VPN Reviews

TunnelBear VPN Review – Is TunnelBear a Good VPN Service?

tunnel bear reviewWith all of the potential threats to your privacy and personal data online, it is never a bad thing to have more privacy when you are surfing the net. TunnelBear VPN is one way to add extra security and to try to protect your online activities.  A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, provides a safer and more secure way to connect to and browse the internet.

Secure Browsing With a VPN

VPN’s keep you more secure by providing an encrypted connection to the internet through a service provider’s secure remote server. This allows you to be online and not worry about your internet service provider (ISP), or hackers, watching your communications, logging your personal data or trying to steal your passwords. As an added bonus, a VPN also blocks software that is designed to track your online activities such as what websites you visited or what you searched for.

While no solution provides 100% security, if you are worried about your online privacy and personal sensitive data, then a VPN will help put your mind at rest. A VPN does this by connecting your computer to one of their remote servers in order to facilitate your connection to the internet. This makes it appear to your internet service provider, and anyone else monitoring your connection, as if you are connected to the internet from an entirely different location other than your actual local server.

If you are at your home in the U.S. a virtual private network can make it appear as if you are actually connecting to the net from Europe, Asia or even South America. Different VPN services offer different server locations and a different number of connection options. For more information on how VPNs work, you can check out the Wikipedia page.

TunnelBear VPN Review-Getting Started

TunnelBear is very easy to use and offers a free account option to help you stay secure online. Once your account is created, you are then guided through the process of getting the software set up and working properly. Once the initial download and set-up process is finished, you are ready to use TunnelBear and establish a secure connection to the internet.

Simply open the TunnelBear application, choose a country from the drop-down menu and click the on-screen TunnelBear power button. This should establish your connection to the internet through your chosen TunnelBear server within 20-30 seconds.

Blocked Content? No Problem!

Having the ability to log onto websites from a different country other than your current physical location can be very convenient. Not only does it provide increased security, it also allows you to access blocked content. There are some websites that block the content of their site to users in certain countries.

For example, if you happen to be in Asia on vacation, you may find that your favorite site for streaming movies or perhaps even your banking website does not allow users to connect to their site from Asia. TunnelBear solves this by allowing you to choose what country your connection appears to originate from.

Connection Speeds

If you are not dealing with blocked content or another issue that calls for a connection from a country other than your own, electing your own country is usually the best option, as it will provide the fastest connection speed. You should be aware that while you are tunneling to a different country your connection will most likely be slower.

While using any VPN your connection speed will be a little slower than normal even if you are using it to connect to a server in your own country, but it can be noticeably slower when creating a connection through a server in a different country. TunnelBear says that you will see a ten to twenty percent drop in your normal connection speed.

We noticed a ten to twenty percent drop in connection speed when we connected to the TunnelBear server in the same country as our physical location. Additionally, we experienced a fifty percent drop in connection speed when we utilized a server connection that was out of country. Needless to say, this was a fairly significant downside to the TunnelBear VPN service. After all, connection speed determines about 70% of your online user experience.

How Does TunnelBear Compare?

When compared with other VPN’s, TunnelBear is in the middle of the pack. The easy to use interface makes it a snap to use but the connection speed was less than desirable. Because it is free, there is not a huge downside but there are options available that perform a bit better and offer similar or better features. If you are looking for a free and simple to use VPN then TunnelBear can do the job as long as you have a little patience to deal with the performance issues at times.

The free account option comes with a pretty limited 500MB’s of data while other free VPN’s do not have a limit. They do offer a paid plan, which offers additional features and data but with all of the viable free services available we do not see a reason you need to pay for this service unless you have a specific need.

Features, Compatibility and Specifications

TunnelBear mostly uses a 128-bit encryption OpenVPN connection. While it is not quite as secure as 256-bit encryption, the likelihood of it being hacked is close to none. The 128-bit encryption also helps to optimize the connection speed and the stability of the connection.

Specifications:

  • VPN servers in 11 countries Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, France, Netherlands, Italy, Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland
  • OpenVPN and L2TP protocol
  • Mobile Apps for iOS and Android
  • Windows and Mac VPN clients

System Compatibility

  • Windows – 8, 7, XP SP 2, Vista
  • Mac – OS X 10.6 or greater
  • Mobile compatibility – iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Windows mobile devices and Android

Speed Test

  • US test : 15.49 Mbps download and 13.88 Mbps upload
  • UK test : 13.49 Mbps download and 8.47 Mbps upload

Website and Support

The website for TunnelBear is clean and professional, with an interface that is easy to use and understand. All of the relevant information about their software development is very clearly displayed with explanations that are written in plain language that is easy to understand.

TunnelBear also has an easy to use and very helpful forum that will help you get answers to almost any question you might have. When submitting a support ticket you will get a response within twenty-four hours and we found the staff to be friendly, reliable and well informed about the TunnelBear service.

TunnelBear is a Canadian based company with an easy to use approach for creating a more secure way to use the internet and you can see that they are firmly aimed at pleasing and protecting their customers. The customer service seems to be friendly and easy to get in touch with, and the quality of their software is above average but not great.

The Verdict 

Overall, our experience with TunnelBear VPN was fine. Our overall TunnelBear review is certainly positive in that it works as advertised. The software seemed to work properly without errors, provided an easy to use VPN and offered an adequate amount of choices of server locations. Of course we liked the price as well, free, so no complaints there!

The forum and their website gave clear and easy to understand information about their service, and the sign up and install process was smooth. When customer service was contacted via support ticket, they responded within 24 hours, which we found to be perfectly acceptable.

While the overall experience was pleasant, we were not overly impressed with the software and its capabilities. It is not so much that there are huge negatives to the TunnelBear VPN service but there are just much better options available.

The connection speeds were decent most of the time but seemed to spike every now and then, which created some lag and an unstable connection. The inconsistent connection speeds are the biggest issue with this service. If you just need to check email or have a look at the latest news, then you will not have a problem. However, if you need to do anything that will require stable and faster speeds than just a simple connection to email, then you may get frustrated at the varying connection speed quality.

TunnelBear is a “nice” service, but did not get us hot or cold. If you need a free VPN with stable connection speed and a full range of options then you are probably better off with another service. However, if you are looking for an easy to configure and simple to use solution, TunnelBear can be a good option. It really depends on your needs. Check out this page for pricing information.

Not convinced? You can read about other services head-to-head here.

About the author

Conner Sinclair

An obsessed techie (not recovering), I'm all about find the latest ways to protect my online privacy and I share what I find with others...

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