NordVPN vs Tunnelbear

Choosing a VPN can be tricky for new users. There are dozens of different providers, all claiming to be the best, and they often use technical terms that you likely won’t understand unless you have a background in computer networking.

To simplify things we compare two major VPNs side by side, NordVPN vs. TunnelBear. This way, you’ll be able to tell exactly what NordVPN and TunnelBear offer at a glance. We’ll also be cutting through the jargon and explaining in simple terms what each feature does so that you know exactly what you’re paying for.

Can’t choose between NordVPN or Tunnelbear?

If you’re on the fence about whether to go for NordVPN or Tunnelbear, we’d suggest trying NordVPN first. It’s faster, has more security features, and is currently offering a huge discount on long-term plans. Of course, Tunnelbear is still a viable option, especially if you’re looking for something novice-friendly that’ll let you try it for free. If you decide to upgrade to the paid plan, you can take advantage of our exclusive Tunnelbear discount code.

To really compare these services, we had to take a thorough look at their features, functionality, and privacy policies. Here’s what we found:

Summary: NordVPN vs Tunnelbear


  • Boasts over 5,000 servers worldwide
  • Works with most popular streaming services
  • Provides consistently high speeds
  • Offers several advanced security and privacy features


  • Strong privacy features and a no-logs policy
  • Reasonable speeds
  • Offers a free plan
  • Unblocks smaller streaming platforms without any trouble

Pricing and discounts

No valueNordVPNTunnelBear
Subscription periodsOne month, one year, two yearsOne month, one year, two years, three years
Special offer63% discount on the 2-year plan58% discount on two-year subscriptions
Highest price per month$12.99$9.99
Lowest monthly cost$3.29$3.33
One year price$59.88$59.88
Money back guarantee30 days30 days
Best deal (per month)$3.29
SAVE up to 63% + 3 months FREE
SAVE 67% on a 3-year plan

As you can see, both of these services are similarly priced, even if you subscribe month-to-month. Tunnelbear does work out slightly cheaper in the short term, and its three-year plan costs just $120, which is less than $20 more than NordVPN’s two-year plan.

Of course, TunnelBear has one very attractive offering: a free version. This is less appealing than it seems, though, as free users are limited to 500MB of data every month. For context, this is enough to watch about half an hour of standard-definition video on Netflix (although if you’re only browsing the web, 500MB will last quite a bit longer).

It’s worth mentioning that Tunnelbear does not offer a concrete money-back guarantee. This places it in sharp contrast to its rivals (including NordVPN) who’ll issue a refund for any reason, so long as you cancel within 30 days. Tunnelbear processes claims on a case by case basis, so be aware that you may not be able to get your money back.

Best Deal for NordVPN:Cut the cost by 60% with NordVPN’s two-year subscription.

Best Deal for TunnelBear:Choose TunnelBear’s two-year plan to save 58%.


No valueNordVPNTunnelBear
Simultaneous Connections65
Devices SupportedWindows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Smart TVsWindows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Browser
Manual install devicesRouters, set-top boxesSelect routers
Free extrasAd-blocking, Dark Web Monitor, MeshNet, malware-scanning, automatic wifi protection, browser extensions for Chrome, Edge, and FirefoxAutomatic wifi protection, extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera
Best deal (per month)$3.29
SAVE up to 63% + 3 months FREE
SAVE 67% on a 3-year plan

At first glance, these services seem to offer similar features but in practice, there are a few important differences. Both VPNs offer apps for the most common platforms, although NordVPN is included in the Amazon app store and TunnelBear has to be manually installed on Linux. Additionally, TunnelBear only works with two specific distributions (Ubuntu 16+ and Fedora Workstation 25+).

On the other hand, TunnelBear has a browser extension for Opera, which NordVPN doesn’t. That said, the value of this is questionable since fewer than two percent of internet users rely on Opera. Further, it’s important to note that VPN browser extensions only secure traffic from your browser and not any of your other programs (P2P clients, messaging apps, and so on).

Then there are the more advanced options. Both VPNs include automatic wifi protection, but NordVPN also allows you to block ads and scan files for malware automatically, making it easier to browse safely. TunnelBear’s Android app, however, includes a split-tunneling feature, which lets you select specific programs to bypass the VPN.

Unblocking capabilities

No valueNordVPNTunnelBear
Unblocks Hulu
Unblocks Sky Go
Unblocks Prime Video
Unblocks BBC iPlayer
Unblocks ABC
Unblocks CBS
Unblocks NBC
Unblocks ITV
Unblocks Channel 4
Best deal (per month)$3.29
SAVE up to 63% + 3 months FREE
SAVE 67% on a 3-year plan

TunnelBear has plenty of strengths but unblocking streaming platforms isn’t one of them. This VPN struggles to securely access any major streaming platforms (and notably, doesn’t work with Netflix at all), although it does allow you to use some less popular services like ITV Hub from abroad.

In contrast, NordVPN excels in this area. It has no issues with services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer. It’s also worth mentioning that all of NordVPN’s servers unblock Netflix, although if NordVPN can’t connect to the Netflix library you’ve chosen, you’ll be redirected to Netflix US.


China’s internet restrictions are some of the strictest in the world, and perhaps unsurprisingly, most VPNs just won’t work. However, both NordVPN and TunnelBear work in China once they’ve been properly configured.

NordVPN has special servers designed for use in countries with strict internet censorship. However, you have to change a setting in order to use them. Once you enable this (Settings > Advanced > Obfuscated Servers), you’ll find suitable servers in the list on the left of the main screen. TunnelBear has a similar setting (Settings > Security > GhostBear), and data-cloaking can be used with any server.

While these VPNs work perfectly in China, their websites are blocked by the Great Firewall. As a result, you have to install your VPN before arriving in China.

Setup and interface

No valueNordVPNTunnelBear
Automatic setup wizardLinux, Windows, MacOS, iOS, AndroidWindows, Mac, iOS, Android
Main location selectionMap-based/List-based
Extra settings pages
Best deal (per month)$3.29
SAVE up to 63% + 3 months FREE
SAVE 67% on a 3-year plan

Desktop apps

Both NordVPN and TunnelBear offer intuitive, user-friendly desktop apps. TunnelBear’s app walks you through the process of connecting to the VPN every time you log in, and the map on the main screen makes it easy to see which servers are available. Settings are on a separate page and broken up into three categories, so it’s relatively simple to find what you’re looking for.

NordVPN’s desktop app is split into two sections: a list of available servers on the left, and a map on the right. Users can connect to specialized servers (such as those designed for P2P file-sharing) right from the home screen, which is excellent. We also like that NordVPN allows you to zoom in and out of the map since, with servers in 60 countries, it can get pretty cluttered.

TunnelBear’s mobile apps are almost identical to the desktop ones, although most of the configuration options have been removed. You can still scramble your traffic, activate the kill switch, and use split tunneling (on Android), but these features are labeled “GhostBear,” “VigilantBear,” and “SplitBear,” respectively, which doesn’t really tell the user anything.

This isn’t the only instance of TunnelBear’s “form over function” approach: of the six available options in the mobile app, three (including “bear sounds” and one which “displays fluffy clouds on the map”) have no impact whatsoever on the VPN’s performance.

NordVPN’s mobile app is a shining example of what TunnelBear’s could have been. It retains most of the desktop app’s functionality, and simply rearranges the interface to better suit small screens. Some features have been removed, like the kill switch (on Android) and obfuscated servers, but overall, it remains versatile and easy to use.

Servers and performance

No valueNordVPNTunnelBear
Server countries6047
Total number of servers5,000+Unknown
Best deal (per month)$3.29
SAVE up to 63% + 3 months FREE
SAVE 67% on a 3-year plan

NordVPN explicitly tells its users that it operates over 5,000 servers in 60+ countries. Tunnelbear is a little cagier, and doesn’t reveal the scale of its network, though it does claim to have over 40 supported locations. Notably, Tunnelbear seems to have prioritized locations that its larger rivals tend to ignore, such as Kenya and Nigeria.

In addition to its general-purpose servers, NordVPN offers mult-hop, Onion over VPN, and obfuscated servers. The table below shows where NordVPN and TunnelBear have servers:

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Costa Rica
Czech Republic
New Zealand
South Africa
South Korea
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States

TunnelBear is unfortunately outclassed when it comes to speed. In our most recent testing, it averaged just 61 Mbps. For context, that’s quick enough to watch 4K video on two devices simultaneously. NordVPN, however, is one of the fastest services we’ve seen, averaging more than 350 Mbps.

No valueNordVPN
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)268 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)174 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)147 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$3.29
SAVE up to 63% + 3 months FREE
No valueTunnelBear
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)245 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)221 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Japan)200 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$3.33
SAVE 67% on a 3-year plan


No valueNordVPNTunnelBear
VPN protocolsOpenVPN, IKEv2, NordLynxOpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2
OpenVPN data encryption256-bit AES256-bit AES
OpenVPN control channel encryptionRSA-4096RSA-2048
Kill SwitchAll platforms
Private DNS servers
Best deal (per month)$3.29
SAVE up to 63% + 3 months FREE
SAVE 67% on a 3-year plan

Both of these services support the OpenVPN protocol but only Tunnelbear supports IKEv2 and WireGuard as well. NordVPN, meanwhile, has its own protocol named NordLynx. This is actually based on WireGuard, though its double NAT system fixes some of the privacy issues that this ultra-fast protocol has as standard.

NordVPN uses 4096-bit RSA keys to securely communicate with your device, whereas TunnelBear uses 2048-bit keys. Both are effectively uncrackable (as is the 256-bit encryption each of these VPNs use), although hypothetically, it would take even longer to compromise NordVPN’s RSA keys, Otherwise, NordVPN and TunnelBear have similar advanced features including tracker-blocking and malware-protection. NordVPN does offer a feature called MeshNet that allows you to securely link devices across multiple networks.

Both use Obfsproxy to reshape your traffic and hide the fact that you’re using a VPN, for instance. Additionally, each service owns its own DNS servers, meaning your data is never seen by any third parties. They each offer a kill switch too, although TunnelBear has a slight advantage here. Its kill switch, named VigilantBear, is available in every version of the app.


No valueNordVPNTunnelBear
HQ base of operationPanamaCanada
Connection logs No logging policy
Activity logsNoneNo logs stored
User details for signupEmail addressemail
Anonymous payment optionsBitcoin, Ethereum, RippleBitcoin
Best deal (per month)$3.29
SAVE up to 63% + 3 months FREE
SAVE 67% on a 3-year plan

When it comes to privacy, NordVPN is one of the best. This service is based in Panama, a country with no mandatory data retention laws, for a start. It keeps no activity or connection logs, and allows you to pay with three of the most popular cryptocurrencies. You can also buy NordVPN gift cards at major big box stores, which is a much easer, equally privacy-conscious way to sign up.

TunnelBear records some information including whether you’ve used the service in the last month and how much data you’ve transferred. It does not log any details of your activities, however. This VPN is based in Canada, a member of the Five Eyes intelligence partnership. This means your information could, in theory, be requested by one of the other member nations (the US, the UK, Australia, or New Zealand) and shared with all the others.

Like NordVPN, TunnelBear accepts Bitcoin. It also accepts jars of honey as payment, which is technically anonymous, provided you don’t include a return address. It’s worth bearing in mind that the cost of shipping a jar of honey to Canada is likely to be higher than the monthly subscription price, however.

Customer service

No valueNordVPNTunnelBear
24/7 live chat
Ticket support
Email support
Average email response time3 hours, 45 mins
Searchable knowledge base
Phone support
Video guides
Best deal (per month)$3.29
SAVE up to 63% + 3 months FREE
SAVE 67% on a 3-year plan

TunnelBear’s support is decent, but it pales in comparison to NordVPN’s. There’s no live chat support, for instance, which means you often have to wait several hours for answers to relatively simple questions. TunnelBear does, however, include a solid knowledge base with answers that explain things in layman’s terms.

NordVPN offers 24/7 live chat-based support, and the staff usually respond to messages in a matter of seconds. There’s also a searchable knowledge base, or if you’d prefer, a selection of video guides on NordVPN’s YouTube channel.

To accurately compare the responsiveness of these services, we sent each three questions over email. TunnelBear should have a slight advantage here, as email is its primary customer support channel. Email response times will vary based on the time of day and the number of users experiencing problems. You can find the results of our tests below:

Question Initial response timeNumber of emailsQuestion answered
What kind of logs does NordVPN keep?3 hours, 8 minutes1Yes
Can I install NordVPN on my Raspberry Pi?12 hours, 1 minute1Yes
Can NordVPN automatically protect my wifi?6 hours, 52 minutes1Yes
Question Initial response timeNumber of emailsQuestion answered
What kind of logs does TunnelBear keep?5 hours, 59 minutes1Yes
Can I install TunnelBear on my Raspberry Pi?4 hours, 35 minutes1Yes
Can TunnelBear automatically protect my wifi?4 hours, 14 minutes1Yes

As expected, TunnelBear’s email support team had a lower and more consistent average reply time. Both services tended to reply with pre-written responses, which is understandable given how common our questions were. However, TunnelBear’s replies were loaded with bear references, which isn’t exactly what you need when you’re looking for technical support.

NordVPN vs Tunnelbear: the winner

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux
  • Background FireTV


Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

TunnelBear is a better-than-average free VPN but it fails to live up to its more secure, more versatile paid rivals. It markets itself as a simple, easy-to-use service for beginners, but without 24/7 live chat, users could find themselves unable to browse safely for hours, awaiting a response from support. Due to this and several other factors, NordVPN is the better choice for the average user.

Not only does NordVPN provide higher speeds, but it also has far more servers and unblocks a far wider range of content. This service also puts major emphasis on your privacy and security, a must for any VPN that works in China. Best of all, NordVPN, while not free, is one of the most affordable VPNs on the market.

Methodology: How we compared NordVPN and Tunnelbear

It’s more difficult than you might think to accurately compare competing VPNs. After all, two services that seem very similar might be completely different under the hood. To be as fair and thorough as possible, we took an in-depth look at every feature NordVPN and Tunnelbear had to offer, carefully considering how they held up in the following areas:

  • Network scale: In general, the larger the network, the more users a VPN can support before performance issues arise. We considered how many server locations were available, whether these were in highly sought-after locations, and whether they were spread out enough to provide a reasonably close server no matter where the user is located.
  • Speed: Slow speeds cause problems no matter whether you’re trying to stream, play games, or torrent. We performed multiple speed tests at different times of day, using servers in three different locations. These were then averaged out to get a representative speed we could use to compare NordVPN and Tunnelbear.
  • Streaming ability: Streaming services are getting very good at detecting VPN usage. To see which VPN was better at flying under the radar, we pit them against platforms like Netflix, Peacock, Disney Plus, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. This would allow us to see which worked the most consistently.
  • Security and privacy: The main purpose of a VPN is to keep your online activities hidden. That’s why uncrackable encryption, a kill switch, and protection against DNS and IPv6 leaks are non-negotiable. We also looked at each service’s privacy policy and audit history to see whether they kept any logs of personally identifiable information.
  • User-friendliness: The perfect VPN is easy enough for a complete beginner to use. That’s why we look for features that streamline the process of getting connected. This might be a clean settings menu, the provision of 24/7 live chat, or simply removing connection limits altogether.
  • Value for money: We’ve been reviewing VPNs for years so it’s incredibly obvious when a provider is trying to charge more than it’s worth. We carefully considered the price differences between these services, how they hold up against the wider market, and whether a free trial, money-back guarantee, or long-term discount was available.

Want to learn more? Our testing methodology post breaks down exactly how we put VPNs through their paces at Comparitech.

NordVPN vs Tunnelbear: Frequently Asked Questions

Can I install Tunnelbear on my router?

At the time of writing, Tunnelbear cannot be installed on a router, even if you're willing to configure it yourself. However, most other commerical VPNs (including NordVPN) can be. While a little trickier than simply installing an app, this route has a few major benefits.

For instance, it'll protect every device on your network, allowing you get around connection limits. Additionally, you'll be able to encrypt traffic from system that don't normally support VPNs, such as older Smart TVs and games consoles. If you're unsure about how to install a VPN on your router, just contact your provider's support team and ask for help -- they should be happy to walk you through the process.

Which is more secure: NordVPN or Tunnelbear?

NordVPN and Tunnelbear both use 256-bit encryption, leak protection, private DNS servers, and a kill switch. In other words, it's effectively impossible for anyone to see what you're getting up to online. What's more, both companies have been repeatedly audited by outside investigators, so you don't have to take their security claims at face value.

These services have a few extra tools as well, such as ad-blocking, tracker-blocking, and malware-detection. NordVPN even offers a MeshNet tool that'll let you create a secure point-to-point connection for LAN parties or safe file access, even when you're away from home.

Is Tunnelbear free to use?

Yes, Tunnelbear does offer a free plan. This does come with a restriction that might stop you using it regularly, though. Surprisingly, free users get the same speed and server access as paid ones, though you are limited to just 500 MB of data each month (or 1,500 MB if you tweet about the service).

So what exactly can you do with this? Well, assuming you have the higher 1.5 GB cap, you'd be able to securely stream about two hours of standard-definition video each month. Alternatively, you could browse the web (assuming no video-heavy sites) for about 100 hours.

Do NordVPN and Tunnelbear keep logs?

Tunnelbear's privacy policy specifically says that it doesn't log IP addresses, DNS queries, or any details about the apps, services or websites you use while connected. It does keep some information, such as total data used each month, in order to enforce data limits and diagnose networking issues.

NordVPN doesn't keep any logs either, a fact that has been verified by auditors multiple times. It does store advertising identifiers, though, which could be used to identify you specifically over a long enough period. Still, these can (and should) be cleared out regularly, and NordVPN actually provides instructions for this in its help section.