Not many can afford a VPN service. Or, some of us want to make sure of the service is working properly or not before purchasing one. You are super lucky today. Canada based VPN service provider Tunnel Bear offers 500 MB of free data to set your mind. Free sound good but is it really worth it? Check our unbiased Tunnel Bear review and learn if it can meet your overall expectation.
Like any other reviews, we will be running plenty of tests. Let’s start with speed! A VPN service with a terible connection is no good.
Country, server coverage, and speed performance
Tunnel Bear has been in the market for a really long time. Currently, almost all the western market is covered. However, they prefer to keep the country/server coverage as low as possible.
There could be two reasons for that:
- They simply want to ignore the Middle East, Africa, Asia and go after Western market.
- Unlike other big companies, Tunnel Bear prefers to manage less server in return for a greater performance.
First one is not our business. Yet, as for the latter, we have to test the servers and come to a verdict.
The speed test performance will be a bit different than before as now we have 100 Mbit (50 Mbit earlier) fiber connection. This will give us better insight on how good Tunnel Bear servers are.
Tunnel Bear download/upload performance test
|Region||Download (Mbps)||Upload (Mbps)||Ping (Ms)|
|Mobile - 4G||17||3.98||72|
Tunnel Bear is the fastest tunnel digging bear in the market. According to our test, North America, as well as the Europe servers, are lightning fast.
Interestingly -even we ran the test from Europe, Asia servers are pretty good, too.
With the server performance given, you will not have any speed problems. Moreover, when you are using Tunnel Bear on your smartphone, you can enjoy seamless Instagram and Youtube experience.
I was able to watch Instagram stories without having any quality issues. As for the Youtube, you can watch 1080P 60FPS quality videos. (Tested on Germany servers)
How can Tunnel Bear get to these speed values?
According to our speed test experience, we discovered that Tunnel Bear works with Cloud-based server company Digitalocean. That is why they can provide reliable speed performance.
Normally, we were expecting closer speed performance to the Netherlands download/upload result.
This time, in the chart below, Tunnel Bear got close to it but it did not perform well.
We chose a torrent file with more than 1100 seeds. As seen in the speed chart, it was almost instant to move from 0 to 1.25 MB/sec.
Later on, the speed reached up to 2mb/second and stabilized at around 1.5 MB/second. Overall, we were able to download 383 MB file under just 5 minutes.
Popcorn time experience – Is it fast enough?
Moving forward to another P2P environment… Popcorn time.
We selected a random TV show with around 500 seeds with the HD quality mode. Interestingly, this time, Tunnel Bear outperformed its torrent download speed and reached up to 2 MB/second within a few seconds.
Unlike many other poor Popcorn time VPN providers, Tunnel Bear is the best one with the top speed achievement we got so far!
You don’t have to wait, just click “play”, Tunnel Bear will handle the rest.
Tunnel bear online gaming experience
NetFlix and BBC iPlayer experience
Tunnel Bear does not have a dedicated streaming server. There is one and only USA option in the map and you cannot change your preference.
I connected to the USA server and started to stream a random Tv series. Luckily, the server was able to bypass the restriction and help me watch the show.
As you can see the quality. It is below average. I know it is a big deal to watch Netflix outside of the USA yet, getting terrible video quality is not what we want.
Tunnel Bear failed the Netflix test.
Moving forward to BBC iPlayer…
Unfortunately, Tunnel Bear servers are blocked by BBC iPlayer.
I have sent a ticket related to this issue. Let’s check Tunnel bear customer support speed below.
Pricing and refund policy
Currently, there are three plans available with Tunnel Bear: Free, Monthly, Yearly plans. Each plan has the same features. The only difference is that the free plan has limited data usage (500 MB/Month).
The service has a reasonable price tag: Monthly: 9.99$ and Annual plan costs 59.99$
As for the payment options, there are two methods available: Credit Cart and Bitcoin.
Note: Bitcoin payment gateway is Bitpay.com.
As you already can give a shot to the free version of the Tunnel Bear, you cannot ask for a refund once you purchase it.
Desktop software and mobile apps
I always tend to give a greater rating to the easy-to-use desktop and mobile apps. In this sense, Tunnel Bear deserves a good one!
Once you install the software, a navigation map and a lonely bear will welcome you. You can see your current location by checking the lost bear.
When you click on the desired country, you have to approve the connection, then, you are done.
In the software, you can get rid of the map crowd and toggle the screen by clicking on the logo on the top left side of the screen. This way, you will only see the names of the covered countries.
The software is not limited to a lost bear and the countries. There is some other features Tunnel Bear offer.
In the general settings, you can change the interface and how you want the software acts when in use.
Notification is a great feature to remind you when you are connected to an unsecured wi-fi spot.
Moving forward to “Security” settings…
Tunnel Bear comes up with a made-up word: VigilantBear for “Kill Switch”. In case, your VPN connection drops, your all internet activity will cease. This is a great feature while downloading P2P files.
“GhostBear” feature helps you visit websites as if you are using a regular internet service. When I tried to connect to the Tunnel Bear servers in Turkey, it was not a success at first. Once I activated this feature, I was able to connect to any server I want.
GhostBear is a great feature if you plan to visit Russia, Turkey, Iran or China. (Make sure you already have the app or software installed to your device before arriving these countries.
How about the mobile devices?
Having all the features that you have in the PC software in the mobile device is super rare. Yet, you get it with the Tunnel Bear.
Just like the desktop software, it is easy to use and you have all the options to secure your mobile connection. Additionally, you can decide which app connection goes from VPN, and which one uses the normal data with the “Splitbear” (Split tunneling) option.
Other supported devices
It might seem a bit frustrating not to see Tunnel Bear supporting plenty of devices. Your smartphone, PC, browser are totally secure. However, when it comes to other platforms like routers, Kodi, firestick etc… Unfortunately, Tunnel Bear will not be meeting your expectation.
If you stick to your smart devices at home, Tunnel Bear could be your top choice. Yet, if you prefer to use a VPN service on a device that requires manual set up, you may need another service.
As for the browsers, you can use the service with Google Chrome and Opera.
Tunnel Bear offers defaults 250bit OpenVPN encryption. There is no other protocol available at the moment.
Is Tunnel Bear working properly?
Yes, it is. Tunnel Bear works pretty well under almost all terrible environments. I have tested the service on Macbook, Windows PC, Android and iOS devices (GhostBear activated) and had no issue at all.
The software is super easy to use and newbie friendly.
As for the Netflix and BBC iPlayer… The company strives for the best user experience by changing their serves to bypass restriction both for Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
We managed to stream Netflix USA in Europe. However, the service failed for BBC iPlayer.
There are several options to contact Tunnel Bear team, live chat is not one of them. At the moment, you can get help from “Troubleshooting”, “Announcement”, “Getting started” pages. For further assistance, you can open a support ticket and ask for help.
Because the service failed with BBC iPlayer, I have sent them an email still waiting for the answer…
I got it after a few hours.
I really like the answer as it is informative and it is a good feeling to see the company actually working to solve the problem.
Log policy! Does Tunnel bear keep logs?
As always, the most challenging part!
There is plenty of data Tunnel Bear keep. These are:
- the email address for marketing and purchase receipts
- payment data (cardholders name, card billing address) to fight against fraud.
In this case, if an authority asks for any kind of information, Tunnel Bear is limited to the Personal Data listed within this Privacy Notice.
As for the activity logs, here is Tunnel Bear statement:
TunnelBear does NOT store users’ originating IP addresses when connected to our service and thus cannot identify users when provided IP addresses of our servers. Additionally, we cannot disclose information about the applications, services, or websites our users consume while connected to our Services; as TunnelBear does NOT store this information.
It would be a good feeling to be protected by a bear. Seriously! Having a VPN service working under almost any condition; getting reliable speed performance while downloading, and browsing social media; securing your internet connection with 256-bit encryption should be enough to make you happy.
Besides shiny parts of the review, Tunnel Bear has streaming issues with Netflix and BBC iPlayer. At one point, for the expats or traveler, it is a good option to have “GhostBear” feature to unblock any website in any country. On the other hand, unable to have quality streaming experience would turn your holiday into a disaster.
Last but not least, Tunnel Bear does work with the devices requiring manuel set up.
Overall, the company passed many tests in our review and you may check the detailed rating below.
As cheap as a jar of honey, you can enjoy ultimate freedom with for a really long time. Tunnel Bear is an ultimate VPN solution with dedicated software, speed performance and encryption you can trust. One and the only issue is that it is not a perfect solution for streaming geo-blocked shows.
- Simultaneous connection up to 5 devices
- Accepts coin payments
- Reliable encryption and good speed performance
- Works in countries like Turkey, Russia, Iran...
- Does not keep activity logs.
- No live chat support
- Slow Netflix streaming and it did not unblock BBC iPlayer abroad
- Keeps user logs
- Non-refundable service