Updated on: 03.21.2019
Mullvad’s claim to fame is the ability to approach customers from a different angle – complete anonymity is the goal. Can they deliver? We’ll explore that question and more in this Mullvad VPN review.
As you’ll see below in more detail, Mullvad VPN’s security is top-notch, torrenting is never a problem, the price is fair, and there’s a decent customer support system in place. The only thing this VPN doesn’t do well is unblocking Netflix.
Despite the latter caveat, Mullvad is one of the best options for users who really value their anonymity, privacy, and security. And this is precisely where we’ll start our review.
Security and privacy
Many consider Mullvad to be among the safest VPN providers available. Let’s see what they have to offer, security-wise:
- Completely anonymous sign-up and user accounts
- Meets the privacytools.io criteria
- Military-grade AES-256 encryption
- OpenVPN, WireGuard, and Bridge tunneling protocols
- No identifiable logs
- DNS leak protection
- IPv6 leak protection
- Kill switch
- Shadowsocks, SSH, and split tunneling (via Bridge servers)
OpenVPN, WireGuard, and Bridge tunneling protocols are known to be extremely secure. Additional privacy protection, however, comes with the fact that none of your personal information is used to create the account. Moreover, no identifiable information is logged while you’re connected through the service, and you can pay anonymously with cryptocurrencies and cash.
The combination of all these features makes this VPN about as bulletproof as it gets.
Does Mullvad VPN log your data?
Short answer: no.
Mullvad is one of the very few VPNs that do not ask for any personally identifiable information when you sign up for the service. All they know about you is a randomly generated account number. If you also use an anonymous payment method to pay for your subscription, there’s almost no way Mullvad can figure out who you are.
On top of that, they have one of the strictest no-logging policies in the industry. Apart from several essential cookies to ensure the operation of their website (most of which expire as soon as you close your browser window), there’s nothing to identify you or your session with Mullvad.
This means that your activities when using Mullvad will remain as private as they can get.
Speed and performance
Compared to other VPN services, Mullvad VPN is surprisingly fast, at least in Europe and North America.
Prior to running our tests on Mullvad’s performance from Europe, our baseline download speed was 240 Mbps. Here’s what we got with the VPN turned on:
- Download: 84 Mbps (65% drop)
- Upload: 17 Mbps
New York, US
- Download: 95 Mbps (60% drop)
- Upload: 20 Mbps
- Download: 12 Mbps (95% drop)
- Upload: 2 Mbps
As you can see, Mullvad’s servers in London and New York gave us good speeds on par with the faster VPNs on the market. The Singapore server, however, concluded the test run on a disappointing note.
Mullvad VPN operates 300 OpenVPN, 57 WireGuard, and 10 Bridge servers globally, bringing its server network total up to 367 servers.
Most servers that we connected to (with Asia being the notable exception) were fast enough for general everyday use. Of course, there are differences based the on general region but the overall speed is good, especially in Europe and the US.
The majority of Mullvad VPN servers are spread throughout the European region. However, there are also quite a few in North America, Asia, and Australia.
Ease of use and multi-platform support
For all the most common desktop environments, there’s an app available. Mullvad offers custom clients for the following platforms:
- Linux (Debian & Fedora)
However, if you’re looking to use this VPN on a smartphone, tablet, or Chromebook, you’ll need to use an OpenVPN client.
Downloading and setting up Mullvad VPN is as easy as you would expect it to be. To create a user account, simply fill in a captcha and select Generate account number. An account number with a two-hour expiration period is generated and used for logging into any of the apps found on the website.
The next step is to pay five dollars for one month of service using one of the many payment methods available. One thing to keep in mind while creating an account is that for true anonymity, users must use an anonymous method of payment, such as Bitcoin or a prepaid cash card.
Fittingly, using Mullvad VPN is just as easy as creating an account and installing the app on your device. Once in, all the complex settings that make the VPN magic happen occur in the background. This leaves you with just a few of the most commonly sought-after options, such as server or protocol choice, port selection, and a few others.
Although this VPN service boasts some of the best security available, they also do a great job of offering a user-friendly experience. The app interfaces are easy to use and configurations are simple yet powerful.
Unblocking Netflix and other streaming platforms
Mullvad can’t unblock Netflix.
One of the cool things about Mullvad is the control they have over their servers – they own most of them. Unlike most other VPN services that rent out server space for their services, Mullvad desires to retain complete ownership. On the bright side of that coin, Mullvad is able to provide high levels of predictability when it comes to stability, speed, and security.
When it comes to Netflix, however, the fact that Mullvad doesn’t often have new IPs means that it’s not able to bypass Netflix geo-blocking.
For a list of VPNs that are able to unblock Netflix, check this page.
P2P and torrenting
Mullvad VPN is one of the better options out there for torrents.
If downloading torrents over VPN is something you find important, Mullvad is definitely worthy of a look or two. This is a service with top-notch security features and decent speeds.
Mullvad doesn’t block P2P traffic, which is good news in itself, but that news keeps getting better and better the more you learn about Mullvad’s approach to torrenting. Users can download torrents with peace of mind: for one thing, the OpenVPN connection that Mullvad VPN uses has a 4096 bit RSA Handshake. All traffic running through the servers is encrypted with AES-256 (one of the strongest on the market).
Additionally, Mullvad offers users a free SOCKS5 proxy, which is a good way to make your connection even more secure.
Online censorship in China and elsewhere
People can use Mullvad VPN in China, but there are a few workarounds that may be necessary to connect securely. Mullvad VPN uses three protocols – OpenVPN, Bridge, and WireGuard, but the latter isn’t fully operational just yet.
Where OpenVPN is concerned, the Chinese government is very good at blocking it. What that means is that Mullvad users may at first feel as though their shiny new VPN doesn’t work in China. However, Mullvad offers users obfsproxy precisely for bypassing measures like Deep Packet Inspection.
This makes Mullvad VPN a decent choice for users both in China and other censorship-heavy countries.
The pricing scheme at Mullvad VPN is about as simple as it gets. There’s one subscription type and one price for everyone, all the time.
The monthly subscription price is $5.71.
Most VPNs will offer significant discounts for yearly or multi-yearly plans, but you won’t find that here. Instead, to get a 10% discount you will have to pay using crypto.
Available payment options are:
- Cash (in the mail)
- Credit card
- Bank transfer
There is no trial period, save for 3 free hours following the activation of the account number, but there is a 30-day money back guarantee for most of the payment options, except for cash payments.
With all that said, $5 a month is not a bad price. Most top services ask for similar amounts with much longer subscriptions.
There’s no live chat option, which means you’ll have to be patient if you want to contact a support agent.
Email is the only way to send a query to the Mullvad team at the moment. One thing to remember when sending queries by email is the anonymity focus of this VPN service. If you used an anonymous payment method to create your account, the support agents won’t know anything about you.
To keep your complete anonymity intact, it’s a good idea to use an anonymous email service like ProtonMail or similar to send your help request. If you’re willing to do a bit of reading, however, chances of you even needing to speak with support are fairly slim.
Mullvad VPN has created many detailed guides to walk their customers through all the services on offer. Also, there are comprehensive installation instructions for virtually every available OS and device type.
The guides are all smartly categorized into groups, such as:
- Troubleshooting guides
- Account management
- Privacy issues
- …and much more
Finding the help you need at Mullvad VPN should never be a problem.
In our opinion, Mullvad VPN is doing a great job at providing a model for other VPNs to follow. We wouldn’t be surprised to see others mirroring Mullvad’s approach moving forward.
Mullvad VPN is one of the most private VPN services that we have reviewed.
One thing that always comes up in conversations regarding VPN privacy is the question of how safe they are. Most VPNs collect your personally identifying information at signup and for receiving payments. This means that there is some record, somewhere, of your relationship with the VPN service. Even when they say that there are no logs being taken, these VPNs are still subject to government demands.
Mullvad VPN is different. The numbered account approach, along with options to remain completely anonymous makes Mullvad VPN unique when it comes to true online anonymity.
The company is located in Sweden, which is one of the 14-Eyes countries. That means there are some privacy concerns. However, the fact that they don’t know who their customers are means they are very limited in what they can actually divulge.
Beyond that, Mullvad could do with a bit more versatility. Although it’s good for P2P and a decent choice in China, users who just want to bypass geo-blocking platforms like Netflix could find better VPN services out there.