With a great VPN, you can have access to a whole new digital universe. You can have better privacy, torrent securely, bypass any geographic restrictions on websites, and watch your favorite international shows.
While the primary purpose of a VPN was for data protection, most people pay a small monthly fee to access websites, movies, and videos around the world.
As virtual private networks’ popularity has increased over the past couple of decades, more and more companies are coming out with their own VPN type.
Two of the more popular options are ExpressVPN and TunnelBear, but which one is better?
ExpressVPN vs TunnelBear: quick comparison
|3rd party audit||Yes, by PwC||Yes, by Cure53|
|RAM-only servers||Yes, all servers||No|
|Advanced features||Kill Switch|
|Servers network||3000 servers in|
|1800 servers in|
|Streaming and P2P||Yes,|
in the mobile app
in the mobile app
|invpn.com rating||4.5 / 5.0||3.8 / 5.0|
|Full review||ExpressVPN Review||TunnelBear Review|
|Get ExpressVPN||Get TunnelBear|
In the eleven years that ExpressVPN has been active, it has acquired millions of users worldwide. They currently have over 3,000 servers in 94 countries, which provide speedy internet for people worldwide.
ExpressVPN’s users are from almost 200 countries. To provide each of them with fast connections, the company continues to add new servers weekly.
Besides providing privacy and security to millions, ExpressVPN supports multiple nonprofit organizations like the Internet Defense League, OpenMedia, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Ryan Dochuk and Daniel Kaldor started TunnelBear VPN in 2011, two years after ExpressVPN got its start. Over the past decade, the company has gained millions of clients.
While they are popular, TunnelBear does not have as many server locations as ExpressVPN. They have not disclosed the exact number of servers they offer, but they spread the servers across 23 countries.
Both VPN options work to protect your privacy and provide you with stellar features.
If you are trying to decide between ExpressVPN or TunnelBear, they may seem quite equal at first glance. However, we will look at each feature individually to determine which VPN is the clear winner.
Let’s start with ExpressVPN. Their base is in the British Virgin Islands, which means excellent privacy protection for you. The islands have no requirements for data retention, and they have impressive privacy legislation.
TunnelBear does not have as much privacy protection because its base is in Canada. While the country does offer more security than other Western nations, they don’t provide quite as much freedom as the British Virgin Islands.
Thankfully, the government has no requirements for ISPs to track customer’s data. Many groups continue fighting for maintained internet privacy, but new legislation could remove much of the current protection.
In 2019, ExpressVPN announced that it would release its security audits and allow people to open-source their browser extension.
They had Cure53, a cybersecurity firm, do an audit on ExpressVPN’s privacy in October 2018. In this audit, they found eight issues ranked from purely informational to medium concern. ExpressVPN quickly resolved them, and Cure53 stated that the company provides adequate security and privacy to its customers.
With the new open-sourcing of their ExpressVPN browser extension, anyone can run the same audit done by Cure53.
Both the open-sourcing and regular audits show that ExpressVPN has incredible transparency and offers continued excellence in privacy and protection.
Does TunnelBear offer the same level of transparency?
TunnelBear has a three-pronged transparency policy. First, they don’t collect data. Then, if they receive a request, TunnelBear only processes the minimum amount of information necessary. Their third policy is to then share those data requests with their customers for increased transparency.
According to TunnelBear’s data, they received four requests for data from April 1 to September 30, 2018. They provided no data usage information and only confirmed that one person had an account. In the following year, they got 10 data requests and turned over no information.
In addition to this open policy, TunnelBear has annual audits with Cure53, like ExpressVPN. In 2019, the audit showed 12 issues ranging from information to critical importance. TunnelBear corrected those issues immediately, and Cure53 had positive comments about the company.
Overall, both VPN companies strive for complete transparency. The audits showed ExpressVPN received a better score than TunnelBear, but both companies offer significant privacy and transparency.
Browser Extensions and Native Apps
Both ExpressVPN and TunnelBear have browser extensions and extensive application support.
ExpressVPN offers extensions for Chrome and Firefox, while TunnelBear accommodates Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.
In terms of native apps, TunnelBear only offers Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android applications. ExpressVPN supports all those platforms, plus Linux, Chromebook, and Kindle Fire.
As an added plus, ExpressVPN has a unique application for your router, smart TVs, and extensive manuals for game consoles.
In this category, ExpressVPN and TunnelBear are relatively even. With all of ExpressVPN’s payment plans, you can connect five devices simultaneously.
TunnelBear offers separate plans with unique features for each one. The free program is only for one device, but you can also connect five devices per user with both paid programs.
Of course, you can install these VPNs on as many electronic devices as you would like, but make sure only five are active at once.
Advanced VPN Features
When it comes to protecting your privacy, the more features a VPN has, the better. Many of the top virtual network providers include extensive elements that add an extra level of security.
Whether you’re interested in TunnelBear or ExpressVPN, consider all the features they offer and ensure each one can provide the security you need.
With ExpressVPN, you get access to plenty of high-quality features.
While we would love to have a constant internet connection, that is not always an option. Connectivity failures happen. However, if you are using a VPN when there is a connection failure, what happens to your data?
If you have a kill switch, your information is still protected.
The ExpressVPN kill switch is called the Network Lock. In the case of a connection failure, it stops traffic, so none of your data will travel unencrypted.
As soon as you turn the VPN on, the Network Lock also activates and keeps protecting you when you close your laptop, turn your internet off, or change your network.
If you have ever become frustrated that you can’t stream a movie from another country while accessing local websites, you need split tunneling.
This feature lets you choose which traffic passes through the VPN encryption and which doesn’t.
ExpressVPN offers split tunneling for Mac, Windows, and Android devices. You can also use it with the router app.
Encryption and Protocols
Like many VPNs, ExpressVPN utilizes the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)-256. The number 256 refers to how many possible combinations there are. The number is incredibly large, with 75 digits. With so many possibilities, programs with this type of encryption are still impossible to decode.
In addition to the AES-256 encryption, ExpressVPN also offers various VPN protocols for advanced security. The most common one is OpenVPN, which includes the UDP and TCP versions. You can also opt for IKEv2 and L2TP.
However, the best option is to choose the Automatic Protocol, which lets ExpressVPN decide which one will maximize your system’s maximum security and speed.
ExpressVPN does not keep any record of your data and run on RAM-only servers.
TunnelBear’s features are very similar to those of ExpressVPN.
While TunnelBear doesn’t call it a kill switch, they do have the capability to protect your data in case of a connection failure.
You can choose between the VigilantBear and the GhostBear for continued protection, even if your VPN server loses connection.
The VigilantBear stops your traffic to avoid any data leaks, then restores the traffic once the server has regained connection.
If you would like to continue working or surfing the web, even if your VPN is down, you can opt for GhostBear. This feature makes your encrypted data appear like standard information.
With the feature called SplitBear, you can decide which apps require VPN protection. This split tunneling only works on Android devices.
All you have to do is activate the SplitBear feature then choose the apps that the VPN can bypass.
Encryption and Protocols
Like ExpressVPN, TunnelBear uses the AES-256 encryption, which is the standard for worldwide security experts.
In addition to the encryption, TunnelBear offers data authentication to prevent Man-in-the-Middle Attacks. Essentially, any data you send from your computer or want to receive from a website passes through an authentication step for added security.
TunnelBear provides two VPN protocol options: OpenVPN and IKEv2. However, if you are using the virtual private network on your macOS or Android, you will need the OpenVPN, which is known for its high-security level.
Streaming and Torrenting
If you want a VPN to stream your favorite shows and participate in peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing, ExpressVPN is clearly the better choice here.
With ExpressVPN, you can watch movies and shows on Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney +, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. With just a few complaints about a loss in connection, this VPN service is a great streaming option.
Unfortunately, while TunnelBear used to work with Netflix and other streaming services, the VPN no longer works with these sites.
Just like with streaming, ExpressVPN includes P2P sharing as the norm in all of its packages. You can use any of their servers and download torrents with absolutely no data cap.
TunnelBear also offers torrenting. It might be best to take extra precautions to protect yourself while downloading torrents with TunnelBear. Turn on your VigilantBear to protect yourself from any data leaks.
One of the most important factors of a VPN service is the speed. Numerous factors can affect your connection and downloading speed, from how many devices in your home are connected and how far away the VPN server is.
However, with a top-notch VPN service, you will still get incredible speeds even when you connect five devices in your home to the VPN server.
How do ExpressVPN and TunnelBear compare in speed?
While the speed of both companies is adequate for most users, ExpressVPN definitely wins this round. They arguably offer some of the quickest connection speeds available, a must for streaming and torrenting.
Since TunnelBear doesn’t have streaming features, the slower speed may not be a problem until you try to download torrents. Nevertheless, many Reddit users have not been happy with the slower TunnelBear speed.
When talking about ExpressVPN vs TunnelBear, we can’t forget to mention the prices.
With higher speeds and more server options, the ExpressVPN plans are significantly more expensive than TunnelBear. ExpressVPN offers three types of monthly plans:
- $12.95 for one month
- $9.99 monthly for six months
- $8.32 monthly for one year
ExpressVPN does not offer a free plan or a free trial, but it does include a 30-day refund policy. If you are unsatisfied with the product, you can contact the company and get 100% of your money back no matter the plan you chose.
TunnelBear’s plans are much more affordable. Again, there are only three payment options. However, the differences come from the available features, not the number of months you would like to use the VPN.
The first plan offers 500MB of secure browsing for free. This option is similar to a free trial plan but measured in MB instead of days.
From there, you can upgrade to the Unlimited Plan, starting at $3.33 each month. You can connect five devices, access priority customer service, and have unlimited secure browsing.
The final plan for businesses and teams costs $5.75 per user monthly. Each user can connect five devices and have unlimited browsing on each of them. The program also comes with a dedicated account manager and centralized team billing and management.
Since you are paying these VPN services to protect your data, you will probably want a customer service team readily available to help you.
You don’t want to be left without security or protection for a prolonged period while you wait for the support team to respond.
ExpressVPN offers live chat 24/7 for immediate questions. You can also send them an email or go through their ticketing process. An additional perk is an extensive library you can use to find articles related to your particular problem.
Unfortunately, TunnelBear doesn’t offer any live chat. If you run into a problem, your only two options are to access the resource library or submit a ticket. This limited support could potentially be a problem if you depend on TunnelBear to work. However, if you get the business plan mentioned above, it comes with superior customer service.
Overall, Reddit has declared ExpressVPN a much better virtual private network than TunnelBear.
Several years ago, there were positive comments about TunnelBear, stating that it works well with Netflix and has a reasonable price. However, several people have commented that, while the price is low, there are better options available for an even lower cost.
More recently, a user posted a detailed TunnelBear review. It appears that while people used to be able to stream movies and watch Netflix, that is no longer possible. While they were happy with the price and security, they stated that it did not measure up to other cheaper options. Other users agreed that even with the lower price, TunnelBear was not worth it.
For ExpressVPN, Reddit users’ opinions are much more positive. In this thread, a user reviews ExpressVPN’s services and rates each feature very highly.
Other comments second the positive features of ExpressVPN. There is some debate about minor issues, but most people agree on the superior customer service.
In general, Reddit has made it clear that they definitely prefer ExpressVPN to many other VPN choices, especially TunnelBear, even with the higher prices.
ExpressVPN vs TunnelBear: Final Verdict
Despite the higher price, ExpressVPN is our clear winner today. It has more servers, applications, and extensions. Plus, it allows streaming across the most popular platforms. You definitely get more for your money.
While the features of both ExpressVPN and TunnelBear are comparable, TunnelBear falls short in the number of servers, speed, and streaming capabilities. Since many VPN users are specifically looking for a virtual private network to watch their favorite movies, TunnelBear is not a viable option for numerous people.
That being said, if you are looking for a cheap VPN to protect your data while you work or a safe network for your business, TunnelBear could be a decent option.
When comparing TunnelBear vs ExpressVPN, our winner is ExpressVPN, but your decision comes down to what features you need in your virtual private network.