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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.

Andrej Hadji-Vasilev
By Andrej Hadji-Vasilev (Writer)
— Last Updated: 2021-11-15T19:42:08+00:00 Facts checked by Elisabeth Ivey

There is no shortage of VPN providers that claim they collect no personally identifiable information, yet many of them require an email for registration. However, there are VPNs that actually care about their users’ privacy, and Mullvad is certainly on that list. In this Mullvad review, we’ll test the VPN to see how it stacks up against the competition. 

It comes with a well-rounded feature set that covers the basics, an extremely simple sign-up process and an app that’s very easy to wrap your head around. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Mullvad is a secure VPN with a strong focus on privacy, but it trails behind competitors in a few key areas.
  • The VPN provider doesn’t retain any personally identifying data, using an innovative account creation method that doesn’t require an email address. 
  • The speeds are inconsistent, but streaming performance is okay if you don’t need access to BBC iPlayer.
  • While there aren’t a lot of VPN servers compared to the big names, Mullvad has a solid VPN server spread.

This Swedish VPN provider is far from perfect, and in some areas trails behind its competitors, which makes it not-so-ideal for certain use cases. We’ve compared it to NordVPN, which is one of the larger names in the industry, and it didn’t perform that well. However, let’s save that for later, and dive into our Mullvad VPN review.

  • Since our last review, Mullvad added a split tunneling feature directly in their app. It now works with some streaming services and has servers in two additional locations.

  • Yes — considering Mullvad VPN stores no information about you and offers anonymous payment options, there are no personal details that they could sell.

  • No, in most situations, ExpressVPN is the better choice. It’s faster, has better functionality, better app support, and it’s more reliable overall. It is slightly more expensive, but it’s a worthwhile trade-off.

  • Yes, we were able to connect to several servers in Mullvad’s network, in different locations, and Mullvad was able to access the geoblocked Netflix libraries with no issues.

  • Mullvad is directly owned by Mullvad VPN AB, which means there are no third parties involved in its ownership.

Alternatives for Mullvad

  1. 1
    • : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, regional payment systems, WebMoney
    • : 5
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  2. 2
    • : Credit card, Google Pay, AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, UnionPay, Crypto Currencies, PayPal (via Paddle)
    • : 6
    • :
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    • :
    • :
  3. 3
    • : PayPal, Credit card
    • : 10
    • :
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    • :
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  4. 4
    • : PayPal, Credit card, bitcoin
    • : 7
    • :
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  5. 5
    • : PayPal, Credit card
    • : 30
    • :
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Strengths & Weaknesses

Pros:

  • Doesn’t log any information
  • Doesn’t require an email to register
  • Solid device compatibility
  • Supports both OpenVPN & WireGuard
  • Gets into Netflix, Amazon Prime Video & Hulu
  • Built-in ad & tracker blocker
  • Affordable overall pricing & option to pay with cash
  • Great knowledge center

Cons:

  • No discount on extended subscriptions
  • No live chat 
  • Inconsistent speeds
  • Doesn’t work with BBC iPlayer
  • Fairly small server network compared to the big names

Features

75 % – Good

When it comes to features and functionality, Mullvad is rather bare bones, offering only the most basic features a VPN provider should have. There is an integrated kill switch that prevents you from accessing the internet if your VPN connection drops, and there is a split tunneling feature, although at the time of writing, it has a “BETA” label. 

From the “advanced settings” menu, you can set up Mullvad to always require an active VPN connection. If this setting is enabled, quitting the Mullvad app or disconnecting from the VPN server will completely block you from accessing the internet. This is a nice, albeit rudimentary, way of making sure you’re always using a protected, unmonitored internet connection. 

mullvad always vpn
You can set up the VPN to prevent you from accessing the internet unless it’s through one of its secure servers. 

Mullvad VPN supports both OpenVPN and WireGuard, and will automatically choose the one that works better by default. If you don’t like this, you can choose between OpenVPN and WireGuard yourself, and you can select whether OpenVPN uses TCP or UDP. There is also the ability to generate a new WireGuard key and set up port forwarding, which isn’t too complicated.

Split Tunneling Made Simple

When we last reviewed Mullvad, setting up split tunneling was a chore to say the least. While the VPN provider offered very helpful guides that went into great detail, it was still more complicated than just adding the apps you wanted to bypass the VPN to a list.

mullvad split tunneling
What used to require tricky configuration is now built into Mullvad’s app, and the split tunneling feature works great.

That’s changed now, although the split tunneling feature you’ll find in the advanced options within the Mullvad app is still in beta testing. We tried it and it works as advertised — Mullvad VPN scans your system for apps you’ve installed and gives you a list where you can select apps to be excluded. 

Bypass Censorship With Bridge Mode

Another functionality that Mullvad’s app offers is bridge mode. Bridge mode allows you to connect to a server via a second “bridge” server, to add additional protection to your connection. Bridge mode allows you to choose the entry and exit locations, so you can specify exactly which servers your connection is going through. 

mullvad bridge mode
Mullvad’s Bridge Mode is a neat functionality that adds an additional layer of security to your connection by routing your traffic through a second VPN server. 

While the main use for this is to simulate a double VPN to further protect your personal information, you can also use it with the Shadowsocks proxy to bypass censorship restrictions. We discussed the Shadowsocks proxy in our PIA review, but the gist of it is that it’s a great way of getting a reliable VPN connection in heavily censored countries. You can always disable bridge mode if you don’t need it, though. 

Built-in Ad & Tracker Blocker and Local Network Sharing

A lot of VPN providers offer ad blockers, and Mullvad VPN has also added it to its lineup of features. This eliminates the need to install ad blocking software specifically on your system — Mullvad VPN will take care of them for you. 

mullvad blockers
The ability to block ads and trackers across websites you visit means you no longer need to install additional resource-hogging extensions on your browser. 

A pitfall of some VPN providers is that you can’t access devices on your local network unless you disconnect from the VPN. This isn’t the case with Mullvad, and you can toggle whether or not you want to access devices such as printers or other computers. 

Mullvad Features Overview

General
Payment methodsPayPal, Credit card, Cash, Bank Transfer
Accepts cryptocurrency
Simultaneous connections 5
Supports split tunneling
Unlimited bandwidth
Free trial available
Refund period
Worldwide server amount761 servers in 36 countries
Desktop OSesWindows, MacOS, Linux
Mobile OSesAndroid, iOS
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 types256-AES, ChaCha20
VPN protocols availableOpenVPN, WireGuard
Enabled at device startup
Allows torrenting
No-logging policy
Passed DNS leak test
Killswitch available
Malware/ad blocker included
Support
Live Chat
Email support24/7
Phone support
User forum
Knowledgebase

Pricing

70 % – Decent

Another area where Mullvad aims to differ from most VPN providers is in the pricing. Most competitors will give you a couple of plans to choose from, depending on how long you want to subscribe for, but Mullvad only offers a single plan. It comes at a price of 5 euro (or about $6) per month.

The flat fee helps simplify things a bit, but we have to say that other VPN providers offer much better deals if you subscribe for extended periods of time. In addition, Mullvad lets you “top up” your account so that it pulls payments from that pool instead of setting up a recurring payment. You can set up an automatic payment, too.  

mullvad payment options
We have to give it to Mullvad VPN — they’ve got an extensive list of payment options. 

You get the standard assortment of payment options, such as credit cards, PayPal, bank transfer, crypto and a few other online payment processors, but you can also pay with cash. That’s right: If you want to remain completely anonymous, you can mail a cash payment to Mullvad’s headquarters in Sweden. 

30-Day Money-Back Guarantee

Having a solid money-back guarantee is a must in today’s VPN landscape, especially if you don’t offer a trial, which Mullvad doesn’t. The 30-day money-back guarantee is as good as any other provider offers (save for CyberGhost with its 45 days), and it gives you enough time to check out Mullvad VPN and all its functionality (or lack thereof). 

Ease of Use

85 % – Very Good

Mullvad gets an excellent score when it comes to ease of use, thanks to an incredibly easy signup process, and an even easier login within the app. The signup process gives you a Mullvad account number that you write down, and you simply top up that account to extend your subscription. When you open the app, you input the number, and start using the VPN. Simple as that.

mullvad website
Mullvad’s website does seem a bit outdated, but it showcases the simplicity of its desktop app perfectly. 

Downloading and installing the app is remarkably easy, both on desktop and mobile, and the user interface is almost identical on all platforms. There really isn’t much to it, just a button to change your location, one to disconnect from the Mullvad VPN servers and a “settings” button in the corner. By default, the app is pinned to the taskbar, but you can easily change that. 

mullvad ui
Mullvad’s UI is incredibly simple, but it does give you the essentials.

The “settings” menu is very simply laid out, with no settings buried deep down in the menus. From the “preferences” menu, you can choose to have the app connect automatically at start-up and enable ad and tracker blocking, although this functionality isn’t available on the Android app. There’s also a setting to enable access to connected devices on the same network.

In the advanced settings, you can enable IPv6 and set up the kill switch. This is also where you can choose which VPN protocol to use, or tinker with OpenVPN and WireGuard settings. There’s a solid amount of configuration, and everything is explained with simple wording. 

Using Mullvad VPN on Various Devices

Device compatibility is a bit of a mixed bag. While you have Mullvad’s apps for most operating systems (including a Linux app), there are no official extensions for Google Chrome. The Mozilla Firefox Privacy Companion is available, but it’s more of a proxy than a VPN. Even Mullvad itself says it doesn’t replace the functionality of a VPN. 

mullvad ios
The iOS app is almost identical to the desktop one, and that’s in no way a bad thing.

You can connect up to five devices simultaneously, but if you don’t want multiple devices in your home counting against that limit, you can set up Mullvad VPN on your router. There are detailed guides on how to set it up on most popular routers, such as the Asus Merlin and DD-WRT, on Mullvad’s website.

Speed

65 % – Decent

The speed test we did as part of our Mullvad review was weird, to say the least. We went with our standard methodology — set up a baseline test from our location in Ohrid, North Macedonia, then compare the speeds and latency when connected to the various server locations Mullvad VPN offers. 

During the first part of our testing, when we connected to servers in the nearby vicinity (Albania, Greece and Serbia), we got respectable speeds and reasonably low latency. However, when we tried to connect to locations farther away, such as New York and Tokyo, the speeds dropped and latency increased significantly. 

We even had an IP leak occur during one of our tests, and Ookla’s Speedtest was able to detect our actual location. We’ll touch on that in the “security” section. 

LocationPing
ms
Download
Mbps
Upload
Mbps
Unprotected146143
Tirana, Albania
57
110
47.5
Athens, Greece
59
105
44.5
Belgrade, Serbia
27
132
75.2
New York, USA
124
62.3
38
Frankfurt, Germany
40
137
63.4
Tokyo, Japan
284
19.4
17.1
Average
99
94.28
47.62

If you’re trying to connect to some of the servers Mullvad VPN offers, be prepared for inconsistent speeds. The farther you go from your location, the worse they’ll become, with almost unbearable latency in some situations. If you only need it for servers that are close to your actual location, though, it’s not too bad.

Security

70 % – Decent

Every VPN provider aims to put a strong emphasis on security, and Mullvad is no exception, offering both OpenVPN and WireGuard. You can read more about this in our protocol breakdown, but both are solid choices in terms of security. 

mullvad protocols 
With both OpenVPN and WireGuard having their own advantages, we appreciate Mullvad giving you a choice as to which one to use.

OpenVPN is the free, open-source option that has been in use for quite some time now, and can use both TCP and UDP as transport protocols. Encryption-wise, OpenVPN relies on the OpenSSL library, combined with a custom security protocol that gives you 256-bit encryption. 

WireGuard is certainly a newcomer when compared to OpenVPN, but it aims to solve a lot of OpenVPN’s problems. It’s just as secure, using ChaCha20 rather than AES-256, but thanks to a combination of slim code and a simple connection process, it’s faster. If you want slightly better speeds, WireGuard is the VPN protocol to choose. 

We tested the VPN for leaks too, and had no issues with DNS leaks. IP leaks, however, were a different story. Connecting to a server in New York and running an IP leak test determined that we were actually connected to a server in Romania, which to some extent also explains the issue we mentioned during our speed tests. 

While our own IP address didn’t exactly leak, getting the wrong location is still a red flag. Plus, as we mentioned in the “speed” section, Ookla’s Speedtest detected our real location instead of the spoofed one.

Using Mullvad VPN for Torrenting

When it comes to torrenting, Mullvad VPN is just as secure as any other VPN, whether you opt to use WireGuard or OpenVPN. It can hide your real IP address from your ISP and prevent anyone from snooping on your internet traffic, so you can fire up your torrent client and download whatever it is you need without anyone knowing. 

Privacy

100 % – Excellent

If you’re keen on using a VPN service that guarantees complete privacy, Mullvad VPN should be right up your alley. It doesn’t store information because there is no information to store, thanks to the rather innovative registration process we discussed earlier. 

mullvad acc no
This is all the information that Mullvad VPN ties to your payment information — no emails, no personal details, nothing. 

The number you’re given has no connection to any of your personal information, and if you really want to go all out in terms of privacy, you can pay with cash by mailing it to Mullvad’s Swedish HQ. This completely eliminates any paper trail, and is a feature that makes Mullvad a prime choice for people who want to remain anonymous. 

The company is very transparent as to the information it stores and records, and it will even tell you exactly which cookies it uses. If you want more detail as to what they store, you can check out their privacy policy. Spoiler alert: They store nothing. 

Streaming Performance

75 % – Good

During our last review, we noticed that Mullvad VPN failed to unlock any streaming services. However, you can now access most of the popular streaming services, including Prime Video, Netflix and Hulu. BBC iPlayer insisted that it’s only available in the UK, even though we were connected to a server in Manchester, so no luck there.

mullvad iplayer
We would’ve loved to watch the Shelby family’s affairs on BBC’s iPlayer, but unfortunately that is the only major streaming service Mullvad couldn’t access. 

When trying out Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Netflix, we got respectable streaming performance. Mullvad’s servers didn’t give us too much trouble, and kept our real IP address hidden so we could enjoy some geoblocked content through the VPN tunnel. 

If you have favorite shows on BBC iPlayer, you can check out our article on best VPN’s for BBC iPlayer for alternatives. 

Server Locations

85 % – Very Good

Mullvad VPN boasts 761 servers, and you can see a complete list on their website. This number seems high until you look at NordVPN’s 5,200 servers, which we spoke about in our NordVPN review. Tech geeks can also see some of the SOCKS5 proxy addresses, public keys and multihop ports, which is rather neat.

mullvad servers
Mullvad doesn’t shy away from providing you with plenty of information about their VPN servers. 

Its servers are located in various locations throughout 38 countries. While we’ve definitely seen better server spread, the VPN servers Mullvad gives you to use are very respectable when you consider that the provider isn’t one of the big names in the industry. 

We also like the presence of underrepresented locations — a perfect example is the Mullvad UAE server, which is located in Dubai. Not many VPNs offer servers that route your internet traffic through here and give you a UAE IP address, but Mullvad VPN is one of them. You can find a few more in our article on how to get a UAE IP address.

Customer Service

65 % – Decent

Mullvad VPN has an extensive help center, which contains articles and guides on everything from DNS requests and mobile apps to VPN features and troubleshooting the desktop apps for all operating systems. The guides are all written in a way that everyone can understand, even users who aren’t too tech-savvy. 

mullvad help center
The help center is basically all you have to work with, but it is very well organized and offers plenty of information. 

Unfortunately, there is no live customer support, which means that if you have an issue the help center can’t solve, you’re stuck sending an email and waiting for them to reply. From our experience, while the representatives did know what they’re talking about, they definitely took their time to respond. 

The Verdict

To conclude our Mullvad review, the VPN provider is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, it excels in some crucial areas such as security and privacy, and checks most of the basic functionality requirements, such as split tunneling, a kill switch and apps for various devices. 

On the other hand, it falls short when it comes to other important aspects, such as speed, streaming performance and to some extent, customer support. These are areas in which you’ll have to compromise, and we aren’t exactly fans of that. 

Despite how well it performs in some key areas, Mullvad is a middle-of-the-pack VPN at best, and one you’ll have to get used to if you choose it as your main VPN service. Did you get a chance to try out the incredibly simple sign up process, or the pay-with-cash option? Give it a try and let us know in the comments whether you liked it. As usual, thank you for reading!

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2 thoughts on “Mullvad”

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

    Reply
  2. Almost every other vpn has servers in India, but not Mullvad VPN. This is a major drawback.

    Reply
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