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Mullvad VPN Review

By Simon Migliano | Updated June 10, 2019

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Ranked #17 out of 74 VPNs

Mullvad VPN screenshot

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Mullvad says that “privacy is a universal right,” but does this VPN service do enough to protect you? 

We put Mullvad through our rigorous and extensive testing to answer the many questions we had, like:

  • Is Mullvad a good VPN?
  • Who really owns it?
  • Is Mullvad as private as it claims to be?
  • Does it work with Netflix? What about torrenting?

In this Mullvad review, you’ll find all the information you need about this Swedish VPN service.

Let’s begin by examining Mullvad’s main pros and cons:

Overview

Mullvad VPN Pros & Cons

  1. Outstanding speeds
  2. A great VPN for torrenting
  3. Minimal-logging policy
  4. Advanced security features
  5. Easy-to-use desktop app
  1. No custom iOS and Android apps
  2. Unreliable access to Netflix & BBC iPlayer
  3. Small server network
  4. Support is slow and limited

Mullvad VPN Key Summary

Top Download Speed86Mbps
Logging PolicyAnonymous Server Usage Data
IP, DNS or WebRTC LeaksNo
JurisdictionSweden (14-Eyes Member)
Servers439
IP Addresses439
Countries38
US NetflixYes
TorrentingUnlimited
Works in ChinaNo
SupportEmail & Online Resources Only
Cheapest Price$5.80/mo
Official WebsiteMullvad.net

Now that you’ve seen Mullvad’s pros and cons, and some of its key features, lets start our in-depth review by looking at Mullvad’s speed recordings.

About & Logging Policy

Who is Mullvad VPN?

Mullvad VPN is owned by Amagicom AB and run by its CEO Jan Axel Jonsson.

It’s 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 Mullvad will keep you private (more on this further down).

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 cannot possibly identify you.

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

Screenshot of Mullvad VPN Privacy Policy

Excerpt from the Mullvad VPN privacy policy

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:

  1. DownloadMbps

    91

  2. UploadMbps

    93

  3. Pingms

    3

When connected to Mullvad VPN:

  1. DownloadMbps

    86

  2. UploadMbps

    88

  3. Pingms

    14

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, the speed loss is minimal.

There’s almost nothing you can’t do with these speeds.

We put all the VPNs we review through a detailed speed testing process, to work out the average connection speeds from different locations around the world.

These are the download and upload speeds for these popular countries:

  • 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. Instead, we recommend these gaming VPNs.

We 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.

Server Locations

Limited server list

Globe with a blue flag38Countries
Image of a city landscape61Cities
Image of a pink marker439IP Addresses

Mullvad only operates VPN 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 410 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 six countries, with an impressive 13 cities in the US. 

Also, there are six city locations across Australia:

  • Adelaide
  • Brisbane
  • Canberra
  • Melbourne
  • Perth
  • Sydney

Many VPNs only cover Melbourne and Sydney, so it’s great to see all these Australian cities in Mullvad’s server network.

However, other regions are not so lucky – South America (Brazil) and Africa (South Africa) only count one country each.

Screenshot of Mullvad VPN Server List from the Mullvad Website

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 have any dedicated streaming servers, so we tested each and every US server location to see which ones work with US Netflix.

Frustratingly, we only managed to watch American Netflix with the Charlotte and San Jose servers.

These US Mullvad servers didn’t work with Netflix:

  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Honolulu
  • Jackson
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • Milwaukee
  • Minneapolis 
  • Oklahoma City
  • Philadelphia
  • Phoenix 
  • Piscataway
  • Portland
  • Richmond
  • Salt Lake City
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • Secaucus 
  • Sioux Falls
  • St. Louis

Honestly, you should consider using better streaming VPNs for watching Netflix and for BBC iPlayer.

Torrenting

Mullvad VPN allows 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.

Bypassing Censorship

No guarantee to work in China

Illustration Depicting a VPN Circumventing the Great Firewall of ChinaDue 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. It’s 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. 

Away from China, Mullvad is unlikely to work in other high-censorship countries, such as Turkey, Iran, UAE, Russia 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.

Platforms & Devices

Lack of mobile apps is disappointing

Apps

Windows LogoWindows
Mac LogoMac
Linux LogoLinux
Router LogoRouter

Mullvad VPN provides user-friendly custom apps for:

  • Microsoft Windows
  • MacOS
  • Linux

Mullvad has no native apps for smartphones, which means that users will have to manually configure their devices with the OpenVPN software.

That’s frustrating for people wanting a quick and easy VPN setup on their mobile.

Mullvad told us that Android and iOS apps are in development, but it will be “a while” before the custom apps are released.

Until then, mobile users should see our Android VPN and iOS VPN recommendations.

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 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.

Browser Extensions

Mullvad doesn’t make available any VPN browser extensions. 

If you like using browser add-ons, other top VPN providers have great VPN extensions – see our best VPNs for Chrome and best VPNs for Firefox for more information.

 

Encryption & Security

Plenty of security features

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

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 DNS Leak Test From Browserleaks.com

Mullvad VPN leak test from broswerleaks.com. We test from the UK.

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.

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.

Customer Support

Limited customer support

EmailYes
Online ResourcesYes

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.

Mullvad VPN accepts most standard forms of payment, such as:

  • Credit/debit card
  • Bitcoin 
  • Bitcoin Cash
  • Bank wire
  • Swish

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.

 

The Bottom Line

Do We Recommend Mullvad VPN?

Mullvad is popular for a reason: it’s a fast, secure VPN that’s easy to use – we recommend it off the strength of all that alone.

It’s not perfect, though – it’s great for torrenting, but it doesn’t work well with Netflix or BBC iPlayer.

And, we’ve had issues with slow customer support in the past.

If none of that bothers you, though, then Mullvad is a solid option, otherwise take a look at the two VPN alternatives below.

Alternatives to Mullvad VPN

ExpressVPN Logo

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN excels where Mullvad struggles: it's based in a secure jurisdiction, has exceptional customer support, and is always reliable for streaming. Read ExpressVPN review

CyberGhost Logo

CyberGhost

CyberGhost is the best value for money on the VPN market right now. Mullvad is pretty expensive for what it offers - we think CyberGhost is a smarter purchase. Read CyberGhost review

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon leads our investigations into VPN safety and internet freedom research. His work has been featured on the BBC, CNet, Wired and The Financial Times. Read full bio

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