App Reviews,  Technology

TunnelBear: A Better Way to Browse the Internet

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

I can’t even count how many times I’ve tried to access something online only to be told, “This content is not available in your country”. The Internet is a global entity so you would think that we would all have access to the same things. However, as a Canadian I know for a fact that we don’t. The Internet is a completely different beast when you live in the United States. I remember crying out, “But that’s not fair!”, when I discovered American Netflix had way more movies and TV shows than the Canadian version. We pay the same amount per month as Americans so why do Canadians have less shows? I love Netflix and would continue to subscribe to the service, but it does make me wonder.

Then I found out about Hulu. Hulu is not available to Canadians. If you go to their site and try to watch a show from your computer with a Canadian IP address you’ll be denied access. They had all the reality TV shows that I missed watching! We don’t have cable TV here and only use Netflix and the downside is the lack of my favourite reality shows. I resigned myself to accepting that’s just the way it is.

hulu

Don’t even get me started on Spotify….sigh.

spotify

I knew a little about free VPN services that allow you to change your IP to another country like the USA. My issue with them is that they looked too spammy and I was scared to download the software to my computer.

Then TunnelBear came into my life. Not only is it a legitimate way to browse the Internet as if from another country, but it also wasn’t spammy looking. I thought to myself this may be exactly what I was waiting for! 2.3 million people worldwide are already using TunnelBear and now I’m one of them.

 logo_black_small

What is TunnelBear?

TunnelBear is an incredibly simple VPN app that lets you browse the Internet like you’re in another country. It can also be used to protect your privacy and  to bypass Internet censorship if the country you live in censors your online experience. TunnelBear is also Canadian based out of Toronto, ON. I thought that was pretty neat. Go Canada!

They have explained exactly how TunnelBear works in plain English if you are wondering “how is that even possible?” in the TunnelBear help section. Trust me, it’s a whole new Internet with TunnelBear!

Why you should be using TunnelBear?

From a Canadian perspective, I can give you a few reasons why you should be using TunnelBear. 

1. Unblock websites not available to Canadians. You’ll be able to watch the free shows on Hulu, listen to music on Spotify and listen to Pandora radio. No more hearing that annoying message pop-up, “This content is not available”.

2. Access US Netflix. You’ll be blown away when you see how many shows the Americans can watch compared to us Canucks!

3. Vote on US reality shows. Most times you can’t vote for your favourite contestant from Canada. Now you’ll be able to make your vote count!

4. Unblock sports feeds for Soccer, NHL, MLB and NFL. 

5.  Protect your privacy especially when on public wifi networks. You know when you check into a hotel and go on their wifi. Right away my computer says that this is an unsecure network. It’s not a comforting thought to know that someone with any technical knowledge could be watching you. 

6. Use TunnelBear when you are travelling. If you are visiting another country including ones that censor their Internet, you’ll be able to still access your favourite sites. Saving You Dinero has an excellent post about using TunnelBear while you are travelling.

What devices does TunnelBear work on?

You can use TunnelBear on your PC or MAC, iOS device and Android device. Note that TunnelBear is not available on Kindle Fire because they use an older version of Android. 

How to Install TunnelBear on your PC

After learning about TunnelBear, I couldn’t “bear” to wait any long to download the app and try it out for myself! I decided to put it on our mobile desktop computer since it has the biggest screen for watching movies and shows. I’ll take you through the steps below to show you how simple it was to set up.

1. Select the device you are using to download TunnelBear. In my case, I selected PC since I was downloading to our desktop computer.

tunnelbear1

2. Read and click Agree to the TunnelBear terms of service.

tunnelbear2

3. Install TunnelBear to your computer.

tunnelbear3

4. Wait for it to finishing installing aka “unboxing the fur”.

tunnelbear4

5. Set up your TunnelBear account if you don’t already have one. No credit card is required to set up your account.

tunnelbear5-1

tunnelbear6

6. Walk through the helpful tutorial on how to use TunnelBear if you wish! It’s optional. It introduced me to my TunnelBear and showed me how to turn it on and off and pick my country to connect from.

tunnelbear7

You can use TunnelBear on your favourite browser. My browser of choice is Google Chrome.

tunnelbear8

It also tells you how to turn on privacy.

tunnelbear9

7. You’ll be asked if you want to follow TunnelBear on Facebook and Twitter to stay connected with their updates.

tunnelbear10

8. TunnelBear will send you a confirmation email to verify your account. Check your email and click the link they send you to confirm.

tunnelbear11

9. You may be asked to install a Network Adaptor on your PC in order for TunnelBear to operate. I clicked Ok for it to install on my computer.

tunnelbear12

10. Congratulations! You’ve installed TunnelBear!

If you need to see these steps in action, check out this video on how to install TunnelBear on Windows 8.

How to Use TunnelBear

Once TunnelBear is installed, it’s incredibly easy to get it working. Just click the TunnelBear icon on your desktop to the “on” position. Then select which country you want to browse from. I always pick United States, but as you can see they have more choices.

tunnelbear16

Then you all you do now is open your browser and connect with your favourite sites!

I first tested it out with Hulu, an American site where you can watch movies and TV shows online. This is what Hulu looks like when I access it from Canada with TunnelBear turned off.

tunnelbear13

Turn TunnelBear on and voilà…I’m able to watch Hulu! Hello reality TV!

tunnelbear14On Hulu, I can’t watch any of the Hulu+ shows because I don’t have a Hulu account. However, there’s still quite a few free episodes to watch from many of my favourite shows like Kitchen Nightmares.

We do have a Netflix plan so when I log into Netflix on my computer with TunnelBear turned on, I can stream American Netflix. It has a million times more selection than Canadian Netflix. Well, maybe not a million, but it’s quite drastic how many more shows the USA has compared to Canada.

tunnelbear15

How much does TunnelBear cost?

TunnelBear has three plans to choose from. When I signed up, I selected the free plan which offers 500 MBs of free data a month. You can get another 1 MB if you participate in their Twitter promotion. This plan is aptly called the Little Bear since it’s the smallest plan of the three.

The second plan is the Giant Bear and it offers unlimited tunneling for $4.99/month. The Grizzly Bear also has unlimited tunneling like the Giant Bear but the difference is that you pay only once a year AND save 17%! It will cost you only $49.99/year.

TunnelBear accepts major credit cards, Paypal and jars of honey! I guess those bears get hungry with all that tunneling. 

After trying TunnelBear, I know that I will need either the Giant Bear or Grizzly Bear plan since you won’t be able to watch a whole season of shows on the free plan. I think for us it will be worth it. I like that it’s unlimited and I won’t have to worry about watching the data like you do on a cell phone when you travel out of the country. 

I’m really impressed with the ease-of-setup, the quality (no pop-ups or spam!), and the affordable price. It’s worth a look if you enjoy spending time online, value your privacy and want more selection for entertainment! Visit TunnelBear today to learn more and to try it yourself.

Stacie Vaughan

Stacie is the mom of two girls and lives in Ontario, Canada. She enjoys cooking/baking, photography, reading, DIY and is fueled by lots of coffee!

more by Stacie »