting.
– What Devices Is tunnelBear VPN Compatible With?
TunnelBear VPN is compatible and available for download on the following devices:
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 drift away users from using it.
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 five device connections and access to privacy and security features for $3.33/m.
While 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. You can get this for $5.75/m.
You can buy the TunnelBear VPN subscription by paying through the conventional payment methods, including credit/debit card, 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.
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. If you’ve bought the subscription and later feel dissatisfied, you can demand a refund. 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.
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 daily data. The allocated data isn’t sufficient enough to perform high-bandwidth activities like streaming and torrenting.
The VPN provider, though, 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.
For all these reasons, it’s better to avoid using the free version of TunnelBear VPN.
TunnelBear VPN allows up to five simultaneous device connections, whether using free or premium versions.
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 pretty 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.
After this detailed TunnelBear VPN review, the VPN provider is a great choice for newcomers if you want to use it for a limited time. It’s a good choice for security because it uses strong encryption and has various features like a kill switch and even protects from VPN leaks.
TunnelBear VPN doesn’t meet the 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 to use. Its 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 or other alternatives for users.