Little TunnelBear (free) – A Drop Dead Simple VPN Built on Simplicity and Speed

I’m an Internet privacy advocate (regular readers will now pause – laugh – and say – “no kidding!”), and while the fight to rein in Google, and others, might seem unwinnable, privacy advocates have not lost the battle – yet. Which is why, I have a great interest in any tool that will either stop Google and other data accumulators from collecting, storing, and dissecting my private personal information, or inhibit their ability to do so.

As a result, I’ve long made it a practice to camouflage my IP address when searching for sensitive subject matter.  Sensitive subject matter doesn’t always involve porn. Although, ………….   Smile

Take a look at the following free VPN (Virtual Private Network) application – Little TunnelBear (a paid version with enhanced features is available), which allows you to surf the Web while hiding your IP address. Hiding your “real” IP address won’t leave traces of your private surfing activities – protecting you from snooping web sites, annoying advertisers, employers, curious family members, and of course – Google.

I’ve been running with TunnelBear, (for 6 months or so), on a daily basis – and I’m impressed – very impressed. This application is “snappy quick” which cannot be said of the majority of the 10 (or more), VPNs I’ve tested here in the last few years.

While the service is not entirely free (500 MB monthly free – an additional 1 GB is available (free) if one “Tweets” the application. Even with my heavy usage, I generally don’t run out of free data access (1.5 GB), until the 25/26th of the month.

At that point, I switch over to the free version of Expat Shield which unfortunately lacks the quickness of TunnelBear, with the additional handicap of being ad supported. Having said that, I’ll emphasize (from a previous review), that Expat Shield is a terrific application and, the developer is certainly entitled to generate revenue.

TunnelBear will get no points for a stylish  user interface …

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…. but I can assure you, that in this case “hot looks” cannot compete with speed, simplicity  and ease of use.  And, TunnelBear has all that – and more.

Simplicity – no need to launch a Browser first. Switch on – choose your preferred locale (the UK or the US) then launch a Browser.

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Please note that occasionally, you may find that instead of the UK, you will be assigned an alternative European IP address. Hungary and Holland come quickly to mind. It would be preferable, in my view, if the GUI reflected that fact.

Boost the freebie – If you have a Twitter account, and should you choose to do so, a quick Tweet is all it takes to bump up free data access to 1.5 GB. A very sweet deal, I think.

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Following which, an email similar to that shown below, will confirm your additional 1 GB of data access.

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I’ll repeat – Even with my heavy usage, I generally don’t run out of free data access (1.5 GB), until the 25/26th of the month.

Significant points:

There are no ads and the application doesn’t have to run in the background, or at startup.

Employs a minimum of  AES 128-bit encryption.

Normal surfing (hopping from site to site), showed no slowdown (none that I could measure in human terms) in connection speed.

Once the application has been started – all applications that communicate with a remote address will do so through TunnelBear.

As with all such applications, a leap of faith is required. While the application does shield you from prying eyes, the developer has full access. You need to consider the implications. In other words – do you trust the developer.

Here’s what the developer has top say on that issue –

“TunnelBear stores the absolute minimum amount of information required to operate our service. This information includes your email, first name, last name, # of times you’ve logged on and the overall amount of data you transferred for the month. We do NOT log any information as to the websites you visit, nor do we store your IP address after you disconnect.”

Having tested my fair share of anonymous surfing applications in the last few years, I’d judge this application to be as good, or better, than most.

Supported systems:

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Download at: Developer’s site (http://www.tunnelbear.com/)

Additional information is available from the developer’s FAQ page here.

15 Comments

Filed under Android, Apple, downloads, Freeware, Google, Online Privacy, Software, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Vista, Windows XP

15 responses to “Little TunnelBear (free) – A Drop Dead Simple VPN Built on Simplicity and Speed

  1. Very, very nice find… I will be exploring this one…

    Good to see you Bill.

    Rick

    • Hey Rick,

      A great little application which has never let me down, locked-up, or………… I think you’ll like this one.

      Good to be back on the beat. :)

      Best,

      Bill

  2. Mal

    Hey Bill,
    I’ve tried this one out recently too. It’s all that you say of course. Agree entirely with your review.
    I’m running with another VPN at the moment. It’s basically a paid version, but they recently allowed free, full access to one of their US servers. No restrictions at all, and importantly, NO ADS.
    Cheers
    Mal

    • Hey Mal,

      Indeed – the “no Ad” bonus (combined with several additional features) is a deal-maker for me. As well, $5 a month for the full product should make it appealing for those users who recognize the benefits of surfing with the added protection a VPN provides.

      You’re tech judgement has always proven to be dead on – so, it’s super to get your agreement on this. :)

      Best,

      Bill

  3. John

    Hi Bill,

    Nice find, and simple to use (I need simple these days).

    Like Mal I have been using another VPN for a small period but it gets a bit clunky from time to time, perhaps that’s why my head is still hurting even today. :-)

    Cheers,
    John

    • Hi John,

      I hear that! Simple is oh so very good in and around New Years. lol

      You must be right though – clunky VPNs are known to cause hangover like symptoms. :)

      Best,

      Bill

  4. delenn13

    I have been giving this one a run for it’s money..$6.49 to be exact. Merry Christmas to me.

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    • Hey Delenn13,

      Yes indeed – Merry Christmas to you. :)

      Very good move BTW. Took a quick look – very much like the Expat mode. In fact, just got off BBC iPlayer (using Expat Shield) after watching David Attenborough’s latest – Africa (episode one) which was recommended by my UK good friend, Michael Fisher. Totally AWESOME program. Highly recommend since it won’t be on PBS for at least a year, or more.

      Best,

      Bill

  5. Reblogged this on projectz and commented:
    Nice system, great review

  6. kuro

    I’m using Vpn one click (now is free for windows) and the Express vpn. are both Amazing.
    I tried also:
    Hot spot shield but I had a lot of connection problems.
    Hide my ass, too much expensive.
    Tunnelbear.. but I hate the graphic and also the Bears.

  7. Hey Bill,

    Good to see you back again enjoying the posts, this one I am gonna try as its hard to find free, trusted VPN services.

    Regards

    • Hey Neeraj,

      I should point out that recently, I’ve experienced a connection delay when opening Tunnel Bear.

      It’s the same old story – as soon as a service becomes popular, there’s a risk of the service becoming overloaded with users. And, that makes your observation – “its hard to find free, trusted VPN services” – very pertinent.

      Great to hear from you.

      Best,

      Bill

      • I faced the same issue with Hotspot shield and was never able to connect to internet.

        You are right even if it is a paid service and becomes popular then it is not easy to manage the service. The companies who do, they top the field.

        Regards