PureVPN vs TunnelBear VPN: Security, Privacy and Pricing Comparison 2020
Where PureVPN is famed as a budget-friendly yet value-driven service, TunnelBear is a favorite among freebies for quite some time now.
Today, we will compare the two services’ “premium” offerings to determine, which provider offers better incentives to users.
So, without further ado, check out this in-depth PureVPN Vs TunnelBear comparison analysis, where we compare the two on various factors:
Pricing and Discounts
In terms of pricing, you have multiple options available with either provider. Albeit, TunnelBear follows a “freemium” pricing model, so its offerings do include a “free” version as well.
|Highest price per month||$10.95||$9.99|
|Lowest price per month||$1.65||$4.99|
As far as money back’s are concerned, PureVPN offers a 31-day refund guarantee. Meanwhile, TunnelBear used to offer a 30-day refund, but it has canceled this feature as of recent.
PureVPN gains an upper hand over TunnelBear in terms of features. It stands as a innovator and influencer, thanks to its many advanced technologies for security and privacy.
TunnelBear also offers the compatibility of the same app, excluding a dedicated add-on for Kodi. At the same time, it lacks many useful features available with PureVPN that are necessary for VPN users.
They do offer split tunneling (nicknamed as “VigilantBear”) on all apps, which is quite useful. Apart from that, they have a GhostBear feature that grants more security (I will elaborate about it below).
As compared to these minimal features, PureVPN offers dedicated IPs, ad/tracker blockers, malware scanners, NAT firewall, and a myriad of other technologies to boost your security and privacy.
Since TunnelBear is famed among “freebies”, I did not expect much in the way of unblocking streaming platforms. My assumptions proved true, after testing their free and premium version on different sites.
The VPN failed on unblocking Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Voot, Hotstar, Disney Plus, and other popular sites. As such, it may not be the best option for users, who want a VPN for streaming.
PureVPN, on the other hand, defied all odds to deliver excellent unblocking capabilities. The VPN uses strong obfuscation technologies for bypassing geo-restrictions around the world.
Testing it on different streaming platforms revealed that the provider faced no issues in unblocking popular services on all of its apps. These include their “browser extensions” too.
Not many providers can claim they can unblock VoDs like Netflix through a Chrome or Mozilla extension. However, PureVPN makes this possible, giving it an edge over other providers.
It also gives users a “popular websites” option across all devices that lists all famous streaming sites. Simply click on the channel you want to unblock, and get access to it instantly, minus any hassles.
The “Great Firewall” in China deploys various VPN blocking techniques like Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) attacks, DNS Hijacking, DNS Poisoning, and Blackholing VPN servers that make bypassing geo-restrictions incredibly difficult.
Sadly, TunnelBear offered no incentives to expats or residents in China. You do not have a mirror website available for downloading their apps in the country, and neither do you have Chinese servers available.
The provider does offer a “GhostBear” feature that uses obfuscation on servers using the TCP protocol over port 443 to cloak the VPN connection as regular “HTTPS” traffic, but this proved ineffective in our tests.
Meanwhile, PureVPN worked better for both: Chinese expats and residents. It offers a mirror website and is the only provider in the marketplace that offers 12 Chinese servers (6 in Beijing and 6 in Shanghai).
Setup and Interface
Best part of all; the ease-of-use and intuitiveness does not get compromised on small or larger screens. PureVPN remains consistent in excellent user-friendliness across all devices.
The desktop apps have a design that caters to both rookies and experts. The mobile apps adopt a darker appearance with easy accessibility of servers, features, and configurations.
Meanwhile, the browser extensions are just as amazing, and even give users the ability of unblocking streaming platforms like Netflix from directly within the browser.
TunnelBear does not offer the same level of apps compatibility. You do have desktop, mobile, and browser apps, but support for Fire TVs, Apple TVs, and Kodi are missing.
As far as design is concerned, all the clients look great and tend to be “fun to use”. In comparison to PureVPN, their clients are filled with amusing bear graphics and bear joes.
The “General” tab gives options related to the VPN client like “run when computer starts”, meanwhile the “Security” tab gives access to features like the “VigilantBear” and “GhostBear”.
All in all, the VPN apps of both providers are quite amazing, but in terms of “appearance”, TunnelBear definitely gains the upperhand among varied services in the marketplace.
|Total Number of Servers||2,000||1,000|
As compared to PureVPN, the Canadian-based TunnelBear falls awfully short in numbers, based on overall network infrastructure. They only have 1,000 servers in a limited 23 countries worldwide.
Meanwhile, PureVPN has a larger network of 2,000+ servers in 140+ countries around the world. This makes it the only VPN that offers support in so many locations worldwide.
Therefore, it is not a difficult challenge to determine a winner in this aspect. TunnelBear has to improve its server count massively, if it wants to compete with premium servers.
I also performed a speed analysis on both providers to ease the decision-making process for users. The process involved testing different servers for all internet-related activities.
These include simply browsing the internet, playing online games, downloading torrent files, or streaming on sites like Netflix. For the task, we picked up 4 random servers from Pure and TunnelBear.
Locations included Canada, USA, UK, and France. In bare speed tests on a 100 Mbps connection, PureVPN managed to deliver an average of 91 mbps in uploads and downloads, indicating a speed loss of 9%.
Meanwhile, Tunnelbear recorded an average speed of 70 Mbps in upload and downloads, indicating a speed loss of 30%. It is safe to say, PureVPN wins this aspect by a huge margin!
|VPN Protocols||PPTP, L2TP, IPSec, IKEv2, OpenVPN||L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2, OpenVPN|
|OpenVPN Data Encryption||AES-256-CBC||AES-256|
|OpenVPN Control Channel Encryption||RSA-4096||RSA-2048|
|App Security||Kill Switch and DNS Leak Protection||VigilantBear and GhostBear|
|DNS Status||Private DNS||Private DNS|
PureVPN offers support for a huge range of protocols. This includes PPTP, L2TP, IKEv2, SSTP, and OpenVPN (TCP and UDP) to give users of all kinds freedom of choice.
As default though, PureVPN deploys the OpenVPN protocol on all devices, with the exception of iOS devices that use the IKEv2 protocol for faster speeds and security.
For encryption, the provider utilizes AES-256-CBC cipher with HMAC SHA1 hash authentication for the data channel, which is quite impressive and highly-secure.
Meanwhile, it deploys the AES-256-CBC cipher with HMAC SHA384 hash authentication and RSA-4096 handshake encryption for the control channel.
Not many providers have shifted to RSA-4096, but PureVPN is among the few that have. Therefore, it gains an edge over other providers in the marketplace.
This includes TunnelBear too, which only supports three protocols; OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, and IKEv2. Similar to PureVPN, it uses OpenVPN as default on all devices.
iOS users get the choice of either utilizing the IKEv2 or L2TP/IPSec protocol. Encryption is provided with AES-256 ciphers, but some apps may use the older 128-bit encryption and SHA-1 for data authentication.
To get a better idea on the app security, I conducted a leak test on PureVPN and TunnelBear. The process involved the usage of 6 different tools to check for;
WebRTC and HTTP Request Leaks:
IPv4/IPv6 and Torrent IP Leaks:
PureVPN aced all the tests from the 6 different tools above and did not reveal our original IP, DNS, or WebRTC information. TunnelBear, also was free from IP leaks on IPv4 and IPv6.
However, when using IPv6, the tools did detect WebRTC leaks on both Windows and Mac apps. A simple solution to this is disabling IPv6 connections on your device.
|Headquarters||British Virgin Islands||Canada|
|Sign Up Information||Email Address||Email Address|
|Anonymous Payment Methods||Monero, Dash, Gridcoin, Rpple, ZCaas, Ehterum, Litecoin, Bitcoin, and more||None|
One glimpse at the above table and it becomes clear that PureVPN gains an edge over TunnelBear in terms of overall privacy. It is based in British Virgin Islands, away from the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances.
TunnelBear, on the other hand, has its headquarters in Canada. As you probably know, Canada is a founding member of the Five Eyes, and indulges in mass surveillance and data retention.
If it receives a gag order accompanied by a subpoena, the VPN may have to comply with legal requests from the government. As such, there is always a risk of trusting the provider.
Not to mention, TunnelBear also does not support a huge range of cryptocurrencies, except for Bitcoin. Meanwhile, PureVPN supports over 250+ options, thanks to the introduction of PaymentWall.
As far as logging is concerned, both providers did store logs initially, but have now joined the ranks of logless VPN services. PureVPN was recently audited by AltiusIT.
Meanwhile, TunnelBear has undergone two security audits over the years, both conducted by Cure53. You can see the results from the independent audits here.
|Static IPs||7+ Countries||No|
In terms of configuration, PureVPN once again gains an upperhand over TunnelBear. This is because the Canadian-based provider only supports a shared infrastructure with dynamic IPs available.
PureVPN, on the other hand, offers more incentive to its users, supporting both; a shared and static infrastructure. They have dedicated IPs available in more than 7+ countries worldwide.
|Searchable Knowledge Base||Yes||Yes|
|Average Email Response Time||39 Minutes||1 Hour|
|Live Chat Support||Yes||No|
PureVPN and TunnelBear both offer support in the form of live chat, video guides, knowledge base, FAQs, email, and tickets. All of these are good options to receive support.
The second best option for most is email support. So, I went a little further with my testing to analyze the response times from both providers as well.
Below you can see the stats of both providers on the basis of four different questions.
|Question||Initial Response Time||Number of Emails||Question Answered|
|Is PureVPN good for Torrenting?||25 Minutes||1||Yes|
|Does PureVPN work with Netflix?||39 Minutes||1||Yes|
|Can I Install PureVPN on LibreELEC||50 Minutes||1||Yes|
|How to setup PureVPN on Firestick?||44 Minutes||1||Yes|
|Question||Initial Response Time||Number of Emails||Question Answered|
|Is TunnelBear safe for the dark web?||1 Hour||1||Yes|
|How do I cancel my TunnelBear subscription?||48 Minutes||1||Yes|
|Does TunnelBear work for Netflix?||52 Minutes||1||Yes|
|Who owns the TunnelBear VPN?||59 Minutes||1||Yes|
Undoubtedly, PureVPN wins the title in the list of top VPN comparison, due to its larger server infrastructure, ability to bypass the GFW in China, Netflix unblocking capabilities, and zero leak issues.
TunnelBear is a good service too, but the Canadian headquarters, leak issues, poor server count, and lack of unblocking capabilities mean the VPN has a long way to go.