Updated on: 02.05.2019
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, prices are fair, and there’s a decent customer support system in place. The only thing that this VPN doesn’t do well is unblocking Netflix.
Despite the last caveat, Mullvad VPN is a good option for users who really value their anonymity, privacy, and security. And this is precisely where we’ll start.
Security and privacy
Many consider Mullvad to be among the most secure VPN providers available. Let’s see what they have to offer, security-wise:
- Completely anonymous sign-up and user accounts
- OpenVPN, WireGuard, and Bridge tunneling protocols
- No identifiable logs
- Built-in kill switch
While the OpenVPN, WireGuard, and Bridge tunneling protocols used are known to be extremely secure, the real protection comes with the fact that none of the user’s personal information is used to create the account, and no identifiable information is logged while connected through the service. There’s also a kill switch feature and users can pay anonymously with cryptocurrencies and cash.
The combination of all these features together makes this VPN about as bulletproof as it gets.
Speed and performance
Compared to other VPN services, the servers employed by Mullvad VPN are quite fast. The service operates more than 345 servers globally, which means users can access VPN servers that are close to their actual location to increase speeds.
That said, we didn’t notice much of a need to select a nearby server as almost every one that we connected to was fast enough for general, everyday use. Of course, there are differences based the on general region but overall the speed is good.
The majority of Mullvad VPN’s servers are spread throughout the European region; however, there are also quite a few in the US, Asia, Australia, and Canada.
How to download and install Mullvad VPN
Downloading Mullvad VPN is as easy as you would expect it to be – and maybe even easier. All you have to do to get it up and running is to go to Mullvad’s website and find the big yellow and green buttons on the upper right-hand corner of the homepage. The yellow button allows users to create a new account and the green button takes users to the app download page.
While you can do these steps in whichever order you like, it makes sense to create a numbered account first to be sure that everything is working properly and that you understand the anonymous approach that Mullvad VPN is so well known for.
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 this account number is 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, but 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.
The next step is to download the preferred app for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, or Linux.
How to use Mullvad VPN
Fittingly, using Mullvad VPN is just as easy as creating an account and installing the app on your device.
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, configurations are simple yet powerful, and there are many guides available on the website for users looking to do more advanced tasks.
Unlike many other VPN services, Mullvad VPN offers detailed descriptions on utilizing the service to set up SOCKS5 proxies, secure BitTorrent connections, port forwarding, split tunneling, TOR connections and more. Mullvad VPN makes it easy for both novice and experienced users.
For anyone interested in trying out Mullvad VPN, they will see very quickly that there aren’t many restrictions when it comes to the types of devices that Mullvad can be used on. That is not to say that accessing this service on all those devices is always as straightforward as it could be, but at least the options are available.
For all the most common desktop environments, there is an app available, which makes setting up and using Mullvad’s VPN very easy.
However, for anyone looking to use this VPN on a smartphone, tablet, or Chromebook, they will need to use an OpenVPN client.
All of the apps available come with a simple, straightforward user interface that is easy to navigate. Once downloaded, all that is required from the user is to enter the account number that they received at sign up.
Once in, all the complex settings that make the VPN magic happen occur in the background, leaving the user with just a few of the most commonly sought-after options, such as server choice, desired protocols, port selection, and a few others.
As far as use with OpenVPN clients goes, the settings available will be the ones natively offered by Mullvad VPN, but the interface and format of those options may change depending on the OpenVPN client of choice.
Mullvad VPN for Netflix
One of the nice things about Mullvad VPN 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 is not very reliable for bypassing Netflix geo-blocking.
Mullvad VPN for torrenting
Mullvad VPN is one of the better options out there for torrents. So 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.
Can users in China use Mullvad VPN?
People can use Mullvad VPN in China, but there are a few workarounds that may be necessary to connect securely. Mullvad VPN uses two 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 per month 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), PayPal, credit card, Swish, bank transfers, and cryptocurrencies.
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 is no live chat option, which means you will have to be patient if your aim is to communicate with 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 complete anonymity alive, 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 a customer help representative is fairly slim.
Mullvad VPN has created many detailed guides to walk their customers through all the services on offer, as well as 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, WireGuard, Bridge, and much more. Finding the help you need at Mullvad VPN should never be a problem.
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. Given the fact that most of them collect your personally identifying information at signup and for receiving payments 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, which means your safety sits in a grey area – a fact that defeats the whole purpose of using a VPN in the first place.
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 do not know who their customers are means they are very limited in what they can actually divulge.
In our opinion, Mullvad VPN is doing a great job at providing a model for other VPNs to follow and we wouldn’t be surprised to see others mirroring Mullvad’s approach moving forward.
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.