TunnelBear keeps your online activities private by encrypting your internet connection. It enables you to bypass censorship and access blocked sites. Other VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) do the same.
Which VPN is best for you? TunnelBear is a good option. It keeps you secure, provides fast connections, and gives access to media content in other countries. It’s affordable and available for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android.
Some have different strengths and features. Which one suits you best? Read on to learn how TunnelBear compares with the competition.
What Are the Software’s Strengths?
VPN services enhance your online privacy and security by encrypting your internet traffic and passing it through a VPN server. Both steps take time, which might affect the speed of your connection. It’s possible to use TunnelBear with little impact on the speed of your internet.
I tested my internet speed without a VPN running and achieved a download speed of 88.72 Mbps. That’s a little slower than average but similar to what I was getting when I tested other services. That means TunnelBear won’t get an unfair advantage.
I installed it on my iMac and tested my speed when connected to nine different servers around the world. Here are the results:
- Australia: 88.28 Mbps
- United States: 59.07 Mbps
- United Kingdom: 28.19 Mbps
- New Zealand: 74.97 Mbps
- Mexico: 58.17 Mbps
- Singapore: 59.18 Mbps
- France: 45.48 Mbps
- Ireland: 40.43 Mbps
- Brazil: 48.41 Mbps
I achieved the best speed (88.28 Mbps) when connected to the server closest to me (Australia). I’m impressed that it’s almost the same as my non-VPN speed. The average across all nine servers was 55.80 Mbps. I also tried to connect to a server in Canada but couldn’t connect.
Here’s how those speeds compare with competing VPNs:
- Speedify (two connections): 95.31 Mbps (fastest server), 52.33 Mbps (average)
- Speedify (one connection): 89.09 Mbps (fastest server), 47.60 Mbps (average)
- TunnelBear: 88.28 Mbps (fastest server), 55.80 (average)
- HMA VPN (adjusted): 85.57 Mbps (fastest server), 60.95 Mbps (average)
- Astrill VPN: 82.51 Mbps (fastest server), 46.22 Mbps (average)
- NordVPN: 70.22 Mbps (fastest server), 22.75 Mbps (average)
- SurfShark: 62.13 Mbps (fastest server), 25.16 Mbps (average)
- Avast SecureLine VPN: 62.04 Mbps (fastest server), 29.85 (average)
- CyberGhost: 43.59 Mbps (fastest server), 36.03 Mbps (average)
- ExpressVPN: 42.85 Mbps (fastest server), 24.39 Mbps (average)
- PureVPN: 34.75 Mbps (fastest server), 16.25 Mbps (average)
The fastest service that I tested is Speedify. It places a focus on speed and can combine the bandwidth of several connections (for example, your Wi-Fi and a tethered smartphone). TunnelBear, HMA, and Astrill achieve impressive results without that technology.
Streaming Video Content
The availability of streaming content varies from country to country. For instance, some Netflix shows available in the US aren’t available in the UK. A VPN can help by making it look like you’re located elsewhere. As a result, Netflix and other services try to identify and block VPN users. They’re more successful with some than others.
I tried to watch Netflix content when connected to nine different TunnelBear servers and was successful most of the time:
- Australia: NO
- United States: YES
- United Kingdom: YES
- New Zealand: YES
- Mexico: YES
- Singapore: YES
- France: YES
- Ireland: YES
- Brazil: YES
Netflix only blocked me once when I was connected to the Australian server. The other eight servers didn’t recognize that I was using a VPN and didn’t attempt to block me. That makes TunnelBear suitable for streamers.
It compares quite well to the competition, though several VPNs were successful with every server I tried:
- Surfshark: 100% (9 out of 9 servers tested)
- NordVPN: 100% (9 out of 9 servers tested)
- HMA VPN: 100% (8 out of 8 servers tested)
- CyberGhost: 100% (2 out of 2 optimized servers tested)
- TunnelBear: 89% (8 out of 9 servers tested)
- Astrill VPN: 83% (5 out of 6 servers tested)
- PureVPN: 36% (4 out of 11 servers tested)
- ExpressVPN: 33% (4 out of 12 servers tested)
- Avast SecureLine VPN: 8% (1 out of 12 servers tested)
- Speedify: 0% (0 out of 3 servers tested)
TunnelBear costs $9.99/month. You can save money by paying in advance. A yearly subscription costs $59.88 (equivalent to $4.99/month) and three years costs $120 (equivalent to $3.33/month). The three-year plan includes a free “RememBear” password manager subscription.
That’s affordable, though there are cheaper options. Let’s have a look at how its yearly plan compares to other services:
- CyberGhost: $33.00
- Avast SecureLine VPN: $47.88
- NordVPN: $59.04
- Surfshark: $59.76
- HMA VPN: $59.88
- TunnelBear: $59.88
- Speedify: $71.88
- PureVPN: $77.88
- ExpressVPN: $99.95
- Astrill VPN: $120.00
But annual subscriptions don’t always give the best price. Here is how the best-value plan from each service compares when prorated monthly:
- CyberGhost: $1.83 for the first 18 months (then $2.75)
- Surfshark: $2.49 for the first two years (then $4.98)
- Speedify: $2.99
- Avast SecureLine VPN: $2.99
- HMA VPN: $2.99
- TunnelBear: $3.33
- NordVPN: $3.71
- PureVPN: $6.49
- ExpressVPN: $8.33
- Astrill VPN: $10.00
What Are the Software’s Weaknesses?
Privacy and Security
All VPNs keep you more secure and anonymous than you would be otherwise. As a result, many services provide a kill switch that automatically disconnects you from the internet when you become vulnerable. TunnelBear’s “VigilantBear” feature does this, though it’s not enabled by default.
There’s also “GhostBear,” a feature that makes it harder to identify that you’re using a VPN. That helps when bypassing internet censorship, such as China’s firewall.
Some services allow even greater anonymity by passing your traffic through several servers. Two ways to achieve this are double-VPN and TOR-over-VPN. However, those options will generally negatively affect your connection speed. Some services also block malware and advertising trackers. Here are some VPNs with these features:
- Surfshark: malware blocker, double-VPN, TOR-over-VPN
- NordVPN: ad and malware blocker, double-VPN
- Astrill VPN: ad blocker, TOR-over-VPN
- ExpressVPN: TOR-over-VPN
- Cyberghost: ad and malware blocker
- PureVPN: ad and malware blocker
To get an idea of how satisfied long-term users are with each service, I turned to Trustpilot. Here I can see a rating out of five for each company, the number of users who left a review, and detailed comments about what they liked and what they didn’t.
- PureVPN: 4.8 stars, 11,165 reviews
- CyberGhost: 4.8 stars, 10,817 reviews
- ExpressVPN: 4.7 stars, 5,904 reviews
- NordVPN: 4.5 stars, 4,777 reviews
- Surfshark: 4.3 stars, 6,089 reviews
- HMA VPN: 4.2 stars, 2,528 reviews
- Avast SecureLine VPN: 3.7 stars, 3,961 reviews
- Speedify: 2.8 stars, 7 reviews
- TunnelBear: 2.5 stars, 55 reviews
- Astrill VPN: 2.3 stars, 26 reviews
TunnelBear, Speedify, and Astrill VPN received low ratings, but the low number of reviews means we shouldn’t place too much weight on them. TunnelBear users complained of poor customer service, dropped connections, the inability to access certain websites, and slow connections.
PureVPN and CyberGhost have incredibly high ratings as well as a broad user base. ExpressVPN and NordVPN are not far behind. I was surprised to find PureVPN is at the top of the list—I found it slow and unreliable when accessing Netflix. While other users had the same trouble with Netflix, they had positive experiences with support and speed.
9 Alternatives to TunnelBear
When considering alternate VPNs, avoid the free ones. Those companies may sell your internet usage data to make money. Instead, consider the following nine reputable VPN services.
NordVPN is a popular VPN that makes a great alternative to TunnelBear. It’s fast, affordable, and streams content reliably, and includes some security features that TunnelBear doesn’t. It’s the winner of our Best VPN for Mac roundup and runner-up in Best VPN for Netflix and Best VPN for Amazon Fire TV Stick. Read our full NordVPN review.
NordVPN is available for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Firefox extension, Chrome extension, Android TV, and FireTV. It costs $11.95/month, $59.04/year, or $89.00/2 years. The most affordable plan is equivalent to $3.71/month.
Nord’s best download speeds are almost as fast as TunnelBear’s, although they are lower on average. It’s only a few cents a month more expensive and is even more reliable when accessing Netflix—every server I tried succeeded.
But Nord has two decisive advantages over TunnelBear. First, it includes some additional security features, like ad\malware blocking and double-VPN. And second, the app has a much better reputation. 4,777 TrustPilot users awarded the VPN a high rating of 4.5 stars, while TunnelBear just received 2.5 stars.
Surfshark is another VPN service that offers affordability, fast speeds, reliable streaming, and additional security features. It’s the winner of our Best VPN for Amazon Fire TV Stick roundup. Read our full Surfshark review.
Surfshark is available for Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox, and FireTV. It costs $12.95/month, $38.94/6 months, $59.76/year (plus one year free). The most affordable plan is equivalent to $2.49/month for the first two years.
A little slower than NordVPN, Surfshark is another service that can reliably access Netflix content. It’s affordable and beats TunnelBear’s price for the first two years. It’s big on security features: it includes a malware blocker, double-VPN, and TOR-over-VPN. The servers use only RAM and not hard drives, so they don’t retain any record of your online activity when they are turned off.
3. Astrill VPN
Astrill VPN is similar to TunnelBear. It provides fast speeds and good (but not perfect) streaming. Astrill is more expensive and has more robust security features, and is the winner of our Best VPN for Netflix roundup. Read our full Astrill VPN review.
Astrill VPN is available for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, and routers. It costs $20.00/month, $90.00/6 months, $120.00/year, and you pay more for extra features. The most affordable plan is equivalent to $10.00/month.
The two VPN services have very similar download speeds: the fastest servers I encountered on Astrill were 82.51 Mbps and 88.28 Mbps on TunnelBear. The average across all the servers I tested were 46.22 and 55.80 Mbps. My personal experiences streaming from both services were also very close: 83% vs. 89%.
Astrill offers several security features that TunnelBear doesn’t: an ad blocker and TOR-over-VPN. However, the service is more expensive: $10/month compared to TunnelBear’s $3.33.
Speedify is available for Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android. It costs $9.99/month, $71.88/year, $95.76/2 years, or $107.64/3 years. The most affordable plan is equivalent to $2.99/month.
Speedify can combine multiple internet connections to give you more rapid download speeds than you typically achieve. When using a single connection, TunnelBear’s speed is about the same. Unfortunately, none of the Speedify servers I tested were able to stream from Netflix. For many users, TunnelBear will be the better choice.
While both services are secure, neither provide double-VPN, TOR-over-VPN, or a malware blocker. Both are very affordable.
HMA VPN (“HideMyAss”) is another fast alternative. It offers comparable speeds for a similar price, can reliably access streaming services, and includes no additional security features.
HMA VPN is available for Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, routers, Apple TV, and more. It costs $59.88/year or $107.64/3 years. The most affordable plan is equivalent to $2.99/month.
After Speedify, TunnelBear and HMA achieved the highest download speeds in my tests. Both services do something that Speedify couldn’t: reliably access Netflix content. HMA has a slight edge here: every server I tested were successful, while one of TunnelBear’s failed.
Like the other two services, HMA doesn’t include a malware blocker or enhanced anonymity through double-VPN or TOR-over-VPN. Both Speedify and HMA are slightly cheaper than TunnelBear—$2.99 compared with $3.33—but all three services are very affordable.
ExpressVPN has a tremendous reputation and packs in additional security features. However, you’ll get half the speed at double the price of TunnelBear. It’s the runner-up in our Best VPN for Mac roundup. Read our full ExpressVPN review.
ExpressVPN is available for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, FireTV, and routers. It costs $12.95/month, $59.95/6 months, or $99.95/year. The most affordable plan is equivalent to $8.33/month.
ExpressVPN must be doing something right. It’s popular and achieved a very high rating of 4.7 stars on Trustpilot despite charging $8.33/month compared with TunnelBear’s $3.33. I’ve heard that it is particularly effective at bypassing internet censorship. As a result, it’s commonly used in China. It also includes TOR-over-VPN, which makes you harder to track online.
When testing the service, the fastest download speed I achieved was 42.85 Mbps (24.39 was the average). That’s more than fast enough to stream video content but doesn’t come close to TunnelBear’s fastest speed of 88.28 Mbps. I also found the service fairly unreliable when accessing Netflix. Only four out of twelve servers I tried succeeded.
CyberGhost is an affordable and highly-rated VPN. It offers the cheapest plan and highest rating (equal with PureVPN) of all VPNs included in this article. It’s the second runner-up in our Best VPN for Amazon Fire TV Stick roundup.
CyberGhost is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, FireTV, Android TV, and browser extensions. It costs $12.99/month, $47.94/6 months, $33.00/year (with extra six months free). The most affordable plan is equivalent to $1.83/month for the first 18 months.
CyberGhost’s speed is about the same as ExpressVPN’s. That is, it’s fast enough for surfing and streaming. However, its maximum speed of 43.59 Mbps (in my tests) doesn’t compare with TunnelBear’s 88.28.
The service offers servers that specialize in accessing streaming content from Netflix and its competitors. Each one that I tried was successful. It has an ad and malware blocker, but not double-VPN or TOR-over-VPN.
CyberGhost is the most affordable VPN tested. During the first 18 months, it costs the equivalent of $1.83/month and $2.75 after that. TunnelBear isn’t too far behind at $3.33/month.
8. Avast SecureLine VPN
Avast SecureLine VPN is a VPN from a well-known antivirus company and focuses on ease-of-use. As a result, it only includes core VPN functionality. Like TunnelBear, it omits the more advanced security features of some other services. Read our full Avast VPN review.
Avast SecureLine VPN is available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. For a single device, it costs $47.88/year or $71.76/2 years, and an extra dollar a month to cover five devices. The most affordable desktop plan is equivalent to $2.99/month.
SecureLine is fast but not as fast as TunnelBear. Its maximum speed of 62.04 Mbps lags behind the other’s 88.28. I was also much less successful at streaming Netflix content when using SecureLine. Only one of the twelve servers I tested was successful, while only one of TunnelBear’s failed.
PureVPN is the slowest service in our range of alternatives (at least according to my tests). However, it’s also the highest-ranking VPN app on Trustpilot. A huge user base of 11,165 users collectively awarded the service 4.8 stars. In the past, it was also one of the most affordable services, but that is no longer true.
PureVPN is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and browser extensions. It costs $10.95/month, $49.98/6 months, or $77.88/year. The most affordable plan is equivalent to $6.49/month.
In my experience, PureVPN is unreliable at accessing Netflix. Only four servers out of eleven were successful. Negative reviews on Trustpilot confirm that other users have the same issue. TunnelBear did much better, with only one server failing.
The highest speed that I achieved using PureVPN was 34.75 Mbps. That makes it the slowest VPN on our list, but it is still more than capable of streaming video content. I live in Australia; users in other parts of the world might get better speeds.
PureVPN includes a malware blocker but doesn’t support double-VPN or TOR-over-VPN. TunnelBear doesn’t have any of these features.
So What Should You Do?
TunnelBear is an effective VPN that is worth considering. It’s fast, protects your privacy and security, and gives access to streaming content from around the world. However, it lacks some advanced security features found in other services and failed to gain Trustpilot users’ confidence.
What is the best alternative? That depends on your needs. Let’s look at the categories of speed, security, steaming, and price.
Speed: TunnelBear offers fast downloads, though Speedify is even quicker. It combines the bandwidth of multiple internet connections to achieve the fastest web connections we’ve encountered in our tests. HMA VPN and Astrill VPN are comparable to TunnelBear. NordVPN, SurfShark, and Avast SecureLine are not far behind.
Security: Tunnelbear provides a more secure and private online experience but lacks some other services’ advanced features. Surfshark, NordVPN, Astrill VPN, and ExpressVPN offer greater anonymity through double-VPN or TOR-over-VPN. Surfshark, NordVPN, Astrill VPN, CyberGhost, and PureVPN keep you safer by blocking malware.
Streaming: Though Netflix and other streaming services attempt to block VPN users, most of the TunnelBear servers I tested worked. Surfshark, NordVPN, CyberGhost, and Astrill VPN are other VPNs to consider if you expect to stream video content while connected to a VPN.
Price: TunnelBear costs the equivalent of $3.33/month when choosing the best-value plan. CyberGhost and Surfshark offer even better value, especially during the first 18 months to two years of your subscription.
To conclude, TunnelBear is an effective VPN that is fast, affordable, and can reliably stream Netflix content. Speedify is even faster but unreliable if you want to access Netflix. NordVPN, Surfshark, and Astrill VPN are good options if you hope to use double-VPN or TOR-over-VPN.