Free VPN often feels like a myth, with “free VPN providers” offering only trial services that act as a real VPN offering. These “free VPNs” come with huge limits on torrenting, bandwidth, and servers allowed for use. Two VPNs commonly associated with the term “free VPN” are Tunnelbear and more recently Windscribe VPN. Are these VPNs worth using?
While we don’t agree with Windscribe’s deceptive marketing methods (as outlined in this article here), today we are comparing the two VPN services to see which one is the better “free VPN”. If you’re here looking for simply the best VPN to use, I’d recommend TorGuard (or read here to compare free vs paid VPN)–but if you have your heart set on free VPNs, read on stalwart soul!
Which is better, Tunnelbear or Windscribe?
Tunnelbear VPN and Windscribe VPN are two of the most well-respected “free VPN” providers out there on the market. They are both free in the sense that they act like limited trials to test out their VPN services before you inevitably end up paying–of course.
Both VPNs have paid and free plans and a variety of different features, so in this Windscribe vs Tunnelbear comparison test, I’ll decide which VPN is worth using in the end.
Tunnelbear starts out with a free plan available for 500MB free for a month. The secondary paid plan is $9.99 a month, whereas the paid yearly plan is $49 for 12 months. Tunnelbear accepts standard payment options and Bitcoin and their refund policy is a bit strict. Tunnelbear actually doesn’t seem to accept refunds at all which is a bit odd.
“While all amounts paid are non-refundable, certain refund requests for subscriptions may be considered by TunnelBear on a case-by-case basis and granted at the sole discretion of TunnelBear.”
Compared to Tunnelbear, Windscribe offers (up to 10GB a month) instead of 500MB free. This is quite a bit better, and their monthly plan is also cheaper at $9 a month. Their yearly plan is similar, however, coming in at around $48-49 a year. Windscribe also accepts Bitcoin and other standard payment options. Their refund policy is also a bit dicey, limiting acceptable refunds to a period of 3 days or if you have used under 10GB of data.
“Windscribe accepts only written refund requests sent to our support desk. You have the right to request a reimbursement without giving explanations. The right to be refunded is invalid if You have violated the Terms of Service and/or if you send the request after having used the Service for more than 3 days and/or if you have used the Service for a global traffic volume exceeding 10 GB.”
Overall, Windscribe wins here for more free data given, a cheaper monthly plan, and a better refund policy.
Which VPN has the better featureset in terms of their app, extra services offered, and overall capability of use?
Well Tunnelbear comes as simple as a VPN can really come. Their speciality is ease of use and polish, as well as a fun user interface. Connecting to Tunnelbear is full of fun animations, but the settings within the app are a bit barebones. Sure, you have a kill switch and a few essentials like Ghostbear which is new that allow you to possibly bypass school firewalls by making VPN traffic look like normal traffic, but the app doesn’t provide much meat for power users compared to a VPN like TorGuard.
Windscribe is very similar to Tunnelbear in that the app is super barebones in appearance and most functionality. Windscribe offers some options for power users looking for more settings to configure since it offers the ability to customize your firewall properties, use a proxy, and share the VPN to a hotspot. You can also customize your OpenVPN version, and view a debugging mode.
Overall, Tunnelbear and Windscribe have similar applications that have most VPN essentials. Windscribe has a bit more settings to play around with proxy and connection configurations, but Tunnelbear’s “Ghostbear” feature that allows VPN use to be hidden is cool.
Both Windscribe and Tunnelbear are going to limit how much data you can move around with their free plans, with varying limitations each (500 MB vs 10GB a month respectively). However, in terms of pure speed, Windscribe wins versus Tunnelbear.
In my tests, Tunnelbear performed a bit mediocre with speeds around 84 MS with a 6.34 Mbps download rate and 3.41 Mbps upload rate, whereas Windscribe was very quick with 16 MS, and a 109.76 Mbps download rate and fast upload rate as well.
If you want the faster VPN, go with Windscribe.
Both VPNs have decent customer service provided through tickets. However, neither VPN really supports live chat. If you want a VPN that does support live chat 24/7, check out something like TorGuard VPN.
Tunnelbear doesn’t really have any extra features. Besides protecting your traffic through encryption and hiding your IP, you can’t torrent or even watch Netflix. Windscribe however, lets you watch Netflix through their proxy extension and torrent with their VPN app. Windscribe is definitely the winner in the extra features department.
In categories like privacy and customer service, you won’t find many differences between Tunnelbear and Windscribe VPN. Both VPNs have a good privacy and no logs policy, and both VPNs offer decent customer support to answer your questions.
However, in terms of pricing, speeds, and extra features, the VPNs do differ by quite a large margin. Windscribe offers a better bang for your buck with faster speeds, torrent and Netflix compatibility, and a bigger monthly data allotment for the free plan. Tunnelbear is a bit slower, a bit stingier with free data, and it doesn’t work with Torrents or Netflix. However, both applications from these VPNs perform similarly and work fairly good.
The winner in this Tunnelbear vs Windscribe comparison is Windscribe VPN!
Tunnelbear Video Review
Windscribe Video Review
Should I just use Paid VPN?
If I were you, I would. The reason is that paid VPNs don’t have these stupid caps on bandwidth used or servers allowed. Paid VPNs like TorGuard, IPVanish, and Private Internet Access all have unlimited bandwidth, top of the line security, and plenty of servers to choose from.
“True,” you might be thinking. “But they still aren’t free!”
Well, yes, but even paid VPNs are super cheap. TorGuard is only $29.99 for 6 months, and Private Internet Access is under $40 for a year. I don’t know about you, but sometimes my dinner out on date night costs more than that!
I wouldn’t be caught torrenting without a VPN under my belt, and I definitely wouldn’t feel safe using Wi-Fi in hotels, airports, or cafes without a VPN.