A Digital Non-public Community (VPN) doesn’t should be intimidating or irritating for its customers. McAfee-owned TunnelBear makes it easy to safe your web connection. With good safety features and an affordable value, TunnelBear is a superb VPN to think about in your Android machine. Though TunnelBear wasn’t one of the best performer in our velocity assessments, it is some of the intuitive VPNs we have examined. TunnelBear earns an Editors’ Alternative for Android VPNs alongside NordVPN and Non-public Web Entry.
What Is a VPN?
For those who incessantly hook up with public Wi-Fi networks at airports or cafés, know that your connection shouldn’t be safe. Malicious actors on the identical community can peek at your exercise and probably extract your private knowledge, together with passwords and banking data. These identical people can even trick your machine into routinely connecting to fraudulent networks. Cellular gadgets are extra typically a goal in public locations, however even your own home community is vulnerable to privateness incursions from web service suppliers (ISPs) that promote your knowledge. To preemptively fight all these intrusions, you have to use a VPN.
At a fundamental stage, a VPN shopper units up an encrypted connection (or tunnel) to a server hosted by that VPN service. Once you hook up with one among these servers, your IP deal with seems because the IP deal with of the VPN server itself, fairly than one that’s identifiable to you. This follow successfully hides the origin of your connection and makes it tough for a 3rd occasion to attribute exercise to you particularly. If this sounds complicated, don’t fret; TunnelBear, like different high rivals, makes it simple to arrange and use a VPN service, with out making you dive into the main points.
Since a VPN is topic to the identical threats and vulnerabilities as another safety software program, we advocate you check out our information on find out how to inform in case your VPN is leaking. Additionally, notice VPN within the fallacious fingers might perform as significantly intrusive adware. Take Fb’s Onavo VPN for instance. The app, which Apple has since faraway from the App Retailer for violating its insurance policies, brazenly tracked its customers’ community exercise. Accordingly, you need to solely use a VPN from an organization you belief or, higher but, one which has undergone a third-party audit.
It is also essential to ascertain what a VPN shouldn’t be. For instance, a VPN doesn’t make you utterly nameless on-line. Utilizing a VPN alongside Tor is a greater, however nonetheless not fool-proof, technique to shield your privateness. A VPN shouldn’t be the best software to stop web sites from monitoring your periods, both, however extensions similar to Privateness Badger might help. Threats to your privateness and safety are all the time evolving, however a VPN might help shield one among your biggest vulnerabilities. For strengthening your private safety on-line, be ready to complement your VPN with different instruments, similar to a password supervisor.
Pricing and Safety
TunnelBear provides three pricing choices, together with a very free one. TunnelBear is among the few VPNs that provides a free tier, however notice that this account is restricted to 500MB of knowledge per thirty days, which is probably going not sufficient to maintain most customers. TunnelBear will improve this restrict to 1GB per thirty days in the event you tweet concerning the service, although. The corporate additionally doesn’t require a bank card to make use of the free model, which we respect. For those who actually do not wish to pay for cover, you’ll be able to try our characteristic on free VPN providers for different choices. Though most free providers both include extreme knowledge utilization restrictions or depend on adverts for help, Editors’ Alternative ProtonVPN’s free model doesn’t.
TunnelBear’s base paid tier, Large, prices $9.99 per thirty days and removes the info restrict. The highest-level account, Grizzly, provides the identical capabilities as Large, nevertheless it solely prices $59.95 per 12 months, or about $5 per thirty days. The month-to-month value is barely lower than the present common ($10.16) of VPN providers we have examined. Non-public Web Entry is cheaper at $6.95 per thirty days, however NordVPN is available in increased at $11.95 per thirty days. Customers will pay for TunnelBear with a bank card or with Bitcoin.
TunnelBear protects your community visitors with AES 256-bit encryption and implements the OpenVPN protocol on Android. Information authentication is dealt with with the SHA-256 hash perform. TunnelBear permits 5 concurrent connections at anybody time, which is somewhat under common. IPVanish provides essentially the most simultaneous connections (10) of the providers we reviewed. Along with Android, TunnelBear is out there on Home windows, macOS, and iOS.
TunnelBear additionally provides a Workforce account for $69 per particular person per 12 months. This plan consists of an infinite knowledge allotment, as much as 5 gadgets per subscription, group billing options, and precedence e mail help. We examined the service utilizing a Grizzly account.
TunnelBear Server Areas
Once we consider a VPN service, we evaluate what number of servers an organization maintains and the place these servers are positioned. The reason being easy: the better the variety of servers, the much less bandwidth customers might want to share with different folks. Additionally, if an organization hosts extra servers nearer to your geographical location, your connection will doubtless be faster.
TunnelBear provides servers in 20 completely different places worldwide on the time of writing. Notably, TunnelBear doesn’t supply servers on your entire continent of Africa. Additional, it neglects Cuba, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, and Vietnam, all of which have significantly restrictive web insurance policies. That stated, we perceive that sustaining servers in such nations is probably problematic and that the implications of failure are extreme for the tip person. For this very cause, we do not choose a finest VPN for China, for instance. Nonetheless, most different VPNs we examined provides servers in a better variety of places. For instance, IPVanish and Conceal My Ass VPN preserve servers in 60+ and 190+ nations, respectively.
In accordance with an organization consultant, TunnelBear maintains round 1,200 servers at anybody time. That is on the low facet, in contrast with our different Editors’ Alternative winners. For reference, NordVPN claims greater than 5,000 servers and Non-public Web Entry says it has round three,500. TorGuard’s three,000 server rely additionally outclasses TunnelBear’s providing.
One different factor to bear in mind is whether or not a VPN firm makes use of digital servers. Digital servers bodily exist in a single location however spoof their location in order that they look like in one other. One potential situation with this follow is that connecting to a digital server might expose your knowledge to the legal guidelines of a rustic aside from the placement you suppose you might be selecting. In accordance with an organization consultant, TunnelBear’s server rely is “break up about 50/50 by way of lively bodily vs digital servers,” and TunnelBear “doesn’t presently preserve bodily servers in each location that [it] supply[s] digital servers.” The consultant additional explains that TunnelBear prioritizes bodily servers within the nations it has them utilizing a weighted choice algorithm and “auto scale[s]…digital servers up and down based mostly on visitors fluctuations.”
As a result of a VPN has as a lot perception into your on-line exercise as your ISP, it is essential to grasp what measures a VPN firm is (or is not) taking to guard you as a buyer. TunnelBear’s privateness coverage clearly specifies what it collects and why. We go into better depth in our overview of the TunnelBear Home windows shopper. In a nutshell, TunnelBear says it doesn’t retailer the IP addresses of these visiting the corporate’s web site, the IP deal with of customers upon connection, any DNS queries from customers whereas linked, or any of its customers’ exercise whereas utilizing TunnelBear. An organization consultant confirmed that TunnelBear’s solely income is subscriptions—not knowledge mining or advert retargeting.
TunnelBear is predicated in Canada, which is a part of the 14 Eyes intelligence alliance, however an organization consultant defined that it’s not topic to any necessary knowledge retention legal guidelines. We chorus from judging a VPN firm’s privateness practices based mostly solely on its location, however customers ought to no less than know beneath what authorized jurisdiction it operates. TunnelBear additionally says it would adjust to a “legitimate subpoena, warrant or different authorized doc and relevant legislation,” however once more, this solely applies to the restricted private knowledge that TunnelBear collects. One other plus facet of this minimal assortment coverage is that the stakes are a lot decrease in case of an information breach.
TunnelBear notably accomplished an unbiased code audit by Treatment53. Code audits are designed to uncover vulnerabilities in software program; you’ll be able to learn the total outcomes on this PDF of Treatment53’s findings. Third-party evaluations aren’t frequent, and even fewer are public, so we applaud TunnelBear’s efforts right here. AnchorFree Hotspot Protect Elite is the one different VPN service we have reviewed to endure an audit.
TunnelBear’s Android VPN App
We put in TunnelBear on a Google Pixel working Android 9.zero. We had no points downloading the app or signing into our check account. The app’s predominant view reveals a vibrant, interactive map with shiny yellow tunnel icons stationed in each out there nation. We actually benefit from the total design and watching the animated bear tunnel to different places is unquestionably entertaining. You may as well faucet on a location you might be already linked to for an informative bear truth. We want the app allowed you to zoom out and in from the map; it is exhausting to see all of the out there places simply by panning round. App settings can be found by way of a hidden left-hand menu.
When you resolve on a server location, faucet on the icon or choose it from the checklist on the backside of the display screen. You may as well use the Auto perform to connect with the closest out there location. If this feature is greyed out, chances are you’ll want to regulate the ICMP settings in your router. Some VPN providers allow you to select from a number of servers at every location, however TunnelBear doesn’t offer you that possibility.
The primary time you hook up with a server, your machine pops up a connection request notification. This discover explains that TunnelBear could have the flexibility to watch your community visitors. As talked about earlier than, a VPN generally is a malicious software within the fallacious fingers, so ensure that the request comes from a verified supply. When you hit OK, the on-screen bear dives into the pipes and emerges in a brand new location. Your bear’s path is tracked by a shiny blue dotted line.
Within the hidden left-hand menu, you get 5 decisions: Choices, Assist, Evaluation on Play Retailer, Privateness Coverage, and Log Out. We respect that TunnelBear hyperlinks its privateness coverage instantly inside its app in order that customers can simply entry it. Within the choices panel, you’ll be able to toggle fundamental settings similar to Bear Sounds, vibration, and whether or not otherwise you need clouds to seem on the map.
You may as well configure TunnelBear to auto-connect once you hook up with insecure Wi-Fi networks. TunnelBear consists of different proprietary choices too: GhostBear, VigilantBear, and SplitBear. When the GhostBear possibility is enabled, it makes encrypted knowledge seem as common HTTPS web visitors. The VigilantBear possibility disables all web visitors within the occasion that your connection is disabled. This characteristic is usually known as a Kill change. SplitBear lets customers choose which apps shouldn’t be tunneled even when linked to TunnelBear.
The final in-app possibility is to allow Trusted Networks. Mainly, TunnelBear will routinely run everytime you hook up with a community not listed as trusted. Oddly, once we tapped the Study Extra button within the descriptions of every of those further settings, the app redirected us to a generic touchdown web page. We had no situation accessing these identical assist pages from the desktop.
TunnelBear and Netflix
Some VPNs do not work with Netflix, although it’s not clear whether or not the usage of VPNs is an express violation of its phrases of service. Netflix does clarify, nevertheless, in part four.three of its coverage that “You could view Netflix content material primarily inside the nation wherein you have got established your account and solely in geographic places the place we provide our service and have licensed such content material.”
TunnelBear’s Android app didn’t work with Netflix in our newest spherical of testing. We examined compatibility with a Nexus 5X working Android eight.1, since we had issues streaming from Netflix (even with no VPN) on our Google Pixel check machine with Android 9 Pie. You may all the time allow the SplitBear settings enabled for Netflix to keep away from disconnecting from the VPN totally, however know that your knowledge won’t be encrypted.
For those who use video streaming providers incessantly in your telephone, this lack of compatibility may very well be essential. You may try our present roundup of one of the best VPNs to make use of with Netflix for different choices, however know that your outcomes with any service will doubtless differ over time.
Testing TunnelBear’s Pace
Testing the connection velocity of a VPN is tough since variables such because the time of day, geographic location, server, and check machine can all have an effect on the result. Subsequently, you shouldn’t contemplate our check outcomes the ultimate phrase on such issues, however fairly as a comparative snapshot of VPN efficiency. If velocity is a precedence, nevertheless, try our roundup of the quickest VPNs.
See How We Check VPNs
To check the efficiency of a VPN, we run Ookla’s web velocity check app a number of occasions to ascertain a baseline community efficiency with the VPN turned off. (Be aware that Ookla is owned by Ziff Davis, PCMag’s writer.) Then, we let the VPN routinely select the closest server (or change it to the closest US-based one), and rerun the assessments. For every check, we use the obtain (Mbps), add (Mbps), and latency (ms) outcomes to guage the efficiency. We take the median of the leads to every class and evaluate the p.c change between the 2 assessments.
TunnelBear’s Android app slowed down our connection velocity significantly in all our assessments. For instance, it elevated latency by over three,500 p.c. Its obtain and add velocity efficiency shouldn’t be significantly better. TunnelBear’s obtain and add speeds respectively clocked in at 95.four p.c and 79.four p.c slower than our baseline consequence. In subsequent assessments, the latency did enhance considerably, however add and obtain speeds remained constant. In all three assessments, TunnelBear produced worse outcomes than the median.
Speedify turned within the quickest leads to our obtain assessments, solely lowering speeds by three.four p.c. NordVPN additionally produced good outcomes by way of obtain speeds and took the highest spot in our add assessments, solely slowing down speeds by 48.7 p.c and 22.6 p.c respectively. In our latency check, NordVPN, Tiger VPN, and Non-public Web Entry have been the quickest, solely growing our ping by a median of 20 p.c. All of TunnelBear’s outcomes are effectively under the common efficiency of the VPNs we examined.
TunnelBear didn’t carry out significantly effectively when PCMag’s VPN skilled Max Eddy examined its Home windows shopper both. In reality, it was one of many slowest providers we examined by way of latency and obtain speeds. When Senior Safety Analyst Neil Rubenking reviewed the TunnelBear’s iOS app, it additionally carried out poorly on obtain and latency assessments, however managed to hit add speeds in keeping with most different rivals.
Once more, needless to say we do not contemplate efficiency to be an important issue when judging VPNs. Most of our readers have sufficient throughput that the elevated safety even a sluggish VPN delivers is well worth the tradeoff in efficiency. Definitely, in the event you’re doing one thing wherein velocity or latency are crucial components, that does not apply. In that case, please see our roundup of one of the best gaming VPNs.
Defend Your Visitors With TunnelBear
TunnelBear is a straightforward and efficient VPN for Android that’s simple to advocate to individuals who do not wish to suppose an excessive amount of about utilizing a VPN. Its inviting interface is backed up by a superb privateness coverage and stable safety settings. Though TunnelBear doesn’t let customers choose particular person servers at every location and the velocity compares poorly to different rivals in our testing, TunnelBear does sufficient proper to warrant an Editors’ Alternative score, becoming a member of NordVPN and Non-public Web Entry as high picks for Android VPNs.