|Global DL speed||82.60|
|Global UL speed||67.10|
|Average time to connect||14 seconds|
|Server locations||25+ countries|
|IP addresses||no info|
|Dynamic server switching||-|
|E-mail response time||2h 48 m|
The TopVPNchoice portal was created to enable users, both potential and current, to choose the most optimal VPN services. All scores do not depend on VPN companies and are collected by a team of professional valuers, to which everyone can join. All services are evaluated regularly and fairly, so that users get the latest updated information today. TopVPNchoice constantly expands the catalog of evaluated VPN companies, that you could choose the most suitable of the service.
1. Be useful to our visitors. We do not do worthless reviews, do not take money from VPN services for placing untrue ratings. The main goal is to give a clear understanding of the advantages and nuances of each service that are presented in our catalog.
2. Develop a culture of Internet security and the right of everyone to anonymity and the safety of their data.
3. To give an objective rating of each audited service and convert it into a transparent rating system.
If you want to help us in the realization of this mission, send your message through the contact form. We will certainly consider each request, every idea and every wish. Honest and independent rating of the best VPN services in 2018. Choose your VPN service today!
TunnelBear offers fast servers across 20 countries and is easy to use. Given how many features it has as well we give TunnelBear a solid 8.5/10 rating. There are certainly a few issues that pull it down, so keep on reading for a full review of the TunnelBear VPN service.
TunnelBear VPN hosts servers across 20 countries. This range of servers means that users of the service can spoof their IP address to make it appear that they are in these countries. This allows them to bypass local censorship and other geographical restrictions. Users will need to invest in the paid plan to get access to every server in the list; for example the servers in Australia are not available to users on the free trial.
We tested TunnelBear ourselves with our specialised VPN testing servers. This allows us to get accurate results about the speed of a VPN. TunnelBear has proven to be one of the fastest VPNs around and ranks in the top 5 when it comes to VPN connection speed. Of course, users can expect some slowdown when using a VPN. The further away the server the more slowdown there is. TunnelBear has an average download speed of around 28 Mbits/s, which well above average for a VPN service.
TunnelBear is able to outperform many other VPN providers on the market. The average speed of a connection with this VPN is more than enough to download and stream HD content without a problem. One feature of TunnelBear that may slow down your speeds even more is the GhostBear stealth mode, but we didn’t run into any trouble when using it. This doesn’t mean that you won’t however.
We also tested TunnelBear for DNS leaks through ipleak.net. We’re happy to report that there was no IP or Domain Name System (DNS) leaks while we used TunnelBear. There were also no IPv4 or Web Real-Time Communication leaks when using the service either.
Unfortunately, we were unable to test for IPv6 leaks due to our ISP connection. There are some reports of IPv6 leaks but TunnelBear is constantly being updated to correct such issues. It also features a killswitch option called VigilantBear that can minimize the risk of leaks.
The server status page also shows the skeumorphic design of the service. The interface is made up of cartoonish graphics including bears and trees, with the trees on the interface depending on which part of the map you look at. There’s also a drop-down menu if you want to choose a specific server. Throw in some bears – and bear-related puns – and you have pretty much the entire TunnelBear interface in a nutshell.
TunnelBear can’t be beat as far as compatibility goes. The VPN runs perfectly on Windows, Android, iOS, OS X, and even Linux. The VPN client itself looks pretty similar on all of these platforms, with the exception of Linux. Linux users will also need OpenVPN to get the service to run properly. The iOS version of the app offers L2TP/IPsec encryption over OpenVPN encryption, which means that iOS users will also need OpenVPN connect if they need to use OpenVPN. Each client offers the same servers and connection speeds and is just as easy to use though, which is a big positive. The TunnelBear website features a guide to using the app on each platform too.
TunnelBear also has several browser extensions that allow users to integrate it directly into browsers. It has options for Chrome and Opera, but unfortunately isn’t compatible with Firefox. This browser extension is a nice little feature, but keep in mind that it only works as a proxy and not as a full VPN. It can only proxy the data within the browser itself and not other online activity. Like the main app, the browser extension works with Windows, Chrome OS, OS X, and Linux.
As far as protocols and encryption go, TunnelBear offers access to two main VPN protocols with Windows, Android, and Mac OSX clients all using OpenVPN. iOS users can use either a Layer 2 Tunnelling Protocol (L2TP)/Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) or an Internet Key Exchange Version 2 (IKEv2) protocol. This means anyone looking to connect on iOS through OpenVPN will have to first download and use the free OpenVPN Connect software. The good news is that OpenVPN is just as simple and easy to use so this shouldn’t be much of an issue.
Every version of TunnelBear except for iOS 8 and earlier uses a powerful 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) standard with SHA256 authentication. iOS 8 and below is encrypted through 128-bit AES encryption with SHA-1 for data authentication.
This information can be found directly through the TunnelBear blog which is incredible transparency for a service to have. TunnelBear also doesn’t use the outdated VPN encryption Point-to-Point Tunnelling Protocol (PPTP).
While there have been some IP leak problems recently, TunnelBear is already working on patches for them. The improvements prevent IPv6 and IP leaks and they will be rolled out soon, if they aren’t already out by the time you read this.
Here’s where we get to one of the major downsides of using TunnelBear. The service is based in Canada and it doesn’t unblock US Netflix, nor does it work with Netflix at all. This extends to other streaming services as well. One of the main reasons people adopt VPNs is in order to access the full library of content with streaming services such as Netflix. While there was a time Netflix quietly allowed this, they have recently begun pushing back and blocking VPN services. TunnelBear is one such service. If you want to freely access Netflix then you may want to look for a different VPN service. While this is a negative for TunnelBear, it’s not necessarily a problem directly related to this service as Netflix is working hard to prevent VPNs.
One major positive of TunnelBear is that it is so simple and easy to use. This simplicity doesn’t mean that there aren’t any additional features though. The service offers a couple of special settings, such as being able to alert you when you connect to an unsecured Wi-Fi access point such as a Wi-Fi hotspot. Other services offer a similar feature, but TunnelBear only alerts you to genuinely unsecured networks such as ones that have inadequate security or don’t require a password.
Another great feature is the kill switch feature. TunnelBear calls their kill switch VigilantBear and it works to protect you in the event of your connection going down. Kill switches prevent data from being leaked out of the VPN tunnel should the connection to the VPN server drop. This prevents unencrypted traffic from being leaked out to an ISP or other organization watching your internet connection. A kill switch ensures that your privacy is protected, which we’ll get into more in the privacy and security section.
The other major feature of TunnelBear is the GhostBear feature. GhostBear could be considered a “stealth mode” service that works as a VPN obfuscation service. This disguises the traffic from OpenVPN to allow users to break through firewalls such as the Great Firewall of China and other monitoring programs. This is done through the use of obsproxy, which prevents ISPs, governments, and businesses from being able to detect VPN encryption by making it appear to be regular HTTPS traffic.
It’s important to note that you aren’t any less secure with GhostBear turned off. It is a great feature for those that want to disguise not just their IP, but the fact that they are using a VPN to do so. Stealth mode will also prevent an ISP throttling data in places where it’s common to throttle traffic from OpenVPN; essentially punishing VPN users and slowing down internet speeds even more.
The only problem with using GhostBear is that it can theoretically reduce internet speeds more than a regular VPN. This is why you should only consider using it when you really need to. You can get great speeds and stay safe using regular OpenVPN User Datagram Protcol (UDP). Also please note that GhostBear isn’t available on iOS due to how much Apple limits third-party app providers.
TunnelBear also offers Trusted Network settings. This setting allows users to automatically connect to TunnelBear when accessing a network that isn’t listed in the Trusted Networks. It’s simple enough to “trust” a network. Just connect to it, open the settings for TunnelBear, and click on the “Add to Trusted Networks” button.
If you aren’t sure about which server is best for you and all you want is to stay protected, then the Closest Tunnel feature is for you. This button connects users directly to the closest tunnel for fast and simple online security. This is another feature that makes the software so simple for new users.
TunnelBear does store some logs for a month but they store only a very minimal amount of data. The company does this to comply with Canadian authorities. If TunnelBear is legally required to comply with law enforcement over subpoenas, warrants, and other valid legal documents, then they are required to hand over data. The only data they provide though is the personal information users signed up with, how many VPN connections they made in a month, and how much data was transferred.
TunnelBear will not collect the IP address you connect to a VPN from, nor will it log what you do when using a VPN. You only need an email address to sign up for the service but users can tweet out about TunnelBear for some free data; meaning TunnelBear may collect your Twitter account if you take them up on this offer.
TunnelBear are open and upfront about their team and their address, which can all be found on their website. The main offices of the company are found at 141 Bathurst Street, Suite 101 in Toronto. The CEO of the company is Ryan Dochuk, and information on the rest of the team is available on the company website.
While this policy sounds great – and it is – there is one thing to take note of. TunnelBear collects information on the total data used, which means that they may be able to detect when a user breaks their rules forbidding the use of TunnelBear for P2P downloading. Given that VPNs are used to stream on services such as Netflix though, using a lot of data is not necessarily a sign of torrenting.
Even so, it’s best to avoid using the service for torrenting, which is what TunnelBear ask for. This is because the service may not keep data longs, but they may be able to monitor server traffic use for P2P use and ban accounts before receiving DMCA warnings. If you’re looking to torrent over a VPN then you should consider a different service.
That TunnelBear keeps such minimal records should reassure subscribers that they are free to use the VPN for what they want. Even in the event that the authorities serve TunnelBear with a warrant, they won’t have much information to hand over and very little of it is personal information directly connected to a user.
A support system is an important part of any service. Users need someone to turn to if they have questions. The good news is that TunnelBear is equipped with a dedicated help page accessible through any page on the website. Their help page is full of information about status updates, accounts and payments, getting started with the service, help with the browser extension, help for the Windows app, help for the Mac OS X app, help for the iOS app, and help for the Android app. Use the search function to find a particular article and solution for your problem.
Anyone that can’t find the answer they need through the help page at TunnelBear can get in touch with the support team directly. Unfortunately, there isn’t a live chat feature, meaning that you have to use the contact form and wait for a response rather than getting one immediately. Both those subscribed and not subscribed to the service are welcome to contact TunnelBear with questions about their service.
We sent their support staff a question about encryption to test their customer support and to see how the service has changed. We received an automatic email telling us to expect a response within 24 hours – which it did – but the response wasn’t very clear and we did have to ask for some extra verification. Even so, the support staff were friendly, knowledgeable, and ready to help. It might not be the best support service around, but it still gets the job done.
TunnelBear offer three payment plans for users; Little, Giant, and Grizzly. The Little plan is the free trial, which we’ll get into in a minute. For now we’re going to focus on the paid plans including how users can pay and the refund policy.
The Giant plan is the monthly plan. Giant subscribers can access an unlimited amount of data and all the features and services of TunnelBear for $9.99 a month. The Grizzly plan offers the best value for money and also happens to be the most popular payment plan. This option gives users access to all of the services of TunnelBear for just $4.16 a month (with annual payments of $49.88). Both paid plans provide an identical level of service and unlimited access to servers.
There’s more bad news as far as a refund policy goes as TunnelBear doesn’t provide one. The reason for this is that they have such a great free trial program. Users are able to try out their services, and so they don’t feel a need to provide refunds. This is why anyone interested in the service should try out the Little TunnelBear plan before making a purchase. With that said, let’s take a look at the Little plan.
As mentioned before, there is a free version of TunnelBear called the Little TunnelBear plan. This plan can be accessed by providing just your email address. There are some limits on the free trial of course. The first limit is the limit on data. Little TunnelBear users are limited to just 500MB per month of data. This isn’t enough to really use the service for considerable tasks such as securely streaming and downloading movies. It also comes with a limit on accessible servers as free users are unable to access Australian servers. They still have access to 19 locations out of 20 though, which isn’t bad at all.
The free version of TunnelBear does have some uses. For a start, it’s a great way to trial the service and see if it is worth investing in a full account. Given that there are no refunds, this is an important step for anyone interested in the service. It’s also a good idea for people living in conflict areas or areas that have heavy censorship. 500MB is more than enough to access news websites and do data-intensive tasks when necessary. It’s also a good idea for people that don’t plan on using their VPN too much. Why pay for something that you don’t need?
There’s plenty of things to like (and some things to dislike) about the TunnelBear service.
Not only can you install the TunnelBear app on as many devices as you want, but you can also use it on several devices at once. TunnelBear allows users to connect up to five devices to their services through a single account.
TunnelBear clearly cares about their users and offers fantastic customer support. Most of the information you might need can be found directly through the website, and their customer service team will respond within 24 hours for questions not covered in the FAQs.
An important aspect of a VPN service is choice. Providing over 20 different countries (except Australia for free users) gives users a great degree of choice when it comes to choosing a country to connect to.
TunnelBear uses only the most powerful encryption tools available. They don’t use outdated encryption protocols and so users can be sure their data is kept private and anonymous. Add in the GhostBear service and you have an incredible encryption service.
A great aspect of TunnelBear is that they collect almost no logs at all about how users access the service. Any logs that are collected are purely for legal purposes. They also don’t collect identifiable information outside of an email address and Twitter account (which is optional). Even if they are contacted by the authorities, they’ll have almost no information on you to hand over.
The GhostBear feature is a nifty little addition for people living in areas where VPN traffic is monitored and throttled. It disguises VPN traffic is regular internet traffic to prevent this kind of throttling and monitoring. It may slow down the connection even more, but the level of stealth more than makes up for this.
A VPN can only protect you for as long as it’s active. If the server goes down or something similar happens, then your private browsing information can leak out. The VigilantBear option automatically shuts down the service if something happens to the internet connection and starts it back up once the connection has been re-secured, meaning personal data never leaks out.
TunnelBear comes complete with browser extensions for Chrome and Opera. Sometimes you don’t need to encrypt everything you do on the internet, you only want to encrypt traffic from a specific browser. These extensions do just that and allow you to browse anonymously while still using your regular connection for data-intensive tasks such as VOIP services.
Users can download and run TunnelBear on just about any device or operating system. TunnelBear recently adopted Linux support as well. You may have to download the third party OpenVPN app but you’ll have the power to encrypt your connection no matter what.
Using a VPN is sure to reduce connection speeds. It’s a natural part of the service. The good news is that TunnelBear remains fast and powerful when connected. There’s some slow down, but you can still enjoy high speed downloading and uploading.
TunnelBear is constantly being updated to be faster, securer, and address potential problems. The next version of the app is currently in beta testing and should be released soon.
Given that the company is based in Canada there are some limitations on what the service can be used for. Canada has strict internet laws in some regards, and so TunnelBear ask that all users not use their service for torrenting and other P2P downloading. While you can technically do this with the service, you may be banned for doing it. If you want to use a VPN for downloading then check other services.
As knowledgeable as the support team is, there are a limited amount of support options. Not being able to use live chat is a big letdown if you need immediate support. It’s fine if you can wait but you don’t get much of a choice if the problem you have isn’t covered by the main support page.
Having access to the American Netflix library is a big reason people invest in VPN services. There’s no doubt that this library is much more expansive. Netflix has begun blocking traffic from VPN and TunnelBear hasn’t been able to work their way around it like other services have. Once again, if you need to access US Netflix, you need a different VPN service.
TunnelBear is a great VPN service and the speeds they offer should be enough for most people using VPN. However, you’re out of luck with this service if you want to access USA Netflix and use BitTorrent. Users who are concerned about their privacy might be concerned about TunnelBear collecting some data, but this is generic information and it doesn’t include personal browsing activity. The third-party audits do show that the service can be trusted with your information at least. Give TunnelBear a try with the free service and see if it’s for you or not.