Reviews of Tunnelbear Vpn
TunnelBear doesn’t have the largest network, or the about apps, or the longest of feature lists. Just it does a skilful job of simplifying VPNs for novice users, plus new WireGuard support has doubled speeds on Windows, and not only has the service gone through the near thorough contained audits in the business, it does them all over again, each and every year. TunnelBear is not for experts, but information technology’s a must-meet for coincidental or less demanding users.
Detailed almanac security audits
Much faster WireGuard-powered functioning on Windows
Unblocks US Netflix, Prime number Video, ITV, Channel four and more
Curt on features
No WireGuard on Mac, mobile apps
Doesn’t unblock a number of key services
Windows kill switch has issues
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Even the all-time VPNs tin can seem like a complicated technology, packed with low-level geeky details that hardly anyone understands, but TunnelBear is a provider that does things differently.
The Canadian-based, McAfee-owned visitor doesn’t drown you lot in jargon. The website has little talk of protocols, no mention of encryption types, indeed barely any technical terms at all. Instead, the company focuses on the fundamentals, such as clearly explaining why you might want to use a VPN in the first place.
This approach won’t work for everyone. If you’re an experienced user and want to go down to the technical details of the service, for instance, you lot’re likely to exist disappointed. Search for DNS on the ExpressVPN back up site, for instance, and correct now y’all’ll get 56 hits; search at TunnelBear and yous’ll go 3.
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The service specs are fairly average. The network has a mid-sized 48 countries (India is no longer available, to avoid the new logging laws). At that place are apps for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, likewise as extensions for Chrome and Firefox, and you can have up to 5 connections active at the same time.
Support for other platforms is lacking, unfortunately, with no significant help for getting the service working on routers, games consoles, Chromebooks, Linux, or setting it up manually.
TunnelBear has introduced one major comeback since our last review, though: the apps finally support the ultra-speedy WireGuard protocol, likewise as OpenVPN and IKEv2. Just wait until you see what that does for its functioning.
TunnelBear’south free business relationship
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provides a horribly express 500MB of traffic a month, barely plenty to run fifty-fifty a single basic speed exam. Simply it’southward a simple way to check out the interface and make sure you tin connect.
Its monthly plan
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gives you unlimited data for a reasonable $9.99 a calendar month, though. The cost drops to an effective $four.85 a month on the annual plan, or $3.33 if you lot sign upwardly for three years.
These are competitive prices which beat most providers, although there are a few with cheaper deals. Private Internet Admission asks $2.03 a calendar month on the offset term of its 3-twelvemonth programme, and opting for Ivacy’south five-year program cuts the price to a supercheap $1.19.
If you practice sign upwardly for TunnelBear, keep in listen that there’due south no money-back guarantee. The modest print says: “While all amounts paid are non-refundable, certain refund requests for subscriptions may be considered past TunnelBear on a instance-by-instance basis.” Presumably, you might get a refund if you’ve had actually bad service, but it’due south entirely up to the company to decide. Non quite every bit friendly as the cuddly cartoon bears suggest, and so.
TunnelBear used to support Bitcoin payments for its almanac plan, but no more. With no PayPal, either, information technology’southward now strictly bill of fare-only.
Privacy and logging
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is one of the most thorough we’ve seen from any VPN provider, with in-depth information on everything the service collects, and everything it doesn’t. We exercise hateful
thorough, too – the details become right downward to the names, purposes and expiry dates of the cookies used past TunnelBear.com.
The logging policy is clearly described, with TunnelBear explaining that information technology does not collect “IP addresses visiting our website”, “IP addresses upon service connection”, “DNS Queries while connected”, or “any information about the applications, services or websites our users apply while connected to our Service.” Equally a result, the company says, it tin can’t link any of its users to an action carried out past a specific IP accost. Sounds skillful to usa.
The service does record ‘operational data’, updating this when yous connect. That includes the OS version of your device, TunnelBear app version, whether you’ve been agile this month, and the bandwidth you’ve used. Not quite zilch logging, then, simply it’s far less than nosotros’ve seen elsewhere, and there’s nothing hither that could link you to any online action.
While that looks great, there’s normally no fashion to tell whether you should trust what a VPN provider is telling yous – but TunnelBear is a little different. The company now has independent specialists Cure53 run an almanac public security audit covering many different areas of the service. The well-nigh contempo audit (the fourth) included the mobile and Windows apps, browser extensions, the service infrastructure, backend and frontend systems, and the public website.
The audit results weren’t perfect, and the written report detailed five vulnerabilities: two depression, two medium and 1 high risk. These didn’t compromise users, though, and were more about means TunnelBear systems could be attacked.
For instance, Cure53 spotted a way that an attacker could prevent someone logging into TunnelBear if they knew the victim’southward account email address. Annoying? Yes. A disaster? No.
Issues like this are no surprise when a service puts itself under this level of scrutiny (a Cure53 audit is seriously thorough), and they’re all now fixed. And the only reason we know nigh this at all is that unlike many providers who accept security audits, TunnelBear’south written report is available to read online (it’s a PDF linked from this blog post
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Overall, we must applaud TunnelBear for its level of transparency. Most VPNs have never had any form of security audit, and the providers who have actually made some movement in this direction typically take ane-off audits with a far narrower scope. That’s just non skillful enough, and it’s keen to see TunnelBear leading the way on this front.
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TunnelBear doesn’t say much well-nigh torrenting on its website – in fact, it barely mentions the topic at all – just the support team explained that it’southward available on all locations.
Some may be more reliable than others, apparently: the company recommended we try Canada, Usa, UK, Romania, Netherlands, Deutschland or Sweden if we had bug elsewhere.
How likely is information technology that yous might have bug elsewhere, so? To get an idea, we tried downloading torrents from three of the other locations: Greece, Portugal and Brazil. Despite not being on TunnelBear’s ‘recommended’ list, they all completed without any problems, suggesting that you really should be able to use torrents correct across the network.
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TunnelBear’s Windows app opens with all its locations highlighted on a gray world map. This has one or two nice visual touches, with cartoon palm copse in tropical areas, and snowfall-covered Christmas copse if you head further north. But it’s as well very bones, with little map detail, and non fifty-fifty a zoom selection to assist detect the locations you need.
You lot can likewise select your server from a more conventional location list. That’s probably easier, just if anything, it’s fifty-fifty more bones, with no ping times, server load figures, or Favorites arrangement to salve your nigh ordinarily-used servers.
One time y’all’ve chosen a location, clicking ‘On’ gets you connected, and the app displays a ‘connection’ animation, panning the screen and plotting a line across the map to your destination. Information technology’southward a beautiful visual issue the first time of viewing, but it began to badger us by the 100th (unfortunately, there’s no way to plough it off).
WireGuard connection times were a little disappointing at iii-4 seconds, even for our nearest server (the all-time VPNs have around a second). Only this didn’t change much over distance – even connecting from the UK to New Zealand took only 5-6 seconds – and times were reasonable overall.
The app displays notifications when it connects or disconnects, too, ensuring you e’er know when you’re protected, and when you’re not.
The app doesn’t have many settings, just the few you get are very useful. You can have it load when Windows starts, for example, and so automatically activate the VPN whenever you lot access an untrusted Wi-Fi network (everywhere but home and work, say).
The Obfsproxy-based GhostBear
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attempts to make your activities expect more like regular internet traffic, peradventure helping you lot connect in countries like China which endeavor to detect and block the use of VPNs.
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setting is essentially a kill switch, blocking all net traffic if the VPN drops to forbid any identity leaks. We plant this had some problems in extreme situations – the kill switch could fail if the app crashed and it was restarted, for instance, but information technology performed well in simpler tests.
It’southward corking to run into WireGuard supported in the Windows app, as well equally OpenVPN and IKEv2. By default the app selects the about appropriate protocol for your network, just you can at present also choose your preferred option.
Overall, TunnelBear’s Windows app is easy to use, and the inflow of WireGuard is a major plus. There’s conspicuously scope for comeback in every part of the app, though, and the basic characteristic list could disappoint experienced users.
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Mac and mobile apps
TunnelBear’s Mac, Android and iOS apps mostly follow in much the same vein as the Windows customer: there’s a globe map with VPN locations, a text list of locations if you lot prefer, a handful of settings, and non much else.
The Mac app has a tiny map, but this can’t be resized, making it bad-mannered to use. Fortunately, you can collapse the app window down to a widget-sized panel, with piddling more than the name of the selected location and a drop-down carte du jour to choose something else.
There’south no WireGuard support or choice of protocol, unfortunately. Just the app does accept the other key settings present: the VigilantBear impale switch, automatic connection when you admission untrusted Wi-Fi, and GhostBear to featherbed VPN blocking.
The Android edition has a full-sized map. There’southward no zoom, but it works well on a tablet, where you can go on swiping in any direction to notice what you need (and there are portrait and landscape modes, too).
The Android app improves on Windows and iOS with new back up for divide tunneling – called SplitBear, obviously – allowing you to specify apps that won’t use the VPN. (At that place’s a slightly less technical characteristic in an optional ‘Bear Sounds’ setting, which gives a ‘roar’ every time you connect. Not exactly necessary, but there’s no harm in giving an app a fiddling personality.)
TunnelBear’south iOS offering has the all-time-looking map, especially when viewed on a large display. Information technology too misses out on some key technical settings, with no WireGuard support, no GhostBear, VigilantBear or app-level dissever tunneling.
The iOS app does accept a major plus in its support for auto-connecting on untrusted Wi-Fi. There’s too a new feature, a simplified version of Android’s SplitBear. This doesn’t piece of work with apps (non TunnelBear’s fault, iOS won’t allow that), but instead allows you lot to specify websites that won’t apply the VPN, handy for annihilation that doesn’t work properly when you lot’re connected.
These are far from the best mobile VPN apps we’ve seen, but the TunnelBear range is certainly easy to utilize, with some worthwhile features, and the company is clearly hard at work adding more. If you similar a VPN which stays out of your way, and won’t ever misfile you with depression-level networking jargon, it simply might exist a sensible selection.
Installing TunnelBear’south browser extensions can make the service easier to operate, by allowing you to cull a location, connect and disconnect from inside your browser. The extensions work equally proxies and so only protect your browser traffic, simply if that’s all you demand, the extra convenience could make them worth a try.
The Chrome extension added an icon to our accost bar, and tapping this enabled choosing new locations from a drop-down list.
Hit the ‘Connect’ button and, as usual with proxies, you’re connected instantly. A tiny map updates to testify your location, similar to the regular apps.
There are no extra features, no WebRTC or tracker blocking or annihilation else. But the extension does have a minor usability plus in its keyboard shortcut support. If yous want to keep your easily off the mouse, pressing Ctrl+Shift+U connects you to the VPN, and pressing it again will toggle the connection off when you’re washed. (A split Alt+Shift+N shortcut toggles the connection on and off in Incognito manner.)
We checked the Firefox extension to meet if it had whatsoever more options, but no, it looked and worked much the same as the Chrome version.
The browser extensions follow a very like design to the apps, then – they are brusque on features, only relatively simple, and fine for the target audition of casual users.
- Our sectional TunnelBear offering represents a hefty saving
To bank check out TunnelBear’due south performance, we starting time continued to our nearest server from a UK information center and a US location, each with 1Gbps examination connections.
We and so measured our download speeds multiple times using several benchmarking services – SpeedTest’s site and command line app, nPerf and others – and then repeated each examination in an evening session.
TunnelBear’s new WireGuard back up saw United kingdom download speeds double its previous results, soaring from OpenVPN’s 290-310Mbps last time, to a strong 560-640Mbps in these tests.
That’south nevertheless trailing far behind the likes of Surfshark and TorGuard, which beat 950Mbps in our testing. But it has lifted TunnelBear from the lower reaches of the functioning table in our terminal reviews, to a solid mid-range 12th place out of 21 this time, and the service probably now delivers all the speed that well-nigh people demand.
Netflix and streaming
One of the major selling points of a VPN is that it tin can make you lot announced to exist visiting a website from some other country, perhaps giving y’all access to content you wouldn’t be able to view otherwise. But this doesn’t ever work, and then we test all VPNs with Netflix and more to encounter if they can give the states admission to various streaming sites.
TunnelBear successfully unblocked U.s. Netflix, though with only one of our three examination locations. It failed with the Great britain, Australian, Canadian and Japanese libraries.
The service got united states of america into Us Amazon Prime Video without difficulty, just Disney Plus was a different story. If we logged into Britain Disney Plus, then connected to TunnelBear, we couldn’t access US-specific content. And if we connected to TunnelBear first, Disney Plus didn’t allow us to log in.
The mixed moving-picture show continued in our regional tests. In Commonwealth of australia, TunnelBear unblocked 9Now, but failed with x play. And in the UK, the service failed with BBC iPlayer, merely got u.s. into both ITV and Channel four.
TunnelBear has a few unblocking skills, so, but if streaming is a priority, ExpressVPN, Hide.me, NordVPN, PureVPN and Surfshark all unblocked every i of our examination streaming services in our latest round of reviews.
TunnelBear support starts with its web-based help site
(opens in new tab). This is presented in a clear and simple style, with large icons pointing you to key areas (Getting Started, Troubleshooting, Accounts), and basic manufactures on the nearly common questions (‘Why should I trust TunnelBear?’, ‘Why can’t I access the content I want?’, ‘Does TunnelBear keep logs?’).
Become searching for answers and you’ll find TunnelBear’s knowledgebase doesn’t accept a lot of content, but what you become is well presented and gives yous a decent range of data. The Connection Bug
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page doesn’t but offer generic ‘reinstall’-type ideas, for instance. It links y’all to TunnelBear’s Twitter page to await for service data, suggests trying out the service on another network, and points y’all to settings which might help.
Despite its beginner-oriented approach, in that location’s likewise room for just a few more advanced tweaking ideas, with recommendations for ports which should be opened in some circumstances.
There’s no alive chat back up, but if you need more in-depth help, a Contact page allows you to ship a message to the back up team. This prompts y’all for the type of problem, affected locations, operating arrangement and then on, a smart mode to ensure beginners provide all the key data.
There’s no live chat, but if you lot need more than help, a Contact page allows you to ship a message to the support team. We kept our test question simple, and had a friendly, helpful and accurate reply the side by side mean solar day. We would still prefer the near-instant response of quality alive conversation – because if your trouble is circuitous and requires a lot of back and forth, it could take a very long time to find a solution – only every bit email support goes, TunnelBear isn’t bad at all.
TunnelBear review: Final verdict
It’s not the largest, fastest or most powerful of VPNs, but TunnelBear’s ease of apply and potent focus on opening up its systems to scrutiny deserve a lot of credit. If you’re looking for a gentle start with VPNs, or are tired of apps which are crammed with features you never, ever employ, then TunnelBear could be a smart choice.
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Reviews of Tunnelbear Vpn