With a cute name, you might wonder what is TunnelBear. Well, TunnelBear UK is a very popular VPN provider among users for its ease of use and the features it offers.
The question though is, does it do enough to go past being a cute name? The VPN market is overcrowded and many of the best UK VPN’s offer a wealth of features with simple to use interfaces.
TunnelBear is also one of the few premium providers which offer a good free VPN, even if this is capped and only supposed to tempt users to upgrade their TunnelBear download.
Features and Benefits
TunnelBear comes with a feature called VigilantBear, and with a name like this you would ask is TunnelBear safe.
That is the aim of VigilantBear which is just the name of their killswitch which should stop any data leakage if you lose your VPN connection. Unlike others, this feature needs to be manually activated.
In the same section of the settings, you can activate GhostBear which is supposed to allow access to US Netflix. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case and TunnelBear not working in this area can be a deal breaker for many VPN users.
Ghostbear is their technology which helps you bypass firewalls such as the one around China. It does this by disguising the fact you are using a VPN connection. This can be easily toggled on and off because in some cases this extra load can slow down a VPN connection.
This stealth mode also helps the connection to be hidden from ISP’s so no throttling will be imposed.
Following on from not being able to unlock some geo-locked content (BBC iPlayer among them) there is another area where this VPN falters.
TunnelBear torrenting is also none existent, and one of the reasons, which is another downside, is the company is based in Canada and falls under the five eyes jurisdiction.
TunnelBear does support plenty of devices such as Windows, Mac OS, iOS and Android. For light users on the road, the tunnel bear app for Android could be one free Android VPN to use while on the road without affecting your home connection. There are also other means of securing your mobile connection, and this is using a TunnelBear extension. The most popular one being the TunnelBear Chrome add-on. The problem here though is making sure you connect through that specific browser or you won’t be protected.
One feature which does come with TunnelBear is split tunnelling. With this, you can choose which applications can be routed through your VPN and which ones can go through your regular connection.
This feature isn’t unique among VPN’s, but for some reason, TunnelBear only provides this feature for Android. It does, however, help to increase speeds which can be crucial if you are using a mobile device.
Security is one area in which TunnelBear takes seriously and limits users on what protocols they can choose. AES-256-bit encryption is used by default. The company state any form of weaker encryption isn’t an option which goes along with their strict no log policy.
OpenVPN isn’t used on Apple mobile devices, and instead, it uses IPSec or IKEv2. On Mac OS it uses either OpenVPN or IKEv2, and this can change by how fast either of them can connect.
One final couple of features TunnelBear offers is a tethering option where you can let devices communicate with each other if they both have TunnelBear installed.
Teams is a further extension to this where a group of people who are working on a project can use all network their VPN connections to make sure they are all protected at the same time.
This does come with a higher price tag and is aimed at businesses compared to home users. It also comes with a priority helpdesk facility which isn’t a bad thing.
For home users, their support levels are of an OK level, but they aren’t the fastest by any means. As it is ticket only it could leave many new users highly frustrated by the length of time they are without protection.
With each subscription, you can connect up to five devices consecutively which makes the TunnelBear UK pricing a cheap option for a family on a budget, and who can live without the bells and whistles which other providers offer.
One major downside is there is no money back guarantee, so once you have signed up you have committed for the period, or you forfeit your payment, this is offset by you being able to use their free VPN service as a test before signing up. If you decide to sign up for TunnelBear, you should be aware there is no way of remaining anonymous because they do retain a user’s email address and name for billing purposes.
- Limited – Starter $0 – 500MB monthly limit
- 1 month – $9.99
- 1 year – $4.17 billed as $49.99 annually
- User-friendly interface
- Good knowledgebase
- 5 simultaneous devices
- Good encryption
- Minimal connection logs
- Doesn’t get American Netflix
- Split tunnelling only for Android
- Slow speeds
- Technical support email only
The TunnelBear VPN is overall a decent mid-tier service with unique features. It brings with it some robust encryption but is let down by its lack of geo-blocking avoidance.
There is also an element of confusion for new users who wish to delve further down and make some configuration changes.
On the speed front, any VPN which wishes to hold a place in the top ten VPN software list needs to offer high speeds.
Unfortunately, this is another area where this VPN falls short. When you make a comparison against other VPN’s, you will see it appears simple to use, offers good protection and is cheaper than many.
For the price the features offered are about right, but there are others which offer more for the same or in some cases slightly less.