TunnelBear VS IPVanish

It can be tough to figure out which VPN provider to go for, especially if you focus on providers’ marketing. If that’s all you have to go on, almost every VPN provider will appear to be “the best” (whatever that means). But, from the more subtle to the more obvious, there are, of course, differences. We’ll be highlighting both in this comparative review.

In this post, we’re comparing TunnelBear and IPVanish to figure out which of the two provides the best value to a typical VPN user.

Highlights

TunnelBear

  • Good speeds
  • Very good no-logging policy
  • Supports secure VPN protocols (OpenVPN, WireGuard, IKEv2, IPsec)
  • Not the best VPN for streaming

 

IPVanish

  • Excellent speeds
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Adheres to a robust no-logging policy
  • Somewhat limited streaming support

TunnelBear VS IPVanish pricing

 TunnelBearIPVanish
Subscription periodsOne monthOne month
One yearOne quarter
Two yearsOne year
Three years
Special offer
Highest price per month$9.99$11.99
Lowest price per month$3.33$3.99
One-year price $59.88$47.89
Money-back guarantee 7 days30 days

IPVanish charges more than TunnelBear if you sign up on a monthly basis. But its yearly subscription is priced lower ($47.89 vs. $59.88). So IPVanish will be easier on your wallet if you want to sign up for a longer term. But if you prefer shorter commitments – and many people do – then TunnelBear is the better option for you (and your wallet).

IPVanish’s refund window is significantly longer than what TunnelBear offers. IPVanish backs all its subscriptions with a 30-day money-back guarantee – the industry standard. TunnelBear, for its part, only provides a seven-day money-back guarantee for its subscriptions. It still gives you enough time to test the service, but it would be nice to see TunnelBear extend its refund policy.

Features

 TunnelBearIPVanish
Simultaneous connections5Unlimited
Operating system appsWindows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOSWindows, macOS, Android, iOS, ChromeOS, Amazon Fire TV
Manual install devicesNoRouters, Linux
Split tunnelingYes (mobile only)Yes, Android and FireTV only
Free extrasAd-blocking, browser extension for Chrome and FirefoxNo

On the features front, IPVanish supports more platforms than TunnelBear and offers unlimited simultaneous connections compared to TunnelBear’s five. Allowing unlimited simultaneous connections is not something you see very often.

TunnelBear provides more extra features to its users, like browser extensions and ad blocking. But IPVanish supports manual configurations for Linux and routers, while TunnelBear does not. So things even out in the end.

Both providers also support split tunneling. But with IPVanish, it’s only supported on Android and FireTV. TunnelBear supports the feature through what it calls Splitbear, and both providers have implemented the feature differently. With IPVanish, you select which apps go through the VPN and which ones go through your ISP connection. With TunnelBear, you specify a list of websites that will go through your ISP connection instead of the VPN, so it’s a bit more limited compared to IPVanish.

Speed

SpeedTunnelBearIPVanish
North America434 Mbps580 Mbps
Europe406 Mbps456 Mbps
Asia266 Mbps352 Mbps
Global368 Mbps463 Mbps

Looking at the numbers above, IPVanish has a slight edge over Tunnelbear in terms of speed – it scores higher in all regions. But the difference in speed isn’t night and day. Tunnelbear’s speeds are still very good and will be fast enough for the vast majority of users. While IPVanish got better results in its speed tests, both providers provide excellent speeds. You’re unlikely to feel a speed hit from either provider in your everyday online activities.

Check out our list of the fastest VPNs for the top-performers in this category.

Streaming capabilities

 TunnelBearIPVanish
Streaming service
NetflixNoUS
HuluNoNo
Sky GoNoNo
Amazon Prime VideoYesNo
BBC iPlayerNoNo
ABCNoNo
CBSNoNo
NBCNoNo
ITV HubYesNo
Channel 4 (All 4)YesNo
HBO MaxNoYes

Neither of these providers offers anything to write home about regarding streaming. Both support streaming, but their support is limited to just a few services.

Using TunnelBear, we could only access Amazon Prime Video, All4, and ITV Hub. That’s far from the best we’ve seen. IPVanish was able to access Netflix US and HBO Max. So if streaming over VPN is important to you, you may want to skip over both of these providers.

China

IPVanish used to work in China using a manual connection rather than the official IPVanish app. But China is actively blocking IPVanish IP addresses, and the company now states that even a manual connection is unlikely to be successful. So if you’re looking to use a VPN from China, IPVanish won’t be your best bet.

TunnelBear, on the other hand, claims to work in China. It manages to bypass the Great Firewall by using an obfuscation feature it calls GhostBear. GhostBear “disguises” your VPN traffic to make it look like ordinary non-VPN traffic to avoid being blocked. It should be noted that GhostBear is only available for macOS, Windows, and Android. iOS users should look elsewhere.

Take a look at our list of VPN providers that work in China.

Setup and interface

 TunnelBearIPVanish
Automatic setup wizardWindows, macOS, Android, iOSWindows, macOS, Android, iOS, ChromeOS, Amazon Fire TV
Main location selection List-basedList-based
Extra settings pages YesYes
Mobile friendly YesYes

Both providers’ desktop apps are well-designed and intuitive. Greener VPN users shouldn’t feel intimidated by either one.

IPVanish’s app is easy to navigate and understand, with navigation icons on the left side of the app. Server selection is list-based; you can choose your server by country or city. You can create a subset of your favorite servers or let the app connect you to the fastest server automatically.

IPVanish - App - Servers

TunnelBear’s desktop app is very user-friendly – even more so than IPVanish. It also displays navigation icons on the left side of the app, and its approach to server selection is list-based as well. TunnelBear also provides the option of connecting to the fastest server available automatically.

TunnelBear - App - Servers

Though they have different looks, both apps are pretty similar.

Both apps allow you to customize your settings. But there’s nothing too technical in either app’s Settings page.

IPVanish - App - Settings
IPVanish app settings
TunnelBear - App - Settings
TunnelBear app settings

Both IPVanish and TunnelBear make mobile apps for iOS and Android. And both providers’ mobile apps are well-designed and intuitive, like their desktop counterparts, but designed for smaller screens.

IPVanish - App - Mobile
IPVanish mobile app
TunnelBear - App - Mobile
TunnelBear mobile app

Servers and performance

 TunnelBearIPVanish
Server countries4875+
Total number of serversUndisclosed2000+

While TunnelBear doesn’t disclose the actual number of servers it hosts, we can still see that IPVanish’s VPN network is larger. So if you prefer VPN providers with massive networks, IPVanish would probably be your choice here.

Below is a table listing all the countries where each provider hosts VPN servers:

 TunnelBearIPVanish
Andorra
Albania
Argentina
Australia
Austria
Algeria
Armenia
Australia
Bahamas
Belarus
Belgium
Bangladesh
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Brazil
Bulgaria
Cambodia
Canada
Chile
China
Colombia
Costa Rica
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Egypt
Estonia
Finland
France
Georgia
Germany
Greece
Greeland
Hong Kong
Hungary
Iceland
India
Indonesia
Iran
Ireland
Isle of Man
Israel
Italy
Japan
Kazakhstan
Kenya
Latvia
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Macau
Macedonia
Malaysia
Malta
Mexico
Moldova
Monaco
Mongolia
Montenegro
Morocco
Netherlands
New Zealand
Nigeria
Norway
Pakistan
Panama
Peru
Philippines
Poland
Portugal
Qatar
Romania
Russia
Saudi Arabia
Serbia
Singapore
Slovakia
Slovenia
South Africa
South Korea
Spain
Sri Lanka
Sweden
Switzerland
Taiwan
Thailand
Turkey
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States
Ukraine
Venezuela
Vietnam

TunnelBear VS IPVanish security

 TunnelBearIPVanish
VPN protocolsOpenVPN, WireGuard, IKEv2, IPsecOpenVPN, WireGuard, IKEv2, L2TP/IPsec
OpenVPN data encryption AES-256AES-256
OpenVPN control channel encryptionRSA-4096RSA-4096
Cloaking technologyNoneNone
App securityKill switchKill switch
DNS statusPrivate DNSPrivate DNS

Both providers support IKEv2, OpenVPN, and WireGuard – all considered very secure. And both also rely on 256-bit AES encryption with 4096-bit RSA keys for OpenVPN and IKEv2. WireGuard uses different ciphers, which are also deemed very secure. TunnelBear also supports IPsec while IPVanish also supports L2TP/IPsec, but I’d stick with either IKEv2, OpenVPN, or WireGuard.

TunnelBear - IPVanish - Encryption

Again, both providers provide a kill switch in their apps and use their own DNS servers within the VPN tunnel. It’s a draw regarding security.

Privacy

 TunnelBearIPVanish
HQ baseCanadaUnited States
Connection logsSomeSome
Activity logsNoneNone
User details for sign-upEmail addressEmail address
Anonymous payment optionsBitcoinNo

IPVanish is based in the United States, which can be problematic for some. While there aren’t any mandatory data retention laws in the US, the country is part of the Five Eyes. So the “privacy-first” VPN crowd may be put off. Thankfully, IPVanish has an excellent privacy policy and actively strives to collect as little data on its users as possible. It also owns and maintains all of its VPN infrastructure, which can be a plus for privacy and security. I wouldn’t have a problem signing up for its service.

TunnelBear, for its part, is based in Canada, another Five Eyes nation. Also, contrary to what some might believe, Canada is not the best jurisdiction for data privacy. In recent years, the Canadian government has passed legislation giving it the authority to collect all sorts of data on its citizens. But TunnelBear’s privacy policy is also robust, and you can sign-up with a disposable email (as you could with IPVanish) and pay using bitcoin.

Configuration

 TunnelBearIPVanish
Address allocationSharedShared
Static IP address possibleNoNo
DDoS protectionNoNo
Ad & malware blocking YesNo

Shared IP addresses are the norm in the commercial VPN space, and there’s a good reason for that: they’re better for user privacy. With a shared IP address, all users connected to a specific VPN server obtain the same IP address. And because all users have the same IP, it’s much more difficult to correlate the server’s traffic to any specific VPN user.

As they should, both IPVanish and TunnelBear provide shared IP addresses to their users on all servers. However, only TunnelBear provides its users with an ad blocker. TunnelBear’s ad blocking works through DNS blackholing. As you access sites on the internet, your DNS requests are referenced against a blocklist of known ad networks. Whenever your device issues a request that matches the blocklist, that connection gets blocked. I use DNS blackholing all the time.

Customer service

 TunnelBearIPVanish
Live chatNoNo
Ticket supportNoNo
Email supportYesYes
Average email response time9 hours38 minutes
Phone supportNoNo
Searchable knowledge baseYesYes
Video guidesNoNo

IPVanish and Tunnel provide email support only. Both providers’ websites also include a searchable knowledge base and several FAQs. The most common questions users are likely to have are answered in the FAQs.

To test each provider’s response time with Support emails, we sent them each three questions in three separate emails. The first two questions are pretty generic and probably get asked very often. So for those questions, we’re expecting canned responses – and there’s nothing wrong with that. The third question is purposefully more challenging to answer and requires an understanding of how VPNs work to answer it. We also wanted to assess how knowledgeable each provider’s representatives are.

The results are below:

TunnelBear   
QuestionInitial response timeNumber of emailsQuestion answered
What kind of logs does TunnelBear keep?111Yes
TunnelBear on a DD-WRT router?91Yes
What's the difference between the TunnelBear app and the browser extension?71Yes
IPVanish   
QuestionInitial response timeNumber of emailsQuestion answered
What kind of logs does IPVanish keep?31 minutes1Yes
IPVanish on a DD-WRT router?46 minutes1Yes
What is the difference between the IPSec and IKEv2 Protocols?37 minutes1Yes

All of my emails were answered by both providers. And they both provided answers that were polite, informative, and to the point. But IPVanish replied to my inquiries much faster than TunnelBear. TunnelBear nonetheless replied in under 24 hours (and even under 12 hours), so I still consider that excellent support.

They both also asked me if there was anything else they could help me with in each response. And they both sent follow-up emails to rate my experience with their respective cupport departments. So, in my view, both providers offer excellent support – though IPVanish was quicker.

The winner: IPVanish

IPVanish

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website: www.IPVanish.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

IPVanish - Winner

IPVanish and TunnelBear are on equal footing in most categories in this comparative review. And neither of them has very good streaming support. So if streaming is a big thing for you, neither of these providers will be of much help. Still, I could easily recommend signing up for either of these providers. But since I have to choose one, it’s going to be IPVanish – and for a few reasons.

  1. IPVanish’s service is faster overall. It’s not that TunnelBear is slow by any measure, just slower than IPVanish.
  2. IPVanish is also cheaper (on longer-term plans).
  3. IPVanish’s VPN network is larger than TunnelBear’s network.
  4. Both providers offered excellent user support, but IPVanish’s response time was significantly lower than TunnelBear.
  5. IPVanish allows for unlimited simultaneous connections.

But that’s not to say that TunnelBear doesn’t have any standout features – it does. TunnelBear provides its users with an ad blocker and also accepts Bitcoin payments. It’s just that these minor differences aren’t enough to put TunnelBear over the edge.

Again, these are two excellent VPN providers, and you could do much worse than either of them.

See also: