Mullvad Review

Mullvad is an interesting service that has a high standard for privacy, is pretty fast and gets you into Netflix most of the time. It's also unique in that it accepts hard cash as payment. Read all about this quirky service in our full Mullvad review.

By Jacob RoachDeputy Editor
— Last Updated: 19 Feb'19
2016-01-05T15:26:44-08:00
Table of ContentsRating
Features
60%
Fair
Pricing
95%
Excellent
Ease of Use
80%
Good
Speed
95%
Excellent
Security
80%
Good
Privacy
100%
Excellent
Streaming Performance
60%
Fair
Server Locations
70%
Decent
Customer Service
75%
Good
User Reviews & Comments

Good
$ 568 per month
best-VPN-reviews

There’s something oddly wholesome about Mullvad. It streamlines the annoying and privacy-unfriendly sign-up process of almost every other VPNs and is still accessible. It even earned a spot in our best VPN guide for its clear stance on privacy and no-nonsense interface.

In this Mullvad review, we’re going to talk about the pros and cons we experienced while testing it. We’ll discuss features, pricing, user-friendliness, speed, security, privacy, streaming, server locations and customer service before giving our verdict.

Mullvad is an impressive VPN. It will keep you private and secure for cheap and do so with quick speed. It has issues, such as a lack of features and mediocre access to streaming platforms, that may make you reconsider, though.

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths:

  • Fast
  • Accepts cash as payment
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to use
  • No-logs policy
  • Doesn’t require email address
  • Gets into Netflix

Weaknesses:

  • Blocked by some streaming platforms
  • Lacking feature set
  • Small server network

Alternatives for Mullvad

cloudwards rating
$ per month
top features

Features

60% - Fair

Mullvad is unexciting when it comes to features. Ignoring what we consider the essential features for VPNs, Mullvad doesn’t have anything interesting. If you’re looking for unusual features, we recommend taking a look at our Windscribe review.

As for essential features, Mullvad includes a killswitch that can’t be disabled. Any time you’re connected to the VPN and it fails, Mullvad will block your internet connection, ensuring no information slips through the cracks. Once you disconnect from the VPN, the killswitch serves no purpose.

That said, Mullvad puts a spin on its killswitch. In the settings, you can tell the VPN to block internet traffic unless you’re connected to it. Doing it that way means if the VPN gets disconnected, your internet traffic will be blocked. It’s similar to a killswitch but more secure.

In the future, Mullvad will offer more in terms of features. It was an early adopter of OpenVPN, which has swept the VPN industry by storm, and it’s looking at WireGuard. That new VPN protocol isn’t available in the application, but you can set it up manually using one of Mullvad’s configuration files.

Mullvad Feature Overview

$ 568per month

General

Payment methods
PayPal, Credit card, Cash, Bank Trasnfer
Accepts cryptocurrency
Simultaneous connections
5
Supports split tunneling
Unlimited bandwidth
Free trial available
Refund period
30 days
Worldwide server amount
288 servers in 38 countries
Desktop OSes
Windows, MacOS, Linux
Mobile OSes
Available via configuration files
Browser extensions
Can be installed on routers

Streaming

Can access Netflix US
Can access BBC iPlayer
Can access Hulu
Can access Amazon Prime Video

Security

Encryption types
256-AES
VPN protocols available
OpenVPN, WireGuard
Enabled at device startup
Allows torrenting
No-logging policy
Passed DNS leak test
Killswitch available
Malware/ad blocker included

Support

Live Chat
Email support
24/7
Phone support
User forum
Knowledgebase

Pricing

95% - Excellent

Though sparse on actual features, Mullvad’s pricing is one of its features. Its system is so straightforward that it’s novel. Compared to bargain-bin providers, such as Private Internet Access (read our PIA review), you’ll save money month-to-month, but without long-term contracts, Mullvad’s value diminishes over time.

Mullvad
  • Unlimited GB Bandwidth
  • 5 Included Devices
  • Bitcoin

There is only one option: month-to-month. You can pay for as much or as little time as you want and Mullvad will not renew your subscription when your run out — unless you paid with PayPal. Instead of subscribing to the service, you’re buying an allotted amount of time with it.

In the table above, we put the current rate in U.S. dollars and euros. Mullvad charges 5 euros, so what you pay will be dependent on the exchange rate at the time of checkout.

As far as monthly rates go, Mullvad is unmatched. PIA is $2 more expensive, despite being one of the cheapest options on the market. Providers such as Astrill and Hide.me, which charge $15-$20 monthly, look like a joke compared to Mullvad (read our Astrill review and Hide.me review).

There’s a problem buying long-term, though. It doesn’t offer multi-year discounts, which doesn’t hurt most of the time. For example, CyberGhost’s annual plan is the same price as Mullvad’s (read our CyberGhost review). That said, its value diminishes compared to NordVPN and PureVPN, which offer three years or more (read our NordVPN review and PureVPN review).

Though the numbers don’t lie, the reality is that Mullvad isn’t bad, even if you’re planning to subscribe for more than a year. The fact that you don’t have to pay $100 or more upfront and still get a low monthly rate is a big plus and a major reason we’d recommend Mullvad over NordVPN and PureVPN when it comes to pricing.

The most unusual aspect of Mullvad is not its approach to subscription services, it’s that it accepts cold, hard cash. The standard payment options are available, including credit cards, PayPal and bitcoin, but you can also pay with a bank wire or cash. You can mail Mullvad any amount of money in any currency with your account number and it will credit your account.

Because of Mullvad’s payment system, refunds aren’t given out on cash payments. That said, there’s a three-hour trial that anyone can download and play with to get a feel for how it works. As we’ll see in the next section, you don’t need to provide Mullvad with an email, so it’s easy to get started.

For other payment methods, you can get a refund for up to 30 days using Mullvad’s support line.

Ease of Use

80% - Good

Signing up for Mullvad is easier than it is with most VPNs because you don’t have to make an account. Instead of providing your email address, payment method and password, all you have to do is click “get account” on the homepage. Mullvad will generate an account code for you that’s good for the three-hour trial, and you’ll use it to log in to the app.

That authentication method is similar to ExpressVPN’s (read our ExpressVPN review). Unlike most VPN services, which require you to log in each time you reboot your machine, Mullvad is always active. Once you’ve authenticated your account with the application, you’re free to use it.

What’s interesting about Mullvad’s system is that it is easy to use and private. You never have to sign up for an account or reveal personal details, yet the application is modern and intuitive. Contrasted with AirVPN, which has a similar pricing system but a far worse application, Mullvad looks great (read our AirVPN review).

Once the install has finished, Mullvad will automatically connect you to the location in Stockholm. That wasn’t a recommended location based on where we are, the VPN just always defaults to Sweden. This likely has something to do with Mullvad being headquartered there.

You can select your location by clicking the button above the “secure my connection” button. Locations are broken up by country and city in drop-down menus with no way to filter or search for the one you want. Some cities have multiple locations within them, too, which can crowd the small interface.

There isn’t a recommendation system for the fastest server for your location, which means you’ll have to dig through the server list to find the best speed. That wouldn’t be as big an annoyance if it wasn’t for Mullvad’s tiny interface. You can only access the app through the tray and, like other tray applications, it will disappear if you click away.

After selecting your server, Mullvad will boot you back to the main screen in the application, showing a dot where your new IP address points to.

The settings menu is accessed by clicking the gear icon in the top right corner. Mullvad doesn’t have a lot to mess around with there, which isn’t surprising given its small list of features. You can buy more account credit, configure start-up settings and turn on the killswitch.

Note that, though there are options like start-up settings, they aren’t deeply configurable. You can only choose whether Mullvad connects to a server when it loads, not which server it connects to. If you’re looking for more customization, read our TorGuard review.

Speed

95% - Excellent

Mullvad missed our list of the fastest VPN providers by one spot. We chose five providers and its weighted download speed was 1 megabit per second slower than our fifth pick. With how close they are, though, that can be attributed to variations in network speed, making Mullvad an excellent choice for speed-focused users. Our testing for this review confirms that, too.

Location:Ping (ms)Download (Mbps)Upload (Mbps)
Unprotected (St. Louis)8146.1511.4
St. Louis23158.3210.36
London108131.758.1
Amsterdam146144.344.35
South Africa26291.173.05
Tokyo172129.756.42

As you can see in the chart above, Mullvad performed well in almost every location. Testing a server just a few miles away from our location increased our download speed, suggesting some amount of internet service provider throttling. The worst performing location, South Africa, was still close to 100 Mbps.

The latency is also notable. Mullvad took fourth place in our best VPN for gaming guide. Though if it had been purely based on latency time, it could’ve taken any of the slots. Again, judging by South Africa, Mullvad never went over 300 milliseconds.

What’s important about Mullvad’s test results is not just that they’re fast, but that they’re consistent. Providers such as IPVanish perform well in some locations but badly in others (read our IPVanish review). We’ve tested a lot of servers in Mullvad’s network while revising our reviews and the multiple guides where it’s earned a slot, and we’ve always gotten impressive results.

Security

80% - Good

Mullvad’s security is simple. Your connection is secured with AES 256-bit and OpenVPN, which is the gold standard in VPN security. You can choose the transport protocol OpenVPN uses — UDP or TCP — but not the VPN protocol. As you can see in our VPN protocol breakdown, OpenVPN should be used in most cases, but there are reasons  to use a different protocol.

As far as security features go, Mullvad has a killswitch baked into the application. During connection, your internet will disconnect if the VPN fails, and there’s no way you can turn that off. There’s a setting to tell Mullvad to block internet traffic unless the VPN is connected, though, which is slightly different.

We ran a series of DNS leak tests, as well as tests for WebRTC and IP leaks, and Mullvad came out clean with minimal DNS redirects. There isn’t a lot to say about security, but that isn’t a bad thing. Mullvad is abiding by everything we want out of VPN security, which is a win in our book.

Privacy

100% - Excellent

Privacy is not a concern when it comes to Mullvad. Instead of worrying about what information could be on record, it avoids the issue. If you pay with cash, Mullvad doesn’t know anything about you. It doesn’t require an email, name or address. In a world of VPNs claiming to turn you invisible, Mullvad is among the few that actually do and honors the mole it’s named after.

It is unable to identify you by using an account number. There isn’t even a cookie on the website that stores your IP address when browsing it. As Mullvad puts it, “Mullvad has 555,541 numbered accounts. These accounts could have been created by 555,541 unique people, or by one person 555,541 times.” In short, it can’t possibly know who you are.

We’ve confirmed that, too. Using the same machine, we were able to generate as many account numbers as we wanted without issue. With the free trial, that can be abused, but Mullvad hasn’t changed its policy yet. In a world where few online services care about your privacy, we suggest you abide by Mullvad’s lenient rules.

Though it’s clear that Mullvad is concerned about privacy, we dug through the privacy policy to confirm that. In addition to making it clear that no data about you is logged, the service provides specific examples of how it processes each type of payment. If you read the privacy policy, you’ll know you’re safe using the VPN as well as when selecting a particular payment method.

As far as what’s monitored and logged, Mullvad logs the total number of concurrent connections, the CPU load per core and the total bandwidth used per server. Your account number is monitored to ensure that you don’t exceed the five simultaneous connection limit, but even that can’t be tied back to you.

Your account number is tied to your payment method, but identifiable data. For example, credit card payments have the account number, payment amount, currency, timestamp and Stripe ID —  a unique token to process payments with Stripe — and that’s it. The only sketchy payment method is PayPal because Mullvad has to store your email address for auto-renewal.

Streaming Performance

60% - Fair

Streaming performance is a mixed bag. Mullvad could’ve been an inclusion in our best VPN for Netflix guide, easily accessing the platform with quick speed, but it’s a bad consideration for the best VPN for streaming. During our testing, it was blocked by BBC iPlayer, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.

Netflix is the big one, so if you’re trying to beat the Netflix VPN ban, Mullvad is a fine option. For other platforms, though, it’s best to go with another provider.

Server Locations

70% - Decent

Mullvad has 288 servers in 38 countries, which is decent, but nowhere near the spread of, say, HideMyAss (read our HideMyAss review). The majority of servers are in the U.S. and Sweden, with other locations in Asia and Europe. There are also options in Brazil and South Africa.

All in all, Mullvad has the usual suspects covered, which is fine for most people. That said, if you’re a frequent traveler or interested in accessing exotic locations, Mullvad won’t get you there.

Customer Service

75% - Good

Mullvad provides guides and an FAQ section, which is the majority of support. The guides are thorough, including screenshots, step-by-step instruction and even a directory. From installing the application on Windows to configuring port forwarding and split tunneling, Mullvad has everything covered in its guides.

In many ways, the guides make up for the lack of features present in Mullvad’s interface. For instance, there isn’t an easy way to configure split tunneling, but Mullvad’s guide will show you how to set it up manually.

The FAQ is good, but it’s better for clarifications than troubleshooting. Mullvad covers topics such as how to know if your payment has been processed and how many simultaneous connections accounts have.

For direct support, Mullvad offers email, which is fine if slow. During testing, it took a little less than a day to get back to our support request. The rep was able to answer our question about the number of simultaneous connections, though.

The Verdict

Mullvad is a fast and inexpensive VPN provider with a knack for privacy. It’s unusual in its approach to software subscriptions and has been innovative in the VPN space since its inception. Though there are issues when it comes to streaming and features, it gets a lot right.

If you want more commercially appealing features or are interested in non-Netflix streaming, Mullvad may not be the pick for you. For those who want those features, we recommend looking at our other VPN reviews.

What do you think of Mullvad? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.

Mullvad Review

The little service that could.

Mullvad is an interesting service that has a high standard for privacy, is pretty fast and gets you into Netflix most of the time. It's also unique in that it accepts hard cash as payment. Read all about this quirky service in our full Mullvad review.
$ 568per month
Visit Mullvad

One thought on “Mullvad”

  1. Mullvad User Rating

    Try using WireGuard to access Mullvad with a smart phone. It uses drastically less battery and is much better than OpenVPN.

Leave a Reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Mullvad Review

The little service that could.

Mullvad is an interesting service that has a high standard for privacy, is pretty fast and gets you into Netflix most of the time. It's also unique in that it accepts hard cash as payment. Read all about this quirky service in our full Mullvad review.
$ 568per month
Visit Mullvad
Top
Top