Tunnelbear Gets My VPN Business

in Security

tunnelbearMy previous post covered a VPN and malware/maladvert service called Disconnect which at first sight looked pretty promising, so much so that I paid for the premium upgrade almost immediately. Over the course of a week or two, however, the way the service worked started to worry me.
First, if I rebooted my PC whenever I tried to launch the desktop software it just hung. Reinstalling the software worked but I was not prepared to go through that hassle. Furthermore, the app on my KitKat tablet kept dropping out – not an ideal situation for a VPN. The app on my Lollipop smartphone worked fine, but two out of three ain’t good, to paraphrase Meatloaf, so I uninstalled it from all devices and started to look again.

I found myself coming back to TunnelBear, a service I had used in the past because it gave me a chunky 500mb bandwidth for free and I could get an extra 1gb free if I wanted to wreck any street cred and tweet a recommendation. Which I did of course, hell, at my age I ain’t got any street cred left.

TunnelBear has a humorous approach to pushing its service but beneath that jokey exterior beats a heart of a great and powerful service (unless you want P2P linkage which it doesn’t offer.)
Tunnelbear is stunningly easy to set up. Download and install the software, choose the country you want your connection to run through and hit the on switch. And that is it.

At the moment Tunnelbear runs through the US, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, France, Italy, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Ireland and Spain and they keep adding conduits on a regular basis.  Switching VPN destinations is as simple as choosing it from a dropdown window and making your choice.

You need to be aware that pushing your connection through a VPN does slow down your broadband speed. I get around 72mbs through my open connection and it slows down to just over 20mbs on some destinations, but it doesn’t affect streaming, etc.

Extra Features

There are plenty of settings to help you get the best out of your bear. The one I like isVigilant which is designed to keep your location and data private in the brief seconds while TunnelBear is connecting and reconnecting; the other is TCP override which forces TunnelBear to use a slower, but more reliable protocol. This might result in better performance, especially on unreliable connections!

For guaranteed safety you can get TunnelBear to load on bootup but if you want to use it occasionally for accessing blocked content in another country you can turn it on and off at will. If you want to filter your connections if you pay for your service you can use  Intellibear which allows you to selectively tunnel some websites but not others.

Pricing

The charges are pretty good, too. As mentioned the free package gives you 500mb per month with an extra allowance of 1gb if you promote the service through Twitter. For $6.99 you get an unlimited connection that you can use on up to five devices. The top of the range package costs a cent under $50 a year for the same level of service as the previous offering but you save a stack of cash.

Blocking Trackers

Blocking trackers is a key security benefit these days and TunnelBear does it with a module called Maul Trackers. This is designed to give you more control over the information you share with companies, advertisers and social media networks. When you turn on Maul Trackers, TunnelBear will block many of the trackers that companies use to collect your information. There is more information here.

TunnelBear is available on Windows , Mac, IoS and Android.

As an aside, if TunnelBear introduces a baby cub bear they should call it Snowden!

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