Troubleshooting

Installation issues

  • Where can I download the latest version of TunnelBear?

    To start tunneling securely with your private VPN right away, simply head over to our downloads page to grab the latest version of the TunnelBear app or browser extension.

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  • I can't check the 'I trust this application' checkbox

    If you have certain third-party apps downloaded, such as screen filters, battery savers, or launching apps, they may interfere with your ability to select the 'I trust this application' checkbox. Some of these apps include Twilight, Rotation Manager, Dodol Launcher, and Juice Defender. Turning these applications off briefly will allow you to select this checkbox. Once that is done, you can turn those apps back on, and TunnelBear should function properly.

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  • Why does TunnelBear want me to install a helper tool on macOS?

    The helper tool is part of the TunnelBear VPN on macOS. It helps your Bear create a stable connection to our secure VPN servers. When you’re not using TunnelBear, the helper tool also ensures all of your internet settings are returned back to normal.

    You’ll be required to enter your computer’s administrator password to allow TunnelBear to install the helper tool. If you're not the administrator on your device, you may need the administrator to approve the installation. Please be aware, this is different from your TunnelBear account password (it should be the password you use to log on to your computer). Please make sure to select "Install Helper" when prompted. 

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  • How do I uninstall TunnelBear?

    Uninstalling TunnelBear from your device should be an easy process. Please take a look at the links below for instructions on how to uninstall the app. Please note: we advise that you do not use 3rd party uninstaller tools to complete the uninstallation, these tools can sometimes cause some unintended problems.

    Also, it’s important to note that uninstalling your app doesn’t cancel a paid subscription. If you have a paid subscription, you need to cancel it separately for the payments to stop. Instructions for cancelling can be found here.

    Uninstalling TunnelBear

    Windows

    For instructions on how to delete TunnelBear from your Windows device, please check out this article.

    macOS

    For detailed instructions on how to uninstall apps on your Mac computer from Apple, see this article

    iOS

    To delete TunnelBear on your iPhone or iPad, simply press and hold down the TunnelBear application until all of your apps begin to wiggle. A small “x” should appear in the top left corner of the apps that can be deleted from your device. Tap the “x” on the TunnelBear app to delete it.

    Android

    For instructions on how to delete TunnelBear from your Android device, please see check out this article

    Browser Extension (Chrome/Opera)

    1. For instructions on how to manage and delete your Chrome extensions, head here.
    2. For instructions on how to manage and delete Opera extensions, head here
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Connection issues

  • General tips to get connected

    First steps

    If you're running into connection issues, run through a few basics steps first to see if your Bear just needs a helping paw:

    1. Check out our Twitter page to see if we're conducting any schedule maintenance
    2. Try logging out and back into the app
    3. Try a fresh installation of the app from our downloads page

    If your Bear is still misbehaving...


    Ensure that other applications aren't interfering


    Check to make sure that you aren't running any other VPN services; they can potentially interfere with your ability to connect. Additionally, if you are running any third party security applications, try temporarily disabling them to see if they are interfering.

    Test another network


    Try connecting to TunnelBear on another network to see if you can connect. This can let you know if the issue might possibly lie with the router or network you are using.

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  • Desktop (Windows & macOS)

    The steps below can help with Windows and macOS connection issues.

    Ensure that the TunnelBear browser extension is off

    Make sure that you are not running the TunnelBear browser extension at the same time as the TunnelBear application, they can potentially interfere with one another.

    Turn on TCP Override

    If your connection seems slow or unstable, TCP Override may result in better performance. This feature is located in your TunnelBear preferences, under the general tab. If you already have TCP Override on, try turning it off to see what impact it has on your connection.

    Try turning on GhostBear

    If you are connecting from a country with strict censorship or from a restricted network (work, school, public WiFi), we recommend to give GhostBear a try. You can locate this feature in your TunnelBear preferences, under the security tab. GhostBear makes it harder for the VPN connection to be detected and blocked. Please be aware, GhostBear should only be enabled in cases of censorship; otherwise we advise to keep this feature off.

    Make sure the proper ports are opened

    If you have access to your network/router settings, we always recommend to make sure that the ports TunnelBear uses to operate aren't blocked.

    Windows and macOS have two tunnelling protocols available for the latest versions of the app. OpenVPN (also used by Android) and IKEv2 (also used by iOS). These two protocols will need different ports opened in order to work:

    1. OpenVPN needs port 443 (both TCP and UDP) to be unblocked. If a connection via port 443 is not successful, the application will try to connect using port 7011 (UDP only). If you're using the GhostBear feature, Windows uses port 3389, all other platforms use port 6418 (both TCP and UDP).

    2. IKEv2 needs UDP ports 500 and 4500 to be unblocked. Additionally, some routers have an "IPSec/IKEv2 Pass-Through" setting which opens the ports required for the VPN connection to operate.

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  • iOS

    If you're still running into issues on your iOS, try the following steps.

    Reinstall the VPN profile

    1. Make sure that TunnelBear is OFF
    2. Click on the menu button (three horizontal lines) in the top left corner of the TunnelBear app
    3. Click on Reinstall Profile
    4. Follow the prompts

    Ensure that your device isn't jailbroken

    Customizing your device's operating system can change important system settings. These changes can sometimes prevent TunnelBear from working correctly. We recommend using a non-jailbroken device to prevent such issues.

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  • Android

    If you're still having issues on Android, a few more steps to try are listed below.

    Make sure your device isn't running custom/rooted firmware

    Customizing your device's operating system can change important system settings. These changes can sometimes prevent TunnelBear from working correctly. We recommend using a stock ROM to prevent such issues.

    Disable any third party apps

    If you are running any third party battery or memory saving applications, try disabling them to see if they might be interfering with your connection.

    Try turning on GhostBear

    As with Windows and Mac, if you are connecting from a country with strict censorship, we recommend to give GhostBear a try (located in the TunnelBear preferences). GhostBear makes it harder for the VPN connection to be detected and blocked. Please be aware, GhostBear should only be enabled in cases of censorship; otherwise, we advise to keep this feature off.

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  • Browser Extension

    If you're not able to resolve issues with the extension with a fresh install, try the following.

    Disable any third party extensions

    Make sure other extensions, especially ones that provide a similar function to TunnelBear, are disabled while trying to connect. The TunnelBear browser extension is designed to detect if a conflicting extension is present in the majority of cases. However if you discover that a specific extension is causing an issues with TunnelBear, try turning it off to confirm. Then please let us know.

    Clear your browser's cache and cookies

    • For instructions on how to clear your cache/cookies in the Chrome browser, head here.
    • For instructions on how to clear your cache/cookies in the Opera browser, head here.
    • For instructions on how to clear your cache/cookies in the Firefox browser, head here.

    Ensure that your browser allows cookies

    The TunnelBear browser extension uses a standard cookie to ensure that you are authenticated throughout both the extension and website. Please make sure that your browser is not configured to delete cookies automatically when exiting the browser. Additionally, please ensure that any third party cleaner/privacy extensions are not set to automatically remove browser cookies. Lastly, ensure that cookies are enabled in the browser settings.

    • For more details on how to manage cookies in the Chrome browser, head here.
    • For more details on how to manage cookies in the Opera browser, head here.
    • For more details on how to manage cookies in the Firefox browser, head here.

    Make sure that the TunnelBear desktop application is off

    Please make sure that you aren't running the TunnelBear application while the TunnelBear browser extension is already on. Only one is designed to be connected at a time.

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Speed issues

  • Why is my Bear slow?

    When TunnelBear is ON, your data has to pass through our secure and encrypted VPN servers before it can access the content you wish to ‘bear’owse, and deliver it back to you. It’s common for there to be a small amount of speed loss in the process. That said, there are several reasons why you might be experiencing more significant speed loss when using TunnelBear.

    Common Causes of Speed Loss

    Geographic location

    Your physical location matters. The farther away you are from the tunnel you are trying to use, the farther your data has to travel. For example; if you live in Australia, connect to a US Tunnel, and access content in Japan, then your Bear has a fair amount of digging to do! Try tunneling to a country closer to where you are located to see if your connection speed improves at all.

    Your ISP

    Some ISPs may try to throttle or slow encrypted traffic coming from your network. If possible, we recommend trying TunnelBear out on another network to see if your speeds improve.

    Additional VPN services

    We don't recommend running more than one VPN service at a time. Installing software from other VPN providers can alter or conflict with TunnelBear’s optimal settings. Try removing or completely disabling similar software before using TunnelBear.

    Other third-party apps

    To optimize your tunneling experience, please make sure that other apps that typically transfer large amounts of data over the network connection are disabled (ie: cloud backup/file syncing services, background updates). Additionally, try disabling any third party security apps you might have installed (just temporarily), to ensure that they aren’t interfering with TunnelBear.

    Speed Troubleshooting

    Still experiencing speed problems? Then we recommend to specifically try some of the following steps - they might get things moving more quickly for you.

    Try switching to another network

    As mentioned, ISPs are a common cause of speed issues. If you are using a portable computer or mobile device, try switching to another wifi or mobile network to see if it helps. If you are using a desktop computer, try switching from a wifi connection to a wired connection (or vice-versa).

    Try switching to another tunnel

    Sometimes, it may be that the tunnel location you’ve chosen in the app has received a sudden influx in traffic. We automatically add new servers in most locations in response to high demand, and TunnelBear should connect you to the best performing server based on the country you’ve chosen, though it sometimes takes a few minutes for our network to catch up to the sudden increase in traffic. While we adjust, try switching to another tunnel to see if your speeds improve.

    If available, try our Auto Tunnel feature. Auto Tunnel will connect you to the fastest tunnel available, based off of all servers across the TunnelBear network.

    Enable TCP Override (Windows, Mac)

    If your ISP is throttling VPN connections, or you are connecting via an unreliable network, TCP Override might help. TCP Override will force the TunnelBear app to use a slower but more reliable protocol which may result in better performance on a choppy connection. This feature is located in your TunnelBear preferences within the app. If you don’t see any improvement, then we recommend disabling this feature.

    Try toggling GhostBear (Windows, Mac, Android)

    GhostBear is designed to make TunnelBear even more resistant to internet censorship by scrambling your VPN traffic, so that it is harder for your ISP or Government to detect and block the VPN connection. You can locate this feature in your TunnelBear preferences in the app. While GhostBear is a good indicator of whether your ISP is throttling or blocking your connection, it can also slow things down a bit. If you are already able to connect to TunnelBear without using this feature or it does not immediately improve your connection speed, we recommend keeping GhostBear OFF.

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Accessing websites and services

  • Why can't I access the content I want?

    TunnelBear's core service has always been to help you stay private and secure online. That said, certain websites or providers will try to block users that appear to be using a VPN from accessing their content. Our Bears always dig their hardest to get around these restrictions, however, we're not able to guarantee access to every site or app you might want to use. However, there are a few tips we can suggest to help your Bear put their best paw forward in these situations!

    General Troubleshooting

    Make sure you are connected properly
    While TunnelBear is ON and connected to a tunnel, head over to bearsmyip to confirm if you are connected properly. If the location shown matches the one you chose in the TunnelBear app, then you should be good to go. If you're not connected properly, check out this article for help with connection issues.

    Try switching TunnelBear OFF and back ON again 
    It is possible that a couple of our IP addresses are inevitably blocked by a specific website or service. We recommend to try toggling TunnelBear OFF and back ON again, or selecting another tunnel location, in order to get a different IP address.

    Clear your browser’s cache and cookies 
    It's possible that your cache/cookies might have some old location information stored in them that the website/service is able to pick up. Try clearing your cache/cookies to see if that sorts out the issue. For instructions on how to clear your cache/cookies, select the relevant browser: ChromeFirefoxSafari (on Mac), Safari (on iOS), Internet Explorer, and Opera

    Disable browser tracking 
    Some websites will ask for access to your real location in order to bring you more relevant information. Most mainstream browsers provide location tracking in order to approximate your exact location regardless of IP address. Try disabling these services in your browser. To disable browser tracking, please select the browser you use: ChromeFirefoxSafari, and Opera

    Access content while browsing privately 
    Bypass location tracking on a temporary basis by opening the desired content in an Incognito or Private Browsing window. This means that any locally stored data (such as your cache or cookies) won't be able to be accessed by the content provider. For instructions on how to browse privately with your browser, please check out the following: ChromeFirefoxSafari (on Mac), Safari (on iOS), Internet Explorer, and Opera

    Disable location services on your device
    Location services will allow location-based apps and websites to use information from cellular, Wi-Fi, and Global Positioning System (GPS) networks to determine your approximate location. You can disable location services as follows:

    1. For Windows take a look at this article.
    2. For Mac OS X take a look at this article.
    3. For iOS take a look at this article.
    4. For Android take a look at this article.

    iOS and Android Troubleshooting

    If you're trying to use a mobile app (other than your web browser) that has content only available to people in certain regions or countries, we recommend trying the following for both iOS and Android devices.

    For iOS
    Turn TunnelBear OFF
    Log out of the app you’re having issues with
    Force close the app (instructions here)
    Turn TunnelBear ON
    Launch the other app and try again

    For Android
    Turn TunnelBear ON
    Return to your home screen
    Tap the ‘App Drawer' shortcut on your home screen (the button that brings up all of your apps)
    Select 'Settings', then select 'Applications'
    Locate the app you’re having problems with
    Select 'Clear data & cache'
    Launch the other app and try again 

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  • How do I connect on public WiFi?

    When you're connecting on a network that requires you to log in before you can use the internet, you may be presented with a pop-up or webpage that prompts you to login to that location's network (i.e "Login to access Grizzly Coffee Co's Free Wi-Fi"). This is called a captive portal. Sometimes, when you're using TunnelBear (especially if you have VigilantBear enabled), you may not be presented with the login page automatically. However, you can still clear the captive portal.

    To clear the captive portal, open your browser and if you're not immediately directed to the network's login page, try to type in another URL. You should then be redirected to a login page before you can access the address you've requested. Log in and once you've successfully started browsing, reconnect TunnelBear. 

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  • Can I use SMTP to send email while connected to TunnelBear?

    Yes! TunnelBear does not block SMTP on our network, but we do limit the ports you can use to send email. Port 25 is widely known to be insecure and blocked on most residential ISPs as it’s often used by spammers. Since TunnelBear does not log what you do while you’re connected to our service, we remove the ability for you to send email using port 25.

    To use SMTP while connected to TunnelBear, you should configure your email client to use port 587 or port 465 for SMTPS.  

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Common Error Messages

  • 403: Cloudflare

    What does this error mean?

    When you see this error, it means that the network (IP address) you are connecting from has been flagged as a potential risk by one of our security services, Cloudflare.

    What is happening in the background when you see this error?

    When this happens, Cloudflare blocks your access to our network, meaning that you won’t be able to connect. The way that Cloudflare determines which users to block is complicated, and uses different sources of information, like Project HoneyPot, to determine what networks are more likely to present a threat.

    What might increase the likelihood of you seeing this kind of error?

    If you’re connecting from a shared network, such as a public network, university campus, or a region of the world where internet infrastructure is less developed, so IP addresses are scarce (more likely to be shared by lots of people), this can increase your likelihood of seeing this error. Cloudflare does its best to make sure legitimate traffic gets through, but sometimes you may be caught by accident in this net.

    How do we fix the issue?

    In this situation, the best thing to do is try connecting from another network temporarily. If you have waited patiently for some time, and you still can’t connect, get in touch with our friendly Support Bears and they’ll try to resolve the issue.

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  • 429: Rate limited

    What does this error mean?

    When you see this error, it means that you, or someone sharing a network with you, has tried to make too many requests to our service. This could mean anything from trying to enter the wrong password too many time to making an abnormal number of connection attempts.

    What is happening in the background when you see this error?

    When this happens, we limit these kinds of requests temporarily, meaning that you won't be allowed to log in or connect for a short period of time. This allows us to protect both you and ourselves from malicious attacks.

    For example: In the case of someone entering the wrong password multiple times, this stops someone who might be trying to hack into your TunnelBear account from proceeding with trying different passwords over and over again until they find the right one. In the case of an abnormal number of connections, this could be an attack on our network, such as a DDoS attack, so we need to stop traffic from this address to protect ourselves.

    What might increase the likelihood of you seeing this kind of error?

    If you’re connecting from a shared network, such as a public network, university campus, or a region of the world where internet infrastructure is less developed (where IP addresses are scarce), this can increase your likelihood of seeing this error. This is because we don’t just have to account for your personal traffic to our network, but also the traffic from many other users. We do our best to make sure legitimate traffic gets through, but sometimes you may be caught by accident in this net.

    How do we fix the issue?

    In this situation, the best thing to do is wait a little bit and try again. The limit on traffic from your network is generally temporary and should resolve within 20 minutes or so. If you attempt to connect while you’re still limited, or if you’re connecting from one of those shared networks where other people are also trying to connect, this can unfortunately extend the period of time for which your traffic is blocked.

    If you have waited patiently for some time and you still can’t connect, please get in touch with our friendly Support Bears and they’ll try to resolve the issue.

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