Mullvad VPN: Ranked #16 out of 99 VPNs that we tested
Mullvad says that “privacy is a universal right,” but does this VPN service do enough to protect that right?
We put Mullvad through our rigorous and extensive testing in order to answer some questions we had, such as:
- Is Mullvad a good VPN?
- Who owns Mullvad?
- Is Mullvad as private as it claims to be?
- Does Mullvad work with Netflix?
- Is Mullvad good for torrenting?
In this review, you’ll find all the information you need about Mullvad VPN. Let’s begin by taking a side by side look at its overall pros and cons:
Lets start off our in-depth review by looking at how fast Mullvad really is.
Speed & Reliability
Outstanding speeds, one of the best
Mullvad VPN’s speeds are exceptional – it’s extremely quick and very consistent.
Speed results from our physical location in London (100Mbps fibre optic connection) to a London test server.
Before using Mullvad VPN:
When connected to Mullvad VPN:
Download speed without Mullvad: 91Mbps
Download speed with Mullvad: 86Mbps
Our download speed loss when Mullvad is running: 6%
As you can see, when connecting to nearby servers, you can expect speeds that feature hardly any loss.
There’s almost nothing you cannot do with these speeds.
We put all of the VPNs on the site through a rigorous scientific speed testing process, determining the average speeds from multiple locations across the globe. These are the average speeds you can expect to pick up from these locations:
- USA: 44Mbps (download) & 85Mbps (upload)
- Germany: 83Mbps (download) & 90Mbps (upload)
- Singapore: 38Mbps (download) & 76Mbps (upload)
- Australia: 38Mbps (download) & 8Mbps (upload)
We were very impressed with speeds connecting out to the US East Coast from the UK, which is more than enough for HD streaming. The same applies to Australia and Singapore too, reaching above-average speeds for such distant connections.
We were particularly impressed by Mullvad’s exceptional upload speeds on local connections, making it a great choice for P2P users.
So what’s the catch?
Well, latency is a let down in comparison. Mullvad’s ping reached 23ms for Germany and 14ms for UK – which was the lowest ping we recorded (which isn’t very low), and that was connecting to a server within the same city as us. For this reason, we can’t recommend Mullvad for avid gamers.
We would recommend the VPN services listed in our guide to the best VPN for gaming.
We’ve also 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 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.
Limited server list
Mullvad only features servers in 38 countries. This is a narrow range.
Most of these countries are located in Europe, so Mullvad may not be the best choice for users located elsewhere. If you’re located outside of Europe, you might find the best suited VPN service for you to be NordVPN – we’ve reviewed it here.
Mullvad VPN currently operates a decent 313 servers, but with just one IP address per server users may experience slower speeds during times of high congestion. Thankfully, this hasn’t been the case during our testing experiences.
It’s good that Mullvad allows the user to access city-level servers in seven countries, with a whopping 28 cities in the US.
There are also four city locations across Australia, including Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Canberra.
Many VPNs include just Melbourne and Sydney, so it’s great to see the addition of two more Australian cities. The problem is that all these cities are condensed in the South East of the country, so if you live in the West Coast of Australia, you’re less lucky.
Diverse options is not the same for other regions, however – users are limited to just one country in South America (Brazil) and one choice in the whole of Africa (South Africa).
Streaming & Torrenting
Mixed results, but works with Netflix
We’ve had mixed results with Mullvad in our streaming tests.
It has, in the past, unblocked both Netflix and BBC iPlayer. However, our most recent tests failed to unblock BBC iPlayer on either its London or Manchester server.
Mullvad doesn’t offer any dedicated streaming servers to help you out, so we tested each server location one by one to test whether it works with US Netflix. We managed to unblock Netflix with the Charlotte and San Jose servers.
These US Mullvad servers didn’t work with Netflix:
- Los Angeles
- Oklahoma City
- Salt Lake City
- San Francisco
- Sioux Falls
- St. Louis
Mullvad VPN authorizes torrenting and P2P activity on all of its servers.
Mullvad is a secure and reliable option for torrenters, thanks to its fast and reliable speeds, minimal logging and a range of privacy features, including a built-in kill switch.
Mullvad VPN has even created a guide to use BitTorrent with the VPN.
No guarantee to work in China, but good for other countries
Due to China’s recent crackdown on VPN providers, we can’t recommend Mullvad as it often simply won’t work.
However, customer support suggests using the Shadowsocks proxy to bypass censorship. 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, although it is not guaranteed to work.
If you need a VPN that works in highly censored nations, then choosing a VPN service such as VyprVPN is a safer bet.
Platforms & Devices
Available on major platforms, but no apps for smartphones
Mullvad VPN provides user-friendly custom apps for:
Mullvad has no native apps for smartphones, which means that users will have to manually configure their devices with the OpenVPN software, which is frustrating for those looking for quick and easy one-click solutions on their phones.
Games Consoles & Streaming Devices
Mullvad VPN doesn’t provide custom apps for games consoles and streaming devices.
One method to use Mullvad with your gaming consoles or streaming devices 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 to each one.
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 – you can see our definitive list of the best VPNs for Chrome here.
Encryption & Security
Plenty of security features
DNS Leak Blocking
IPV6 Leak Blocking
Supports TCP Port 443
VPN Kill Switch
Please see our VPN Glossary if these terms confuse you and would like to learn more.
The Mullvad VPN apps have many extra security features and are a great choice for anyone 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 used to require manual configuration, but they’ve recently incorporated it into the MacOS and Linux apps.
Windows users still need to manually configure to use WireGuard, but Mullvad have promised an update to amend that in the near future.
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 like some other VPNs do.
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, we like Mullvad’s guide to 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.
WebRTC leaks on the Chrome browser have been a common issue and Mullvad recommends using Firefox instead, but we didn’t pick up any leaks in our tests, as you can see:
Mullvad VPN also provides split tunneling, which allows you to route sensitive data through the VPN and other data (like programs and apps) through your normal internet connection. This can help with any connection issues that might arise with online programs and games.
Mullvad was included in a report by the CDT (Center for Democracy & Technology) investigating the ‘Signals of Trustworthy VPNs’, in which it revealed the extra steps it takes to ensure user privacy. This includes developing its apps in Rust, a programming language made for building secure programs, and also using code signing for app and server code.
A minimal-logs policy – a safe choice
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 cannot possibly identify you.
Mullvad VPN is owned by Amagicom AB and incorporated in Sweden, a nation which belongs to 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.
We say it’s safe.
Ease of Use
Nice apps, easy to use
How to Install & Set Up Mullvad VPN
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.
Limited 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 need 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’s no search function, though, meaning you may have to look through a few different articles before you find what you’re after.
Pricing & Deals
No contracts – a pay-as-you-go VPN
Mullvad VPN Pricing Plan
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 however 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. If you want to pay even less per month (by subscribing to a longer-term plan) we suggest choosing a VPN service like Surfshark, ZenMate, or Private Internet Access.
US$5.80/moTop up as and when you need to use the service. This price has been converted from euros and is subject to currency fluctuations.
All plans have 30-day money-back guarantee
Payment & Refund Options
Mullvad VPN accepts most standard forms of payment, such as:
- Credit/debit card
- Bitcoin Cash
- Bank wire
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 it an envelope containing an amount of money, in any currency, along with your account number and it will top up your account accordingly.
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