TunnelBear VPN

While this VPN claims to be easy to use and certainly looks like it ought to be easy to use, it isn't.

My Rating: nonononono




This product certainly looks like it ought to be really simple to use. Simply install the supplied program and when you need to use a VPN to make it look like you are in the UK or US you simply enable the program and login. Unfortunately it seems that while this may be the case for some people that it all depends on how your computer is configured as to whether the program will actually work or not.

Installing the program as with most installs needs to be done using administrator access. This program needs to reconfigure the networking on your system and so the install will fail if you try to install using an ordinary user account. The program asks you to either supply the details of your existing TunnelBear account or asks you to create one. In the latter case you then get sent an email with a registration code that you can enter into the program once it starts up automatically at the end of the install.

So far so good and you now have the program running using administrator access. Of course from there it cannot detect any browser use from your regular user session and so you need to shut down TunnelBear and restart it from your local user account if you want it to be able to actually detect your browser.

This is the point where things start to go wrong. TunnelBear starts up fine using a normal user account and when you turn it on it asks you to log in to your account. It then goes through the process of connecting to TunnelBear and then just as it gets to the point where your VPN session should be enabled it disconnects and redisplays the login page. The only way to get it to actually connect and stay connected is to run it using administrator access.

Of course running it as administrator is rather pointless as there it cannot see the browser that you have open in your user account at all and so the display will show zero usage regardless of what you do with your browser because the browser is not using the VPN because it doesn't have access to it. Running the browser using administrator access as well would possibly get it working but then you are bypassing most of the security reasons why user accounts don't have access to everything on the computer in the first place.

When it comes to uninstalling the program, the uninstall runs fine and removes the TunnelBear program itself but doesn't undo all of the networking changes it made. Once the uninstall finishes the networking on your computer is left in a broken state where it no longer works properly. This is rectified once you reboot the computer but there is no warning provided to tell you that you need to reboot immediately after the uninstall and the uninstall doesn't even ask you to.

Note that I tested this on Windows XP with the above results. I was considering testing on Windows 7 as well (since it handles the relationship between user and administrator accounts on the computer a bit differently and so may not have the same problems) but given the time it took me to uninstall the program the first time I decided not to proceed.

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