If you’re living in a country where Internet censorship is a rule, you should consider investing in VPN so you can gain back the freedom to access information online. I’ve been searching for the best VPN services for Mac and iOS devices this past few months, and my recommendation is TunnelBear.
I’ve never considered VPN as part of my essential tools. I spend most of the time connected to home network which is mostly safe from exploitation you come across from using public network — such as the secured WiFi in coffee shop.1
Then everything starts to fall apart. The censorship rule by government blocked my access to Vimeo and Reddit. ISP starts injecting tracking code into every websites. Some news sites are blocked despite that just a small fraction of the sites content contains nudity elements. Dropbox can’t sync files properly. The services we pay to have a secured Internet connection becomes a nuisance that treats customers as commodity.
The Sweet Setup plays an important role to help me discover the best VPN service. Their review explains the importance of VPN and why you should setup one for yourself. The comparison between Cloak and TunnelBear gives me a glimpse to both features. I decide to pick TunnelBear since it offers cheaper monthly plan with a lot of features you can use to secure yourself in public network and protect yourself from advertisers.
I always emphasize the importance to protect your privacy, either by removing cookies periodically, or blocking session trackers with Ghostery. These methods happen in application level which sometimes the scripts can get loaded. TunnelBear adds another layer of protection by mauling requests from tracking services so they won’t even have the chance to load those scripts.
Here is what you often experience when using public WiFi. There is a small amount of time where connection is insecure, especially when you’re enabling VPN service on unsecured network. Sniffers can make use of the small gap to intercept your packet data. Vigilant prevent your information from leaking out by blocking all outgoing packet data until it’s on TunnelBear secured network.
Some websites don’t get along well with VPN. Your first reaction is probably to turn off VPN. There is another easy way with the smart TunnelBear. Intellibear lets you configure rules where you can tell TunnelBear to skip the encryption and connect to a website normally as if VPN is inactive while you can browse other websites under secured network. For example, you may want to whitelist YouTube if you don’t want the VPN to slow down the buffering. This can save you a lot of hassle to toggle the VPN button manually every time you want to browse a whitelisted website.
Cloak is simple and just works. TunnelBear, on the other hand, manages to turn the rigid VPN experience fun. The languages they choose in notifications and their labels are full of quirks — who wouldn’t want to see the bear mauling advertisers or digging a tunnel to another country?
Like what I’ve mentioned in the beginning, my main concern with VPN services is the price. Cloak costs $9.99 per month or $119.88 per year. TunnelBear costs $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year.2 Since I need a VPN that stays active whole year, I’m more interested in saving over 50% for an unlimited plan.
Cloak also has a mini plan at 5GB for $2.99 per month. TunnelBear has a 500 MB plan which you can use for free. I recommend this plan for people who occasionally need to connect to public network but worried with the security problems.
Both services are great, but if I have to pick one, I’ll definitely choose TunnelBear which has lower price and more features. Cloak has higher price tag, but that comes with a simple feature that lets you configure whitelist network so Mac and iOS devices can turn off the VPN when you’re on whitelisted network — such as your home — and activate VPN when you’re connected to foreign networks.
If you’re living in the country with limited access to websites or you need to secure your data when using public network, sign up for TunnelBear3 which gives you a free 500 MB data every month. You can earn extra 1 GB every month by mentioning TunnelBear on Twitter.
None of these networks are safe if you simply need to enter a password. There is certainly a secure network, but they’re usually a pre-paid plan with limited time/bandwidth access. ↩
With auto-renewal, you only need to pay $39.99 next year. ↩
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