Mullvad VPN vs ExpressVPN: which VPN is better?
Mullvad VPN and ExpressVPN are both well-known VPN providers with a lot to offer. Mullvad VPN represents more of a niche service focussed keenly on privacy, while ExpressVPN promises great performance on top of advanced security.
To figure out which one is best for you, we’ve put both providers through a series of tests. In this Mullvad VPN vs ExpressVPN comparison, we’ll look at vital VPN features like streaming, security, speed, privacy, and price. We’ll give you a breakdown of what to expect with each VPN – and which provider does the job best.
When all’s said and done, ExpressVPN is better than Mullvad VPN, acing most of the tests, including speed, streaming, features, and more. Continue reading to find all of the results in detail.
Mullvad VPN vs ExpressVPN
Mullvad VPN and ExpressVPN are evenly matched in terms of protection and torrenting capabilities. Plus, both providers allow up to 5 device connections. However, ExpressVPN unblocks most major streaming services, while Mullvad VPN only works on YouTube. ExpressVPN also offers over 3,000 servers in 105 countries, while Mullvad VPN – 784 servers only. So, ExpressVPN is the winner of this comparison due to bringing much more to the table.
|🥇 Overall rank:||#6 out of #42||#15 out of #42|
|🖥️ Servers:||3,000 + servers in 105 countries||784 + servers in 38 countries|
|📖 No logs policy:||No logs||No logs|
|💵 Price:||From $6.67/month||$6/month|
|🔥 Coupons:||ExpressVPN coupon 49% OFF + 3 months FREE!||Cybernews VPN Coupons|
|🔒 VPN protocols:||Lightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2||WireGuard, OpenVPN|
|🍿 Streaming services:||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and more||YouTube|
|🖥️ Platforms:||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS|
|📥 Simultaneous connections:||8||up to 5|
|💁🏻 Support:||Knowledge base, FAQs, email, 24/7 live chat||Email, Facebook, Twitter|
Netflix and streaming performance
|Netflix||✅ Yes||❌ No|
|Amazon Prime Video||✅ Yes||❌ No|
|YouTube||✅ Yes||✅ Yes|
|Disney+||✅ Yes||❌ No|
|BBC iPlayer||✅ Yes||❌ No|
|HBO Max||✅ Yes||❌ No|
ExpressVPN is a much better pick than Mullvad VPN if you’re looking for a streaming VPN. In terms of Netflix, ExpressVPN managed to unblock most of the regions, including the US and even the notoriously difficult Japan library. Meanwhile, Mullvad VPN couldn’t access any Netflix library whatsoever.
In terms of other streaming services, we had a buffering-free experience on each platform we managed to get into with ExpressVPN. This includes Amazon Prime, YouTube, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and Hulu.
ExpressVPN also provides additional features that are useful for streaming. SmartDNS enables you to unblock content on devices that don't typically work with VPNs (like a smart TV). And split tunneling runs specific apps through the VPN, so you can unblock Netflix and keep your local connection up at once.
On the flip side, Mullvad VPN wasn’t so great for streaming. We were denied access when trying to get into Netflix, BBC HBO Max, and most other platforms. We managed to unblock region-restricted videos on YouTube, but that’s it.
Plans & pricing
ExpressVPN adopts the traditional pricing system you see from most providers. The longer you sign up, the less you pay each month.
The one-month option is $12.95/month, sign up for six months and it’s $9.99/month, or opt for the 12-month plan and pay $8.32/month.
In stark contrast, Mullvad VPN takes a different approach. No matter how long you sign up for – one month, six months, one year – you’ll always pay a flat fee of $6.00/month. This is an interesting strategy – you’ll save a good chunk of cash by choosing Mullvad VPN. After all, it’s even cheaper than ExpressVPN’s lowest subscription.
|Check ExpressVPN deals||Read Mullvad VPN review|
However, there are still a few factors to consider when deciding which provider represents the best value. Each VPN offers 5 simultaneous connections, neither has a free trial, and both provide a 30-day money-back guarantee. So it’s looking pretty even.
In terms of actual payment options, ExpressVPN takes credit cards, Bitcoin, UnionPay, PayPal, and more. Along with the usual methods (credit card, Bitcoin, PayPal), Mullvad VPN even takes payment via cash sent through the post! This is certainly unique and could appeal to ultra-private customers.
Mullvad VPN vs ExpressVPN: which is more secure?
|Encryption||AES-256 and ChaCha20||AES-256 and ChaCha20|
|Outside the 14 Eyes alliance?||Yes||No|
|DNS leak protection||Yes||Yes|
You can rely on Mullvad VPN and ExpressVPN to keep you protected. Both shield your data in AES-256 data encryption and offer an impressive suite of security features. But which is most secure overall? Let’s take a look.
ExpressVPN operates RAM-only servers via its TrustedServer technology – all user data is deleted whenever the service reboots.
Mullvad VPN keeps its servers fully encrypted and uses optimized ‘bastion host’ computers to block hacks and attacks.
Furthermore, ExpressVPN’s tunneling protocols include IKEv2, OpenVPN, L2TP, and its in-house Lightway. Mullvad VPN only supports OpenVPN and WireGuard, but they’re two of the best protocols you can use.
ExpressVPN and Mullvad VPN both ensure your data is secure with military-grade AES-256 encryption. Essentially impenetrable, it's even able to withstand brute-force attacks, which means your sensitive info will always be safe from hackers and snoops.
One factor in ExpressVPN's favor is its location. This provider is based in the famously-private British Virgin Islands, where there are no laws on data retention. Mullvad VPN, on the other hand, is located in Sweden, a country that’s a member of the 14-Eyes initiative.
Some users may deem that a privacy concern, but Mullvad VPN makes up for it in other ways. Accounts can be created with total anonymity – you don’t have to enter an email address, and you can even pay in cash.
A VPN should never hold onto your personal data. Thankfully, Mullvad VPN and ExpressVPN enforce strict no-log policies to ensure your info is never stored.
This has been verified for both providers by way of independent audits. ExpressVPN has had its service checked by PwC (a member of the ’Big Four’ accounting firms), and Mullvad VPN was evaluated by the Cure53 auditing company. Both providers were awarded top during their respective audits.
Speed comparison: Mullvad VPN vs ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN runs out in front in the speed race due to a few factors. For starters, it has more tunneling protocols – IKEv2, OpenVPN, L2TP, and Lightway, compared to Mullvad VPN's OpenVPN and WireGuard. Sure, WireGuard is known to be the best protocol available, but Lightway is no slouch either (it’s based on WireGuard, after all), and the extra choice gives you more options.
With ExpressVPN counting over 3000 options in its server fleet, you get significantly more connections than Mullvad VPN's 784 servers. So if you’re on a slow server, you’ll be more likely to find one closer to you (and faster) with ExpressVPN.
Mullvad VPN certainly isn’t slow, and with WireGuard, you should always get above-decent connections. ExpressVPN simply has more in its arsenal to improve your speed.
Extra features can massively improve your VPN experience. Security and servers are a given, but what other benefits can a VPN bring to the table? ExpressVPN boasts a full suite of additional settings, while Mullvad VPN's selection is more modest. Let’s see how they compare over some key areas.
Split tunneling is a useful feature that enables you to pick which apps you want to go through the VPN and which to leave on your standard connection. It's handy if you want to access restricted content while staying connected to your localized work platform. Both providers offer it, but does one do it better?
Mullvad VPN's split tunneling only works on Android, Windows, and Linux devices. ExpressVPN delivers the feature on Windows, Android, and Mac (but only up to macOS 10.15).
With that in mind, ExpressVPN ever-so-slightly comes out on top.
This excellent feature is geared toward streaming. It helps you unblock content without connecting to the VPN, which means your speeds will be faster. It also works on devices that otherwise don’t support VPN installation – like your games console or smart TV – by changing the device’s DNS settings.
ExpressVPN’s version of this feature is called MediaStreamer. It’s easy to use and will be a godsend if you’re keen to access geo-blocked streamers. Mullvad VPN doesn’t have smart DNS, so ExpressVPN gets another top mark.
Ad blockers are found on most VPNs, which is why ExpressVPN’s omission of this feature is all the more confusing. It has a threat manager tool, which blocks malware and trackers, but strangely it doesn’t work on ads.
Mullvad VPN does have an ad blocker, so you can banish those annoying pop-ups. It also doubles up to stop websites from tracking your activity, so it’s a useful weapon in the fight against trackers and advertisers.
If you’re trying to access a device remotely or are creating your own gaming server, port forwarding is a feature you’ll want to hear about. Port forwarding enables devices and remote servers to connect to your private network.
Mullvad VPN port forwarding works well. We tested it out with a Minecraft server to great success. ExpressVPN also offers port forwarding and supplies an instructional guide to help you set it up.
The kill switch is a vital feature of a VPN. It protects your anonymity by killing your internet connection if the VPN drops out. This stops your IP address or identity from being revealed to snoops and sneaks. You should always have a kill switch ready when you’re on a public wifi connection.
ExpressVPN’s kill switch is called Network Lock. You can customize it to work on specific apps and even disable/allow connections to local devices. It’s available on Windows, Android, Linux, and macOS, but sadly not iOS.
Mullvad VPN's kill switch is built into the VPN and is always on, you don’t even have to go to settings to enable it. It works on all its apps, except for iOS.
When you compare Mullvad VPN and ExpressVPN’s server locations, you’ll quickly see there’s no contest. ExpressVPN eclipses its competition in this round with 3000+ servers in 94 countries compared to Mullvad’s 784 servers in 38 countries.
With that many more servers available, the likelihood of having an optimized connection in the location of your choice is much greater with ExpressVPN.
ExpressVPN is a top choice for torrenting. All of its servers allow P2P, it’s fast enough to keep your downloads/uploads stable, and it’s very secure, so you don’t need to worry about threats.
Mullvad VPN is much the same – all of its servers work with P2P, and we didn’t encounter any speed throttling during our tests. Mullvad VPN's security also ensures you won’t be compromised while torrenting.
Platforms, interface, and ease of use
|Supported OS||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS|
|Browser extensions||Chrome, Brave, Opera, Edge, and Firefox||Firefox|
|Other software and devices||Android TV, Fire devices, routers||Android TV, Fire devices|
|Usability level||Easy to use||Easy to use|
Both ExpressVPN and Mullvad VPN are very easy to set up. The apps download and install in a matter of minutes if not seconds. Plus, both providers have dedicated apps for Windows, Android, macOS, iOS, and Linux.
In terms of browser extensions, ExpressVPN provides them for Chrome, Brave, Opera, Edge, and Firefox, while Mullvad VPN only supports Firefox.
Additionally, ExpressVPN also offers a router applet, and its SmartDNS feature enables you to connect various devices that don’t support direct VPN installation. These extra devices give ExpressVPN the upper hand here.
Mullvad VPN and ExpressVPN’s desktop apps both provide a user-friendly experience. ExpressVPN’s no-frills interface is easy to navigate, and you’ll also find its Windows and macOS apps are near-identical. You won’t have any issues finding features, connecting to servers, or setting shortcuts.
Mullvad VPN also delivers simple desktop apps that users of all levels will find easy to get around. Preferences, servers, and the advanced settings menu are all front and center, so you can access the main features as soon as you load up the app.
However, unlike ExpressVPN, you may notice a few differences between the Windows and macOS apps. The general feel of the app may also seem a bit outdated.
Mullvad VPN's mobile apps work well on Android and iOS, you’ll get the same ease of use as on a desktop. But if you’re on an Apple device, you’ll lose a few features on the iOS app, such as split tunneling.
ExpressVPN’s mobile apps are also pleasingly easy to use. The Android version is a perfectly shrunken-down version of the desktop app – it’s quick, responsive, and has all the same features.
Over on iOS, there are some changes. Split tunneling, customizable shortcuts, and the kill switch have been removed. It’s a shame, as ExpressVPN’s premium quality (and price tag) is not as evident on its iOS app.
Setting a VPN up on your router can be an imposing task if you’re not super techy, but it's very beneficial. You’ll be able to connect every device on your network to the VPN – even devices like smart TVs, consoles, and streaming sticks. ExpressVPN has made this complicated process a little easier with its dedicated router applet.
And once you’re connected, you can choose which of your devices you want to go through the VPN, and allocate different servers to different devices. There’s also an instructional guide to help you set everything up.
|24/7 live chat||✅||❌|
|Guides or articles||✅||✅|
ExpressVPN offers top-quality customer support. You can get a query answered quickly on a 24/7 live chat, or shoot over a request via email. In both cases, we received replies promptly – instantly via live chat and no longer than a couple of hours over email.
You can also explore the extensive knowledge base to find guides, tutorials, FAQs, and more, in a wide range of language translations. It’s safe to say that ExpressVPN wants to give you all the help you need to get the best out of its service.
Mullvad VPN's customer support options include a knowledge base with FAQs and guides and an email address. You’re also encouraged to reach out on social media (Facebook, Twitter) with queries. Unfortunately, there’s no live chat, which is disappointing.
Mullvad VPN vs ExpressVPN – which one wins?
|Ease of use||✅||❌|
All in all, ExpressVPN is the better choice. It’s fast, reliable, secure, and feature-rich. On top of that, it boasts a large server fleet and superior customer service. ExpressVPN is also ideal for bypassing geo-blocks and streaming region-restricted content.
That’s not to say Mullvad VPN is poor, it’s very secure, and the anonymous sign-up process will no doubt appeal to users looking for total privacy. However, it lacks features you find on ExpressVPN, like SmartDNS, and fails to unblock almost all streaming services. Its server fleet is also a lot smaller.
With all that in mind, ExpressVPN’s all-round premium service makes it the overall winner in this battle of the VPNs.
More VPN comparisons
Which is cheaper – Mullvad VPN or ExpressVPN?
Mullvad VPN is cheaper than ExpressVPN. Mullvad VPN charges a flat-rate sum of $6 for all its subscription options. In contrast, ExpressVPN is on the costlier side of the spectrum, and its cheapest subscription costs $8.32/month.
Is ExpressPVN faster than Mullvad VPN?
Yes, ExpressVPN is faster than Mullvad VPN. ExpressVPN provides a range of tunneling protocols (IKEv2, OpenVPN, L2TP, and Lightway). It also has 3,000+ servers in 105 countries. This variety helps you get the fastest connection possible whenever you connect to the VPN.
Is Mullvad VPN safe?
Yes, Mullvad VPN is a very safe VPN. This provider offers full AES-256 data encryption and a kill switch to keep your data under wraps at all times. It’s also strongly privacy-focused, no personal details are required to sign up, and you can even pay in cash.