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NordVPN vs TunnelBear: Which VPN Offers More Features and Better Value?

NordVPN and TunnelBear are two of the most popular VPNs around – so how do you know which one to choose? 

NordVPN is famous for its fast speeds, access to global content, and industry-best security. Tunnelbear offers simple, playful apps that are great for beginners and includes a free plan to get you started.

But there’s a lot more to consider when choosing a VPN. So, in this quick guide, we put NordVPN and TunnelBear head-to-head to determine which offers the best combination of value, performance, speed, and security. 

NordVPN vs TunnelBear – Which is best? 

NordVPN is far superior to TunnelBear in every way. 

 It's the fastest, most secure VPN on the market, with advanced security, unrivaled connection speeds, and a host of privacy tools that deliver everyday users the most private internet experience possible. 

TunnelBear, on the other hand, has prioritized simple, fun VPN apps that deliver a basic experience. It struggles with streamers, delivers slow, unreliable connections, and lacks any advanced features. 

So, if you’re in a rush, you can skip the rest of the review and download NordVPN. 

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Pricing

No Value NordVPN TunnelBear
Money-back guarantee length 30 days N/A

Tunnelbear and NordVPN have similar pricing across every subscription period, with Tunnelbear occasionally offering slightly lower prices.

However, don’t be fooled by its competitive prices – TunnelBear is an inferior product in almost every way. And when you factor in all the advanced features and tools NordVPN offers, it's significantly better value than TunnelBear. 

The biggest difference is that TunnelBear offers a free plan. This might be appealing if it wasn’t so limited. You’re only protected for 500MB per month, just enough for half an hour of standard-definition video streaming or some very basic web browsing. You also get access to a smaller server network and will have to deal with plenty of other restrictions. 

NordVPN offers a no-questions-asked, risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee. The process for requesting a refund is simple, quick, and reliable. In contrast, TunnelBear processes refund claims on a case-by-case basis, so you’ll have to wait a long time for a response and may never get your money back.

Winner: NordVPN

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Which has better features? 

No Value NordVPN TunnelBear
Simultaneous connections 6 N/A
Total servers 6057 1000
Server locations 84
Split-tunneling
Obfuscation (stealth)

NordVPN offers far more advanced features than TunnelBear across every device. 

Both VPNs have apps for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, along with browser extensions for popular browsers. However, NordVPN goes much further, supporting game consoles, routers, smart TVs, Linux devices, and much more. 

You also get automatic kill-switches that block your internet if your VPN connection is disrupted – reducing the risk of data leaks. And you can avail of split tunneling features that allow you to route specific apps and websites through the VPN, while keeping others on your local connection. This is useful if you want to steam overseas content while still using maps or banking apps locally. 

NordVPN also offers AES 256-bit encryption (the same standard used by governments, banks, militaries, and spy agencies), DNS/IPv6 leak protections, and numerous VPN protocols to keep your data, location, identity, and browsing activities hidden. 

However, in every case, NordVPN goes way further than TunnelBear, offering more features, more advanced technology, better performance, faster speeds, and much more. 

For example, its custom-built NordLynx VPN protocol is faster and more secure than those offered by TunnelBear. You also get an ad blocker, malware detection, and dark web monitoring that alerts you if your private data is being shared or sold online. 

We’ve only scratched the surface. As you’ll see throughout this review, NordVPN offers industry-best performance, speed, security, and privacy features that blow TunnelBear out of the water. 

Winner: NordVPN

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Are routers supported? 

No Value NordVPN TunnelBear
Router support
DD-WRT
Tomato
pfSense
OpenWRT
AsusWRT

Only NordVPN supports routers and offers solutions for various models, including Asus, Netgear, and Linksys. You can also buy routers with NordVPN pre-installed. 

If you want to set up NordVPN on a router yourself, it's quite complicated. Fortunately, NordVPN provides plenty of excellent instructions and troubleshooting guides for popular router models. 

TunnelBear doesn’t offer any support for routers, even if you try to install the VPN manually. 

Winner: NordVPN

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What websites do they unblock? 

No Value NordVPN TunnelBear
Netflix
iPlayer
Amazon Prime
Hulu
Disney+

TunnelBear struggles to securely access any major streaming website, including Netflix. However, it does work with regional streamers like ITV Hub in the UK. Even if TunnelBear does access a streaming site, its servers are often too slow for HD streaming. 

NordVPN excels in accessing streaming sites, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer. It's fast enough to stream in HD from most countries. It also works with banking websites, apps, and other typically restricted websites or services. 

Surprisingly, both TunnelBear and NordVPN work in China. Even Tunnelbear’s free plan can break through the Chinese government’s Great Firewall. This is undeniably impressive. 

However, NordVPN has developed dedicated servers for use in countries with the most extreme censorship – including China. To use these servers, look for "Obfuscated Servers” in the advanced settings and turn them on. TunnelBear has a similar stealth mode called GhostBear, but it's nowhere near as powerful.

Winner: NordVPN

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Netflix libraries

No Value NordVPN TunnelBear
USA
UK
Canada
Japan
France
Germany

NordVPN accessed every Netflix library we tested, including the US, UK, Canada, and many other popular countries. 

Its purpose-built SmartPlay DNS technology ensures it goes undetected by streaming sites, and the large global server network means you can choose between countless IP addresses in countries across the globe. 

TunnelBear, on the other hand, only works with Netflix US – every other regional library we tested was blocked. 

So, if you’re using a VPN to access Netflix from overseas, it's an obvious choice – stick to NordVPN. 

Winner: NordVPN

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Torrenting capabilities

No Value NordVPN TunnelBear
Torrenting allowed?
Dedicated servers?
Port selection
Port-forwarding
Kill-switch

NordVPN fully supports torrenting, with dedicated P2P servers in 46+ countries and advanced features like port selection and port forwarding that allow you to optimize your VPN-P2P setup for speed. 

Its advanced features, like the automatic kill-switch, NordLynx protocol, and fast connections, will also benefit torrenters by ensuring your activities remain hidden from your internet service provider and files download quickly. 

TunnelBear, on the other hand, has a more ambiguous stance on torrenting. The company doesn't explicitly prohibit P2P file sharing but doesn't actively promote it either. 

Its smaller server network and lack of dedicated P2P servers may result in slower torrenting speeds and potential issues with connectivity. TunnelBear also lacks advanced P2P features like port forwarding and selection. And it's generally much slower than NordVPN.

Winner: NordVPN

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Setup & usability

No Value NordVPN TunnelBear
Android
iOS
Windows
macOS
Linux
Firefox
Chrome
Edge
Safari

Both NordVPN and TunnelBear prioritize user-friendly experiences with simple apps and easy setup processes.

NordVPN offers a quick setup with a one-click connect feature, catering to beginners and advanced users. Its apps are available on various devices, including Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, games consoles, Amazon Fire TV, and Oculus Quest VP headsets.

You can easily access NordVPN’s advanced settings, allowing customization and control over features such as the kill-switch, CyberSec (ad and malware blocker), and choosing between various VPN protocols. However, beginners can avoid these and stick to the default settings without getting overwhelmed. 

TunnelBear also has a simple setup process and visually appealing apps (with a focus on fun). It's very beginner-friendly, and its apps are available for far fewer devices: Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.

TunnelBear’s focus on simplicity means it offers significantly fewer customization options than NordVPN.

Overall, both NordVPN and TunnelBear offer user-friendly setup and navigation. However, NordVPN does a fantastic job of combining advanced features with a simple, beginner-friendly experience. 

Winner: NordVPN

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Mobile features

No Value NordVPN
Kill-switch

NordVPN and TunnelBear offer iOS and Android apps very similar to their full-featured desktop versions. 

You can use quick connection features to instantly connect to the optimum server without opening the app, automatic kill-switches to ensure your data never leaks out, split tunneling, stealth modes, and much more. 

The mobile apps offered by both VPNs are easy to use and can be turned on to run in the background without you noticing. 

However, NordVPN’s iOS and Android apps include many more features, such as its Threat Protection feature that blocks ads, detects malware, and more. You also benefit from advanced features like the NordLynx protocol and other proprietary tools missing from TunnelBear. 

NordVPN also allows up to six simultaneous device connections, compared to TunnelBear’s five. 

So, for overall performance on mobile and every other device, we’re giving this round to NordVPN.

Winner: NordVPN

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Performance & speed

No Value NordVPN TunnelBear
ProPrivacy.com SpeedTest (average) 85.9 Mbps 50.6 Mbps
Server locations 84
Total servers 6057 1000

NordVPN is known for its fast and stable connections worldwide, thanks to its extensive server network of over 5,400+ servers in 59+ countries. It also developed an exclusive VPN protocol – NordLynx – that’s faster than any other VPN protocol without compromising security. 

Our globally distributed team tested NordVPN’s performance in streaming, downloading, gaming, video calls, etc. Regardless of our locations, it always delivered fast, reliable connections. We could stream in HD, host team meetings, and get a few games of Fortnite in with zero buffering, lag, or interruptions. 

Overall, NordVPN scored average speeds of 350 Mbps. 

TunnelBear is a different story. 

First of all, it doesn’t disclose how many servers it has. Which suggests… not a lot. And while it has prioritized serving smaller markets like Kenya, TunnelBear is only located in 41+ countries – less than half of NordVPN. 

TunnelBear uses the standard OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols, which are fine, but nothing special. 

Lastly, throughout our tests, TunnelBear was slow and unreliable. It averaged speeds of just 61 Mbps. It's five times slower than NordVPN. 

When it comes to fast, reliable connections, there’s no competition – NordVPN is the obvious winner. 

Winner: NordVPN

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Security

No Value NordVPN TunnelBear
Obfuscation (stealth)
IPv6 leak protection
WebRTC leak protection
PPTP
L2TP/IPSec
SSTP
IKEv2
OpenVPN
WireGuard
Shadowsocks
Bare-metal servers?
Self-hosted DNS

NordVPN and TunnelBear offer secure apps that keep your data, location, identity, and browsing hidden. 

They also offer standard AES 256-bit encryption, DNS/IPv6 leak protection, and other essential security features. These include automatic kill-switches on every device, stealth modes to hide the fact you’re using a VPN, and much more. 

 Both VPNs also offer obfuscated servers to hide that you're using VPN. This isn’t just good for streaming content – it's an important tool for people living in countries where VPNs are illegal or cause suspicion. 

But while TunnelBear sticks to offering the most basic security, NordVPN has invested in delivering advanced features that make it the most secure VPN on the market.  

For example, NordVPN uses 4096-bit RSA keys for encryption between devices, while TunnelBear uses 2048-bit keys. Both are effectively uncrackable, but compromising NordVPN's RSA keys would take even longer. You can also use its MeshNet feature to securely send files and data between numerous devices in its network (i.e., your phone and laptop). 

NordVPN also utilizes its patented NordLynx VPN protocol to boost the security of WireGuard (the most popular protocol) without compromising speed or user experience. 

So, while TunnelBear will undoubtedly keep you safe, we still appreciate NordVPN’s dedication to delivering advanced software that makes it impenetrable and leak-proof. 

Winner: NordVPN

Get NordVPN

Privacy

No Value NordVPN TunnelBear
Jurisdiction Panama Canada
Logs connections
Independently audited?
Anonymous payment options?

NordVPN is generally considered one of the most privacy-friendly VPNs in the world. It’s headquartered in Panama, a country with no mandatory data retention laws, and far away from the prying eyes of your government.

NordVPN doesn’t keep activity or connection logs and only maintains the absolute minimum records to keep your account open and its networks running. Its strict "no-logs” policy and RAM-only servers (which are regularly wiped clean) mean it can never be coerced into sharing sensitive user data. 

In contrast, TunnelBear is based in Canada, a member of the Five Eyes global intelligence alliance. In theory, governments and spy agencies from other countries could request TunnelBear user data via their partnership with the Canadian government. 

TunnelBear also records limited user data, but not anything related to your browsing activity. Still, any data recorded by a VPN makes us uncomfortable, especially when it's located in a Five Eyes country. 

Both VPNs use self-hosted DNS servers rather than relying on third-party hosts like Google. This significantly reduces the risk of data exposure as your traffic passes between servers. 

They also both accept cryptocurrencies as a means of anonymous payments. TunnelBear claims it will also accept jars of honey, but we’re not sure exactly how that works...

Overall, we feel more confident in NordVPN’s ability to maintain a 100% private VPN service. 

Winner: NordVPN

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Customer service

No Value NordVPN TunnelBear
Free trial Yes - 7 Days Yes - 7 days
Money-back guarantee length 30 days N/A
Money-back guarantee
24-hour support
Live chat

TunnelBear's support is very limited. There‘s no live chat, so you must rely on email, which is generally slow and cumbersome – especially if you have a complicated issue. Or you can use the knowledge base, which is comprehensive and beginner-friendly. 

In contrast, NordVPN offers 24/7 live chat support with fast response times. It also has a searchable knowledge base, troubleshooting guides, product walkthroughs, and video tutorials on YouTube. Lastly, NordVPN has a lively community forum where you can post questions to other users and get honest responses and feedback. 

While both VPNs are easy to use and shouldn’t require much support, we appreciate that NordVPN has invested heavily in its customer service, just in case. 

Winner: NordVPN

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Methodology: how do we compare VPNs?

We put NordVPN and Tunnelbear through a series of rigorous tests – the same tests we use in every VPN review published on ProPrivacy. This helps us look past the sales pitches and dig into every feature and tool offered by VPNs. 

Here’s a quick sample of what we look for: 

  • Global server networks: The best VPNs have thousands of secure servers located in countries around the world, delivering reliable connections regardless of your location. 
  • Fast connections: We look for VPNs that can deliver buffer-free HD streaming, quick downloads, and seamless video chats anywhere in the world. 
  • Airtight security: Only use VPNs that offer military-grade encryption, DNS/IPv6 leak protections, numerous VPN protocol, and other advanced tech. 
  • Extra privacy tools: Our top VPNs are packed with extra features, including ad blockers, malware detection, stealth modes, and even dark web monitoring. 
  • Access content: We test every VPN against Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and other popular streamers to ensure they work together. 
  • Easy-to-use apps: VPNs are complicated software, but their apps should be beginner-friendly and easy to navigate without too many instructions. 
  • Good value: We only recommend VPNs with simple pricing, low-cost subscriptions, and generous money-back guarantees. 
  • Responsive support: Premium VPNs offer premium support, so look for 24/7 live chat (with human agents), email support, knowledge bases, and lively user communities. 
  • Transparent data policies: We make sure no VPN we recommend is secretly selling your data or hiding any tricks in the small print. 

To learn more about the tests we conduct and the criteria we use, read our VPN review methodology. 

Conclusion

NordVPN consistently ranks as the #1 VPN in the world. It's fast, secure, private, and works with every popular streaming website. Its advanced features, including patented technology like the NordLynx protocol, deliver an unrivaled combination of performance and value. And it's easy to use. 

TunnelBear, on the other hand, is slow, cumbersome, and unreliable. It lacks transparency and doesn’t work with streamers. It might be beginner-friendly, but even total VPN novices will quickly tire of it. 

So, if you value performance, speed, and reliability – download NordVPN. 

Or, if you’re considering any other VPNs, check out our most popular comparison reviews: 

Written by: Conor Walsh

Conor is a tech writer with professional paranoia. He's passionate about privacy, and when not writing about it, can be found trying to get far away from his phone and any other technology, enjoying some live music, outdoorsy stuff, or a good (physical) book.

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