Mullvad VPN review
Mullvad VPN is a niche Virtual Private Network service that deserves much more attention than it’s currently getting. Its strong encryption, strict no-logs policy, and wealth of features like port forwarding, split tunneling, and bridge mode make Mullvad the perfect VPN for people who want to stay anonymous online.
Before we continue, however, let's get one thing out of the way. If you're looking for a VPN to unblock streaming services like Netflix, Mullvad is not the choice – have a look at our best VPN list instead.
With that said, is this the perfect VPN for you? That’s the question I’ll try to answer in this Mullvad VPN review. Together, we’ll take a look at the program's functionality and see whether you should click that download button or not.
|Overall rank:||#9 out of 27|
|Logs:||No logging policy|
|Customer support:||Email, Facebook, Twitter|
|Locations:||36 countries, 761 servers|
|VPN protocols:||WireGuard, OpenVPN|
Mullvad VPN pros & cons
- 100% anonymity
- Supports torrenting
- Supports IPv6
- Unblocks Youtube content
- Can be used on up to 5 devices
- Not great for unblocking popular streaming services
- Has fewer servers than many other VPNs
- Pricing is very inflexible
- No free trial
Is Mullvad VPN safe?
Mullvad is one of the safest VPN services. The program keeps no logs, doesn’t collect any personal information, and uses the latest tech to make sure your internet traffic is untraceable.
So, here’s what makes Mullvad one of the safest and most private VPNs online:
- Completely anonymous accounts
- WireGuard and OpenVPN tunnel protocols
- AES-256 encryption
- SOCKS5 proxy
- No third-party trackers on website
Read on to find out how each of these features helps guarantee your anonymity.
Mullvad VPN privacy
If privacy is your main concern, then Mullvad is the right VPN for you. That’s because you can create a Mullvad account 100% anonymously. You don’t even have to provide an email address, as a randomly-generated 16-digit code is all you need to log into your account.
You can go so far as to pay with cash, which removes any way to trace the purchase back to you.
The bottom line is, the service doesn't keep any logs of user online activities. Unless you pay for it via bank wire, PayPal, Swish, or Stripe, Mullvad can't tie your account to your person. And while some may be worried by the fact that Mullvad's home - Sweden - is a 14-Eyes country, the company is adamant that they are prepared to “shut down the service” if the government requires it to spy on users.
Mullvad lets you choose between two secure tunneling protocols:
- WireGuard. This is a new open-source VPN protocol whose main selling point is speed. While ensuring a high level of safety, WireGuard offers you better download and upload speeds than other VPN protocols.
- OpenVPN. Right now, this is the most popular open-source tunnel protocol on the internet - it is even referred to as the “gold standard”. Even though a bit slower than WireGuard, OpenVPN has no known security issues.
Depending on your preferences, you can use the VPN protocol of your choice - just go to Advanced settings and select WireGuard or OpenVPN. Otherwise, Mullvad will set the protocol automatically.
Mullvad VPN uses AES-256 encryption (also known as “military-grade” encryption) to encrypt your traffic. AES-256 is immune to brute-force attacks and is virtually unbreakable.
In other words, your data will be safe from any third-parties.
You can use all Mullvad VPN servers with the SOCKS5 proxy for an additional layer of safety. You can also use it to limit your VPN connection to a specific app (such as your browser or torrent client). As a bonus this feature will reduce the number of CAPTCHAs you encounter.
Keep in mind that this is an advanced feature and you won’t be able to activate the proxy by using the Mullvad app. To do this, follow the instructions provided on the official site of Mullvad.
Does Mullvad VPN work in China?
Internet censorship in China is an ongoing issue, affecting travelers and locals alike. Even worse - China blocks not only content, but also VPNs, so a lot of Virtual Private Network services simply don’t work in China.
Mullvad has the right features to work in China. Namely, it has Shadowsocks, which can help users bypass the Great Firewall. However, according to user experiences, Mullvad’s situation in China is inconsistent.
Mullvad VPN features
Each and every VPN hides your IP address - that’s just what VPNs do. However, not all VPN services dive a little deeper, giving you the freedom to torrent, use port forwarding, or personalize the settings.
Luckily, Mullvad VPN is strong in the feature department. It gives you a lot to choose from, including:
- Port forwarding
- Split tunneling
- Local network sharing
- Bridge mode
In case you have very particular needs, you can even tweak your feature preferences using the extensive CLI interface of the Mullvad app, which allows you to create advanced scripts.
It is much safer to torrent not using your real IP address instead of without any protection at all.
Luckily, Mullvad VPN allows torrenting, no matter which server you use. To be 100% sure, our researchers tested it and got great results: the connection speeds were good and there was no sign of speed throttling. The SOCKS5 proxy will also come in handy - you can set it up directly on your torrent client and go about your day.
Port forwarding can be useful in many situations, especially if you want to set up a gaming server or access a device remotely.
Unfortunately, lots of VPNs don’t support port forwarding, as they block the majority of ports to your device.
Luckily, Mullvad VPN supports port forwarding. We set up a Minecraft server on a PC connected to one of Mullvad’s servers, and other devices were able to connect to it.
Split tunneling is a really useful feature that makes certain programs use the VPN while allowing others to access the internet with your own IP address. For example, you can watch geo-restricted content while downloading files with no change in internet speed.
Right now, Mullvad supports split tunneling on its Android and Linux applications. You will find the split tunneling feature in the Advanced settings section. Enable it and then select the apps you want to exclude from the VPN connection.
If you need to use a VPN every single day, remembering to turn it on can become a nuisance. That’s where the Launch on Start-up feature might come in handy. Enable it to launch Mullvad right away after turning on your computer.
You can also make Mullvad automatically connect to a server when you open the app itself. To do this, activate the Auto-Connect feature in the Preferences section.
Local network sharing
You can allow local network sharing when you want to share resources between different devices on the same network. If you don't enable this feature, you can’t access printers and other devices from your computer when using Mullvad VPN.
Bridge Mode is a networking feature that merges two or more networks. In this way, all the networks function as one. You may find Mullvad’s Bridge Mode useful when you want to use multi-hop servers, or connect to a server using a ShadowSocks proxy.
Even though IPv6 addresses are the inevitable future of the internet, the number of VPNs that support them is quite small. Luckily, Mullvad VPN can connect you to the IPv6 internet even if your internet provider doesn’t support this possibility.
To test this feature, our experts set up a bridged dual-stack (IPv4 + IPv6) WireGuard connection on Linux and managed to get it to work.
However, as the technology is quite new, Mullvad doesn’t guarantee IPv6 tunneling for all computers: your device simply might not be able to support it.
Always require VPN
This is the Kill Switch of Mullvad VPN. If you enable this feature, it will automatically block your internet when your Mullvad connection drops.
The Kill Switch is useful when you use public Wi-Fi or any other unsecured internet connection.
In this section, you can set your preferred value for OpenVPN MSS. The valid range goes from 1,000 to 1,450. This is an advanced feature that can help you with connection speed and stability.
Setting up your own WireGuard MTU (from 1,280 to 1,420) can help you with performance issues, too.
In this section, advanced users can manage and regenerate their WireGuard keys. Currently, Mullvad’s limit is five keys per user, so you might quickly reach the maximum Wireguard key limit. This cannot be changed, as this key limit allows Mullvad to restrict the user to a maximum of five devices.
Mullvad plans and pricing
I can confidently say that Mullvad has the most simplistic pricing system I’ve ever seen. It costs €5/month no matter if you pay for a single month, a year, or the whole decade at once.
There are also no different plans with different features. You get the whole package - take it or leave it.
The payment methods for Mullvad VPN include BTC, bank wire transfer, credit card, PayPal, and Swish. You can even pay in cash - simply put the money and your payment token in an envelope and send it to the address provided on Mullvad’s website.
However, if you’re wondering whether there’s a free version of Mullvad VPN, you might get a bit disappointed.
You see, back in 2019, you could get a free Mullvad trial right after getting a new account number. Even though this trial lasted for only three hours, it was a good way to test the speed and features of Mullvad VPN before buying the monthly subscription.
Unfortunately, it is no longer available. The only way to try Mullvad VPN for free is buying the service and asking for a refund within the period of 30 days. However, €5 is not a big sum to pay for your privacy, and the developers of Mullvad VPN deserve to be paid for their dedication.
Mullvad speed and performance
Our experts tested the speed and performance of Mullvad VPN and I’m glad to tell you that the results were not disappointing.
In other words, this VPN can be faster than many other Virtual Private Networks, surpassing even a few of the industry giants. Of course, there are lots of factors that affect the speed of a VPN, so your experience might differ.
|Test type||Ping (ms)||Download (Mbps)||Upload (Mbps)|
Keep in mind that the speed results in this table were received using the WireGuard VPN protocol.
Mullvad also lets you connect via the OpenVPN (TCP) and OpenVPN (UDP) tunneling protocols. This will usually result in worse speeds - Wireguard offers the best performance.
In any case, you shouldn’t notice much of a difference in internet speed when using Mullvad.
Platforms and browsers
As of today, Mullvad VPN offers apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux. Both desktop and mobile versions of Mullvad have identical user interfaces - the only difference is the number of features.
Even though these versions have some minor differences, all of the apps have the following options: auto-connect, local network sharing, Regenerate Wireguard key, and Change Wireguard MTU.
Mullvad for Android
The Android app doesn’t offer all the features mentioned in this Mullvad VPN review, as it is currently in beta version. It still lets you use local network sharing and set the WireGuard MTU value, but you can’t use IPv6 communication and there is no Kill Switch.
On the bright side, Mullvad Android offers Split Tunneling, which is not yet available on the Windows app.
However, I was a bit disappointed to see that WireGuard was the only protocol available.
Mullvad for iOS
In 2020, Mullvad finally released their iOS app, so you can now download it to your iPhone or iPad.
Like the Android version, Mullvad iOS only offers the WireGuard VPN protocol. However, this is the full version of the app, so you’ll find all the features you need.
Mullvad’s desktop apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux offer all the features mentioned in this Mullvad VPN review, and use both WireGuard and OpenVPN.
Also, you can enable the setting that notifies you about new Mullvad VPN beta versions.
Mullvad VPN servers
When it comes to the number of servers, Mullvad is not the biggest VPN out there. In this regard, it can’t compete with VPN services like Private Internet Access, NordVPN or SurfShark that count their servers by the thousands.
However, this shouldn’t cause any problems. As our tests show, Mullvad is an extremely fast VPN, which means that its servers are not too busy.
So, at the moment, Mullvad VPN offers:
- 761 servers
- 36 countries
- 59 cities
All of these servers come from 24 different server providers. Also, there are three server types in total: OpenVPN, WireGuard, and Bridge.
You can find the full list of all the servers on the official site of Mullvad VPN.
Mullvad VPN and streaming
If your sole purpose for using a VPN is to watch geo-restricted content, you might want to think about another provider.
I tested Mullvad on Netflix and it was unable to unblock American or Japanese content, while at the same time NordVPN could do it just fine. I had the same problem when trying to access BBC iPlayer and DAZN US - it seems that many services simply block Mullvad VPN.
Unfortunately, my experience correlates with many other reviews - it seems being a cure for geo-blocking is not Mullvad's goal.
However, there’s at least some light at the end of the tunnel because Mullvad helped me watch geo-restricted content on Youtube.
Mullvad setup and ease of use
Even though suitable even for the most tech-savvy users, Mullvad VPN is extremely easy to install. A couple of clicks, and you already have the VPN on your device.
After you download the program, you need to unlock it by buying a subscription. To do this, you need to:
- Visit the official site of Mullvad
- Generate a new account number (and save it!)
- Choose the desired plan and pay for it
Then, all you need to do is log into your account using the previously generated 16-digit number. Your account doesn’t require an email address or any other personal details, which can be a big plus.
On the other hand, anyone who knows your Mullvad code will be able to use your VPN with no problems, so make sure you don’t openly display it.
Using the application
Once you’re logged in, using Mullvad VPN is a piece of cake. You can secure your connection with a single click, and it’s easy to choose the desired server.
If you want to access the settings, click the gear icon at the top right corner of the window. Here, you can set your account preferences, report a problem, access the FAQ sheets, or dive deeper into the Advanced settings.
Even though the design of the app is simplistic, this simplicity didn’t bother me. However, some users might crave something more modern, as the UI of Mullvad can seem a bit outdated.
By the way, there’s one nice touch: Mullvad lets you choose to display the tray icon in white (instead of the regular red and green), and colorblind users might find it useful.
Mullvad customer support
If you encounter any problems when using Mullvad VPN and are not able to deal with them yourself, you have three options:
- Email support (at [email protected])
- Facebook support
- Twitter support
Interestingly, you might get the quickest reply via email (in a few hours), as Mullvad claims to not check their Facebook account that often.
Even though the responses are speedy, they are not instant (which they would be with a live chat). Let’s hope the team behind Mullvad sets up this option in the future.
However, if want to try to fix the issue yourself (or simply tweak a few features), Mullvad's website has you covered - they have extensive guides on any topic you might need. Also, you can find lots of useful info on the Mullvad subreddit.
Even though Mullvad is a great VPN, it might not fit the needs of all its users, as it can’t unblock Netflix and other streaming services.
For this, I suggest you use one of the VPNs listed below.
NordVPN is one of the most well-known VPNs in the world, offering you more than 5,500 servers in 59 countries. It is an extremely fast and user-friendly VPN that allows you to watch geo-restricted content on Netflix and other streaming sites.
However, NordVPN is much more than a tool for watching movies, as it guarantees total safety and anonymity with the help of a solid list of features. Double VPN, Onion over VPN, and malware blocking are just the tip of the iceberg. With that said, Mullvad's accounts do have a higher degree of anonymity.
You can use NordVPN on iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, and Linux devices. By the way, it is cheaper than Mullvad if you buy a long-term subscription: you can pay as little as $3.30 a month. However, its one-month subscription costs more than Mullvad, so I’d recommend NordVPN to those who plan on using it for a long time.
For more information, read our NordVPN review.
Private Internet Access VPN, or PIA VPN, is yet another decent program to hide your activity online. Currently, they have over 24,717+ servers in 77 countries, which is probably the largest server selection among all VPN services available today. This means that you’ll always find a server near you, resulting in good connection speeds.
You can download PIA as an application or a browser extension depending on your preferences. It’s also nice that PIA VPN lets you use 10 devices simultaneously no matter which plan you select.
The price range varies from $2.19 to $11.95 a month, depending on the length of your subscription. It is cheapest to buy a three-year plan which currently costs $79.00 in total.
For more information, read our Private Internet Access review.
AirVPN is a truly unique VPN, as it claims to be operated by “activists and hacktivists”. The company’s approach to transparency seems truly different from the rest. Just visit their website and you’ll see much more information than anywhere else: pending issues, top user speeds, top user session traffic, and other stats.
As for the VPN itself, it's one of the better ones. It uses the OpenVPN protocol, is compatible with torrenting, and allows port forwarding. In addition, AirVPN’s pricing is extremely versatile: you can buy it for three days (€2), one month (€7), three months (€15), etc. The cheapest monthly plan comes with a three-year plan, which costs €99.
I’d recommend AirVPN for advanced users, as its UI might be a bit too confusing for a beginner.
Mullvad VPN review: the bottom line
In conclusion, Mullvad VPN is a great tool for protecting your privacy. It has a lot of features and customization options, giving you lots of freedom to make the VPN tailored to your needs.
The company’s transparency, open-source ideologies, and out-of-the-box solutions make their app stand out among other Virtual Private Networks.
As for privacy and security, there’s no disappointment either. The app uses military-grade AES-256 encryption, keeps no logs, and offers safe tunneling protocols.
I also like the fact that Mullvad’s €5 price hasn’t changed since 2009, which is really admirable.
On the other hand, it is a bit disappointing that this program is not able to unblock most geo-restricted content. Let’s hope this changes in the future.
All in all, I especially recommend Mullvad VPN to people who are familiar with VPN technologies. However, even beginners will find Mullvad easy to use, as its UI is simple and intuitive.
More on VPN providers from CyberNews:
CyberGhost VPN review: a competitive VPN service to concider
TorGuard review: good VPN, but not without some flaws
Atlas VPN review: safety, features and price overview
Does Mullvad work with Netflix?
At the moment, no. Mullvad VPN doesn’t seem to unlock most geo-restricted streaming services aside from Youtube.
How much does Mullvad VPN cost?
Whether you buy a monthly or a yearly plan, Mullvad VPN will cost you €5 a month.
Where is Mullvad VPN based?
Mullvad VPN AB is registered in Sweden. As a result, they have to follow Swedish laws and regulations.