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NordVPN vs. TunnelBear: which VPN is better?


It's a rare occasion to see NordVPN and TunnelBear getting compared. The latter is admired by free VPNs users but doesn't carry the name of a strong VPN as it lacks security features, server options, and even more. Conversely, NordVPN is a real shark in the best VPNs market. With it, you get a strong suite of security – like split tunneling, kill switch, and ad blocker features. Plus it’s excellent for streaming. So, how is it possible to fairly compare these two competitors?

In this article, we will evaluate NordVPN and TunnelBear to find out which VPN is better. To get a full image, we will analyse these products in categories such as security, privacy, speed, and price. So, prepare your bets and see who's the winner here after all.

NordVPN vs. TunnelBear

NordVPNTunnelBear
⭐ Rating:
4.9
3.3
🥇 Overall rank:#1 out of #29#27 out of #29
🖥️ Servers:5400+ servers in 60 countries1800+ servers in 26 countries
📖 No logs policy:No logsNo logs
💵 Pricing:From $3.29/monthfrom $3.33/month
🔥 Coupons:NordVPN coupon 68% OFFTunnelBear coupon 67% OFF
🔒 VPN protocols:OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, WireGuard (NordLynx)OpenVPN, IKEv2
🍿 Streaming services:Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and moreNetflix, DAZN, YouTube
🖥️ Platforms:Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome, FirefoxWindows, Mac, Android, and iOS
📥 Simultaneous connections:65
💁🏻 Support:Knowledge base, FAQs, email, 24/7 live chatKnowledge base, FAQs, support tickets

Winner:

NordVPN winner logo

Speed performance: NordVPN vs. TunnelBear

We have compared speed test results of NordVPN and TunnelBear with every available tunneling protocol. Average download and upload speeds provided below are distributed in every corner of the world – Germany, UK, the US, India, and Australia. So, the impact of distance is also included.

Since TunnelBear only has two possible protocols – OpenVPN TCP and IKEv2, we had to test these protocols on NordVPN's side as well. Despite the fact that tunneling protocols were identical, we could still see a radical gap between both VPNs speeds. In addition, we provided you with NordVPN's NordLynx protocol's results, so you could see its full excellent capacity and have a clear conclusion on why NordVPN is the winner.

For the sake of security, using a VPN makes us sacrifice our internet connection speed as putting a layer of data encryption slows it down. Yet, some VPNs do less damage than others. Thus, for measuring the quantity of harm and what connection speed we should expect after connecting to a VPN, we evaluate the severity of speed drops. Below, you will find the speed performance comparing results.

  • Baseline: 1 ms/300 Mbps download/300 Mbps upload
OpenVPN TCP
NordVPN
TunnelBear
Download average
32.5 Mbps
32 Mbps
Upload average
27.5 Mbps
6.3 Mbps

OpenVPN TCP is a security-oriented protocol, so we couldn’t expect to see fantastic speeds in both VPNs. Yet, we can clearly see that NordVPN and TunnelBear have almost identical download speed drops of 89%. Although, NordVPN still manages to be better. And, even though both competitors show lower numbers for an upload average score, TunnelBear has dropped its speed roughly by 5 times compared to the download speed. Thus, NordVPN takes over the dignity with an upload speed drop of 90%.

IKEv2NordVPNTunnelBear
Download average215 Mbps127.6 Mbps
Upload average50.6 Mbps14.3 Mbps

Here we meet better results in both providers. At this point, NordVPN scores with a 28% download speed drop which is almost half better than TunnelBear. In terms of upload speed drop, TunnerBear doesn’t go much better than with OpenVPN TCP as its speed has increased only by 8 Mbps. On the contrary, NordVPN’s speed has increased from 27.5 Mbps to 50.6 Mbps. So, these results should draw mobile devices users’ attention and inform them that NordVPN will serve them reasonably better.

And we couldn’t go on without praising the NordLynx/WireGuard VPN protocol that NordVPN has implemented. Even though WireGuard was already fast and secure it still had some gaps to fill in. Therefore, NordVPN has come up with NordLynx project that ensured even better connection speed and stronger security.

NordLynx/WireGuard
NordVPN
TunnelBear
Download average
259 Mbps-
Upload average
137 Mbps-

Testing NordVPN with NordLynx on has brought us advanced results. It has managed to provide us with the download speed that has dropped only by 14% on average. Let’s admit it, it’s blazing fast. Yet, an upload speed is not that exciting but it’s still better than with latter protocols on – this time NordVPN has undergone a 54% speed drop.

Unfortunately, TunnelBear has automatically picked OpenVPN/IKEv2 for its clients without a possibility to change that. And this causes extra factors that led to losing against NordVPN regarding speed performance.

Winner:

NordVPN winner logo

Netflix and streaming performance

Both NordVPN and TunnelBear are capable of unblocking streaming sites. But that ain't enough. To offer the best streaming performance there are several essential details to be good at, for example, server performance or connection strength.

In fact, TunnelBear doesn’t speak aloud about its capabilities to unblock streaming services, but we have found out that it actually deals with that pretty well. Meanwhile, NordVPN has a completely different attitude and reputation towards this. The SmartPlay feature that NordVPN has implemented is specifically designed for helping you securely access geo-restricted content.

Thanks to the SmartPlay feature, NordVPN flawlessly bypasses Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Disney Plus, and even DAZN geo-restrictions. Even more, videos load fast and the quality of them stays on fleek.

And TunnelBear stands as a respective competitor at this point with its capability to unblock Netflix US library, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and even DAZN. The latter is a tough nut to bypass for other VPNs. Yet, BBC iPlayer has knocked down TunnelBear, so if you are a fan of Doctor Who, this VPN isn’t for you. Also, the internet connection speed drops as the video starts playing as you can only unblock streaming services with the help of GhostBear. This feature slows down your connection with the help of a VPN to cover your traffic so streaming sites wouldn’t encounter it.

While choosing the best VPN for you even the smallest detail is important. So, the fact that TunnelBear claims that it doesn’t condone streaming service unblocking informs us that you wouldn’t receive any help in case you fail to access Netflix with its VPN. Conversely, NordVPN is optimized for speed, so you don’t get to meet buffering in the middle of a movie. And its SmartPlay feature ensures you access streaming content without extra steps. After all, NordVPN is a more suitable service for streaming.

Winner:

NordVPN winner logo

Torrenting

The two do support torrenting as they have dedicated servers for it and this is great if you are a fan of good old torrenting. Yet, NordVPN has put more effort into this possibility than TunnelBear.

Sadly, TunnelBear is not an option that we suggest going for. It doesn’t offer P2P sharing or well-personalized servers for torrenting. As for torrenting with NordVPN, this provider does have dedicated P2P servers that are great for boosting your download speeds.

NordVPN p2p server

And talking about the speeds, TunnelBear’s torrenting experience has brought us to throttled speeds while trying to use specific servers for torrenting. NordVPN includes a free SOCKS5 proxy that is great for increasing download speed and flexibility.

Winner:

NordVPN winner logo

Features overview

Spoiler alert: NordVPN can be an excellent buddy to increase your online safety and open the gates of geo-restricted content. However, TunnelBear stays quite temperate with its shorter list of features.

Winner:

NordVPN winner logo

Obfuscated servers

Since obfuscated servers are for hiding the fact that you are using a VPN, it’s a great tool to bypass censored countries’ internet restrictions.

To get this gateway, you may use either NordVPN or TunnelBear as they both offer it. These providers manage to remove all the information that indicates a VPN connection but also keep you protected.

TunnelBear obfuscated server

However, TunnelBear has a downside at this point since it doesn’t offer this feature for iOS users. On the other hand, NordVPN doesn’t exclude any operating system.

Ad blocker

Extra safety in the cyber world is always a Yes. A hidden IP address isn’t enough to ensure full protection as there are malware and tricky ads. To keep yourself protected from that, an ad blocker is a must.

Frankly, both competitors do offer this type of feature. In fact, TunnelBear offers it in the form of an extension for which you don’t even need to have an account. It’s called TunnelBear blocker and will block ads, Flash scripts, pixel tracking, microphone access, social media buttons, and WebRTC. Moreover, you can put additional known malicious websites on the list.

With NordVPN you get a CyberSec feature. It’s excellent for blocking ads and malware. And this increases the chance of boosting your internet connection speed. However, as sad as it is, NordVPN isn’t able to offer this feature for Android users as Google’s policies are against this.

nordvpn extension settings

Split tunneling

Split tunneling is one of the useful features of VPNs. It allows you to route your internet traffic much more efficiently.

This feature works in a pretty similar way with both of the providers. You just have to choose what particular apps will route via VPN or add exclusions from your VPN connection.

Split tunneling TunnelBear

However, both providers offer this feature only for particular operating systems. TunnelBear’s split tunneling is available on Androids only and NordVPN offers it for Android and Windows devices.

Exclusive features

NordVPN is way ahead of TunnelBear regarding the suite of security features but the latter still comes with its unique tool.

The encrypted server name indicator that is found in TunnelBear is a fantastic tool to ease lives for those who live in heavily censored countries. It includes DNS-level blocking that sets DNS servers to blacklist VPN providers’ names. As a result, you would be able to connect to server names in an encrypted form and the government wouldn’t block your way there.

However, with NordVPN you can get other benefits. For example, double VPN. It will route your internet traffic through two VPN servers and encrypt your data twice. Sounds extra safe to us.

NordVPN vs TunnelBear: which is more secure?

We shall start with noting that both VPNs are secure. For starters, they have implemented AES-256 encryption. And then follows hashing for authentication. TunnelBear chooses to use SHA-256 hash, whereas NordVPN – SHA-512. So, NordVPN takes security a bit more seriously in this case.

It’s worth pointing out that both VPNs have gone through independent security audits. Which is an important step to seek trust.

NordVPN has successfully audited its no-logs policy by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC). And in 2019 it has undergone a security audit for its applications by VerSprite. And TunnelBear puts itself through more audits than most of the VPNs in the market three years in a row. A trusted German cybersecurity agency Cure53 has searched for critical codes, servers, or client app defects that hackers could take advantage of.

Even though both VPNs have undergone independent audits, NordVPN has proven itself better as it has gone through a no-logs policy audit. So, a score for trust goes to NordVPN.

Winner:

NordVPN winner logo

Infrastructure

Nowadays we prefer RAM-only VPN servers. They are excellent to guarantee you better online privacy as once the server shuts down, your data gets eliminated from the disk. Moreover, RAM-only servers aren't only volatile but also prevent data breaches.

And, gladly, NordVPN has chosen to use this infrastructure. Yet, TunnelBear needs to catch up on this.

Privacy

Moving further, we all seek to protect our online privacy. To do so, we need a VPN that doesn’t collect our activity logs. Frankly, NordVPN and TunnelBear claim not to collect their users’ data.

NordVPN is Panama-based, so they are legally not required to collect your data. Your personal information stays private and even if someone had any interest in it – there would be nothing to show.

On the other hand, TunnelBear is located in Canada which is a member of 5-eyes countries. This means that it has far-reaching implications for personal privacy. Therefore, your private communications might get stored and analysed by the 5-eyes alliance.

Logging

Plenty of great VPNs claim to have a no-logs policy. To double-check that on NordVPN’s side, pointing out an independent no-logs policy audit that it has gone through, is a must. Not to mention its implemented RAM-only servers. Your data basically stays incognito.

Well, TunnelBear might make you scratch your head a bit. It does claim that it doesn't collect or monitor your activity. But it clearly states that your email address, Twitter ID, OS version, total data used this month, and cardholder’s last name will be kept by TunnelBear.

Though we can put trust in both of the competitors, NordVPN will be trustworthy for a casual user and for the one who wants to be as private as possible.

Plans & pricing

Buying in bulk condition applies in the VPNs market as well. The longer subscription you choose the less you pay. And NordVPN with TunnelBear is not an exception here.

But all providers think of their own way how to deal with their subscriptions. And the first difference we can point out between NordVPN and TunnelBear is the number of available simultaneous connections. NordVPN offers its users 6, in the meantime, TunnelBear goes with 5 simultaneous connections.

PlansNordVPNTunnelBear
Free-Yes
Monthly$11.99$9.99
1-year$4.99/month$4.99/month
2-year$3.29/month-
3-year-$3.33/month
Check pricingCheck pricing

The next important difference between these VPNs is a free plan possibility. The time has come when TunnelBear takes over the score as it offers this type of plan for its users. In fact, TunnelBear’s free plan (Little plan) is truly admired by people. What’s great is that with its Little plan you get everything that you would receive with a paid subscription. Except for the amount of data each month, which is only 500MBs. Still a good shot, right?

To continue, TunnelBear strikes again regarding its monthly subscription price. It offers an almost $2 cheaper price than NordVPN. Nevertheless, both prices are quite harsh compared to what you would pay for a longer subscription.

Both providers offer a possibility to have a 1-year plan. Also, their prices are almost identical. NordVPN charges you $4.99/month which sums up to $60 over a year. While TunnelBear charges $59.88/year.

For a longer-term subscription, these competitors offer a different length. If you decide to go with NordVPN then you are able to get a 2-year plan for $99. And this saves you $19 if you go straight with this plan instead of a 1-year plan repeatedly.

TunnelBear doesn’t have a 2-year plan but it has a 3-year one. And we can already assume that it’s going to be cheaper – $120. Let’s admit it, that’s an actually great price but also a commitment.

For NordVPN services, you can use credit cards, PayPal (in particular regions), AmazonPay, Sofort, prepaid cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and cryptocurrencies – that’s a flexible and customer-friendly list. Well, TunnelBear offers a shorter list of payment options. It includes only credit cards and cryptocurrencies. However, having the possibility to pay in bitcoins guarantees you anonymity.

Neither of the providers has an official free trial. Nonetheless before subscribing to TunnerBear paid version you can use its free services. Whereas NordVPN offers a free 7-day trial for Android users if you download an app from Google Play Store and commit to entering your payment details. Also, with NordVPN you get a 30-day money-back guarantee and TunnelBear doesn’t offer you this opportunity.

  • If the prices seem a bit too harsh for you, you can always look up NordVPN or TunnelBear coupon codes on our website to get the best prices.

Winner: Draw

Servers and locations

The possibility to choose from a wide range of servers and locations is an undeniable benefit. With it, you can enjoy uncrowded servers, access a variety of foreign content, and find the most suitable server wherever you go.

To get these comfortable browsing conditions, we would choose NordVPN as it offers its clients 5542 servers across 59 countries. TunnelBear can also be a good tool for this but with it, you only get to choose from 1800 servers in 26 countries.

Winner:

NordVPN winner logo

Platforms, interface, and ease of use

NordVPN
TunnelBear
Supported OS
Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
Other software and devices
Kodi, Android TVs, Fire devices
-
Browser extensions
Chrome, Firefox
Chrome, Firefox
Simultaneous connections
65

NordVPN supports a variety of operating systems. If you want to secure your desktop device, mobile device, and smart TVs – it’s a superb option. Well, TunnelBear has more limits. Even though your desktop and mobile devices will be protected, you won’t be able to secure your smart TV.

Moreover, with TunnelBear you get fewer simultaneous connections. So, if you need to protect that extra one, you know which VPN is the right one for you.

Winner:

NordVPN winner logo

Desktop apps

If you are a Linux user, then we have to break your hopes of having a nice application. Neither NordVPN nor TunnelBear has developed it. Therefore, you would only get a chance to use their services via a terminal.

And TunnelBear doesn’t pay too much attention to Linux users. There is not much support, only configuration files that you would have to set up manually. With NordVPN it’s pretty similar but the support page is quite informative and the support team has extra options to help you out.

It’s no surprise that Windows software is the most spoiled one. Applications for it are the most feature-rich and nice-looking. However, TunnelBear is more eye-candy than a convenient application. And NordVPN’s Windows app includes all its features, it’s easy to use, and good-looking.

TunnelBear desktop version

With NordVPN, macOS users lose the Split tunnelling feature, which might be fatal for some users. On the other hand, there are two possible ways to download the app: the Apple app store or the NordVPN website. And the sideload app gets all recent updates but also only an OpenVPN protocol.

TunnelBear doesn't really take away any features from macOS users. Yet, you can only access the app from the tray and it’s a bit more clumsy.

Mobile apps

While NordVPN brings certain pros for Android and iOS, TunnelBear brings us quite undeveloped apps for both devices. But in both providers, the Android app is superior to iOS.

NordVPN android application

NordVPN has managed to comfort Android and iOS users in different ways. For example, the Android app has split tunneling, a configurable kill switch, pausing, and auto-connect. And iOS gets other additional features – favorite tab for finding your recent connections and dark web monitoring feature that will inform you about data leaks. Also, there is a kill switch but it’s enabled automatically.

NordVPN settings on Android

With TunnelBear it’s a different situation. Yes, the Android application has an advantage that is available only on this OS – the encrypted server name indicator. This feature bypasses DNS-level VPN blocking. And kill switch isn’t available on iOS. But, other than that, TunnelBear’s mobile applications are in great need of improvement. The maps load slowly and the menu is quite messy.

TunnelBear android

All in all, NordVPN puts truly more effort into its applications. They are easy to use, attractive, and compatible with plenty of operating systems. And we hope TunnelBear will work on catching up anytime soon.

Customer support

Either you are a tech-savvy or a casual VPN user, you might run into an issue that can only be solved by the developer. And the customer support team becomes vital at this point.

Both NordVPN and TunnelBear provide their customers with help via email. Also, both providers do their best to respond as fast as possible. Just keep in mind that it still might take an hour or two to get your questions answered.

Well, if you are burning to get your issue solved, then NordVPN has an excellent solution for you – 24/7 live chat. The chat box is available at all times and the agents respond to you within a minute. So, you will get light-fast help.

For times when you need a simple explanation, both VPNs provide you with helpful and informative FAQs on their official websites.

Winner:

NordVPN winner logo

NordVPN vs TunnelBear – which one wins?

CategoryNordVPN
TunnelBear
Speed
✔️
Features
✔️
Protection
✔️
Streaming
✔️
Torrenting
✔️
Price
✔️✔️
Ease of use
✔️
Customer support
✔️

Winner:

NordVPN winner logo

As painful as it might be for TunnelBear – NordVPN is an indisputable winner. Even though both providers are good for increasing your online security, NordVPN just does it better.

It’s more flexible as you can use it on a wide range of operating systems. And you can not only increase your protection but also access geo-restricted content and download goodies. The suite of security features is highly developed and will protect you from various angles. Plus, you can protect up to 6 devices for one subscription.

TunnelBear offers a great free version compared to other free VPNs. But other than that, its software isn’t enough to satisfy all needs that we could expect from a VPN. A quite poor package of features leaves us uncertain about our security. And a buggy mobile application increases the risk of getting frustrated. Overall, we hope TunnelBear keeps improving as it already is and the next time we meet, it has a better reputation to offer.


More VPN comparisons

NordVPN vs Hotspot Shield VPN: find out which provider is ultimately better
Windscribe vs NordVPN: which VPN is best for you?
TunnelBear vs NordVPN: expect only one winner in this comparison


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