A Very Private VPN
Logging Policy & Jurisdiction
Mullvad VPN is based in Sweden, which isn't the best country for privacy. But its logging policy is private enough that we aren't worried; only minimal anonymous metadata is collected. It's not a zero logs approach, but it's safe.
Mullvad VPN employs a minimal-logs policy that only collects anonymous connection metadata relating to server usage.
It does not log any traffic, user bandwidth, or originating IP addresses. However, the service monitors a user’s total number of simultaneous connections. This data is never stored, though.
Additionally, Mullvad collects some anonymous usage stats, namely CPU load per core and total bandwidth used per server.
Anonymous usage stats are used to maintain reliable server performance. This data is stored indefinitely, but it won’t affect your privacy since it’s completely anonymous.
You also don’t need to submit any personal details to create an account, not even your email address. You’re simply assigned a randomly-generated account number, which functions as your login credentials.
Mullvad is Based in Sweden
Mullvad VPN is owned by Amagicom AB and run by its CEO, Jan Axel Jonsson.
The company is incorporated in Sweden, part of the ‘Fourteen Eyes,’ an intelligence alliance made up of 14 countries who collect and share mass surveillance data.
This is usually a red flag, but Mullvad doesn’t log your web activity so there is no user data that can be linked back to you.
Fast Local Speeds But Slower Over Long-Distances
Speed & Reliability
Mullvad is quick, particularly on short-distance connections. But its speeds drop considerably on longer connections, and latency (ping) is often too high. We also experienced some connection drops, showing that Mullvad isn't as reliable as we'd expect.
Mullvad registered fast speeds in our extensive tests. It’s not the fastest VPN we’ve reviewed, but it’s a very quick VPN nonetheless.
We tested Mullvad’s short-distance speeds by connecting to one of its UK servers from our physical location in London, UK. Here are the results:
Local Speed Test results before using Mullvad VPN:
- Download Speed: 91Mbps
- Upload Speed: 93Mbps
- Ping: 3ms
Local Speed Test results with Mullvad VPN:
Download speed loss when Mullvad VPN is running: 5%
The speed results above show how fast Mullvad is connecting to nearby servers. A 6% speed drop is very good, and something few VPN services attain.
Sadly, we did experience a number of connection drops during our speed tests. As such, Mullvad’s connection reliability needs improving.
International Speed Test Results
Over longer distances, Mullvad slows down a fair amount, although many VPNs experience this.
We also tested Mullvad’s speeds connecting to other countries, from closer ones to far away ones.
Here are our Mullvad VPN’s latest international speed test results:
- Download: 44mbps (52% slower)
- Upload: 85Mbps (9% slower)
- Download: 83Mbps (9% slower)
- Upload: 90Mbps (3% slower)
- Download: 38Mbps (58% slower)
- Upload: 76Mbps (18% slower)
- Download: 38Mbps (58% slower)
- Upload: 8Mbps (91% slower)
The results above show how Mullvad slows down considerably connecting to servers further away.
The speed loss connecting to the US and Australia was over 50%, which isn’t great. Read our speed analysis of ExpressVPN, one of the quickest VPNs on long-range connections.
It’s a different story when it comes to Mullvad’s upload speeds, which were impressive. We come across very few VPNs with so little international upload speed loss.
High Latency Is An Issue
The VPN’s latency is a let down, unfortunately. Mullvad’s best average ping time was 14ms – way above our most highly-rated VPNs.
High ping times cause lag, particularly when gaming online. For this reason, we can’t recommend Mullvad for avid gamers. Instead, we recommend these online gaming VPNs.
Unexpected Connection Drops
We also experienced a few connection drops during our tests, particularly connecting to city-level servers rather than general country ones.
Connections drops are from ideal and symbolize Mullvad’s less than optimal reliability.
At least, Mullvad’s VPN kill switch kicked in each time to ensure our true IP address wasn’t exposed and this seems to happen less and less.
Mullvad’s Speeds Compared to Other VPNs
The graph below illustrate Mullvad’s speeds compared against other top VPNs.
We use our internal automated speed test tool to calculate average download speed loss against a capped 100Mbps connection.
The tool runs VPN speed tests automatically four times a day, seven days a week on our New York server.
The chart above shows us that Mullvad’s average download speed loss is far worse than ExpressVPN. But, it competes well against Private Internet Access and NordVPN.
Limited Range of Locations: Only 764 Servers
Mullvad has 764 servers across 38 countries. It's nowhere near as extensive as some competitors, but casual users should be satisfied, especially if you're based in Europe where most servers are located.
Mullvad only operates VPN servers in 38 countries. This is a narrow range. For comparison, ExpressVPN have servers in 94 countries.
Most server locations are based in Europe, so Mullvad may not be the best VPN for users located elsewhere in the world.
If you’re not in Europe, take a look at our NordVPN review, which covers more countries across the globe.
Mullvad VPN currently operates 764 servers. But with just one IP address per server, the risk of server congestion increases. So far, this hasn’t been the case during our speed tests.
Good US City Coverage
You can also access city-specific VPN servers in six countries, including 13 cities in the US:
- Los Angeles
- New York
- Salt Lake City
- San Jose
Many City Servers in Australia
Also, there are six city locations across Australia:
Most top-rated VPNs only cover Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. Mullvad’s presence in six Australian cities makes the VPN a great choice for Australians.
However, other world regions are not so lucky. South America (Brazil) and Africa (South Africa) only count one server country location each.
US Netflix Access Only
Mullvad isn't a good VPN for streaming. It unblocks US Netflix, but that's it. That means you can't unblock BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Hulu, and more.
We’ve had mixed streaming results with Mullvad VPN.
In the past, the VPN unblocked both US Netflix and BBC iPlayer. However, recently we couldn’t stream BBC iPlayer on neither its London nor Manchester server.
Only Two Servers Stream US Netflix
The VPN doesn’t have any dedicated streaming servers, so we tested all of Mullvad’s US servers to see which ones work with US Netflix.
Frustratingly, we only managed to watch American Netflix on the San Jose server.
Fast, P2P-Friendly VPN With Port Forwarding
We rate Mullvad highly as a torrenting VPN as all of its servers are P2P-friendly, it picks up a fast average MiB/s, and comes with strong security. There's port forwarding and SOCKS5 proxy, too.
Mullvad VPN allows torrenting and P2P activity on all of its servers.
The VPN is a secure and reliable torrenting VPN thanks to its good speeds, strong logging policy and a range of privacy features.
P2P-friendly settings include a built-in kill switch, and port forwarding for torrent seeders. You can also use the service’s SOCKS5 proxy for torrenting, but we recommend using the full VPN at the same time.
No Guarantee It Works In China
Mullvad isn't reliable against Chinese censorship or in countries like Russia, Turkey, and UAE. There's a chance it works when using the Shadowsocks proxy, but there are safer, more reliable choices out there.
Due to China’s crackdown on VPN services, we can’t recommend Mullvad. It often won’t work.
Mullvad’s Shadowsocks proxy may sometimes work, but it’s very rare based on our tests.
The VPN is also unlikely to work in other high-censorship countries, such as Turkey, Iran, UAE, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.
Good Apps But No Extensions Or Fire Stick
Platforms & Devices
Mullvad is compatible across the major mobile and desktop devices, including MacOS, Windows, iOS, and Android.
It’s also available on Linux as a custom app. We’d like to see a Smart DNS feature and Fire TV Stick app, though, and some browser extensions.
Mullvad is available to use one these devices:
Mullvad has built user-friendly VPN apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and Linux.
You can use the VPN on five connections at once, which is the industry standard these days, but less generous than many other services.
No Firestick App or Smart DNS
Sadly, Mullvad doesn’t have a native Fire TV app or a Smart DNS. This makes it more complicated to use the VPN on Apple TV, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox, and similar devices.
This isn’t entirely surprising considering that Mullvad is such a poor VPN for streaming.
Lacks Browser Extensions
Mullvad VPN’s limited compatibility extends to web browsers, too.
Disappointingly, the company hasn’t built any VPN or proxy browser extensions. They are increasingly popular with VPN users, because of their ease of use.
Wide Range of Security Features
Security & Features
Mullvad focuses on security at the expense of entertainment. But that means it's safe and well-suited to those who want to browse the web anonymously. It uses WireGuard protocol and encrypts your data with the best cipher, AES-256. There's a built-in kill switch to prevent exposures and leak protection as well.
Mullvad’s VPN apps have many extra security features, ideal for anyone seeking high levels of online security.
VPN connections are encrypted via the AES 256-bit cipher and you can choose between two VPN protocols: OpenVPN (desktop only) and WireGuard (desktop and mobile).
Mullvad’s Built-In Kill Switch
The built-in VPN kill switch prevents your true IP address from being exposed during connection drops. It runs at all times and automatically kicks in upon a connection failure.
No DNS Or IP leaks
Mullvad also operates its own DNS servers, meaning your web traffic isn’t routed through potentially less secure third-party servers.
The apps also feature integrated DNS leak protection to prevent your DNS credentials from becoming visible to a third-party.
In fact, the VPN service successfully masked our IP and DNS credentials in our battery of VPN leak tests.
Split Tunneling on Android & Linux
Split tunneling lets you decide which programs should use the VPN connection, and which ones shouldn’t. This can help fix connection issues when the VPN is running.
This feature is only available on the Android and Linux apps, though. For Windows and MacOS, there is a manual split tunneling process, but it’s more complicated.
Apps Built in Rust
For more our more technical readers, Mullvad’s apps are developed using Rust, a programming language made for building secure programs. They’re also built using code signing for app and server code.
Well-Designed, Functional Apps
Ease of Use
Mullvad's apps are simple to use and they look good. They're foolproof but not entirely without faults.
How to Install & Set Up Mullvad VPN
Mullvad VPN has a sleek and simple desktop client for Windows, MacOS, 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.
Similarly to the desktop clients, Mullvad’s mobile apps are also easy to use.
Limited customer support
Mullvad can improve its customer support system. It's not easy to find the information you need on its website and there's no live-chat feature to get quick answers. Instead, you send an email and the reply time can vary. The agents are knowledgeable and helpful, though.
Unfortunately, there isn’t any live chat support available and the speed of email replies can vary a lot; from a couple of minutes to 12 hours. This is frustrating if you need quick answers.
At least, Mullvad’s customer support agents are friendly and helpful.
Mullvad’s website contains detailed FAQs and user guides that answer most common queries. There’s no website search functionality, though, so it’s quicker to search for your question on a search engine to find the answer on Mullvad.net.
$5.95 Flat Price
Price & Value for Money
Mullvad costs the same no matter what: $5.95 per month. A single tier pricing system is rare to find among VPNs and its simplicity is appealing. You aren't tied to long-term deals but it's still too expensive; on longer-term deals, top VPNs can cut the price to as low as $3.00 per month or less.
Unlike most VPN services, Mullvad VPN doesn’t offer longer-term subscription plans. Or longer-term discounts for that matter.
With Mullvad, you pay one monthly price and ‘top up’ for however long you want to use the VPN.
For $5.95 a month, Mullvad is a relatively cheap VPN service, considering you aren’t tied in for 12 months or longer, and most one-month VPN deals cost over $10.00.
If you want to pay even less per month (by subscribing to a longer-term plan), you can read our page for the best cheap VPNs.
All plans have 30-day money-back guarantee
Payment & Refund Options
Mullvad accepts payment via a large number of methods:
Mullvad is also one of the very few VPN services that lets you pay with cash, which is great for anonymity.
Just mail it an envelope containing an amount of money, along with your account number. The company will then top up your account accordingly. You can pay in EUR, USD, GBP, SEK, DKK, NOK, CHF, CAD, AUD, and NZD.
Those who pay with Bitcoin are also given a 10% discount.
A Good VPN Focused On Privacy
The Bottom Line
In summary, Mullvad VPN is reasonably fast, secure, and is gaining popularity with privacy-focused users.
Private browsing and torrenting is where Mullvad delivers the best results.
However, there are several important areas where Mullvad needs to improve. Mainly, device compatibility and bypassing streaming geo-restrictions.
If these issue don’t bother you, then Mullvad is a solid VPN choice. Otherwise, take a look at the two VPN alternatives below.
Additional research by David Hughes
Alternatives to Mullvad VPN
ExpressVPN excels where Mullvad struggles. It works well on most devices, bypasses most geo-blocks, and is very fast across long-distances. Read ExpressVPN review
CyberGhost is a better streaming VPN than Mullvad and is the better value for money. Mullvad is pretty expensive for what it offers. Read CyberGhost review