Mullvad vs Private Internet Access in 2021

Ethan Payne
Ethan Payne | Writer
Last updated: July 29, 2021
Mullvad vs Private Internet Access Comparison

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Mullvad is well known for going the extra mile when it comes to privacy. It’s possible to register for the service without any personal information. Moreover, payment options include a variety of anonymous methods.

On the other hand, Private Internet Access (or PIA) does not stray too far from the established formula. But that did not stop the service from rapid growth into a well-recognized name in the VPN industry.

Both Mullvad and PIA are using the WireGuard tunneling protocol, have kill switches, port forwarding, and split tunneling features. Mullvad is based in Sweden and has 750+ servers in 36+ countries, while PIA is based in the USA and has 29300+ servers in 78+ countries.

There is much more ground to cover, so let’s not hesitate and see how these VPNs fare in other areas.

Highlights

MullvadPrivate Internet Access
Our rating8.2⭐8.3⭐
“Best for” nomineeBest no-logs VPN, Best for Tunisia, Best for BruneiBest overall, Best for USA, Best for Netflix
Price starts from$5.40/month$2.19/month
ReviewMullvad reviewPIA review
Websitemullvad.netprivateinternetaccess.com

Speed

The first and one of the most important criteria is connection speed. Since both providers are using the WireGuard tunneling protocol, I’ll use it for my test. Normally, I’d use the results from our own speed test, but the WireGuard implementation for these providers is not available yet.

Please remember that results depend on many factors and should be taken with a grain of salt. Without the VPN, the base download speed is 294 Mbps, while the upload speed is 316 Mbps.

MullvadPrivate Internet Access
USA
Download255 Mbps206 Mbps
Upload178 Mbps88 Mbps
UK
Download259 Mbps229 Mbps
Upload270 Mbps87 Mbps
Canada
Download273 Mbps291 Mbps
Upload58 Mbps271 Mbps
Germany
Download274 Mbps246 Mbps
Upload168 Mbps27 Mbps

As you can see, Mullvad performed better in all tested countries, except Canada. I assumed that PIA would do better, thanks to its much larger server fleet. But this time, it wasn’t the case.

Just remember that these tests aren’t definitive, and results may vary each time. Therefore, you should test both VPNs yourself before drawing conclusions.

Servers

MullvadPrivate Internet Access
Servers750+29300+
Countries36+78+
All physical serversYesNo
Owns all serversNoNo
RAM-only serversNoNo
P2P serversYesYes

In terms of sheer numbers, Private Internet Access is miles ahead. It has 29300+ servers in 78+ countries, while Mullvad has only 750+ servers in 36+ countries. However, Mullvad does not use any virtual servers and makes it very easy to monitor their infrastructure’s status on their website.

Sadly, neither service has full ownership of their servers, and neither uses RAM-only servers. But at least both allow P2P traffic.

Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access
VPNpro rating: 8.3 / 10

Pricing

MullvadPrivate Internet Access
One month$5.40/month$9.95/month
One yearN/A$3.33/month
Three yearsN/A$2.19/month
Money-back guarantee30 days30 days
Payment optionsBitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, bank wire, credit card, PayPal, Swish, Giropay, Eps transfer, Bancontact, iDEAL, Przelewy24, mail-in cashCredit card, PayPal, Amazon Pay, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitpay

Neither VPN has a free version or a free trial. Instead, both offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, which you can use if you’re not satisfied with the product. Additionally, these services have a good number of payment options to choose from, including anonymous options.

Mullvad has only one reasonably-priced subscription plan, while PIA has three, ranging from cheap to slightly more expensive. It’s hard to say which option is superior as that depends on your perspective. Mullvad is less costly in the short term, but PIA’s annual and bi-annual options are cheaper.

Mullvad pricing

Mullvad pricing

Mullvad has only one pricing plan, which amounts to 5€ per month. Naturally, the price is in Euros since Mullvad is based in Sweden. The price in dollars may vary, but it’s estimated to roughly $5.40. It has stayed like that from the very beginning and still allows the team to maintain quality service while also not constraining their customers to long subscription plans.

Additionally, there’s a slight discount when paying with cryptocurrencies due to smaller administration fees. Privacy enthusiasts will also rejoice once they learn of the unique option to pay in cash.

Private Internet Access pricing

PIA 2020 Olympics pricing

Private Internet Access has a fairly conventional pricing plan in the VPN industry. Essentially, the shorter subscription plans are expensive, while longer plans are substantially cheaper. The options are as follows:

  • $9.95/month for a monthly subscription
  • $3.33/month for one year
  • $2.19/month for three years

Plus, there are plenty of PIA coupon codes available online to reduce the great price even more.
You can also get a dedicated IP for $5.00/month.

Security

MullvadPrivate Internet Access
EncryptionMilitary-gradeMilitary-grade
ProtocolsWireGuard, OpenVPNWireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec
Kill switchYes (desktop only)Yes
DNS and IP leaksNo leaksNo leaks
Security featuresBridge mode, Split tunneling, SOCKS5 proxy, Shadowsocks, port forwardingSplit tunneling, PIA MACE, Shadowsocks, SOCKS5, dedicated IP, port forwarding

As is the case with many VPNs on the market, these two have some similar security features. Let’s start by addressing those.

First off, both use military-grade AES-256 encryption. Secondly, they have successfully integrated WireGuard into their software. Finally, Mullvad and PIA have kill switches, no IP or DNS leaks, split tunneling, port forwarding, Shadowsocks, and SOCKS5 proxies.

Both Mullvad and PIA have a great number of security features. However, Mullvad falls behind by having those features inconsistently split among various platforms. That’s why PIA wins this round.

Mullvad security features

Let’s start with Mullvad. Before adopting WireGuard, this service only had OpenVPN as a tunneling protocol option. Now, WireGuard is the default option for all platforms. Speaking of platforms – not all features are available across the board.

For example, the kill switch is only available on desktop machines, while split tunneling is only for Android and Linux devices. Mullvad also has the Bridge mode, which lets you choose different connection entry and exit points. Alas, this feature is only available on desktop devices.

Private Internet Access security features

Now onto PIA. First, I have to address the elephant in the room – PIA has AES-128 encryption enabled by default. Although it does improve performance due to less encryption, it also means you’re getting weaker security. Of course, it’s an easy setting to change, but perhaps it’s better to have top security settings out-of-the-box.

In addition to the aforementioned WireGuard, PIA also has OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPsec tunneling protocols. One can customize the OpenVPN connection extensively by choosing the data encryption standard, connection type, remote port, and configuration method. Meanwhile, the WireGuard connection is left as is. These secure protocols are available on most platforms, while IKEv2/IPsec is only available on iOS.

A great weapon against ads, trackers, and malware is PIA MACE. It’s a toggleable option in the settings menu that also blocks blacklisted domains and IPs.

Privacy

MullvadPrivate Internet Access
JurisdictionSwedenUnited States
LoggingNo-logs policyCourt-proven no-logs policy
Anonymous paymentCryptocurrencies, cashBitcoin, gift cards

Privacy is an essential aspect when choosing a VPN. But it’s not enough for the provider to say that it has a no-logs policy – we need proof.

Mullvad is doing quite a lot to ensure privacy and store as little personal information as possible. For starters, there’s no need for an email address when creating an account. The only thing that distinguishes accounts is a sixteen-digit number. Plus, Mullvad has been independently audited by Cure53 to ensure that they don’t store any PII (Personally Identifiable Information).

Secondly, there is a huge number of anonymous payment options, including cryptocurrencies and even cash. However, some users might be alarmed by their jurisdiction in Sweden – a Fourteen Eyes alliance member. Yet Mullvad assures us that absolutely no data is stored or shared with authorities.

On the other hand, PIA is a bit more conventional. You still need an email address to create an account, but you can pay anonymously with cryptocurrencies. The biggest red flag of Private Internet Access is its jurisdiction in the United States, a founding member of the Five Eyes alliance. Yet, some users will be relieved to know that their no-logs policy has been proven in a court case.

Mullvad VPN
Mullvad VPN
VPNpro rating: 8.2 / 10

Device compatibility

MullvadPrivate Internet Access
Major dedicated appsWindows, Mac, Linux, iOS, AndroidWindows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android
Other dedicated appsN/AN/A
Browser extensionsN/AChrome, Firefox, Opera, Edge
Manual setupRouters, ChromebooksRouters
Simultaneous devices510

When it comes to device compatibility, Mullvad is severely behind Private Internet Access. It only has dedicated apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. Naturally, you have the option to manually set up your router or Chromebook with Mullvad configuration files. And a single subscription allows you to connect five devices at the same time.

Alternatively, Private Internet Access has all the same options (except support for ChromeOS) and more. For starters, browser extensions exist for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Opera. Plus, you can connect a whopping 10 devices simultaneously with one subscription.

Streaming

MullvadPrivate Internet Access
Netflix USNoYes
Other Netflix librariesNoYes
Other platformsNoYes
Smart DNSNoNo

In terms of streaming, there’s no contest here – PIA is the undisputed winner of the two. Mullvad is simply not targeting streaming platforms in their geo-unblocking efforts. Meanwhile, PIA works great at unblocking Netflix US and other streaming platforms. It’s no surprise that PIA is one of the Top 5 VPNs for streaming.

Torrenting and P2P

MullvadPrivate Internet Access
Allowed onAll serversAll servers
Free SOCKS5 proxyYesYes
Split tunnelingYes (Linux, Android)Yes
Port forwardingYesYes

Both VPNs are solid options for torrenting and have plenty of features to ensure safety. Unsurprisingly, there are no limitations on P2P traffic on either service. Plus, SOCKS5 proxies are available to secure your torrent clients. And users can also enable port forwarding on either VPN.

Although split tunneling is not a feature strictly for torrenting, it’s still a great use case and worth comparing. Sadly, Mullvad falls behind PIA once again by having it available only on Android and Linux.

China

MullvadPrivate Internet Access
Works in ChinaYesYes
Stealth VPNNoNo
Tor over VPNNoNo

Unfortunately, neither Mullvad nor PIA is good enough to make it on our list of Best VPNs for China. However, all hope is not lost as both providers have Shadowsocks proxies. Yet this feature is not very consistent and should not be relied upon too much to penetrate the Great Firewall of China.

Customer support

MullvadPrivate Internet Access
24/7NoYes
Live chatNoYes
Phone lineNoNo
EmailYesYes
KnowledgebaseYesYes

Mullvad is once again trailing behind Private Internet Access. This time, it’s in the area of customer support. It lacks a crucial feature that any larger VPN company needs – 24/7 live chat.

Of course, it’s possible to solve your issues by simply communicating through email or following the guides online. But some problems, especially those related to connectivity, need to be addressed quickly.

Coincidentally, PIA is better for streaming and has 24/7 live chat available. And there’s no lack of guides for troubleshooting online either.

Best VPN by category

MullvadPrivate Internet Access
Speed and serversWins✔️Loses❌
PricingLoses❌Wins✔️
SecurityLoses❌Wins✔️
PrivacyWins✔️Loses❌
CompatibilityLoses❌Wins✔️
StreamingLoses❌Wins✔️
TorrentingLoses❌Wins✔️
ChinaTieTie
Customer supportLoses❌Wins✔️
Total wins2 out of 96 out of 9

Mullvad vs Private Internet Access – which is better?

The outcome is clear – Private Internet Access is the superior VPN. However, this doesn’t mean that Mullvad is a poor choice. It’s definitely better if privacy and speed are a priority. Both services are average at getting around the Great Firewall of China. But on all other fronts, Mullvad pales in comparison to PIA.

First off, PIA is significantly cheaper when getting a longer subscription. Both VPNs have plenty of security features, yet Mullvad falls behind for having fragmented feature support. Plus, Mullvad is supported on a smaller number of devices.

There was no contest in streaming as that is not a priority for Mullvad. Torrenting was a bit closer, but PIA managed to win. And customer support was a no-brainer since Private Internet Access has live chat support, while Mullvad does not.

It appears that the fatal flaw of Mullvad is its inconsistency of features across all platforms. Meanwhile, Private Internet Access offers more for a smaller price tag.

Which VPN do you prefer? Let me know in the comments!

You may also like to read:

PIA vs NordVPN
PIA vs VyprVPN
Mullvad vs NordVPN

FAQ

Is Private Internet Access a good VPN?

Private Internet Access is one of the best VPNs available. It has military-grade encryption, the fast WireGuard tunneling protocol, a huge fleet of 29300 servers, and plenty of security features. The only downside is that PIA is based in the USA, a member of the Five Eyes alliance.

Is Private Internet Access fast?

Yes, Private Internet Access is fast. It has the WireGuard tunneling protocol, which is lightweight, modern, and built for speed.

Does Private Internet Access VPN keep logs?

Private Internet Access does not keep logs. Its jurisdiction in the US might be a cause for alarm. However, an investigation related to a hacking incident proved that PIA does not keep any logs.

Is Mullvad a good VPN?

Mullvad is a great VPN for privacy. Registration does not require any personally identifiable information and there are plenty of anonymous payment options. It is also a good VPN on a technical level, with military-grade encryption, fast connection speed, and a multitude of security features.

Does Mullvad keep logs?

Mullvad does not keep any logs. Although it is based in Sweden, it assures us that no information is shared with authorities. Additionally, they have been independently audited by Cure53.

Top VPN providers
NordVPN
9.6 / 10
30-day money-back guarantee
Military grade encryption
Friendly support
Surfshark VPN
9.4 / 10
Strong encryption
Excellent performance
Unlimited simultaneous connections

Disclaimer: Affiliate links help us produce good content. Learn more.

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