NordVPN vs TunnelBear: In-Depth Comparison (2020)

Better Overall
4.8 / 5
4.8/5
  • No-long privacy policy
  • Military-grade encryption
  • Works in China
  • Broad server coverage in 58+ countries
VS
Free Plan Included
3.7 / 5
3.7/5
  • 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.

Quick Overview

CriteriaNordVPNTunnelBear
Rating4.8 of 5
3.7 of 5
PriceView Best PriceView Best Price
JurisdictionPanamaCanada
Logging PolicyNo Logging PolicyStores Some Data
SpeedUltra-fastMedium
Servers & Countries5500+ Servers in 59 CountriesServers in 23 Countries
NetflixYesNo
Torrenting / P2P
YesYes
EncryptionAES 256-bitAES 256-bit
Customer Support24/7 Live Chat + EmailEmail
Simultaneous Connections6 Devices5 Devices
Supported PlatformsWindows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Android TV, Amazon Fire Stick, RoutersWindows, iOS, macOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox. Opera
Visit:Go with NordVPNGo with TunnelBear

Privacy & Jurisdiction

NordVPNTunnelBear
JurisdictionPanamaCanada
LoggingNo-Logging PolicyStores Some Data
Private PaymentYesYes

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:

  • The provider should not keep any usage or personal logs;
  • It should be under a privacy-friendly jurisdiction;
  • It should offer a private means of payment, such as Bitcoin.

NordVPN is a no-logs VPN.

That means the service provider won’t keep any personal and identifiable data on you. Their privacy policy clearly states that they don't store any information, as they are not legally bound to do that.

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.

TunnelBear also enables the option for users to pay with cryptocurrencies, but it largely falls back when it comes to its jurisdiction and overall privacy policy.

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.

Still, when you go through the company’s privacy policy you’ll see that they don’t log some very important information, such as IP addresses.

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.

Privacy Winner: NordVPN

NordVPN has a clear advantage when it comes to privacy. The provider is based in a privacy-friendly country and keeps no logs that can be used to identify you. That way, no one will be able to see what you do online, giving you peace of mind every time you use the internet.

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.

Popularity Winner: NordVPN

NordVPN is the more popular alternative on the market of the two, and it keeps a steady growth over the years. The provider owes its popularity mainly on the constant upgrades on their services that pay close attention to the market’s needs.

Security Features - Protocols and Encryption

NordVPNTunnelBear
Security ProtocolsOpenVPN UDP
OpenVPN TCP
IKEv2/IPsec
OpenVPN
IKEv2/IPsec
EncryptionAES-256-bitAES-256-bit
Kill SwitchYesYes
Leak TestSecureSecure

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:

  • OpenVPN
  • IKEv2/IPsec

TunnelBear also comes with the same two security protocols:

  • OpenVPN
  • IKEv2/IPsec

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.

Security Winner: NordVPN

While both providers will keep you secure online, NordVPN goes one step further with everything that it offers, making it a better option than TunnelBear.

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.

ProviderAvg. PingAvg. Download SpeedAvg. Upload Speed
NordVPN336 ms36.27 Mbps2.32 Mbps
TunnelBear228 ms18.18 Mbps1.97 Mbps

NordVPN Speed Results

NordVPNPingDownloadUpload
Without VPN
14 ms40.28 Mbps2.45 Mbps
NordVPN’s Best Location330 ms38.50 Mbps (-4.42%)2.83 Mbps (+15.5%)
Connected to US server327 ms35.36 Mbps (-12.21%)2.23 Mbps (-8.98%)
Connected to Australia server350 ms34.96 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

TunnelBearPingDownloadUpload
Without VPN
14 ms40.28 Mbps2.45 Mbps
TunnelBear Nearby Location70 ms21.16 Mbps (-47.5%)1.83 Mbps (-25.3%)
Connected to US server242 ms12.74 Mbps (-68.4%)2.04 Mbps (-16.73%)
Connected to Australia server371 ms20.64 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:

Winner for Speed: NordVPN

NordVPN will keep a decent speed even when you are connected to a server located on the other side of the world. It goes without saying that NordVPN is the winner of this round.

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.

Winner For Server Coverage: NordVPN

The fact that NordVPN has thousands of servers, and covers a lot more territories than TunnelBear, makes it a much better alternative when it comes to server coverage and unblocking restricted content online. It’s also an excellent alternative for frequent travelers, streamers, or gamers.

Streaming Suport

NordVPNTunnelBear
NetflixYesNo
HBOYesNo
HuluYesNo
BBC iPlayerYesNo
SpotifyYesYes

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.

Streaming Winner: NordVPN

The fact that NordVPN has more servers and better unblocking capabilities than TunnelBear makes it the winner in this category. If you are a passionate streamer, you’d be much better off with NordVPN. As a matter of fact, this is one of your best options on the market since it can unblock most streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu, HBO, etc.

BitTorrent/P2P

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.

Plus, considering TunnelBear’s privacy policy, and its jurisdiction, it might be best to avoid using this VPN for torrenting altogether.

Best for Torrenting: NordVPN

When it comes to torrenting, you’d be much safer with NordVPN since the provider has a better privacy policy, and falls under a much safer jurisdiction. Plus, having the P2P supported servers all in one place is very convenient.

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.

NordVPNTunnelBear
Operating System AppsWindows, iOS, macOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Amazon Fire StickWindows, iOS, macOS, Android, Android TV, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Router
HBOYesNo
HuluYesNo
BBC iPlayerYesNo
SpotifyYesYes
Compatibility Winner: NordVPN

NordVPN covers more devices than TunnelBear, and the fact that it can be installed on routers that support VPNs is a major plus.

Simultaneous Connections

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.

Simultaneous Connections Winner: NordVPN

If it wasn’t for NordVPN’s router compatibility that allows as many simultaneous connections as you need without paying for them, it would have been a tie. Still, NordVPN wins this round.

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.

Customer Support Winner: NordVPN

Despite some downsides to NordVPN’s customer support, the multiple choices for contacting its support, make this service provider the better one of the two options.

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.

Winner for Usability: TIE

Both VPN service providers made the whole process from installing and setting up the software to using the interface very convenient. Also, their interfaces are pretty easy to navigate, and provide easy access to the servers through an interactive map.

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.

3-year plan

$ 3
49
per month
  • $125.64 billed every 3 years
  • No logs policy
  • Connect 6 devices at the same time
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
Most popular

2-year plan

$ 4
49
per month
  • $119.76 billed every 2 years
  • No logs policy
  • Connect 6 devices at the same time
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

1-year plan

$ 6
99
per month
  • $83.88 billed every year
  • No logs policy
  • Connect 6 devices at the same time
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

1-month plan

$ 11
95
per month
  • $11.95 billed every month
  • No logs policy
  • Connect 6 devices at the same time
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

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.

Free Plan

Free
  • Testing and limited usage
  • 500 MB of secure browsing

Unlimited

$ 4
99
per month
  • Unlimited secure browsing
  • 5 connected devices
  • Priority customer service

Teams

$ 7
49
/month per user
  • 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.

By now you know that TunnelBear does not have the best privacy policy, but it’s still a very secure VPN.

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.

Pricing Winner: TunnelBear

TunnelBear has a free price plan, something you won’t see very often with premium VPNs. For a long term commitment, NordVPN can be very cost-effective. Still, the fact that it doesn’t have a free plan nor a free trial whatsoever puts it in a slight disadvantage over TunnelBear.

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.

Bram Jansen
Bram Jansen
I'm Bram Jensen, a leading expert in the realm of cyberspace, ever since I was little, books like Neuromancer and The Foundation always fascinated me, this fiction of a world that isn't simply based within the real world. As I started growing up, I started gaining interest in how I could manipulate this cyberspace that's available in the real world, so I picked a career that I knew was right for me.
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