TunnelBear vs ExpressVPN: which VPN is better?
TunnelBear isn’t that much of a competition to ExpressVPN. Even with its low subscription rates, TunnelBear still has very modest features and relies more on fun animations to attract attention. On the other hand, ExpressVPN is one of the most popular VPNs on the market right now.
ExpressVPN is a better choice than TunnelBear. In our comparison, ExpressVPN dominated all performance categories, including streaming, torrenting, and overall speed. Plus, ExpressVPN has a more comprehensive security suite than TunnelBear currently offers.
So, read our TunnelBear vs ExpressVPN comparison review to dig deeper into why one of these VPNs is a clear winner and why. Hopefully, this will help you decide on which of the two VPNs is the best for you.
TunnelBear vs ExpressVPN
TunnelBear and ExpressVPN both offer well-developed VPN apps, however, it’s pretty clear that ExpressVPN is miles ahead of its competitor. TunnelBear is a pretty simplistic VPN with an extensive design but the features and device support this VPN offers are limited.
On the other hand, ExpressVPN has great protocol selection, support for different devices, streaming capabilities, and security points. Therefore, ExpressVPN is the winner of this comparison.
|🥇 Overall rank:||#6 out of #35||#31 out of #35|
|🖥️ Servers:||3000+ servers in 94 countries||3000+ servers in 48 countries|
|📖 No logs policy:||No logs||No logs|
|💵 Pricing:||From $6.67/month||from $3.33/month|
|🔥 Coupons:||ExpressVPN coupon 49% OFF||Cybernews VPN Coupons|
|🔒 VPN protocols:||Lightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPsec||OpenVPN, IKEv2|
|🍿 Streaming services:||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+||Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube|
|🖥️ Platforms:||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS||Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS|
|📥 Simultaneous connections:||5||Unlimited|
|💁🏻 Support:||Knowledge base, FAQs, email, 24/7 live chat||Knowledge base, FAQs, support tickets|
Netflix and streaming performance
If you’re looking to access geo-blocked content and enjoy unlimited streaming libraries from anywhere, you need a VPN with great streaming performance. While TunnelBear can access a few of the top streaming platforms, ExpressVPN is all-around the better choice.
|Netflix||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|Amazon Prime Video||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|Hulu||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|HBO Max||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|Disney+||✅ Yes||❌ No|
|BBC iPlayer||✅ Yes||❌ No|
Let’s start with Netflix. When comparing ExpressVPN vs TunnelBear, they both technically work with this mega streaming site. However, ExpressVPN has access to far more libraries, including some of the most popular ones, like the US, UK, Canada, Germany, and Japan.
TunnelBear, on the other hand, was very hit-and-miss with its performance. We couldn’t connect to some libraries at all, like the ones in Japan, Australia, or even Canada. By trying out different servers in the US and UK, we were able to eventually access these libraries.
ExpressVPN easily connects to several other favorite platforms, like Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBOMax, Disney +, and BBC iPlayer. TunnelBear manages to connect to these as well, except for Disney + or BBC iPlayer. Keep in mind that with TunnelBear, connecting to these platforms was inconsistent or downright impossible.
Another issue that came up with TunnelBear was its streaming speed. This VPN uses its GhostBear mode to gain access to streaming sites without being detected. Unfortunately, its increased privacy means a significant decrease in speed. You can expect to experience buffering, video lags, and decreased quality when streaming with TunnelBear.
ExpressVPN didn’t have this problem. Speeds with ExpressVPN are usually impressive enough to smoothly stream video in HD or 4K. Plus, it has MediaStreamer. This is its SmartDNS feature that lets you watch your favorite content on devices that don’t support a VPN app.
Plans & pricing
Like with most VPN services, the longer your subscription is, the better the price will be. This is true for both Tunnelbear and ExpressVPN. While each company offers different subscription lengths, you can see the best deals are available when you commit to a plan for at least a year.
|Check latest discounts||Check latest discounts|
ExpressVPN will limit you to 5 devices simultaneous connections, no matter which plan you choose. Tunnelbear, on the other hand, lets you connect unlimited devices with any of its paid plans.
TunnelBear offers a free version while ExpressVPN does not. Keep in mind that you will be much more limited when using TunnelBear for free. You’ll be capped at 500MB of browsing per month. Since you’ll run out of data pretty quickly, the free version functions more like a free trial rather than a full VPN service.
With ExpressVPN, you’ll get a 7-day free trial for mobile users through Google Play Store or Apple App Store. ExpressVPN also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee when you choose your plan so you can try it out risk-free.
If you purchase a TunnelBear subscription, there’s more risk involved. This VPN provider doesn’t have a money-back guarantee policy. Instead, it will review each refund request as it comes up. This isn’t ideal for someone looking for a risk-free period to test out the service since the request for a refund could simply be denied.
When it comes to payment methods, ExpressVPN will accept credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, cryptocurrencies, UnionPay, and more.
TunnelBear accepts credit cards and has recently started accepting Bitcoin.
Those who want to make anonymous payments with crypto will have more options with ExpressVPN, but Bitcoin holders can choose from either provider.
TunnelBear vs ExpressVPN: which is more secure?
|A member of the 5-eyes, 14-eyes Alliance?||No||Yes|
|DNS leak protection||Yes||Yes|
When comparing TunnelBear vs ExpressVPN, both have the necessary security features to keep you safe online. ExpressVPN, however, has a few extras that will appeal to privacy enthusiasts.
When it comes to location, ExpressVPN has the advantage over TunnelBear. TunnelBear is located in Canada, making it part of the 5-Eyes Alliance. This isn’t ideal for users who want no risk of government surveillance.
ExpressVPN, on the other hand, is headquartered in the British Virgin Islands. Outside of 5-Eyes jurisdiction, ExpressVPN isn’t impacted by problematic data retention laws.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the end of the privacy story for ExpressVPN. One of its executives was involved in a cyber-security espionage scandal that came to light in recent years. While the scandal doesn’t involve the VPN itself, it certainly shook its reputation with users around the globe.
Like many other premium VPNs, ExpressVPN has chosen to use RAM-only servers. Under the name TrustedServer, its signature RAM-only server fleet does not store any data. This type of server is wiped clean with every reboot, making it impossible to create logs of personal data.
While RAM-only servers are becoming more popular with many premium VPN providers, TunnelBear still does not offer this type of secure server.
Both VPN providers use AES-256 encryption, keeping your data safe from hackers and other third parties. No matter if you’re at home or on a shared, public wifi network, this military-grade encryption will keep your online activity safe.
However, ExpressVPN pulls ahead with its enhanced SHA-512 hashing, a step up from SHA-256 that TunnelBear uses.
More so, ExpressVPN is based in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction, so you can be certain that there are strict policies and laws against collecting your online activity data for any use.
On the other hand, TunnelBear is based in a privacy-unfriendly jurisdiction that’s a part of the 5-Eyes alliance. So, this means that the government can request the ISP to collect users’ data and even share it with other alliance members.
Both TunnelBear and ExpressVPN have no-log policies that have been independently audited. However, both VPNs have some clear exceptions to the premise that they don’t collect your data.
With ExpressVPN, it will collect some minimal data to improve the service it provides. It can include the number of successful connections or the total amount of data that was transferred. You can choose to opt out of this data collection if you prefer.
TunnelBear, on the other hand, does not give you a choice about the information that it collects and stores. This VPN will retain valuable pieces of data like your email address, OS version, total data used this month, and last name on your payment card.
If you choose to take advantage of a special promotion, you will have to provide your Twitter handle as well. This is another bit of personal data that will then be stored by TunnelBear.
While technically they have audited and legitimate no-logs policies, ExpressVPN is more consistent with its promise not to collect any data. Overall, ExpressVPN is the more secure choice.
Speed comparison: TunnelBear vs ExpressVPN
Speed is one of the most important factors when choosing a VPN. Slow VPNs are a thing of the past, with new lightning-fast protocols eliminating the need for buffering and frustration.
Both TunnelBear and ExpressVPN have several tunneling protocols to choose from. TunnelBear uses next gen WireGuard, as well as IKEv2 and OpenVPN. ExpressVPN has its own proprietary protocol called Lightway and also offers IKEv2 and OpenVPN.
To find out which VPN is faster, we tested ExpressVPN’s Lightway protocol against TunnelBear’s WireGuard protocol. We connected to several servers around the globe and measured the download and upload speed for each VPN.
|Average download speed||375.6 Mbps||350 Mbps|
|Average upload speed||339 Mbps||76.3 Mbps|
It’s clear from these global tests that ExpressVPN is the faster VPN. TunnelBear has competitive download speeds, but it falls far behind when comparing upload speeds.
While there are plenty of online activities that TunnelBear would be suitable for, ExpressVPN is a much better choice for anything that requires a smooth upload experience. Video conferencing, gaming, torrenting, and other activities would be better done on ExpressVPN.
Both ExpressVPN and TunnelBear have the necessary basic features in place for a VPN. Neither one has too many exciting extras, but ExpressVPN does have a bit more to offer than TunnelBear currently does.
Split tunneling is a popular VPN feature since it allows you complete control over what activity is done through a VPN connection. If you need a VPN active for streaming but need your real IP to access a local site, split tunneling makes it a breeze.
TunnelBear includes split tunneling in its features list, however, it’s only available on Android and iOS devices.
The split tunneling feature on TunnelBear works pretty well, during our tests we didn’t encounter any issues or mishaps. You can customize the list of apps that require connecting through a VPN tunnel, and which don’t.
ExpressVPN’s split tunneling feature is also a bit limited. It’s no longer enabled for macOS 11 and above, which is quite a disappointment.
You can customize the list of apps that require a VPN connection, the same can even be done with browsers, clients, games, and so on.
SmartDNS is a handy feature for streaming. If you have a device that doesn’t support a VPN app, like a Smart TV, you can still use your VPN to access content and stream it on that device. The way you do it is through a SmartDNS feature.
ExpressVPN has its signature MediaStreamer to watch your favorite content on devices that don’t usually support VPNs. Keep in mind that this feature does not encrypt your online activity– it only hides your location to access geo-restricted content.
TunnelBear currently does not offer any SmartDNS tools.
A reliable kill switch is an important feature of any VPN. If your VPN connection drops, the kill switch will disconnect you from the internet immediately.
The TunnelBear kill switch is called VigilantBear and is currently available on Windows, macOS, and Android apps. One issue with this feature is that you’re not notified when it’s activated.
Now, ExpressVPN calls this feature its Network Lock. There are quite a few customizations available with this kill switch since you can disable it for specific apps.
In addition, ExpressVPN’s kill switch works on Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android devices.
Ad blockers are a great way to avoid seeing pop-up ads and other threats that can appear when you visit suspicious websites. Both ExpressVPN and TunnelBear have ad blockers to help protect you from unwanted and malicious threats when you’re browsing online.
ExpressVPN calls its version of an ad blocker Threat Manager. It’s a pretty sophisticated feature, as it blocks any tracking attempts and other known threats. If you use macOS, iOS, or Linux, you can use Threat Manager right away. Unfortunately, it is still being developed for Windows and Android.
With TunnelBear, you can use its TunnelBear blocker. While this feature isn’t quite as advanced as the ExpressVPN version, it will offer you protection from pop-ups, tracking attempts, and other threats.
TunnelBear blocker is currently only available as a Chrome browser extension. One perk of this feature is that you don’t even need an account to use it. You can simply add it to your browser and activate it to begin protection.
|Number of servers||3000+||3000+|
Interestingly enough, ExpressVPN has made the number of available servers it offers officially unavailable. While it previously advertised 3000+ servers around the globe, it currently advertises “thousands of servers.”
TunnelBear officially has over 3000 servers to choose from across the world. While TunnelBear can provide access to 48 countries, ExpressVPN essentially doubles that with available servers in 94 countries.
Even though the exact number of servers is unclear, ExpressVPN still can connect its users to significantly more countries. Plus, its servers are RAM-only, giving them the edge of being superior in security.
For anyone looking for a VPN with great torrenting performance, skip TunnelBear and go with ExpressVPN. Overall, our torrenting attempts with TunnelBear were unsuccessful. ExpressVPN isn’t the strongest torrenting VPN on the market but it’s miles better than TunnelBear.
Both services lack dedicated torrenting servers and proxies that other premium VPNs offer. ExpressVPN is usable for torrenting but doesn’t have SOCKS5 Proxy or dedicated P2P servers. However, this provider has reliable speed results that will lead to a speedy P2P experience.
Platforms, interface, and ease of use
|Supported OS||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS||Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS|
|Other software and devices||Android TV, Kindle Fire, Chromebook||None|
|Browser extensions||Chrome, Firefox||Chrome, Firefox|
While each VPN has its strengths and weaknesses across all major operating systems, they are both easy to install, set up, and use (if you’re not using Linux).
While TunnelBear has started to offer unlimited connections, it doesn’t have many possible devices it can connect to. While ExpressVPN can connect to Android TV, Fire devices, and routers, TunnelBear doesn’t yet have these capabilities. On the other hand, ExpressVPN only offers 5 simultaneous connections with one subscription.
While both of these VPNs technically do work with Linux, neither is the best choice for users of this operating system. TunnelBear specifically states that they only offer limited support for Linux users. Neither one offers a GUI for Linux, so you’ll have to use a terminal.
ExpressVPN and TunnelBear both have easy-to-navigate desktop apps for Windows and macOS.
ExpressVPN’s desktop app has a Shortcuts feature, where you can add 5 of your most-visited websites right to the main screen of the app. This makes it easy to connect your VPN and jump right into web browsing.
There is no map interface to choose your servers, instead, you have to pick your preferred server location from a list. What’s more, both Windows and macOS versions of the ExpressVPN app contain all the same features.
Now, TunnelBear offers design-heavy and easy-to-navigate apps. Its Windows app runs a bit smoother than the macOS version, but they both are suited for beginners.
There is a map interface, however, it is laggy because there are a lot of animations that this app has to load. So, sometimes you just might find yourself stuck in a half-leaded screen.
When it comes to features, the Windows and macOS versions are pretty much the same and offer all the same features available. The main selling point for this provider is the cute bear animations.
Unfortunately, TunnelBear still has a way to go in its app development. While its bear-themed design is charming, its emphasis on aesthetics seems to get in the way of the app’s functionality. Both iOS and Android versions of the app can load slowly and be a bit clunky to use.
Plus, its iOS and Android apps seem to be created unequally, with the Android version being far better. With TunnelBear on Android, you get the kill switch and Encrypted Server Name Indicator.
ExpressVPN offers better mobile apps for both iOS and Android. Overall, these apps provide a smooth user experience with a responsive interface. The Android version has a few of the best features, like shortcuts, a kill switch, and split tunneling.
In addition, ExpressVPN mobile apps also have Protection Summary that informs you when your IP is hidden, and a Data Breach Alert to notify you if your email address has leaked somewhere online.
|24/7 live chat||✅||❌|
|Guides or articles||✅||✅|
Both VPNs offer a variety of possible support channels for their customers. However, ExpressVPN has the advantage because it offers a 24/7 live chat option, while the competitor doesn’t.
Both TunnelBear and ExpressVPN have helpful articles, tutorials, FAQ threads, and more. These resources can help with initial setup as well as troubleshooting later on.
In addition to the live chat option, ExpressVPN has an email ticketing system. No matter what problem arises, ExpressVPN is ready to support its customers with expert advice around the clock.
The fastest way to contact TunnelBear support is via the email ticketing system. If you’re experiencing a problem, you’ll need to submit your request for support and wait. Fortunately, TunnelBear has sped up its response time and we found that it usually gets back to queries within a few hours.
TunnelBear vs ExpressVPN – which one wins?
Overall, it’s clear that ExpressVPN is a much better option than TunnelBear. With 10 different tests to evaluate, ExpressVPN dominated categories like streaming, torrenting, features, customer service, and more.
The only category that TunnelBear truly won was pricing. TunnelBear indeed has lower subscription prices, but that doesn’t account for value. ExpressVPN delivers so much more in terms of performance and features, it only makes sense it costs more than TunnelBear.
Is ExpressVPN better than TunnelBear?
Yes, ExpressVPN is better than TunnelBear. It’s got better streaming performance, more advanced features, and 24/7 customer support. Plus, ExpressVPN’s security suite is stronger, featuring RAM-only servers, and is headquartered outside of the 5-eyes jurisdiction. It’s also a better option for torrenting.
Is TunnelBear or ExpressVPN better for Netflix?
ExpressVPN works better for Netflix. We found ExpressVPN could easily unlock several popular Netflix libraries, like those in the US, UK, Canada, Germany, and Japan. TunnelBear managed to connect to libraries in the US and UK, but wasn’t able to access many other library options. In addition, ExpressVPN had much better connection speeds for lag-free streaming.
Is TunnelBear cheaper than ExpressVPN?
TunnelBear is cheaper than ExpressVPN. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, TunnelBear is the best pick. If a better suite of features and more impressive performance is more important, consider spending more for ExpressVPN.
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