TunnelBear vs. Private Internet Access (PIA) Comparison & Test Results

UX/UI Designer at - Adobe

TunnelBear and Private Internet Access (PIA) are two of the most popular VPN providers on the market. We’re comparing their features, pricing, and performance to help you decide which is best for your needs.

Users looking for a cheap VPN will value TunnelBear’s service. Even a free, but severely limited, the tier of service is provided by the supplier.


Although TunnelBear is competitively priced, you can immediately see where the company makes compromises in order to offer cheap pricing—the most glaring examples being worldwide server coverage and device compatibility.

For VPN buyers seeking a deal, access to a private internet (PIA) will be a particularly alluring choice. The business provides unexpectedly quick connection connections, excellent privacy safeguards, and peer-to-peer file sharing capability in addition to reasonable pricing.


Users in a family or small company will like this provider’s compatibility for the majority of device platforms and the many Parallel Connections it permits. Some users may find its restricted worldwide server coverage to be off-putting.

Selection of a VPN

access to a private internet (PIA) and fellow low-cost VPN service TunnelBear will square off in this virtual match.

I’ll provide an overview of the top 10 criteria to take into account while evaluating VPN companies in this post. I’ll discuss the significance of each category and how well each provider does within it. The winner in that area will be whoever performs the best.

The VPN with the most victories across the board will be crowned the overall winner when I add up the results at the conclusion of the article.

By then, you need to have a sufficient amount of knowledge to choose the VPN company that best suits your requirements.

Relationship Speed

I believe it is reasonable to assume that a significant portion of the electronic equipment you use at home or work is linked to the internet.

Whether you’re watching Netflix on your iPad or downloading a file from work, Relationship Speed is important to the quality of your online life.

Pixel Privacy’s VPN Relationship Speed tests are performed as follows:

  1. We make use of the providers’ Windows programs, which are set up to establish a connection using the OpenVPN protocol via UDP. The application is executed on a North American-based Windows virtual server with a gigabit Ethernet connection.
  2. The app from Speedtest.net is used to test the Relationship Speeds.
  3. For three days, three users from three distinct countries establish connections to three different VPN servers in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Hong Kong at various times of the day.
  4. We average out the results of each provider’s tests to determine the final reported Relationship Speeds.

Average Relationship Speed

While the majority of your favorite online activities should be supported by both VPN services, only one of them provides download speeds fast enough to support online gaming, file sharing, and other common online activities.

It came as a bit of a surprise, TunnelBear. The low-cost service offers download rates of 51.3 Mbps, which are more than sufficient for almost any online activity you can imagine.

access to a private internet, which offers connections that are much quicker, has a speed of 84.18 Mbps, which is even more amazing.

Due to a number of circumstances, your findings may undoubtedly differ from those we measured during our testing. Your speeds will vary depending on the unprotected speeds provided by your ISP, the time of day you test your speeds, where you are located, and where the VPN provider’s servers are located.

Average Relationship Speed Winner: access to a private internet


Both of the companies participating in this head-to-head competition charge acceptable rates for their services, placing them around the bottom of the pricing scale among the VPN providers I’ve evaluated.

I’ll be evaluating the rivals in this contest based on the cost of their yearly subscriptions; the competitor with the lowest cost prevails.

TunnelBear has membership plans for a month and a year. Both products have fair prices and are less expensive than many of their rivals.

The monthly fee for the provider’s 1-year option is more comparable to the price of a pound of raw beef than it is to a nice steak from your neighborhood grocery shop. There is also a free alternative, although the monthly data allotment for free customers is 500 MB.

One of the most affordable VPN service providers nowadays is access to a private internet. The provider’s monthly fee is almost equivalent to a Big Mac value meal from McDonald’s, while the cost of their yearly membership equals one large McCafe drink each month on average. In all instances, PIA’s price is more affordable right now than TunnelBear’s.

We don’t provide actual prices in this area since VPNs often alter their pricing plans and provide promotional offers. For the most recent prices and deals, visit the websites of both providers.

access to private internet wins on price


It is fair to assume that someone is watching your computer or other linked device if it is connected to the internet.

Someone is keeping an eye on you, whether it’s your ISP monitoring your online habits to sell to the highest bidder or hackers trying to steal your banking and credit card information.

Consider the following when evaluating a VPN provider’s privacy protections:

  • Is the service provider situated in a nation that respects internet privacy?
  • Does the provider keep no records of the internet actions of its customers?
  • Does the service allow Bitcoin and other payment methods that enhance privacy?

Despite the fact that access to a private internet is based in a country where it is lawful for ISPs and VPN providers to legitimately gather logs of their customers’ online activity, PIA has made the decision to not store any such data. Additionally, PIA supports cryptocurrencies for subscription payments.

Canada serves as the home country of TunnelBear. There are rumors that the government there may soon start requiring VPNs as well. The government currently mandates that ISPs maintain records of their consumers’ internet behavior. However, TunnelBear is currently still lacking user logs.

The service provider offers anonymous payment methods including Bitcoin and even honey (delicious!).

Privacy Award: Tied


You shouldn’t become fixated on just one or two service categories when determining which VPN service is the greatest match for your particular use case. Instead, be careful to take into account all of a provider’s offerings.

The features that both providers provide will be examined in this part, and at the conclusion of each one, I’ll discuss how well each service fared in that category and name a winner.


For many users, security is the most crucial factor to take into account when choosing a VPN.

While a VPN service provider should provide thorough encryption to safeguard your internet connection, it also has to include safeguards that stop your online activities from being unintentionally disclosed or discovered.

Customers of access to a private internet have access to military-grade (AES-256) encryption using the OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP/IPSec protocols. The supplier also provides DNS and IPv6 leak prevention, kill switch security, and the ability to block malware, trackers, and advertisements.

AES-256 encryption is provided by TunnelBear’s security via the OpenVPN, IKEv2, and IPSec/IKEv2 protocols. The service provider also provides DNS leak protection, kill switch protection, and GhostBear, which masks your VPN traffic to appear as regular internet traffic.

For more information on these aspects, see my post on VPN security features.

Winner in Security: Tied

Parallel Connections

If you run a small company or have a big family, you probably have a lot of users and devices that need VPN security. The option to connect many devices at once on a single account is useful in this situation.

access to a private internet allows up to 10 Parallel Connections.

The maximum number of concurrently connected devices in TunnelBear is 5.

Parallel Connections Winner: access to a private internet

Streaming Assistance

What number of streaming services are you a member of? I am aware that I have numerous subscriptions—more than I really need—to services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Showtime, and others. (And Disney+ and Apple TV+ both make their debuts this autumn.)

Depending on the nation you’re in, a streaming service’s content selection will change. The countries in which the episodes and movies are accessible are limited by the content agreements streaming services make with content providers.

Neither access to a private internet nor TunnelBear provide dependable access to any streaming services. That’s alright since neither service makes that assertion. Using either VPN, I was sometimes able to access streaming services from various nations but never consistently.

I suggest ExpressVPN if having access to streaming services is really crucial to you.

Streaming Assistance Winner: No winners here, folks!

Support for BitTorrent

Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing is one of the most well-liked and, at the same time, most divisive online activity. Although it is lawful to exchange files, many users utilize the technology to illegitimately distribute copyrighted items like music and movies.

Movie studios, record labels, and software developers have put pressure on ISPs to stop P2P operations on their networks due to the prevalence of illicit file sharing. Fortunately, a VPN is a great tool for navigating these file-sharing obstacles.

Your connection is encrypted using a VPN, which prevents your ISP from monitoring your activity. Your true IP address is likewise concealed, concealing both your identity and whereabouts.


access to a private internet has a strong no-logs policy and permits P2P activity on all of its servers. We don’t know what you do with our service, and we don’t care, as a PIA Customer Service representative once said to me. P2P file sharing is included in this. Share freely.

On their VPN network, TunnelBear also permits P2P sharing, however they advise using servers in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Romania, the Netherlands, Germany, or Sweden.

Winner for BitTorrent Support: access to a private internet


Number of countries where VPNs permit BitTorrentingLink

access to a private internet

32 (all of them)Site visit


View Review


Allows it in all nations, but advises using servers in 7 nationsSite visit


View Review

Server Coverage Worldwide

Top-notch Server Coverage Worldwide is an important consideration for any VPN user who is looking to access content and services that might normally be inaccessible from the user’s current location.

access to a private internet offers 3,390+ servers, which sounds quite impressive until you consider that they have all of those servers concentrated in just 32 countries.

TunnelBear “bearly” has you covered when it comes to Server Coverage Worldwide, with servers in only 22+ countries. (The provider doesn’t list an exact server count.)

Server Coverage Worldwide Winner: access to a private internet

Multi-Platform Assistance

While I can’t speak for all of my readers, I know that Multi-Platform Assistance is an important consideration when I’m shopping for the right VPN. I want to make sure all of my connected devices are protected.

access to a private internet offers native apps for the Windows, iOS, macOS, Linux and Android device platforms. Router support is also available. In addition, browser extensions are available for use on the Opera, Firefox and Google Chrome platforms.

In comparison to PIA, TunnelBear offers programs exclusively for the iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows operating systems, for a total of 4 supported platforms. However, the supplier does supply add-ons for the Chrome and Opera browsers.

Multi-Platform Assistance Winner: access to a private internet

Customer Service

Customer Service is something that no one ever wants to have to use, but they’re darned glad it’s there when they need it. (Like Pepto Bismol. BURP!)

access to a private internet hits most of the marks when it comes to Customer Service, offering an informative knowledge base, a trouble ticket system and a “Guides” section to walk customers through installing and customizing their PIA VPN connection. The only thing missing is live support chat.

TunnelBear comes up a bit short in the Customer Service department, as it also lacks support chat. It does offer an email support form and an easy-to-use help search function.

Customer Service Winner: Tied

Also, the winner

The access to a private internet versus TunnelBear competition quickly turned into a bit of a rout, with PIA scoring a win or a tie in every category.


access to a private internet scored highest in the Relationship Speed, pricing, Parallel Connections, Server Coverage Worldwide, Multi-Platform Assistance and BitTorrent categories.

TunnelBear failed to score a win in any category, but did manage a tie with PIA in the privacy, security, Streaming Assistance (neither provider offers it) and Customer Service arenas.

access to a private internet turned out to be the best-performing VPN provider in this head-to-head competition. The provider is an excellent choice for bargain hunters who don’t want to sacrifice Relationship Speed, privacy and BitTorrent access simply for a low price.

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