NordVPN VS TunnelBear

We are not competitive people, but we always enjoy comparing VPN and seeing which one is better. In this test, we compare TunnelBear and NordVPN. In terms of brand awareness, NordVPN definitely has the edge, but we like to go ahead in our tests and not assume superiority based on popularity and ranking alone. To be as unbiased as possible, here we take a look at which VPN is better and who it’s specifically better VPN.

NordVPN is a good choice for users who are looking for a fast connection, access to Netflix, and top-notch data protection.

This affordable and reliable provider offers excellent streaming services and access to gaming servers in most parts of the world.

TunnelBear is an attractive option for casual VPN users who are looking for a simple, inexpensive service to protect their Wi-Fi connection at Starbucks. The service is free, but offers a limited set of features.

Main Differences Between NordVPN and TunnelBear VPN

  1. The main difference between Nord VPN and TunnelBear VPN is the security features. Nord VPN offers dedicated IP and advanced leak protection, while TunnelBear offers shared IP, which is not as strong as Nord VPN due to the lack of IPSec protocols SSTP and PPTP.
  2. In terms of servers, Nord VPN has a massive 5,600 servers, while TunnelBear has 1,800 servers in use.
  3. NordVPN has servers in over 94 countries and 148 locations, while TunnelBear has servers in 22 countries.
  4. NordVPN offers 6 simultaneous connections, while TunnelBear offers 5 simultaneous connections per account.
  5. NordVPN supports up to 6 platforms, while TunnelBear currently runs on 3-4 platforms.

Features

Private connection to a server and using that server as an Internet access point. That’s what VPNs are all about. However, VPN providers pack in many other features that make their products more attractive. Here’s how TunnelBear compares to NordVPN.

TunnelBear

Over 21 million people trust TunnelBear. This is all due to their clever marketing and advertising. If you look at it objectively, it only has some basic features like.

  • Sleep mode: This feature disables all internet activities when the VPN disconnects automatically.
  • Always-on mode: this feature automatically connects to the VPN server when you turn on the device. When the VPN is on, the VPN will automatically turn on when you connect.
  • Nearest Tunnel: Commonly known as “quick connect”, this option connects you to the fastest available server without searching for a server.
  • SplitBear: Android devices have the split tunnel option. This feature lets you select the apps you want to use through TunnelBear and the apps you want to use through your ISP.
  • Ghostbear: If you’re in a country like China where VPNs are restricted, this feature lets you bypass such restrictions.

That’s pretty much all the value-added features you get with TunnelBear. Granted, that’s all most people need, but what’s the harm in having something more and better.

NordVPN

Aside from being our top choice, it’s also the number one VPN in terms of market share. This is mainly due to the quantity and quality of features it offers, such as.

  • CyberSec: Blocks all malicious websites, ads, and unsafe connections.
  • DoubleVPN: This is their multi-hop VPN feature. Basically, it connects to a server that is connected to another server that becomes the access point. Sure it reduces the speed a bit, but the security increases exponentially.
  • Kill Switch: Similar to TunnelBear wake-up mode, this feature terminates all Internet activity when the connection to the VPN is suddenly lost. It also has the ability to stop certain applications. For example, your torrent activity can be stopped while YouTube continues to run.
  • Hidden Servers: Like Tunnelbear, let you connect to the VPN in restricted places like China
  • Smart Play: This feature lets you stream content seamlessly and securely.
  • Onion over VPN: This feature combines the power of the Tor network and VPN, essentially providing the ultimate in anonymity, privacy, and security.
  • Split Tunneling: In mobile apps and Chrome/Mozilla browsers, NordVPN allows split tunneling.
  • Other: They also offer P2P servers for torrenting, SmartDNS, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Speed Test

Everyone hates a slow internet connection – many people use VPNs for high-bandwidth activities like HD streaming and torrenting. That’s why it’s crucial to find out how much NordVPN or TunnelBear affects your internet speed. We tested this by running a VPN on a 500Mbps(On average) test connection in a US lab.

Before we begin, you should know that we ran the NordVPN test using WireGuard and the NordLynx protocol. NordLynx is NordVPN’s unique implementation of the WireGuard VPN protocol. WireGuard is a relatively new protocol that offers better speeds than other VPN protocols, as well as improved and enhanced security.

TunnelBear does not support WireGuard and instead relies on the (older) OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols.

Note: Since TunnelBear doesn’t have a large network of VPN servers, it’s hard to compare it directly to NordVPN. NordVPN lets you choose VPN servers in a specific city, while TunnelBear only lets you choose by country.

So, let’s take a look at the speed test results between TunnelBear and NordVPN.

Server in the USA
Here are the results of TunnelBear connection to their US server: 52 Mbps(On average).

Well, this looks bad for TunnelBear. Reaching 52 Mbps on a 500 Mbps connection is very slow. Even other VPN services that work only with OpenVPN perform better. Now let’s compare it with NordVPN.

Here are the results of NordVPN connection to a server in Seattle, USA: 445 Mbps(On average).

NordVPN delivers results that are more than 8x faster than TunnelBear. The slowest download speed we got in our NordVPN speed test anywhere in the US was 235 Mbps – that’s still more than 4x faster than TunnelBear.

Server in the UK
Many VPN users need to connect to servers in Europe or the UK. Let’s take a look at how this works.

Here are the results of TunnelBear connection to their UK servers: 5 Mbps(On average).

Those are the speeds of a slow old bear. Can NordVPN do better?
Here are the results for NordVPN connection to their UK servers: 295 Mbps(On average).

For the UK server location, NordVPN is 59 times faster than TunnelBear. NordVPN clearly offers one of the best UK VPN server speeds.

For both the US and UK locations, NordVPN is significantly faster than TunnelBear, and it’s clear that NordVPN with the WireGuard protocol performs better than TunnelBear with the OpenVPN protocol.

Winner for Speed Test: NordVPN

Bittorrent Support

Provider # of Countries Where VPN Allows BitTorrents
Tunnel Bear
Allow it in all countries, but suggests you use servers in 7 countries
NordVPN
46 Countries

Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing is one of the most popular activities on the Internet today. It is also one of the most controversial. While file sharing is legal (many individuals and businesses share files), others use the technology to illegally share movies, applications, and games.

Illegal file sharing has led to pressure from movie studios and TV producers to block P2P activity on their networks, regardless of the reason for using the technology. Fortunately, VPNs can help you break through ISP blockades.

A VPN protects peer-to-peer file sharing and other online activities from detection by adding a layer of encryption to your Internet connection. It also hides your identity and location by assigning a temporary IP address to disguise your real IP address.

TunnelBear allows BitTorrent/P2P activity on its VPN network, but recommends limiting it to servers in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Romania, the Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden.

Winner for BitTorrent: NordVPN

Configuration

Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing is one of the most popular activities on the Internet today. It is also one of the most controversial. While file sharing is legal (many individuals and businesses share files), others use the technology to illegally share movies, applications, and games.

Illegal file sharing has led to pressure from movie studios and TV producers to block P2P activity on their networks, regardless of the reason for using the technology. Fortunately, VPNs can help you break through ISP blockades.

A VPN protects peer-to-peer file sharing and other online activities from detection by adding a layer of encryption to your Internet connection. It also hides your identity and location by assigning a temporary IP address to disguise your real IP address.

TunnelBear allows BitTorrent/P2P activity on its VPN network, but recommends limiting it to servers in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Romania, the Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden.

Winner for Configuration: NordVPN

Server Locations

Provider Server Location Server Countries IP Address
NordVPN
59
59
5201
Tunnel Bear
20
20
20

NordVPN server network is much larger and more diverse.

NordVPN has over 5,200 servers in 60 countries, while TunnelBear has only 350 VPN servers in 20 different countries. The size of NordVPN’s network ensures that you will never be overloaded with many other users on the same server, and you can connect to almost any part of the world.

Moreover, the VPN has dedicated servers for torrenting, dual VPN, anti-DDoS and dedicated IP servers. With these, you can perform any task and stream Netflix and any other streaming platform.

Winner for Servers: NordVPN

Number of Devices

A good VPN service allows you to connect multiple computers or devices to your network under one account. It is worth noting that a router counts as one device. So, devices connected to a router connected to the VPN do not count.

With NordVPN, you can connect up to six devices to your network at the same time. With TunnelBear, the maximum number of connected devices is five. NordVPN wins here, but it’s worth noting that there are other VPN services that allow you to connect more devices.

Usability

Usability can make the difference between a decent VPN and a great one. A poorly designed client can make it difficult to use, while a polished application gives users what they want in a user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing way.

In this review, we’ll take a closer look at how TunnelBear and NordVPN work to determine which program offers a more user-friendly experience.

Tunnel Bear

TunnelBear’s client has a brand-friendly style, with lots of bears and tunnels spread out on a world map. Click on one of the tunnels to connect to the VPN server at that location.

Alternatively, you can use the drop-down menu at the top of the window to select a location and then click the switch, also at the top of the window, to connect. If you don’t like the weird bear theme, you can also click the small arrow in the lower left corner of the client to switch to minimalist mode, which hides the map and other design flourishes.

In addition to the bear style, there are a few things that could be done to the map to make it more functional. First, you can’t zoom in and out with the mouse wheel. Clicking and dragging on the map requires more dragging, which is made worse by the fact that the map can’t be scrolled.

If you are in California and want to go to Japan, you have to go east to do so. You can’t scroll west across the Pacific coast of the US, which means that if you live there, you’ll have to make several long right turns to get to your destination.

These are relatively minor complaints, and we only mention them because the TunnelBear client is generally functional, nice to look at, and user-friendly. The settings menu is clear and easy to navigate, as is the website.

NordVPN

As we saw in the comparison between NordVPN and CyberGhost, NordVPN has a very well-designed desktop application. NordVPN uses a similar layout to TunnelBear on the desktop client, with the map taking up most of the space on the right side of the screen, except NordVPN is not as stylized or branded.

Many of the countries on the map have little bubbles above them that you can click on to connect to the location (if you’re having trouble, check out our guide on why NordVPN won’t connect). You can also see a list of locations on the left side of the screen. There is also a search bar at the top that will help you find the location you want.

There are also some special options in the server list, such as “Onion over VPN“, but we’ll look at those in the Security section. The white text bar at the bottom of the map indicates whether you are connected to a VPN or not.

Compared to the TunnelBear client, NordVPN’s settings menu is cleaner and the options are more clearly laid out. Nevertheless, NordVPN’s website follows the template of TunnelBear and most other VPN providers.

Winner for Usability: NordVPN

Pricing List

Provider 1 Months 1 Year 2 Years

NordVPN

$11.95
$6.99/Month
$3.99/Month

Tunnel Bear

$9.99
$4.99/Month
-

Winner for Compare Prices: TunnelBear

Encryption

This is one of the categories where I found two VPNs that offer almost identical services.
Both VPNs allow AES-256 encryption, which is the standard offered by companies that provide advanced VPN security services.

TunnelBear and NordVPN both use perfect forward secrecy. This means that both companies rely on dynamic cipher keys instead of static cipher keys to provide an additional layer of security.

Our comparison of the protocols shows that users can use the widely accepted industry standard OpenVPN. These are valid for Android, Windows and Mac.

For iOS users, both VPNs use the IP Sec/IKEv2 protocol. However, NordVPN is a bit more flexible compared to TunnelBear, as it allows manual setup of OpenVPN when using third-party interfaces.

Winner for Encryption: Tie

Payment Methods

Both TunnelBear and NordVPN join forces when it comes to offering payment options. Since NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, it’s best to use a prepaid monthly credit card plan if you want a refund.

TunnelBear offers a free 500MB package and an additional 1GB, so you can check if you want to sign a long-term contract. The best part is that you can even use Bitcoin to subscribe to offers from TunnelBear or NordVPN.

When it comes to refund policies, both TunnelBear and NordVPN are pretty solid. But TunnelBear is a step ahead of NordVPN’s subscription offer, which offers 500 MB for free for all new subscribers. That means you can use TunnelBear before you give up your credit card information.

Winner for Payment Policy: Tie

Streaming Services

Streaming has become a popular online activity for most people these days. That’s why it’s important to have a VPN with the best streaming features.

Most streaming services geo-block their libraries, which means that if you are abroad, you won’t be able to access them.
With VPNs, you can hide your real IP address so that it looks like you are in a different country than in reality. This is how we can access these streaming libraries.

They also encrypt our online data, allowing us to stream safely and anonymously. An ideal streaming VPN should have sparing features, strong security protocols, and consistently fast speeds.

NordVPN is the clear winner in this category! For starters, NordVPN has excellent streaming speeds and strong security features.

It can unblock a number of streaming services in the US and abroad. These include Netflix, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, HBO, Disney+, Hulu, Showtime, and more.

While Tunnelbear is fast enough to support streaming and strong security protocols, its ability to unlock is not one of its strengths.

It can’t unblock most streaming services, so it’s not a good choice if you want to stream your favorite shows from anywhere in the world.

Winner for Streaming: NordVPN

Security and Privacy

In this section, I will discuss some elements that are absolutely necessary when talking about privacy and security. These two elements are essential to avoid being tracked or monitored on the Internet.

First, it is important to compare VPN sites and check if the country respects online privacy.

Second, the provider must not store logs of the user’s online activities.

Third, encryption protocols are crucial, so I will talk about this concept as well.

NordVPN

When it comes to where the company operates, NordVPN is based in Panama. This country respects the privacy of online users as it has no mandatory data retention laws and is not a member of the Five Eyes (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the Anglo-Saxon intelligence community of the US) or the Fourteen Eyes.

NordVPN policies are short and clear. They collect and store very little customer data thanks to the ability to pay with cryptocurrency, which keeps customers anonymous. The only information that is collected is the server load of the VPN network.

TunnelBear

TunnelBear is based in Canada. Even though this country respects the online privacy of its users, as a member of the Five Eyes or Fourteen Eyes consortium, its government can be a bit troublesome.

TunnelBear’s policies are also clear, and they also collect operational data about what operating system you use and how much data you consume. However, if the customer pays in Bitcoin, they are anonymous.

The encryption is AES-256, the same as NordVPN, which makes TunnelBear one of the most secure VPN servers.

Like NordVPN, TunnelBear also has perfect forward encryption.

TunnelBear and NordVPN also use the OpenVPN protocol, but unlike the latter, they do not offer the option to configure the IKEv2 protocol.

Winner for Security and Privacy: NordVPN

China and Other Restricted Countries

Provider Works in China StealthVPN TorVPN

NordVPN

Yes
Yes
Yes

TunnelBear

Yes
Yes
No

Another round, another win for China’s best VPN, NordVPN. Unfortunately, TunnelBear is not included in this list. It may work in China, but it’s far from being a reliable service.

Both VPNs have a so-called stealth VPN feature. NordVPN calls it Obfuscated Servers and TunnelBear calls it GhostBear. When enabled, this feature makes it look like traffic is not using a VPN, allowing it to bypass deep packet inspection in China.

Using a stealth VPN will slow down your connection speed significantly, but that shouldn’t be a problem since TunnelBear and NordVPN are already fast enough. However, the latter is also faster and more reliable as it has more servers and Asian countries. Finally, NordVPN officially supports Tor over VPN, which provides additional anonymity, which is always good if you’re browsing the web in China or another surveillance-friendly country.

Winner for China & Other Countries Restricted: NordVPN

Ad Blocker

Ad blockers can help block ads on most websites you visit, so you can enjoy an ad-free browsing experience.
And there’s a reason why some people want to do this, as most websites these days are too aggressive with their ads …… so much so that it leads to a poor user experience.

So do NordVPN and Tunnelbear have ad blockers?

The NordVPN app has an ad blocker that, when enabled, prevents ads from showing on most websites you visit. These ad blockers not only block ads, but also the tracking scripts that these websites install in your browser.

NordVPN’s ad blocker is called CyberSec and it also has a malware blocker that protects your device from infections when you visit websites that are known to be infected with malware.

However, Tunnelbear does not have an ad blocker in any of its apps.

However, their Chrome extension has an ad blocker that allows you to turn off ads while browsing in Chrome.

If you are looking for a VPN that has ad blockers built into its app, I would recommend NordVPN over Tunnelbear.

Jurisdiction

TunnelBear proudly calls itself “Canadian Grizzly.” In fact, the service is registered in Canada. On the one hand, there are no mandatory data retention laws in the country. On the other hand, it is a founding member of the infamous Five Eyes intelligence agreement. This means that if the authorities want to access TunnelBear’s customer data by court order, the service has to comply.

Although it is registered in Panama, it takes advantage of strong privacy laws. Moreover, the country does not cooperate with any spy organizations.

Multiplatform Support

It is important to have a VPN provider that offers simultaneous connections, allowing 5-6 uses of one account on different devices. Both TunnelBear and NordVPN are available on all major platforms.

NordVPN’s native app supports devices such as Android, Windows, macOS, Linux, Android TV and iOS. You can also use it with Tomato and DD-WRT flash routers, NAS devices, Windows Phone devices, and more. It also offers browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome platforms.

It is limited to macOS, Windows, iOS and Android platforms compared to TunnelBear’s native app support. It also offers extensions for the Chrome, Firefox, and Opera platforms.

Pros and Cons for NordVPN

Pros
  1. Over 5,200 servers to choose
  2. Browser-based app features
  3. P2P-friendly
Cons
  1. Current server security issues

Pros and Cons for TunneBear

Pros
  1. Multiplatform support
  2. Support for five devices at the same time
  3. Support for automatic connection at startup
Cons
  1. Lack of geographical diversity of server locations
  2. Few advanced features

Which one is right for you?

NordVPN and TunnelBear are both great VPN providers, and choosing the right VPN is largely based on speed, customization, ease of use, and price. We can’t say which one is best for you, but we can offer the following parting words to help you decide.

TunnelBear is slightly less expensive ($9.99 per month versus $11.95 per month). If you buy an annual or multi-year plan, this difference largely disappears. Beyond that, the main reason to choose TunnelBear over NordVPN is simplicity. If you want a VPN that simply works and you don’t care about additional customization options, TunnelBear could be the VPN you’re looking for.

NordVPN is faster. If you want to stream content, this is a big advantage. They have multiple servers in multiple locations, which helps with speed and the ability to bypass VPN blocks from streaming services. NordVPN is the only one of the two that also works on Android TVs. If your router is compatible with the service, NordVPN is the only one of the two options that covers other streaming devices, smart TVs or gaming systems. Finally, NordVPN is much more customizable. If you are a power user, you may miss out on these additional options if you choose TunnelBear.

Conclusion

Without a doubt, TunnelBear is recommended for free. But on the other hand, NordVPN offers a comprehensive package for users, especially with its $3.99/month two-year plan. Although the two VPN providers have quite similar features.

  • Servers in over 50 countries
  • Support for torrenting
  • Cheaper price ($3.99 for a two-year plan)
  • One more device when connected at the same time
  • Double VPN encryption

Since all the above features are available to you at a lower price, it would make sense to declare NordVPN the winner. But even so, TunnelBear is still the perfect choice for those looking for a free VPN.

SAFE VPN

9.5/10

4.5/5
FAST VPN

9.6/10

4.5/5
USER FRIENDLY

9.5/10

4.5/5

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