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Mullvad VPN Review

Simon Migliano
By Simon MiglianoUpdated
Our Score8.0
User Rating
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Private & secure VPN with minimal logging. Good for torrenting/P2P users.

What we like
  • Peak local download speeds of 71Mbps
  • Netflix & iPlayer currently working
  • Torrenting permitted on all servers
  • Easy-to-use desktop app
  • Connect securely to 32 countries
  • Minimal-logging policy

Mullvad provides an extremely private VPN service.

Mullvad has a user-friendly desktop app for VPN beginners and many configurable settings for tech-savvy users, for just $5.80 a month.

On local connections, the VPN is fast enough for general web browsing, HD streaming and torrenting. The speeds are consistent connecting internationally too.

High latencies make it hard for us to recommend Mullvad to avid gamers, though.

Mullvad worked with both Netflix and BBC iPlayer in our most recent tests, but access has been rather inconsistent in the past.

Mullvad is a strong choice for privacy-focused users – it operates a minimal logging policy, provides the option to pay in cash and doesn’t require any personal details on sign-up.

Advanced security features, such as integrated DNS leak blocking and split tunneling, paired with the default OpenVPN protocol make Mullvad very secure.

The user-friendly desktop apps are great for VPN newbies, but we’re disappointed that there are no native VPN apps for smartphones.

Mullvad’s customer service is friendly but occasionally slow, with no live chat function.

Pricing & Deals

Unlike most VPN providers, Mullvad VPN offers no longer-term subscription plans or discounts for longer-term contracts. You pay one monthly price and ‘top up’ for how ever long you want to use the VPN service.

For just $5.80 a month, Mullvad is a relatively cheap VPN provider, considering you aren’t tied in for 12 months or more. However, if you want to pay even less per month (subscribing to a longer-term plan, though) we suggest choosing one VPN services like Private Internet Access or Surfshark.

Mullvad VPN Pricing & Deals

1 Month
US$5.80/mo
Top up as and when you need to use the service. This price has been converted from euros and is subject to currency fluctuations.
Get Mullvad VPN30-day money-back guarantee

Mullvad VPN provides its users three hours of free service on download, no payment details required, after which you pay the flat rate.

The free trial may be too short to fully test out the VPN software, but Mullvad also offers a generous 30-day money-back guarantee, which is available to all customers except those paying in cash.

You will receive a refund no matter the reason if you claim within the 30 days, making it a relatively risk-free purchase.

Payment & Refund Options

Mullvad VPN accepts most standard forms of payment, such as credit/debit card and PayPal.

It also accepts some cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash.

You can also pay by bank wire and Swedish mobile payment, Swish, too.

Other popular international payment methods, such as Alipay, aren’t yet available.

Mullvad is one of the very few VPN providers that allow you to pay in cash, which is great for those seeking total anonymity. Just mail them an envelope containing an amount of money, in any currency, along with your account number and they will top up your account accordingly.

Speed & Reliability

Mullvad VPN’s speed doesn’t quite measure up to that offered by top-tier VPN providers, but it does clock fairly quick speeds on local connections.

Connecting to nearby servers, you can expect speeds more than adequate for general web browsing, torrenting and HD streaming, but probably not on more than a couple of devices at the same time.

Local download speeds peaked at 71Mbps in Germany, and remained pretty consistent across all European connections (we test from London).

We were also very impressed with speeds connecting out to the US East Coast, coming in at 50Mbps, which is more than enough for HD streaming.

Speeds dropped over longer distances, but fast enough for general web browsing and single-device HD streaming, with speeds reaching 25Mbps connecting out as far as Australia.

Latency is unacceptably high, even on local connections – the lowest latency we recorded was a disappointing 15ms, and that was connecting to a server in the same city. For this reason, we definitely can’t recommend Mullvad for avid gamers.

We experienced a few connection drops during our testing, particularly when selecting a city-level server rather than connecting to a country, which was frustrating. Thankfully the kill switch kicked in each time to ensure our true IP address wasn’t exposed.

Switching between servers was occasionally slow, taking over 10 seconds to reconnect at times, but again the kill switch sprung to action.

We were impressed by Mullvad’s upload speeds on local connections, which peaked at 83Mbps in the Netherlands, making it a great choice for P2P users. Unfortunately, upload speeds dropped significantly on long-distance connections, plummeting to 3Mbps in Singapore.

To find out more about our speed testing methodologies, please read how we review VPNs.

Features

Server Locations

Globe with a blue flag37Countries
Image of a city landscape72Cities
Image of a pink marker250+IP Addresses

Mullvad only serves 37 countries, which is a narrow range. Most of the countries are located in Europe, so it may not be a great choice for users located elsewhere. If you’re located outside Europe, a VPN service like NordVPN may be better suited for you.

Mullvad VPN currently operates a respectable 250+ servers, but with just one IP address per server, users may experience some slower speeds during peak times. Thankfully, this has not been the case during our testing.

We like that Mullvad allows users to drill down to city-level in seven countries, with a whopping 28 cities covered in the US. There are also four city locations across Australia, which is on par with our top pick ExpressVPN.

Unfortunately, users are limited to just one country in South America (Brazil) and one choice in Africa: South Africa.

You can find the complete list of Mullvad server locations, by country and purpose, by following the link below.

Platforms & Devices

Apps

Windows LogoWindows
Mac LogoMac
iOS LogoiOS
Android LogoAndroid
Linux LogoLinux
Router LogoRouter

Mullvad VPN provides user-friendly custom apps for Microsoft Windows, MacOS and Linux.

A lack of native apps for smartphones means that users will have to manually configure their devices with the OpenVPN software, which is frustrating for those looking for a one-click solution. Mullvad informed us that Android and iOS apps are in development, however it will be ‘a while before something is released’.

If you get stuck installing Mullvad VPN on any device, Mullvad’s website provides helpful step-by-step installation guides, including resources to install the VPN on routers (DD-WRT and OpenWrt routers, for example).

Browser Extensions

Mullvad doesn’t make available any browser extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Safari.

If you are a heavy web browser user and like using browser add-ons, some of our other top VPN providers provide this feature.

Games Consoles & Streaming Devices

AppleTV LogoAppleTV
Amazon Fire TV LogoAmazon Fire TV
Chromecast LogoChromecast
Nintendo LogoNintendo
PlayStation LogoPlayStation
Roku LogoRoku
Xbox LogoXbox

Mullvad VPN doesn’t provide custom apps for games consoles and streaming devices.

One method to use Mullvad with your gaming console or streamer is to ‘piggyback’ off the VPN connection from another device that is already running the Mullvad app (such as a desktop computer). Mullvad generously allows five simultaneous connections, so you can protect all your own devices and your family members’ too.

Alternatively, you can install Mullvad VPN on your router (check whether it’s compatible) and connect your home devices to it. This means that every internet-connected device in your home will be protected by the VPN, without having to install individual VPN apps (where possible) on each one.

 

Streaming & Torrenting

Mullvad VPN hasn’t been the most reliable VPN provider to unblock  popular streaming websites, however in our most recent tests it did unlock both US Netflix and BBC iPlayer.

Mullvad doesn’t have dedicated streaming servers, so we had to test each server location one by one, but after several tries we found Netflix to work through a couple of its US servers. Thankfully speeds were good enough for buffer-free HD streaming.

We were also able to stream BBC iPlayer after testing a few different UK servers. However, if you’re looking for ‘one-click’ access to these services, you should opt for a VPN provider with dedicated streaming servers, such as CyberGhost VPN.

Mullvad authorizes torrenting and P2P activity on all of its servers. Mullvad VPN is a secure and reliable option for torrenters, thanks to its good and reliable speeds, minimal logging and a range of advanced security features. They have even created a guide to use BitTorrent with the VPN.

Encryption & Security

The Mullvad VPN apps has many extra security features and is a great choice for people seeking top-level privacy.

Encryption is via top cipher AES-256 and you can also choose between two VPN protocols: OpenVPN and WireGuard. Using WireGuard with Mullvad currently requires manual configuration, so we recommend you use OpenVPN.

The built-in VPN kill switch, which prevents your true IP address from being exposed should the connection drop, is a must-have and we like that it doesn’t require manual activation.

All of Mullvad VPN’s servers have SOCKS5 proxy connections enabled as back up (in case you forget to turn on the VPN app), but you will have to configure your web browser accordingly. For more information, read Mullvad’s guide on its SOCKS5 proxy.

Mullvad also offers integrated DNS leak protection and operates its own DNS servers, meaning your web traffic isn’t routed through potentially less secure third-party servers.

Unfortunately, WebRTC leaks on the Chrome browser are a common issue and Mullvad recommends using Firefox instead, but we found that clearing our cookies and switching off location sharing solved the issue.

Mullvad VPN also provides split tunneling, which allows you to route sensitive data through the VPN and other data through your normal internet connection.

Mullvad was included in a report by the CDT (Center for Democracy & Technology) investigating the “Signals of Trustworthy VPNs”, in which they revealed the extra steps they take to ensure user privacy. This includes developing their apps in Rust, a programming language made for building secure programs, and also using code signing for app and server code.

Protocol
  • OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)
  • WireGuard
Encryption
  • AES-256
Security
  • DNS Leak Blocking
  • First-party DNS
  • IPV6 Leak Blocking
  • Supports TCP Port 443
  • VPN Kill Switch
Advanced features
  • SOCKS
  • Split Tunneling

Bypassing Censorship

Due to China’s recent crackdown on VPN providers, it’s hard to recommend Mullvad as it often won’t work, however there are a couple of options that may work.

Customer support suggested using the Shadowsocks proxy, but this is not as secure as a VPN connection and should be avoided if privacy is your priority.

There are also claims that the WireGuard protocol works in China, which is worth trying, but currently not guaranteed.

Mullvad is unlikely to work in other high-censorship countries, such as Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

If you need a VPN that works in highly censored nations, then choosing a VPN service such as VyprVPN is a safer bet.

Privacy

Logging Policy

Mullvad shows a clear dedication to privacy, with a minimal-logs policy that only collects anonymous connection metadata relating to server usage.

No personal details are needed to create an account, and you are simply assigned a randomly-generated account number, further protecting your identity.

Mullvad VPN does not log any traffic, user bandwidth, or originating IP addresses. Mullvad does monitor a user’s total number of simultaneous connections, but this data is never stored.

Mullvad does collect some anonymous usage stats such as CPU load per core and total bandwidth used per server, which is used to maintain reliable server performance. This data is stored indefinitely, but it won’t affect your privacy since it isn’t personally identifiable.

Mullvad’s privacy policy is as close to zero-logs as you can get without potentially jeopardizing performance.

Jurisdiction

Mullvad VPN is incorporated in Sweden, a member of the ‘Fourteen Eyes’, an intelligence alliance made up of 14 countries who collect and share mass surveillance data.

This is a potential red flag, but considering Mullvad’s minimal-logs policy, no data requested by the authorities can be linked back to an individual user.

Ease of Use

Mullvad VPN has a sleek and simple desktop client for Windows, Mac and Linux users. The main screen is clutter free, displaying only your connection status and selected server.

When connected, the banner at the top turns green and the app reads ‘secure connection’. A red banner indicates that the VPN is not connected. The app disappears in your toolbar whenever you click elsewhere, which is annoying.

Changing VPN server location is simple and is done by clicking ‘Switch Location’ on the main screen – you can drill down to city level in some locations and even choose a specific server.

The main settings are located in the top right corner, but there is no access to many of the advanced features, such as split tunneling, which require manual configuration. The app’s advanced settings only allow you to toggle between UDP and TCP and select your preferred port.

Our biggest gripe about Mullvad’s usability is that there are no mobile VPN apps. You can only manually configure your device with OpenVPN. This makes it harder to recommend Mullvad VPN to VPN beginners.

Getting Started

Downloading and installing the custom VPN apps for Windows, Mac and Linux is simple and quick, taking just a few minutes from account signup to connection.

You only need to pay once your 3-hour trial is over.

You have to download the relevant VPN software from Mullvad’s website, follow a few installation prompts, log into the VPN app and connect to a secure server.

If you get stuck, the website provides easy-to-follow set-up guides with screenshots for extra clarity.

Using Mullvad VPN on any other device, including smartphones, is much more lengthy and requires manual configuration. There are step-by-step guides on the website but VPN newbies should use a VPN service with more native VPN apps.

  • Installing software
  • How to use the app

Customer Support

Mullvad VPN currently has no live chat feature and the speed of email replies is variable, from a couple of minutes to 12 hours, which is frustrating if you want quick answers.

However, the customer support agents were friendly and helpful when they did reply.

Should you have any urgent queries, most answers can be found in Mullvad’s comprehensive FAQs, Guides and Blog. There is, however, no search function, meaning you may have to look through a few different articles before you find what you’re after.

The Bottom Line

What we like
  • Peak local download speeds of up to 71Mbps
  • Works with Netflix & BBC iPlayer
  • Torrenting & P2P activity allowed on all servers
  • Connect securely to 32 countries
  • Extra security features, such as split tunneling
What we like less
  • Access to Netflix & iPlayer inconsistent
  • No custom apps for smartphones
  • High latencies
  • Limited server network
  • Email support can be slow

Mullvad is a good VPN provider for those seeking the closest possible thing to online anonymity.

For just $5.80 a month and no long-term commitment, it’s also a relatively inexpensive option.

On local VPN connections, it’s more than quick enough for general browsing and HD streaming across a few devices.

Mullvad VPN works with Netflix and BBC iPlayer, but access has been very inconsistent.

High latencies will deter avid gamers, but torrenters and P2P users will be happy as torrenting is permitted on all servers.

The desktop VPN apps are user-friendly enough, but if you want to use Mullvad VPN on your smartphone, we recommend using other VPN providers as Mullvad requires manual configuration to work on mobile devices. This is also the case if you want full access to all of Mullvad’s advanced security features, such as split tunneling.

Despite being based in privacy-unfriendly Sweden, the lack of personally-identifiable logs means that nothing you do online can be traced back to you. You can pay in cash, and signup doesn’t require any personal details, making this provider great for privacy.

Mullvad can sometimes work in China and other high censorship countries, however there are better VPN services that are more reliable.

Email support is friendly, if occasionally slow, but Mullvad’s online resources should be sufficient for most basic queries.


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