NordVPN vs TunnelBear
Comparison & Test Results 2019
NordVPN is an excellent choice for users looking for fast connections, access to Netflix, top-notch privacy connections, and plenty of access to streaming and gaming content from around the globe.
TunnelBear is an attractive choice for casual VPN users who are in search of a simple, low-priced service to protect their Wi-Fi connection at Starbucks. The provider offers a free, if limited, tier of service.
How to Choose a VPN
In this round of head-to-head action, NordVPN will be battling it out with TunnelBear.
In this article, I’ll take a look at the 10 most important categories of VPN service, explain why the category is vital, and then reveal how well each provider scores in that particular category. I will then declare a category victor. After covering all 10 service categories, I’ll add up the total score and declare an all-around champion.
By the end of the article, you’ll have enough information on hand to make an informed decision as to which of the two providers best meets your particular needs.
The computer you’re working on right now? It’s connected to the internet. That iPhone you’re watching a Netflix show on? It’s connected to the internet. Fast connection speeds make all of this happen.
My method of testing VPN connection speeds is as follows. I test my current, ISP-provided speed. I then connect to the VPN I’m testing and once again test my connection speed. I test each provider in the same timeframe, to assure consistency. I am connected to the internet via a gigabit fiber connection, so your results may differ from mine.
Local Connection Speeds (U.S.)
The “local” speed test is intended to approximate the type of speeds you might receive when connecting to a VPN server located in your country. (I connect to a U.S.-based server.)
International Connection Speeds (U.S. to U.K.)
The “international” test provides a good indication of the type of speed a user can expect when connected to a VPN server located in another country. I connect to a server located in the U.K. when testing.
What’s the best way to tell if you’re being tracked or monitored on the internet? Answer: if you’re connected, you’re being monitored.
It seems everyone is interested in what you’re doing on the internet. Whether it’s your ISP that’s tracking your online movements so they can sell that info to advertisers or a hacker looking to steal your credit card info, people are always trying to look over your virtual shoulder.
When researching VPN providers’ privacy protection, look for the following:
Panama-based NordVPN isn’t required to save any evidence of their users’ online activities. They take that to heart. They accept Bitcoin and other anonymous methods of payment.
TunnelBear is based in Canada. While the people there are polite, their government can be a bit nosy. So far, they haven’t required VPNs to keep logs on their customers’ online travels, but ISPs are already required to do so, and VPNs may be next. This provider accepts Bitcoin (and honey) as anonymous payment for its protected connections.
Both of the providers this time around are reasonably priced, falling in the low-to-mid range of pricing among the VPN providers I test.
TunnelBear is $9.99 when you pay monthly. The price drops to $5.00 per month ($59.99 per year) when you go the annual subscription route. (You’ll need to contact TunnelBear to find out the current USD-to-Honey exchange rate.)
The provider also offers a free level of service that is limited to 512MB per month. You can score another 1GB of data each month if you tweet about the service.
NordVPN’s price of entry is a reasonable $5.75 per month (payable as $69.00 annually) when you opt for an annual subscription. Monthly plans are available, but you’ll pay $11.95 per month.
Money-Back Guarantee Period
Global Server Coverage
Global server coverage is only important if you want access to streaming or gaming content and other services that might normally be blocked in your region of the world. And who doesn’t want that? (Sit down, Eugene, that was what they call a “rhetorical” question.)
NordVPN has 4,401 servers distributed among 62 countries around the globe.
Meanwhile, TunnelBear’s global server coverage of 20 countries is “bearly” there when compared to NordVPN’s coverage.
How many connected devices do you own? I’ll wager you have more than 1 (or 5). That’s why you should always find out how many types of devices a VPN supports before signing on the virtual dotted line.
Native app support from NordVPN consists of apps for the iOS, Windows, Android and macOS platforms. The service can also be set up for use with various routers, NAS devices, and Linux and Windows Phone devices. Additionally, Firefox and Chrome extensions are available.
Remember my previous “bearly”-there pun? That also applies to TunnelBear’s native app support, which is limited to the macOS, Windows, iOS and Android platforms. They do also provide extensions for the Chrome and Opera platforms.
Traveling the world is a great way to pass the time. But, every now and then, you might want a small taste of home. That’s when access to the same Netflix stream you have back home comes in handy.
NordVPN provides access to 4 Netflix service regions: Canada, France, the Netherlands and the U.S.
TunnelBear does not provide access to Netflix, but nor do they claim to, so at least they’re being honest. Look elsewhere if Netflix access is on your short list.
Customer support is that feature that none of us ever want to use, but are glad is there when we need it.
NordVPN’s customer support is a bit limited, providing only email support and a searchable support library. No live support chat option is available.
TunnelBear comes up equally short in the customer support department, as it also lacks 24/7 support chat. It does offer an email support form and an easy-to-use help search function.
One of the most important features of a VPN for many users is the layer of encryption the provider uses to protect their connections. Encryption keeps a user’s online activities incognito.
NordVPN’s AES-256 encryption protects their customers’ connections via OpenVPN with TCP/UDP, IKEv2/IPsec, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP and SSTP protocols.
TunnelBear’s protection also offers AES-256 encryption via OpenVPN with IKEv2 and IPSec/IKEv2 protocols. It lacks the PPTP, SSTP and L2TP/IPSec encryption that NordVPN offers.
AES-256 encryption, using OpenVPN with TCP/UDP, IKEv2/IPsec, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP and SSTP
AES-256 encryption, using OpenVPN, IKEv2 and IPSec/IKEv2
If you have a large group of folks you want to offer VPN protection to - say, a large family or a small business - you’ll want to find a VPN provider that offers a large number of concurrent connections on a single account.
NordVPN provides 6 simultaneous connections.
TunnelBear allows 5 simultaneous connections.
Sure, P2P/BitTorrent is a great way to share files among everyone in your group. But, it may (not) surprise you to find out that some folks use BitTorrent to share copyrighted files, such as movies and games. Shocking, right? As you might imagine, this has led to ISPs blocking P2P activity on their networks.
NordVPN allows P2P file sharing on servers in 42 of the countries they service.
TunnelBear does not allow BitTorrent/P2P activities on their VPN network, period.
NordVPN vs. TunnelBear turned out to be a “Harlem Globetrotters vs. the Washington Generals” type of contest.
NordVPN was the MVP in the local and international connection speeds, privacy, global server coverage, multi-platform support, Netflix access, encryption, simultaneous connections and BitTorrent categories.
TunnelBear takes the win in only one category: pricing.
The providers tied in the customer support arena, where both could stand a bit of improvement.
NordVPN took the overall one-on-one crown, with an impressive 8-1-1 tally. The provider is an excellent choice for users who require fast connections, access to blocked content around the globe and the ability to use the service on multiple devices simultaneously.