TunnelBear vs Private Internet Access (PIA): Head-to-Head Comparison

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Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of this subject, you need to understand what a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is, what it does and why you need it. 

Well, a Virtual Private Network, also known as a VPN is a service that allows internet users to create a private connection while browsing, or rather hide their identity when carrying out their online activities. 

Additionally, a VPN allows users to access geo-restricted websites such as streaming websites like Netflix, Hulu, among others. 

When browsing on the internet, on an unsecured Wi-Fi connection, the chances are that you will expose your details and browsing activities. 

That is why most online users opt for a Virtual Private Network, commonly known as a VPN, to help them secure their privacy while browsing on the internet. 

Think about when you are out with your friends having lunch or enjoying some drinks while you browse through a Wi-Fi and carrying out your mobile banking activities. Unless the Wi-Fi connection you were using was secured, all your data, and most importantly, your banking details, could be vulnerable to the hackers who are spying on you or using the same Wi-Fi connection. 

Besides a VPN helping you to protect your browsing activities – shopping online, sending your emails, streaming from geo-restricted websites, or paying bills, a Virtual Private Network also helps keep your online activities anonymous. 

How a VPN protects your IP address and privacy 

Virtual Private Networks create a tunnel between an exit node in another location, which could be far away and your local network. With a Private Virtual Network, you can access geo-restricted websites, such as Hulu, Netflix, among others. 

To give you an insight into how a Virtual Private Network works, this is how a VPN works: A VPN has encryption that scrambles your personal information. It is the encryption that hides your data from the ‘spies.’ 

Data security is crucial, especially when you are browsing using a public Wi-Fi connection because it hides your data from the hackers, also using the Wi-Fi connection network. 

Most people don’t like their browsing history exposed. For that reason, they opt for Virtual Private Network services to help them secure their browsing history. So by using a VPN, your browsing history will be linked to the VPN server’s address and not your IP address. 

In summary, there are a ton of Virtual Private Servers across the world. That means that your browsing history will appear like you are coming from a specific country, depending on how you set your Virtual Private Network. 

It is also essential that you keep in mind that search engines such as Google, Bing also keep track of your online activities. The good news? A VPN will keep all your browsing history private. 

TunnelBear VPN vs. Private Internet Access Overview

To start with, TunnelBear is a good option for people looking for affordable VPN service. The best of all is that TunnelBear offers a free plan that you can leverage on. 

TunnelBear is indeed affordable, and many can think of it to offer poor services, but the truth is that it has excellent services every online user will be looking for in a VPN service.

On the other hand, Private Internet Access will be a good bet for online entrepreneurs looking for counter offers in terms of pricing. Besides their affordable pricing rates that Private Internet Access offers, PIA also boasts of excellent speeds, robust security, and P2P file sharing support. 

Additionally, if you are looking for a VPN service that offers simultaneous connections, then Private Internet Access will be a good option for you. Sadly, it has limited servers across the world, and this could turn off many aspiring VPN users. 

Okay, enough of the introduction of VPN – what it is, how it works, and why you need it for your online activities. Now, let’s go ahead and compare two VPN services – TunnelBear and Private Internet Access. 

How to Choose the Right VPN?

You now have an idea of what a VPN is, how it works, and why you need it. We have even gone further to introduce the minor differences between TunnelBear VPN and Private Internet Access VPN. 

In this post, we will tackle the significant considerations you should look into when looking for a VPN service provider and analyze both VPNs in each category. From the comparisons, we will declare the victor so that you can make your choice. 

At the end of this post, we will declare the overall winner in all categories. From there, you can go ahead and make a rational decision. So without further ado, let’s dive into the first comparison, shall we? 

1. Connection Speed

It’s no secret that a ton of electronic devices either in your home or office are connected to the internet to help you with your online activities. 

It doesn’t matter whether you are downloading P2P files or streaming one of your favorite American TV series – the fact is that you will need fast internet speeds.

Now, below is how we tested VPN speeds: 

  1. We connect OpenVPN protocol with UDP using the Windows version of your service provider’s app. The app then runs with a GB Ethernet connection based in North America. 
  2. We use Speedtest.net to determine the connection speeds. 
  3. The next thing we do is to ensure that at least three different users, from different parts of the word – the United States, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong, connect to a VPN server for at least three days. 
  4. Once that is done, and the results are found, we find the average of the three to determine the final report in terms of speed. 

2. Average Connection Speed

There’s no doubt that both VPN service providers can comfortably take you through most of your online activities. Still, the truth is that only one will offer you the speeds you may need for sharing of P2P files, streaming geo-restricted sites, and accessing popular online gaming sites. 

We were a bit surprised with the result we got from TunnelBear. The VPN service provider gave us a result of 51.3 Mbps, suitable for any online activity you’d want to carry out. 

On the other hand, Private Internet Access gave us a bigger surprise, recording 84.18 Mbps connection speeds. That was even better than what we thought about. 

To wrap it up with the connection speeds, we’d like to make a few things clear. First, your connection speeds will depend on the unprotected speeds offered by ISP. Secondly, your speeds will also be affected by the time you carry out the test, your location, as well as the location of the VPN servers. 

Connection Speed Winner: Private Internet Access. 

3. Pricing

When it comes to pricing, both VPN service providers offer reasonably fair pricing as compared to other VPN service providers we have tested before. 

In this comparison, we will be ranking the two VPN service providers based on their yearly subscriptions. So the VPN service provider with the lowest price will win. 

To start with, TunnelBear offers two broad plans – a monthly and a yearly plan. Both of these plans are fair enough compared to other VPN service providers we have tested in the past. 

If you go with TunnelBear’s monthly plan, you will have to pay $9.99 every month – that is $119.88. On the other hand, if you go for the yearly plan, you will only be billed $4.99 for 12 months – that is $59.88. (2020 pricing). Check their current pricing here. 

In other words, it is cheaper to go with a yearly plan because you will save $60. It is also vital that you know that TunnelBear offers a free plan, but it comes with a monthly data cap of 500 megabytes. 

Private Internet Access VPN, on the other hand, offers three plans – monthly, semi-annual, and annual. The monthly package goes for $6.95 every month. The semi-annual package starts at $5.99/ month. Finally, the annual plan starts at $3.33 per month. 

If you try to analyze the difference between the three plans, you will notice that the yearly plan is the most affordable of all. With the annual plan, you will pay $39.96. On the other hand, you will pay $83.4 and $71.88 for monthly and semi-annual, respectively. (2019 pricing.) Check current pricing here. 

Pricing Winner: Private Internet Access. 

4. Privacy

It’s no secret that there is always a ‘spy’ watching you whenever you browse the internet, and precisely when you are using an unprotected internet connection. 

It doesn’t matter who’s watching you – whether it is your VPN service provider collecting your data to sell to the advertising companies or hackers trying to access your vital information such as credit card details as well as bank account details. The most important thing is that you need privacy. 

When deciding on which VPN service provider to use, you must pose the following questions to yourself: 

  • Is my VPN service provider located in a country that respects people’s privacy? 
  • Is my VPN service provider saving no logs related to its customers? Do they have a no-logs policy? 
  • Does the VPN service provider I’m choosing accepts Bitcoin or any other privacy payments? 

Even though Private Internet Access is based in the United States, a country that doesn’t respect people’s privacy, PIA still has a no-logs policy for all their customers, which means that your data is kept safe and can never be leaked to the third party, no matter what. Additionally, Private Internet Access accepts Bitcoin, one of the secure payment methods. 

On the other hand, TunnelBear is based in Canada, and the government expects all ISPs to keep logs. There are hearsays that the government is already planning to prey on VPNs. Fortunately, at the moment, TunnelBear VPN still has no user logs. Additionally, TunnelBear accepts Bitcoin as a payment method, which is a more secure way of payment. 

Privacy Winner: Tied. 

5. Features

When deciding on which VPN service you should go for, you must take a keen look at all features the VPN service provider offers – know what purpose the VPN is going to serve. What do you need the VPN service for? What are your priorities? 

That said, in this section, we will analyze all the crucial features you should consider before choosing a VPN service provider. For each feature, we will make a comparison of both VPNs and decide the victor depending on the functionality against what each VPN offers. 

6. Security

Most aspiring VPN users will prefer security over other features in a VPN. 

While the primary purpose of a Virtual Private Network is to provide excellent encryption to protect your connection to the internet, your VPN service provider should also prevent your online activities from being detected. 

Private Internet Access protects its users using a military-grade (AES-256) encryption through PPTP, IPSec, and OpenVPN protocols. Additionally, the VPN service provider provides its users with kill switch protection capabilities, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, as well as the ability to block ads and malware that could harm your device. 

On the other hand, TunnelBear offers its users AES-256 encryption through IKEv2, OpenVPN, as well as IPSec protocols. Besides, the VPN service provider provides its user with a kill switch functionality, GhostBear feature, which will make your traffic appear like you are browsing normally, as well as a DNS leak protection. 

Security Winner: Tied. 

7. Simultaneous Connections

If you own a business, have a large family with multiple devices, you need a VPN service provider that allows simultaneous connections. 

Private Internet Access can allow you to connect up to 10 devices simultaneously. On the other hand, TunnelBear allows its users to connect up to 5 devices simultaneously. 

Simultaneous Connections Winner: Private Internet Access. 

8. Streaming Support

Maybe you have a ton of streaming service subscriptions – from Hulu to Netflix to HBO. 

There are streaming services that are restricted to only specific countries, and this limits other interested users who may want to stream from these streaming sites. 

And the bad news is that none of these VPN service providers offer reliable access to these geo-restricted streaming sites. 

All the same, if you must access geo-restricted streaming websites such as Netflix or Hulu, be sure to check out ExpressVPN. 

Streaming Support Winner: No winners.

9. BitTorrent Support

Another critical feature most VPN users are looking for in a VPN is the ability to share P2P files. And while P2P file sharing is legal, some users go the extra mile to share copyrighted materials, which is why some countries restrict P2P file sharing. 

Private Internet Access allows its users to share P2P files across all its servers with no-logs policy. A PIA customer support said, “We don’t know and don’t care what you do with our service. That includes P2P file sharing. Share away.”

On the other hand, TunnelBear also allows its users to share P2P files but recommends its users to use servers based in the United Kingdom, Canada, Netherlands, Sweden, the United States, Romania, or Sweden. 

BitTorrenting Support Winner: Private Internet Access.

10. Global Server Coverage

Global server coverage could also be an essential feature to consider before selecting a VPN service provider. 

Private Internet Access has over 3,390 servers spread across 32 countries, which sounds excellent to aspiring VPN users located across the globe. 

On the other hand, TunnelBear has servers in more than 22 countries, although they don’t give an exact number of their server coverage. 

Global Server Coverage Winner: Private Internet Access. 

11. Multi-Platform Support

Multi-platform support is also an important consideration that most aspiring VPN users want to consider before settling on a VPN service provider. 

Private Internet Access has native apps for iOS, Windows, macOS, Android, and Linux. Additionally, Private Internet Access offers Router support to its users. Also, it provides browser extensions for browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. 

On the contrary, TunnelBear only offers apps on macOS, iOS, Windows, and Android. Additionally, the VPN service provider offers its users browser extensions on Chrome and Opera. 

Multi-Platform Support Winner: Private Internet Access. 

12. Customer Support

You can’t deny the fact that you need customer support, where you can get help whenever you experience any problems. 

Private Internet Access offers its users trouble ticket systems, as well as Guides to walk its customers through. Sadly, PIA doesn’t provide live support. 

TunnelBear, on the other hand, only offers email customer support, which in most cases, may not be ideal for customers who need instant feedback. 

Customer Support Winner: Tied. 

Final Verdict

This was a tough comparison, and we are glad that both of the service providers offered something valuable in specific categories. 

Private Internet Access was better in speed, multiple connections, global server coverage, pricing, BitTorrent, and multi-platform support. 

Sadly, TunnelBear failed to outshine Private Internet Access in any of the categories, though they managed a tie in some of the categories. 

That leaves us with no option but to declare Private Internet Access as the overall winner. 


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