TunnelBear and ExpressVPN are top VPN providers famous for two things: security and privacy you desperately need when online. What sets them apart?
TunnelBear features easy-to-use client software. Plus, it offers a limited free plan; you start off with 500MB per month restricted to one device. Thus, an attractive option for first-time VPN users.
ExpressVPN is a reliable VPN service, with great privacy protections and breakneck speeds. While the VPN doesn’t offer a free trial, it comes with a no-risk 30-day money-back guarantee.
One of the best ways to find a VPN that works for you is to try out a few. And we did that for you.
How to Choose a VPN
It’s good practice to use a VPN service to conceal your internet goings-on from prying eyes. As such, you need to find a reliable and trustworthy VPN.
With throngs of VPNs out there, finding one that works for you might be challenging. So, which VPN to use?
In this review, we take you through the 10 most essential categories to consider when researching any VPN. To mention a few, we take into account company-logging policies, as well as privacy and security requisites for each one.
Plus, we test connection speeds for uploads and downloads across local and international servers. Yes, we also checked for leaks.
What’s more, we checked the prices, with not only the charge but how you can pay. For example, can you pay privately using Bitcoin. As well, we consider the available money-back warranties.
We further look at the features provided to help us declare a winner. Now, let delve into this head-to-head contest.
To determine both providers’ connection speed, we use a few exhaustive tests and a couple of locations (UK and US). We first logged into several OpenVPN-enabled servers in the US and recorded the initial connection times.
Then, we ran several ping tests to check for latency and performed some geolocation tests to establish if the servers are in the advertised countries. We ran the tests thrice, 8 hours apart.
Local Connection Speeds (U.S.)
Our best median speeds for TunnelBear were around 53Mbps. Not the fastest speeds, but way above the typical download speeds of 25 Mbps and up. ExpressVPN’s gave us impressive connection speeds, posting an imposing 210 Mbps.
Local Connection Speed Winner: ExpressVPN
International Connection Speeds (US to the UK)
For TunnelBear, our nearest UK server provided 58 Mbps, that’s about 3% down our speeds without VPN. ExpressVPN performed very well, managing close to 69 Mbps.
International Connection Speed Winner: ExpressVPN
While TunnelBear doesn’t offer any designated money-back guarantee, users get to enjoy one limited free account. A free account grants you 500 MB of data per month, and that’s enough to establish if it fills the bill.
Even so, you’ll want to upgrade to a paid account for extra premium features, such as unlimited data and multiple concurrent connections.
Its monthly plan sets you back $9.99 per month. However, the price drops to $ 4.99 a month if you’re willing to commit to their one-year plan. The VPN provider accepts Bitcoin, Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.
ExpressVPN is among the most expensive VPN services in the market. Quality comes at a price. Right? The VPN offers three standard subscription plans. The month-to-month plan costs $12.95, a six-month plan cost $ 9.99, while a 12-month plan costs $8.32.
ExpressVPN accepts Bitcoin and Paypal as well as all major debit and credit cards. The VPN provides a fuss-free 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans.
Pricing Winner: TunnelBear
TunnelBear is a McAfree-owned, Canadian-based company. The VPN provider doesn’t collect IP addresses. For this reason, the company can’t link you to an internet activity.
The VPN only connects ‘operational data,’ which includes your Tunnelbear version, your device’s OS version, and the bandwidth used. All these can’t be linked to your online activity.
In one of our tests, TunnelBears’s Windows app provided positive results. There were no WebRTC or DNS leaks to expose your identity. Similarly, the VigilantBear kill switch instantly prevented access to the internet when the VPN connection dropped.
ExpressVPN is located in the British Virgin Islands, which isn’t part of the ‘14 Eyes.’ The country regulates its own affairs and the USA and the UK can’t compel the company to provide any data.
According to the company, the VPN provider doesn’t and will never log DNS queries, traffic data, or anything that can identify you. As such, it has a true zero-logs policy.
Moreover, the company provides a clearly-explained statement about what they collect, what they don’t, and what it means to you.
Privacy Winner: ExpressVPN
Among the features to inspect include the platforms and OS each VPN covers, as well as the aspects built in their clients.
ExpressVPN and TunnelBear share several similarities in the features they provide. The two come with 256-bit encryption, unlimited bandwidth, with no DNS leaks. Similarly, both VPNs perform smoothly and don’t keep logs of user activity.
Both VPN providers offer easy-to-use clients for all major platforms, including macOS, Windows, Android, and iOS.
The two contestants provide reliable security, but ExpressVPN delivers a higher level of online anonymity. Even more, both providers offer a kill switch, as well as tools to protect you from tracking by third parties.
Both VPN options also let you use split tunneling, which allows particular applications to bypass the VPN.
Want to read the full reviews? We hope the below information will provide you enough of a basis to decide which of these two rivals best meets your VPN needs.
Netizens who care so much about their online security might want to consider the winner in this bout their best option. But wait, there’s still more that should determine your VPN choice.
For both VPNs, we didn’t find any data sipping through cracks when we tested for IP address leaks and DNS leaks.
TunnelBear uses 256-bit encryption, with OpenVPN and IPSec/IKEv2. The VigilantBear mode acts like a kill switch. It prevents unprotected data from exiting your network if your VPN connection drops.
ExpressVPN uses the solid AES-256-CBC, with OpenVPN and PPTP and L2TP/IPSec to encrypt your connections, and HMAC to protect your regular data from being manipulated in real time. The company also uses a 4096-bit SHA-512 RSA certificate to control its channel.
On the same note, the VPN comes with Perfect Forward Secrecy, providing an extra layer of fortification by allocating a new secret key every time you connect, which it replaces every 6 minutes.
Encryption Winner: ExpressVPN
If you run a small office, or own several devices or have a family, you’d want a VPN that lets you connect multiple gadgets simultaneously. Some VPN providers only allow one connection at a time; as such, you’ll need to kick off one device to create room for another. That’s not the case with our two contestants.
TunnelBear’s free plan gives you 500MB of data per month, limited to one connection. The good thing, the premium plan lets you connect up to 5 devices at the same time. This can be a combination of mobile devices, computers, and browser extensions.
With one ExpressVPN account, you can connect up to five devices at a go. This can be a combination of Kindle Fire, router, computers, or any other device.
What’s more, if you need to connect more than 5 devices simultaneously, you can share your connection from a Mac or Windows computer. Better yet, you can configure a VPN router and protect as many devices as you wish.
Simultaneous Connections Winner: Tied
TunnelBear used to block P2P connections, but that seems to have changed. While there’s not much information about torrent support on their website, now you can use the VPN to download torrents.
TunnelBear supports torrents and the use of a TOR network. Wherever their locations are, P2P file sharing is allowed, but specific tunnels are recommended. These include the US, Canada, Romania, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, and the UK.
ExpressVPN supports torrents, without the typical hassles often associated with other VPN providers. For instance, torrentors aren’t forced onto a lesser number of servers that are full of traffic. As such, you can choose from the VPN’s complete list of locations.
The company doesn’t limit bandwidth or cap data or throttle connections. There are also no transfer-related catches.
Not to mention that ExpressVPN securely supports uTorrent and other BitTorrent clients. Thanks to the provider’s DNS protected servers that keep your P2P sharing and torrenting activity under wraps.
Torrent Support Winner: ExpressVPN
Global Server Coverage
When reviewing VPNs, I often consider the number of servers it offers and the location of those servers. While this isn’t a strong indicator of network quality, I believe that having a diverse distribution of servers is better.
TunnelBear isn’t famous for having numerous servers, but they’ve carefully chosen their locations so that you can access virtually any content on the internet.
At the moment, TunnelBear has servers scattered across 23 countries around the globe. The servers are located in Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Oceania. The good news is that it slowly but steadily introduces new locations and expanding its server network.
ExpressVPN has over 3,000 servers spread across 160 locations in 94 countries. The VPN provider also performs well in geographical diversity, with great coverage across South America.
The company provides one of the best coverage in the US, with over 20 servers in more than 15 cities. Yep, four of its locations are in Africa.
Global Server Coverage Winner: ExpressVPN
TunnelBear provides apps for macOS, Windows, iOS, Android. AS well, there are browser extensions for Firefox, Chrome, and Opera. There’s no support for game consoles, smart TVs, Windows mobile devices, and Kindle/eReaders.
TunnelBear only offers limited support for Linux and doesn’t support routers. For the reason that TunnelBear doesn’t provide OpenVPN setup files to be used with routers.
ExpressVPN works on macOS, Windows, iOS, Android, Linux, Android TV, and routers. It also provides Firefox and Chrome extensions, allowing you to control the client straight from your browser. Unlike most VPN providers, the extensions aren’t just proxies.
The VPN offers a browser-based interface for your Mac, Linux, or Windows client. And can only work when installed. And that’s a good thing for your security.
Multi-Platform Support Winner: ExpressVPN
TunnelBear features a web-based help site. On the website, information is presented clearly, with large icons directing you to fundamental areas, such as Troubleshooting.
While the provider’s knowledge base doesn’t pack lots of content, the basic articles give you a good range of information. But if you can find help this way, there’s a Contact page that lets you send a message to the customer support team.
TunnelBear responded to my email in two hours. While their reply was helpful and polite, I still prefer the choice of getting instant answers via live chat.
ExpressVPN’s support site provides loads of helpful troubleshooting guides. The guides address vital areas, including slow speeds, error messages, connection drops, and account deactivation.
The VPN’s setup articles are well-written, with several tutorials covering different platforms. However, if the website doesn’t help, contact ExpressVPN’s customer support team via a 24/7 live chat, or shoot them an email. In our test, the live chat performed very well. I got an in-depth reply in under a minute.
Customer Support Winner: ExpressVPN
We Have a Winner!
TunnelBear is a trustworthy VPN that works hard to provide its users with a secure, affordable product, with a robust backbone. It deserves a lot of credit.
In this battle, TunnelBear won only in the pricing category. The two VPNs tied in simultaneous connections.
ExpressVPN came top, winning most vital categories, including privacy, global server coverage, torrent support, connection speed, and customer support. As such, ExpressVPN looks like the best option for most of your VPN needs.