A secure service that could be the best choice
for general browsing and users in China, but lacks a bit in speed, it doesn’t
unblock Netflix, and support is a bit weak.
Private and secure
Performs well in China
doesn’t unblock Netflix
Have no live chat support
small spread of servers
Based out of Canada, Tunnel Bear is a popular
service, especially because of its free VPN benefit. But apart from that, it
promotes a premium service that allows users to browse the web safely with
maintaining proper privacy, without bothering about data caps.
We heard what the company had to tell about
the product, right? But does it really stand on the claims it makes?
Let’s find out and compare it to other premium
providers in the space:
As you’ve read above, Tunnel Bear is most famous for its free service. This free service option provides you access to Tunnel Bear’s full server list, which includes more than 20 locations. This is truly small as compared to many paid providers, but it’s a decent selection for a free VPN. The primary demerit of the free service is – You only get 500MB to play with per month, which restricts your actions while surfing securely.
If you’ve abundant data, you can choose a paid
plan and pay on a monthly or annual basis. For the monthly plan, the package
costs $9.99 per month, but you can get a discount of about 50% when you go for
the annual subscription, which is $5.00/month. Each plan makes you connect up
to five devices at the same time. These prices are the industry’s average for
the best providers.
Plans include a 7-days money-back guarantee,
which is nothing in comparison to some services which offer 30-day trial
periods. Payment choices have credit cards and bitcoin; the latter is more
attractive for users more concerned about privacy.
Earlier Tunnel bear used to restrict
torrenting, but recent days P2P is allowed, and specific servers are
recommended, making the torrenting possible for users. Tunnel Bear users can
take leverage of reliable security, which has “military-grade” encryption,
perfect forward secrecy, DNS leak protection, automatic wifi protection, and a
While considering apps, Tunnel Bear keeps
things easy. They’re pretty simple to install and user-friendly. First, you’ve
to download the correct app for your operating system, then install it
appropriately, and launch the app.
You should note before we get to the apps: no
matter what operating system you use, you should be ready for many, many “bear”
puns. They’re everywhere, spread within the website data, feature names, and
installation notifications. It could be annoying for some while it can be
interesting for others.
It has the same desktop client whether you’re
using the free or paid version of Tunnel Bear. The only variation in the free
version is that you can track how much data you’ve used and an upgrade button
is provided at the bottom of the app. You must keep in mind that we’re talking
about the premium version.
After logging in to the app, you’ll find a series of welcome windows, giving tips on how to use the client. Then you’ll reach the server page. At the top is an On/Off toggle which can be used to connect or disconnect to the VPN. You’ll be connected with the server that will provide you with the best performance, by default, in the Auto mode.
If you are supposed to go for a location, you do this by simply
clicking one of the “honeypot” icons in the country that you prefer. Just hold
and drag to have your desired location, click the icon, and select Yes to connect. Beside that you can use
the dropdown list to select your country.
Though with other providers, we see alternatives to arrange server lists, like by city or favorites. However, considering the small number of server locations, this is a not a big issue with Tunnel Bear.
See the menu on the left, below the Server tab; you’ve Settings which is broken up into General, Security, Trusted Networks,
In General, you can fix the settings for notification, startup and appearance. It also has startup option like TCP override, which makes you check specific issues on time, like your ISP throttling or blocking UDP traffic.
Security features have toggles for Vigilant Bear and Ghost Bear, which we will discuss below. These are by default disabled.
In the Trusted Networks
tab, you can choose to include specific networks to a white list. After the
trusted network function is turned on, Tunnel Bear will be activated
automatically on any wifi network that isn’t part of your list of trusted
networks. In case you want to connect to a wifi hotspot in a cafe or hotel, and
you forgot to white listed the network, then the VPN will automatically be
Some advanced users might disappoint with it
because of it missing the additional features, having a broader server
selection and the feature to switch protocols, but overall, this is a
well-designed and robust app.
As we’ve already discussed above, Tunnel Bear doesn’t provide a wide spread of servers. Though, most providers who hugely market their total server numbers, Tunnel Bear doesn’t disclose how many servers it has, only that the number varies. Unfortunately, the network covers just a handful amount of servers limited to 22 countries only.
A large number
of these are in Europe, with four in the Americas, four in Asia, and one each
in Australia and New Zealand. This is quite tiny as compared to many popular
providers like Nord VPN, which provide nearly 5,000 servers worldwide.
also varies from most VPNs in its server, which is – virtual and managed
remotely. These are cloud servers, given
by third-party companies – in case of Tunnel Bear; these have Digital Ocean and
Vultr. While Tunnel Bear mentions that these are “reputable providers,” virtual
servers still less trusted because they include a third party to server
management. Not only this, they can impact the performance due to multiple
companies share their resources on the same virtual server.
On testing the
servers in Canada, the US, and the UK, as these are the most preferred
locations with users. The general connection on all servers was excellent and
could easily and quickly switch between the servers.
video, browsing the web, and playing online games is a no brainer with this
server. It’s been reported that users of free service have faced noticeable
slowdown issues while browsing. Unfortunately, this is a common expectation
with free VPN services and is commonly used as a tactic to motivate the users
to upgrade the app.
Tunnel Bear speed test
As Tunnel Bear only provides
an option in the US location, the speed performance is only tested in its
Canada location. The tests are done in Toronto and are results are similar to
those conducted for other providers.
You must understand that
these tests are only there to help you know what to expect on using this
service. The rooted volatility factor of the internet plays a significant role
in randomness, so these tests should be considered with suspicion. These tests
were connected while using a 60Mbps connection, so you can expect longer wait
times with a slower connection, and potentially smaller or larger discrepancy.
Do Netflix and online streaming
sites work with Tunnel Bear?
Netflix users and binge-watchers will be disappointed to know that Tunnel
Bear doesn’t unblock Netflix. Many testing sites have tested Tunnel Bear using
US server options. Most of them find no luck with this software, though the
Tunnel Bear FAQ page suggests that you should try disconnecting and
reconnecting to change IP addresses so that by chance you’ll land with one
which isn’t blocked. Hmm, Kind of impractical right!
On contacting customer support and an executive provides us with a vague
response, telling us that “we have many users who are using our services to
access region-blocked content” and told us to go through the irritating
troubleshooting article. Unfortunately, nothing helped us in the case of
Does Tunnel Bear work in China?
Yes, it works. It might seem to be putting a lot of effort into allowing
access to streaming services, it stated Ghost Bear earlier, and it can be
switched on in the Security tab
of the Settings menu.
This feature – present for Windows, Mac OS, and Android – obfuscates
encrypted traffic to ensure it appears like regular internet traffic. China’s
firewall implements Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) to block specific forms of
traffic, but you Ghost Bear –obfuscated traffic can come under the radar.
This worth noting – the obfuscation process will make it a bit slow, but
the pros of access to the free web are worth considering.
Thankfully, Tunnel Bear sticks to a strict no-logs policy: “Tunnel Bear does NOT store
users originating IP addresses when connected to our service and thus cannot identify users
when provided IP addresses of our servers.”
It collects a little data which include insignificant information like
which operating system you’re using, whether or not you’ve been active in the
previous month, and the amount of data you’ve consumed in the month. This is on
very basic level most providers and doesn’t violate your privacy.
In terms of security, Tunnel Bear uses 256-bit AES encryption, which is found as useful as it gets. All this comes in combination with a SHA1 or SHA256 hash (which depends on the operating system) and 2,048-bit RSA keys for verification with including perfect forward secrecy. Protocol choices have Open VPN, IKEV2, and IPSec.
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