Key Takeaways: Windscribe vs TunnelBear VPN Comparison
- The main differences between Windscribe and TunnelBear are that Windscribe has better unblocking ability, faster download speeds and a generous data allowance.
- TunnelBear offers access to servers in 47 countries, whereas Windscribe allows you to access servers in 11 countries.
- Windscribe and TunnelBear are trustworthy free VPN services that offer solid online security and privacy.
- Windscribe offers a build-a-plan option, which lets you buy a pro server location and unlimited data for $1 each.
TunnelBear changed its free data amount to 2GB per month, up from 500MB per month.
11/21/2023 Facts checked
We rewrote the guide to include fresh details about Windscribe and TunnelBear performance. The guide focuses more on Windscribe and TunnelBear free versions.
Windscribe and TunnelBear are two of the best free VPNs, but which service is better for you? There’s no doubt that your needs and preferences will influence the Windscribe vs TunnelBear decision.
To make the best decision, you must understand what each VPN service brings to the table. To that end, you can read our detailed TunnelBear review and Windscribe review guides. If you’re short on time or want to learn the key differences or similarities between the two free VPNs, we’ve got you covered here.
In this guide, we’ll tell you how Windscribe and TunnelBear compare on security, speed, data, streaming performance, server locations and other fronts. We’ll also reveal the features you get when you upgrade to a paid Windscribe or TunnelBear plan. Read on for the nitty-gritty details.
Average speedDownload Speed94 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency2 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card
- : Unlimited
$3.33 / month(save 66%)(All Plans)
- : Credit card
- : 5
How We Rated Windscribe vs TunnelBear: Our Comparison Guidelines
We stretched the free versions of both Windscribe and TunnelBear to the limit and performed a series of speed, streaming and DNS leak tests to reveal their strengths and weaknesses. We then compared their performance in each category side by side to determine which of the two free providers is the best.
Cloudwards Editor’s Choice: Windscribe
Here at Cloudwards we think Windscribe is the better free VPN out of the two options. It offers a higher data limit (which makes it better for streaming), more advanced security features and wider platform compatibility. It’s still not the best free VPN on the market (that honor goes to Proton VPN), but it’s certainly up there.
TunnelBear vs Windscribe: Comparison at a Glance
|$5.75 / month(All Plans) 3-days money-back guarantee||$3.33 / month(All Plans)|
|Payment methods||PayPal, Credit card||Credit card|
|Supports split tunneling||iOS & Android only|
|Free trial available|
|Worldwide server amount||servers in 69 countries||48 countries|
|Desktop OSes||Windows, MacOS, Linux||Windows, MacOS|
|Mobile OSes||Android, iOS, BlackBerry||Android, iOS|
|Browser extensions||Chrome, Firefox, Opera||Chrome, Firefox|
|Can be installed on routers|
|Can access Netflix US|
|Can access BBC iPlayer|
|Can access Hulu|
|Can access Amazon Prime Video|
|Encryption types||256-AES||256-AES, ChaCha20|
|VPN protocols available||OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard||OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard|
|Enabled at device startup|
|Passed DNS leak test|
|Malware/ad blocker included|
Which Is Better: Windscribe vs TunnelBear?
Windscribe is better than TunnelBear for most use-cases. The two providers are a cut above other free VPN providers (except Proton VPN) on the security and privacy fronts. However, Windscribe offers a generous data limit, good unblocking ability and fast download speeds.
Moreover, Windscribe offers security features you don’t get with TunnelBear, such as perfect forward secrecy and R.O.B.E.R.T. However, TunnelBear doesn’t go down without a fight. It is ideal if you need a larger pool of global IP addresses.
We Recommend Windscribe If You Want….
- A free VPN for streaming: Windscribe unblocks popular streaming sites and has fast download speeds for buffering and lag-free streaming.
- Custom security rules: The free plan allows you to create three custom security rules with R.O.B.E.R.T.
- More data allowance: Windscribe offers 15GB per month compared to TunnelBear’s 2GB monthly data.
We Recommend TunnelBear If You Want…
- A user-friendly free VPN: TunnelBear apps have little going on and are easy to use.
- A larger pool of IP addresses: TunnelBear allows you to use servers in 47 countries.
- Faster upload speeds: If you need to upload large files, TunnelBear is ideal, thanks to its fast upload speeds.
If You Want to Consider Other Services, Check Out…
If Windscribe’s and TunnelBear’s data limits are off-putting, consider using Proton VPN. It offers unlimited monthly data, has excellent unblocking ability and solid security and privacy. The only minor issue with Proton VPN is that it only offers access to three server locations: the U.S., Japan and the Netherlands.
However, you can sidestep free VPNs’ usage limits with a premium VPN, such as ExpressVPN or NordVPN. These providers unblock all streaming services and offer unlimited data and bandwidth for an uninterrupted streaming experience. Not to mention that the premium VPNs are as secure as they get. You can also use them for free for a month by using their 30-day money-back guarantees.
Average speedDownload Speed94 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency6 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Google Pay, AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, Cash
- : 6
Average speedDownload Speed92 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency5 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, PaymentWall
Average speedDownload Speed95 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency200 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Google Pay, Amazon Pay
- : Unlimited
Average speedDownload Speed80 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency39 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, bitcoin, Amazon Pay
- : 7
- : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, cash
- : 10
TunnelBear vs Windscribe: Comparison Breakdown
We have broken our guide into two broad categories — similarities and differences — so that it’s easy for you to jump straight to a key section.
TunnelBear vs Windscribe: Similarities
While Windscribe and TunnelBear have nearly identical performance in the following categories, there are subtle differences. However, the differences don’t significantly impact the overall performance.
Windscribe and TunnelBear are among the few VPN providers with a free forever plan. That means you don’t need to spend a dime to use the service; just create an account and you’re good to go.
Even better, you don’t need a credit or debit card when creating an account with either of these providers. Windscribe makes the deal even sweeter by not requiring users to provide an email address. However, confirming your email address increases your data cap from 2GB (the same as TunnelBear) to 10GB. You can increase this further to 15GB by tweeting about the service.
VPN Protocols and Encryption
Unlike other untrustworthy free VPNs, Windscribe and TunnelBear offer top-notch security. The providers have made excellent choices in terms of protocols and encryption standards. Windscribe offers OpenVPN, WireGuard, IKEv2, Stealth and WStunnel protocols on Windows, Android, Mac and iOS devices. Stealth is an encapsulated or obfuscated protocol for users in countries with strict internet censorship.
TunnelBear supports WireGuard, OpenVPN and IKEv2 on Windows and Mac. Android users get the OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols, whereas iOS users get OpenVPN, WireGuard, IPSec and IKEv2. Read our VPN protocols guide to learn more about their strengths and weaknesses.
While TunnelBear doesn’t have an encapsulated protocol, it offers GhostBear on Windows and Android, which makes your VPN traffic look like regular web traffic. This makes it difficult for authorities in countries where VPNs are banned to detect that you’re using a VPN.
Both TunnelBear and Windscribe support AES 256-bit and ChaCha20 encryption. The protocol you choose dictates the encryption standard. AES 256-bit encryption works seamlessly with the OpenVPN, IKEv2, Stealth and WStunnel protocols, whereas ChaCha20 is compatible with the WireGuard protocol.
Kill Switch and DNS Leak Protection
Both providers offer a kill switch that cuts your internet when the VPN connection drops. The TunnelBear kill switch is called VigilantBear.
We did a series of DNS leak tests with the providers’ protocols and encryption methods and all came out clean. This means that Windscribe and TunnelBear do not expose your real location or leak details of the websites and services you visit to your internet service provider (ISP).
The online privacy Windscribe and TunnelBear offer is commendable. The two providers choose a different path in a world where many other free VPNs gather and sell user data. They adhere to a strict no-logs policy, meaning they don’t collect, store or share user logs or data.
There’s nothing to separate them in terms of jurisdiction, since Windscribe and TunnelBear are both headquartered in Toronto, Canada. However, there are two distinguishing details you need to know.
Firstly, TunnelBear can see your device type, IP address or operating system at the moment of payment. Thankfully, while this information can be used to single out a device and prove that someone subscribed to the VPN, it doesn’t reveal anything more and isn’t a critical vulnerability.
Secondly, Windscribe has a minor blemish, too. The provider suffered a security server breach in Ukraine as a result of an unencrypted VPN server. While the breach is a knock against the provider’s security and privacy, no data was exposed, which corroborates Windscribe’s no-logs claim.
TunnelBear and Windscribe each offer a knowledgebase, ticket-based support and live chat. Their knowledgebases will be your go-to hub if you fancy some self-service options. The articles are organized into categories that make finding what you’re looking for easy.
In addition, the providers offer live chat support, albeit without human agents. Instead, they use AI-powered chatbots: Gary (Windscribe) and RoboCub (TunnelBear). The chatbots provide automated responses and serve up help articles that attempt to solve your problem.
The only option to get a “human touch” to your problem with Windscribe or TunnelBear is through ticket support. Creating a support ticket isn’t straightforward. You have to wade through a maze of close-ended questions before typing your message. The good news is that both providers respond to each request via email in less than 24 hours.
Neither Windscribe nor TunnelBear imposes a limit on the number of simultaneous connections, even on the free version. They allow you to connect an unlimited number of devices simultaneously and fit the bill if you want to protect all your devices.
Windscribe vs TunnelBear: Differences
In this section, we dig deep into categories where Windscribe and TunnelBear differ to help make an informed decision.
Windscribe and TunnelBear offer native apps for the major operating systems: Windows, Mac, Android and iOS. They also work seamlessly with popular browsers: Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox — but their similarities end there.
Windscribe is also compatible with gaming consoles, Kodi, various Linux distros and smart TVs, such as Amazon Fire TV. You can also install it manually on a router or buy a pre-configured router to cut the hassle. It also lets you manually configure OpenVPN, WireGuard and IKEv2 protocols on devices that don’t support native apps.
The only minor issue is that TunnelBear doesn’t offer a server search function. You have to scroll through the list to find your preferred server location. Still, the list isn’t long, so scrolling through it won’t be strenuous.
Windscribe’s UI is busy. It displays every detail about your connection, such as the connected or previously used server, protocol, IP address, port and more. Since the UI is small, the deluge of details makes the app look cluttered and confusing. As a result, the learning curve is a bit steep, particularly for newbies, but once you figure it out, you’ll enjoy a high level of control.
Advanced Security Features
Windscribe’s free version triumphs over TunnelBear in terms of security. It offers additional security tools, such as perfect forward secrecy, which changes your encryption keys with every new session. As a result, if hackers get hold of an encryption key, they can’t use it to decrypt your entire traffic.
In addition, Windscribe lets you use R.O.B.E.R.T., a reliable DNS and IP-level tracker and ad blocker. The tool also optionally blocks gambling, porn, social networks, fake news, clickbait and crypto websites. Moreover, you can create up to three custom rules to block domains automatically on the free plan.
Ordinarily, we use our automated speed test results to compare VPN providers’ speeds. Unfortunately, we’re yet to incorporate TunnelBear into our automated speed tests, so for this guide, we ran the tests manually on a 5 Mbps internet connection.
Just bear in mind that we did the speed tests using the free VPN servers and couldn’t pick a server on every continent because Windscribe doesn’t offer free servers everywhere. As a workaround, we selected five server locations in North America and Europe to get a glimpse of the providers’ speeds.
WireGuard Speed Test
Windscribe is one of the fastest VPNs, and it’s unsurprising that it reached more than 90% of our unprotected download speeds. TunnelBear came in a distant second, reaching just over 69% of unprotected download speeds. However, TunnelBear had a slight edge on the upload speeds and latency fronts.
OpenVPN Speed Tests
A familiar story plays out with OpenVPN. Windscribe delivered faster download speeds, and TunnelBear retained a slender advantage on the upload and latency fronts. The highlight of OpenVPN speed tests is that the providers’ overall upload speeds improved significantly.
Even though Windscribe struggles to unblock some streaming services, it performs better than TunnelBear. Its free servers open BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video on the first attempt but require multiple attempts to circumvent geo-restrictions on Max, Netflix and Disney Plus. The streaming is without lags and buffering, thanks to fast download speeds.
TunnelBear fails to unblock most popular streaming platforms, except Max. The fact that city-level server access is unavailable means that you can’t switch servers to break through the streaming geoblocks. Even if you found a way around the geoblocks, the 2GB data limit would be a real hindrance.
While Windscribe offers a better streaming experience, it might not be a great VPN for binge-watching. The 15GB monthly data allowance is just enough for a few episodes. If you want to binge-watch movies without any interruption, try ExpressVPN — the best VPN for streaming. Proton VPN is a better free option for streaming, provided the content is available in the U.S., Japan or the Netherlands.
Data and Bandwidth
Nothing is as annoying as getting cut off in the middle of a captivating movie or TV show for hitting a data limit or experiencing video lags when the provider throttles your bandwidth. While Windscribe and TunnelBear help sidestep the latter with unlimited bandwidth, there’s no escaping the former.
Both providers cap the monthly data allowance, but Windscribe is more generous, with up to 15GB of monthly data. However, the data isn’t automatically available. When you sign up for a Windscribe free plan, you get 2GB only. You get an additional 8GB per month when you confirm your email address and another 5GB when you tweet about Windscribe.
On the other hand, free TunnelBear users get 2GB every month. However, certain users, such as those in countries known for censorship, get a bonus. We requested one of our testers in Kenya (which is on TunnelBear’s list of countries facing heavy censorship) to sign up, and they got a 10GB bonus. Remember that the bonus is only available for first-time users and isn’t recurring.
Most free services limit the number of servers you can access, and Windscribe is no different. The provider gives you access to servers in 11 out of 69 countries: the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France, Hong Kong, Canada, Netherlands, Romania, Switzerland, Norway and Turkey.
You get city-level access in some countries, but most servers are only available on the paid plan. Additionally, Windscribe servers are all physical — read our guide to learn the difference between physical vs virtual servers.
TunnelBear lets free users access all its servers in 47 countries but restricts city-level access. In other words, you can’t pick a city-specific server in countries such as the U.S., where there are servers in different cities. This can be off-putting, mainly when finding an IP address to bypass local sporting lockouts in the U.S. or when needing to try multiple servers to access a streaming service.
While TunnelBear’s server count and distribution aren’t as impressive as NordVPN’s, they are the best we’ve seen with a free VPN provider. There are servers in some rare regions, such as Kenya and Nigeria, making it the best free VPN for a Kenyan IP address and a Nigerian IP address.
A split tunneling feature allows you to connect some apps via the VPN tunnel while letting others access the internet unprotected. For example, you can route your browser traffic through a VPN to watch Netflix in different regions while allowing your gaming apps to use the internet unprotected to reduce lag.
TunnelBear support split tunneling on Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices. On the other hand, Windscribe split tunneling is available on Windows, Mac and Android. While Windscribe supports app and IP-based split tunneling on Windows and Mac, TunnelBear supports URL and app-based split tunneling. Both providers support app-based split tunneling only on mobile devices.
Besides their free plans, Windscribe and TunnelBear offer paid plans.
Windscribe Paid Plans
- Up to 15 GB free with email confirmation and Tweet
- Unlimited GB
Windscribe makes your transition from free to paid plans very smooth with the build-a-plan option, which lets you pay for only the features you need. For example, you can buy a premium server, unlock R.O.B.E.R.T. and get an additional 10GB of data for just $1 each. Unlimited data costs $1 — but the build-a-plan option has a $3 minimum purchase.
You can also opt for the more traditional pricing plans to unlock all Windscribe features. In this case, you’ll fork out $9 for the monthly plan or $5.75 per month for the yearly plan. Some of the features you get with a Windscribe paid plan include:
- Unlimited data
- More than three custom rules with R.O.B.E.R.T.
- Servers in 112 locations in 69 countries
TunnelBear Paid Plans
- Unlimited GB, five devices, priority customer service
- Unlimited GB
- Unlimited GB, five devices per user, centralized billing, account manager, price per user per month
- Unlimited GB
TunnelBear costs $9.99 per month, which is pricier than Windscribe’s plan. However, its one-year and three-year plans set you back $4.99 and $3.33 per month, respectively, making it slightly more affordable than Windscribe. For the price, you get features such as:
- Unlimited data
- City-level server selection
TunnelBear vs Windscribe Refund Policy
Windscribe’s refund policy doesn’t play by the industry-standard rules. The provider has a three-day money-back guarantee period, and you must have used less than 10GB of data on a paid plan to qualify for a refund.
TunnelBear’s refund policy is worse. The provider claims that all payments are non-refundable. However, TunnelBear may decide, on a case-by-case basis, to honor certain refund requests.
The Verdict: Why We Think Windscribe Wins Overall
Hopefully, our Windscribe vs TunnelBear comparison has given you the insights you need to make an informed decision. If you’re still undecided, we recommend Windscribe if you need a secure free VPN. Besides offering solid security, it unblocks popular streaming services and offers fast download speeds for a smooth streaming experience.
However, if you need to access websites or services in different countries, TunnelBear is the better fit. With access to servers in 47 countries, TunnelBear offers a larger pool of IP addresses than any other free VPN provider.
Have you used Windscribe, TunnelBear or any other free VPN service? What did you like most about the free VPN? What did you find lacking, if anything? We’d like to hear about it in the comment section. As always, thank you for reading.
FAQ: Windscribe vs TunnelBear Compared
TunnelBear is better than Windscribe when it comes to free server access — the free plan includes servers in all 47 countries, compared to Windscribe’s 11 countries on the free plan. Both providers offer solid security, however Windscribe has better unblocking ability, faster download speeds and a more generous monthly data limit.
Yes, you can trust Windscribe VPN because it delivers top-notch security and privacy. The provider suffered a server breach in Ukraine, but no user data was exposed.
Yes, TunnelBear offers solid security and privacy and has had no security or server breaches.