- Military-grade encryption
- Works in China
- Broad server coverage in 58+ countries
- 500MB per month free plan
- User-friendly interface
- It allows torrenting
- It comes with a business subscription
NordVPN and TunnelBear are well-known providers on the VPN market, but they have their fair share of differences, which can be crucial in your overall decision.
I, for one, always go for the VPNs that offer great privacy and security features, but I also put the emphasis on things such as the price of the service provider or how well it unblocks restricted content on the internet.
Since it’s always good to have more choices, I will help you out in your quest to find the most suitable VPN provider by making a thorough NordVPN vs. TunnelBear comparison.
I chose these two particularly because of their individual strengths.
NordVPN (read the review) is one of the best providers on the market when it comes to online security and privacy, and it boasts a pretty large network of servers as well.
TunnelBear has a free plan that can be very handy for users on a tight budget.
|Rating||4.8 of 5||3.7 of 5 |
|Price||View Best Price||View Best Price|
|Logging Policy||No Logging Policy||Stores Some Data |
|Servers & Countries||5500+ Servers in 59 Countries||Servers in 23 Countries|
|Torrenting / P2P||Yes||Yes|
|Encryption||AES 256-bit||AES 256-bit|
|Customer Support||24/7 Live Chat + Email|
|Simultaneous Connections||6 Devices||5 Devices|
|Supported Platforms||Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Android TV, Amazon Fire Stick, Routers||Windows, iOS, macOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox. Opera|
|Visit:||Go with NordVPN||Go with TunnelBear|
Privacy & Jurisdiction
|Logging||No-Logging Policy||Stores Some Data|
Every time you connect to the internet without a VPN, you are susceptible to online surveillance. It can be from your internet service provider, the government, or even a hacker trying to steal sensitive data.
It’s no longer a matter of whether you should protect your online identity with a VPN, but how well you will do it.
When you opt for a secure VPN provider you should pay close attention to the following criteria since these are the things that keep you away from prying eyes on the internet:
NordVPN is a no-logs VPN.
Based in Panama, it’s safe to say that NordVPN is under a jurisdiction that is one of the best possible locations for VPNs, and this ranks well with privacy-conscious users. Panama doesn’t have strict laws that require data storage.
NordVPN allows payment with Bitcoin.
The service provider has the other regular means of payment as well, but if you opt for maximum privacy, paying with Bitcoin is an excellent addition.
For starters, TunnelBear is located in Canada, which is the part of the Five-Eye surveillance alliance. This right here is a big letdown for privacy-conscious users.
They do, however, keep all payment data, the IP address at the time of payment, some session data such as your operating system and device type, etc.
Popularity On The Market
A few years back, TunnelBear was definitely the more popular option.
After all, the service provider was one of the few ones on the market that offered a decent free plan for users on a tight budget.
Still, in more recent years, NordVPN took the lead on the market, thanks to its advanced features. As you can see from the chart, NordVPN enjoys much higher popularity than TunnelBear.
Security Features - Protocols and Encryption
|Security Protocols||OpenVPN UDP|
Security goes hand in hand with privacy.
To avoid online surveillance and to enjoy an unrestricted, uncensored online experience, you need a secure VPN.
It’s also the best way to keep yourself safe in countries with strict internet regulations, where you are susceptible to hefty fines and penalties for something as simple as accessing a restricted website.
VPN Protocols & Encryption
NordVPN used to have more VPN protocols, including some outdated ones.
To improve its performance, the service provider is now limited to the most secure ones in the industry:
TunnelBear also comes with the same two security protocols:
They are available on TunnelBear’s free plan as well, which is a nice advantage over other less-secure VPNs with free plans.
Both TunnelBear and NordVPN offer one of the safest and more advanced forms of encryption or the AES 256-bit.
Extra Security Features
NordVPN comes with many advanced features, including things such as their obfuscated servers which I will cover later in the article, DDoS protection, CyberSec, Double VPN, and a kill switch.
Also, NordVPN implemented a new feature a while back called NordLynx.
It’s a modified version of the latest security protocol on the market, WireGuard.
Since WireGuard is still a demo version and is unfit for use, NordVPN went one step further and developed their own functional version of this protocol.
NordLynx is currently available for Linux devices, and NordVPN is working on making it accessible for other devices in the future as well.
TunnelBear, on the other hand, has the GhostBear feature, which serves the same purpose as NordVPN’s obfuscated servers, but more on that later.
Also, the service provider has its own version of the kill switch feature, called VigilantBear. However, the VigilantBear is available only for Windows, Android (Lollipop 5.0 version or later), and macOS.
Speed & Performance Test
Every VPN slows down your internet connection, but the key is to find one that won’t make much of a difference in this aspect.
|Provider||Avg. Ping||Avg. Download Speed||Avg. Upload Speed|
|NordVPN||336 ms||36.27 Mbps||2.32 Mbps|
|TunnelBear||228 ms||18.18 Mbps||1.97 Mbps|
NordVPN Speed Results
|Without VPN||14 ms||40.28 Mbps||2.45 Mbps|
|NordVPN’s Best Location||330 ms||38.50 Mbps (-4.42%)||2.83 Mbps (+15.5%)|
|Connected to US server||327 ms||35.36 Mbps (-12.21%)||2.23 Mbps (-8.98%)|
|Connected to Australia server||350 ms||34.96 Mbps (-13.32%)||1.89 Mbps (-22.86%)|
NordVPN is one of the fastest alternatives in the market, and the results can confirm this.
I compared my internet speed before and after using some of its servers, and while there was a slight difference, it wasn’t big enough to cause buffering or bad performance.
Before using a VPN:
After contacting to NordVPN’s best location server:
After connecting to NordVPN’s US server:
After connecting to an Australian NordVPN server:
As you can see, the download and upload speeds remain relatively high, despite the distance between my real location and a more distant one, even in Australia.
TunnelBear Speed Results
|Without VPN||14 ms||40.28 Mbps||2.45 Mbps|
|TunnelBear Nearby Location||70 ms||21.16 Mbps (-47.5%)||1.83 Mbps (-25.3%)|
|Connected to US server||242 ms||12.74 Mbps (-68.4%)||2.04 Mbps (-16.73%)|
|Connected to Australia server||371 ms||20.64 Mbps (-48.8%)||2.04 Mbps (-16.73%)|
With TunnelBear, however, I noticed a much bigger difference.
The provider lowered my connection speed much more than NordVPN did, especially on the US server as a more distant location.
I was, however, surprised to see that TunnelBear had pretty decent speed rates when I connected to its Australian server. The upload speed was even better than the one with NordVPN.
Overall, when connected to a nearby location, I can use TunnelBear for everyday internet activities, even though it’s a lot slower than NordVPN.
After connecting to a nearby TunnelBear server:
After connecting to a US TunnelBear server:
After connecting to an Australian TunnelBear server:
Countries & Servers
The server coverage offered by a VPN determines a few very important things, including the speed and the VPN’s unblocking capabilities.
If you are a frequent traveler, a passionate streamer, a gamer, or you only want wider access to content around the world, you’d want more comprehensive server coverage from your service provider.
For that, NordVPN offers more than 5,500 servers in 59 countries around the world, including six continents. Although you can find VPNs with an even larger server count, I’d say that this too as an amazing number of servers and server locations.
TunnelBear, however, comes with a much smaller server count, and the VPN covers only 23 locations currently. Although this is not bad at all, particularly because you get the same servers in the free plan as well, it’s still a lot less compared to NordVPN.
Does The VPN Work In China?
When it comes to servers, it’s important to mention that apart from the regular ones, NordVPN also has the so-called obfuscated servers, which are your best options to use in countries with strict internet regulations.
In plain words, these servers mask the encrypted VPN traffic and make it appear as normal HTTPS traffic.
With this feature, NordVPN works in China and can bypass the Great Firewall of China.
TunnelBear can also be used in China, thanks to its GhostBear feature.
It works in a similar way like NordVPN’s obfuscated servers, and it should only be used in countries where you can’t access TunnelBear through their regular VPN servers.
When it comes to streaming, there is a clear difference between NordVPN and TunnelBear, and a clear winner in this category.
NordVPN has strong unblocking capabilities that allow users to access geo-blocked streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, etc. Considering its speed and server locations, NordVPN can be one of the best alternatives for passionate streamers.
TunnelBear is not that advanced, so it doesn’t really work well with heavily blocked streaming services. It can, however, unblock apps and services that have loser geo-blocks, for example, Spotify.
If you need a VPN for torrenting, you’d be happy to hear that both TunnelBear and NordVPN support it.
NordVPN enables torrenting only on specific servers that you can find on their interface as P2P servers, and they are mostly located in countries that have looser laws on torrenting. These servers work well with BitTorrent and other platforms for P2P sharing.
TunnelBear used to be a service that did not allow torrenting, but they do now.
Still, you won’t find any information on this on the official website.
Multi-Platform Compatibility & Support
If you want to use your VPN on more than one device, which I am confident that you will, you need to keep an eye on the VPN’s device compatibility.
NordVPN is compatible with many devices, including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, Amazon Fire Stick and iOS. It also supports browser add-ons for Chrome and Firefox.
Still, even if you can’t find your device in the ones I mentioned, you can always consider the option to install NordVPN on your router. That way you can use as many devices as you want simultaneously, and they will be properly encrypted and protected.
Just keep in mind that the more devices you use, the slower your internet connections will be.
TunnelBear, on the other hand, works with Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices, but it also supports Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browsers.
Unfortunately, you can’t install TunnelBear on your router, Apple or Android TV. Also, while there are instructions for using this VPN on Linux, TunnelBear is not fully supported for this operating system.
|Operating System Apps||Windows, iOS, macOS, Android, Android TV, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Router||Windows, iOS, macOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Amazon Fire Stick|
NordVPN is compatible with six devices at once.
Some providers offer more connections, but this, too, is a pretty good number.
On the other hand, TunnelBear allows up to five simultaneous connections with each subscription, even with their free plan.
If you need more than five connections, you can purchase as many as you need through TunnelBear for Team for an additional price.
Read Also: NordVPN and AVG VPN Comparison
Reliability & Customer Support
What I don’t like with TunnelBear is that the service provider doesn’t offer anything other than their ticketing system for customer support.
That means you can only contact them via email, although if you have a premium subscription, you get priority access.
Still, the response time is reasonably good, and if you are experiencing a more trivial issue, you can always turn to their extensive knowledgebase for answers.
NordVPN has more alternatives when it comes to customer support, including a live 24/7 chat, and an excellent knowledgebase with some great step-by-step helpful tutorials.
Even though sometimes it takes time to get the right answer from NordVPN’s customer support, it’s still better to have more options, which is why I believe NordVPN is the clear winner in this category.
User Experience & Usability
Both NordVPN and TunnelBear are incredibly easy to use.
Personally, I really enjoy TunnelBear’s fun design and playful interface.
It’s nicely arranged and very easy to use. They actually have an award-winning app design, which can be quite handy if you are a first-time user.
On the simple interface, you can see a map with all server locations, and by clicking on the location you will connect to TunnelBear.
When you connect to a server, the bear starts digging a tunnel from underneath your real location, and then appears on the VPN location that you chose.
The map goes from black and white to colorful if the connection is successful.
There is also a menu with all of the settings, including the TunnelBear’s version of the kill switch and GhostBear.
NordVPN’s design has its good sides as well.
The moment you open the VPN client you are greeted with a slick design, an interactive map, and a neat menu.
On the dropdown menu, you will find all of NordVPN’s features and options.
You will see the General settings, where you can find the kill switch, and the app kill switch, as well as the option for NordVPN’s CyberSec.
Below you also have the Advanced settings, where you will locate the obfuscated servers, among other things. You can also switch the ports, turn on the Custom DNS, and run diagnostics.
Cost & Payment Methods
If you are on a tight budget, this right here might be the deciding point for you.
One service provider stands out much more, but is it worth it?
NordVPN Subscription Plans
NordVPN does not have a free plan, but it comes with a 30-day money return policy. The pricing is different, and the service provider currently offers four types of subscriptions.
The price plans differ based on length.
That means you can get a one-month subscription only, but it will cost you significantly more than the other price plans.
TunnelBear Premium and Free Price Plans
TunnelBear has three types of subscription, one of which is their free plan.
Although limited at 500MB per month, the free plan comes with all server locations, five simultaneous connections, and the same speed as with the paid subscriptions.
I mentioned this because, usually, premium VPN service providers limit their free plans in these criteria as well.
- Testing and limited usage
- 500 MB of secure browsing
- Unlimited secure browsing
- 5 connected devices
- Priority customer service
- Unlimited secure browsing
- 5 connected devices per user
- Dedicated account manager
- Centralized team billoing and management
Unlike other free VPN providers that can jeopardize your privacy and security, TunnelBear offers the same security and privacy features on its free plan.
Still, with the paid plans you’ll get a lot more features, including priority customer service, unlimited bandwidth, etc.
TunnelBear has two paid subscriptions. One of them, suitable for individuals, is called the Unlimited, and it comes at a pretty decent price when you get it with a one-year subscription.
The second one, called Teams, is a bit different, and it’s better for businesses.
The Teams subscriptions is a bit more expensive than the Unlimited.
Additionally, the price can differ based on how many connections you need.
Unfortunately, TunnelBear does not have a guaranteed money return policy.
The company may offer refunds on a case-by-case basis.
Compare To Other Providers
And The Overall Winner Is
NordVPN is a clear winner in most categories.
Still, that doesn’t mean that TunnelBear is a poor VPN alternative for you. At the end of the day, it really depends on what you opt for in a provider.
If you want maximum privacy and security, as well as long term VPN commitment for your everyday internet use, NordVPN is definitely an excellent choice.
On the other hand, if you are on a tight budget but you still want a decent VPN protection, TunnelBear can be just the thing you need.