Mullvad is a very private VPN
Logging Policy & Jurisdiction
Mullvad VPN is based in Sweden, which isn't the best country for privacy. But its logging policy is private enough that we aren't worried; only minimal anonymous metadata is collected. It's not a zero logs approach, but it's safe.
Mullvad VPN employs a minimal-logs policy that only collects anonymous connection metadata relating to server usage.
The VPN doesn’t log any traffic, user bandwidth, or originating IP addresses. However, the service monitors a user’s total number of simultaneous connections. This data is never stored, though.
Additionally, Mullvad collects some anonymous usage stats, namely CPU load per core and total bandwidth used per server.
Anonymous usage stats are used to maintain reliable server performance. This data is stored indefinitely, but it won’t affect your privacy since it’s completely anonymous.
You also don’t need to submit any personal details to create an account, not even your email address. You’re simply assigned a randomly-generated account number, which functions as your login credentials.
Mullvad is based in Sweden
Mullvad VPN is owned by Amagicom AB and run by its CEO, Jan Axel Jonsson.
The company is incorporated in Sweden, part of the ‘Fourteen Eyes,’ an intelligence alliance made up of 14 countries who collect and share mass surveillance data.
This is usually a red flag, but Mullvad doesn’t log your web activity so there is no user data that can be linked back to you.
Mullvad's overall speeds are impressive
Speed & Reliability
Mullvad's speed performance has improved drastically since we first started testing it. Now, Mullvad is very fast across the board, picking up excellent download speeds on local and international connections.
Mullvad registered fast speeds in our extensive tests. It’s not the fastest VPN we’ve reviewed, but it’s a very quick VPN nonetheless.
We tested Mullvad’s short-distance speeds by connecting to one of its UK servers from our physical location in London, UK. Here are the results:
Local Speed Test results before using Mullvad VPN:
- Download Speed: 100Mbps
- Upload Speed: 94Mbps
- Ping: 3ms
Local Speed Test results with Mullvad VPN:
Download speed loss when Mullvad VPN is running: 6%
The speed results above show how fast Mullvad is connecting to nearby servers. A 6% speed drop is very good, and something few VPN services attain.
In fact, the VPN is quickly catching up some of the fastest VPNs we’ve reviewed. Our Hotspot Shield speed tests came in at even higher speeds, though.
Sadly, we did experience a number of connection drops during our speed tests. As such, Mullvad’s connection reliability needs improving.
International speed test results
Over longer distances, Mullvad slows down a fair amount, although many VPNs experience this.
We also tested Mullvad’s speeds connecting to other countries, from closer ones to far away ones.
Here are our Mullvad VPN’s latest international speed test results:
- Download: 83Mbps (17% slower)
- Download: 89Mbps (10% slower)
- Download: 62Mbps (38% slower)
- Download: 61Mbps (39% slower)
Although speeds drop as high as 39% connecting to Australia, these are actually very good long-distance speed results.
There are still faster VPNs out there, though.
High latency is an issue
The VPN’s latency is a let down, unfortunately. Mullvad’s best average ping time was 14ms – way above our most highly-rated VPNs.
High ping times cause lag, particularly when gaming online. For this reason, we can’t recommend Mullvad for avid gamers. Instead, we recommend these online gaming VPNs.
Unexpected connection drops
We also experienced a few connection drops during our tests, particularly connecting to city-level servers rather than general country ones.
Connections drops are from ideal and symbolize Mullvad’s less than optimal reliability.
At least, Mullvad’s VPN kill switch kicked in each time to ensure our true IP address wasn’t exposed and this seems to happen less and less.
Mullvad’s speeds compared to other VPNs
The graph below illustrate Mullvad’s speeds compared against three top VPNs: ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Private Internet Access.
We use our internal automated speed test tool to calculate the average download speed loss on a capped 100Mbps connection.
The tool runs VPN speed tests automatically four times a day, seven days a week on our New York server.
The chart above shows how Mullvad’s average download speed loss isn’t much worse than ExpressVPN. The VPN is also beating Private Internet Access, and matching NordVPN’s speeds.
Limited range of locations: only 762 servers
Mullvad has 762 servers across 38 countries. It's nowhere near as extensive as some competitors, but casual users should be satisfied, especially if you're based in Europe where most servers are located.
Mullvad only operates 762 VPN servers in 38 countries. This is a narrow range.
To put this into perspective, NordVPN’s servers cover 60 countries.
Most of Mullvad’s VPN server locations are based in Europe and the United States, so the VPN isn’t the optimal choice for users located elsewhere in the world.
Mullvad has good US city coverage
You can also access city-specific VPN servers in six countries, including 12 cities in the US:
- Los Angeles
- New York
- Salt Lake City
- San Jose
12 specific city server locations is a respectable offering. It allows US-based users to connect to a nearby server, and to bypass US sports blackouts.
Mullvad covers Australia’s East and West coasts
Mullvad also servers Australian users well by running servers in six city locations:
Most top-rated Australia VPNs only cover Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. Mullvad’s presence in six Australian cities is therefore very impressive.
However, other parts of the world aren’t served anywhere near as well as the US and Australia. South America (Brazil) and Africa (South Africa) only count one server country location each.
Mullvad features a wide range of security settings
Security & Features
Mullvad focuses on security at the expense of entertainment. But that means it's safe and well-suited to those who want to browse the web anonymously. It uses WireGuard protocol and encrypts your data with the best cipher, AES-256. There's a built-in kill switch to prevent exposures and leak protection as well.
Mullvad’s VPN apps have many extra security features, ideal for anyone seeking high levels of internet security.
VPN connections are encrypted via the AES 256-bit cipher and you can choose between two VPN protocols: OpenVPN (desktop only) and WireGuard (desktop and mobile).
Mullvad’s multi-hop setting
Similarly to Surfshark, ProtonVPN and NordVPN, Mullvad also offers a server multi-hop function.
Multi-hop, or Double VPN as it’s sometimes known, routes your connection via two VPN servers before taking you to a website or application.
While it worked well in our tests, speeds suffered considerably. This isn’t uncommon, we experience the same slowdown when we tested ProtonVPN’s Secure Core servers.
Mullvad’s built-in kill switch
The built-in VPN kill switch prevents your true IP address from being exposed during connection drops.
The kill switch runs at all times and automatically kicks in upon a connection failure.
While testing Mullvad, we did run into one or two connection failures. This isn’t optimal, however the VPN did temporarily block the internet and prevented our true IP address from leaking.
Mullvad didn’t suffer any DNS or IP leaks
Mullvad also operates its own DNS servers, meaning your web traffic isn’t routed through potentially less secure third-party servers.
The apps also feature integrated DNS leak protection to prevent your DNS credentials from becoming visible to a third-party.
In fact, the VPN service successfully masked our IP and DNS credentials in our battery of VPN leak tests.
Split tunneling on Android and Linux
Split tunneling lets you decide which programs should use the VPN connection, and which ones shouldn’t. This can help fix connection issues when the VPN is running.
This feature is only available on the Android and Linux apps, though. For Windows and macOS, there is a manual split tunneling process, but it’s more complicated.
Mullvad’s ad blocker
Mullvad’s iOS application is equipped with a working ad and tracking blocker.
We visited a number of websites on Safari with the setting enabled and the VPN blocked all ad units.
Mullvad’s apps are built in Rust
For more our more technical readers, Mullvad’s apps are developed using Rust, a programming language made for building secure programs. They’re also built using code signing for app and server code.
Fast, P2P-friendly VPN with port forwarding
We rate Mullvad highly as a torrenting VPN as all of its servers are P2P-friendly, it picks up a fast average MiB/s, and comes with strong security. There's port forwarding and SOCKS5 proxy, too.
For starters, Mullvad VPN allows torrenting and P2P activity on all its private servers.
We tested it using several safe torrent clients like qbittorent, and the VPN’s download speeds were quick and stable.
While it wasn’t as fast as our best torrenting VPNs, it’s certainly a VPN that torrents at high speed and privately.
Mullvad’s P2P-friendly settings
Mullvad doesn't unblock any streaming service
You shouldn't use VPN for streaming. In our latest tests, it failed to unblock a single content platform. In other words, it won't work with Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and more.
Mullvad performed terribly in our latest streaming tests.
In the past, the VPN unblocked both US Netflix and BBC iPlayer. However, recently we couldn’t stream neither.
Not only does Mullvad no longer work with Netflix or BBC iPlayer, it doesn’t unblock HBO Max, DAZN, Hulu, Disney+, or any other major platform, either.
Doesn't work consistently in China
Mullvad isn't reliable against Chinese censorship or in countries like Russia, Turkey, and UAE. There's a chance it works when using the Shadowsocks proxy, but there are safer, more reliable choices out there.
Due to China’s crackdown on VPN services, Mullvad rarely worked in our China VPN tests.
While Mullvad’s Shadowsocks proxy worked very infrequently, it’s not enough for us to recommend getting Mullvad for use in China.
The VPN is also unlikely to work in other high-censorship countries, such as Turkey, Iran, UAE, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.
Our review of Astrill VPN illustrates the unblocking capabilities of a top-rated anti-censorship VPN, which Mullvad simply doesn’t have.
Open source natives apps but no browsers extensions or Fire TV Stick app
Platforms & Devices
Mullvad is compatible across the major mobile and desktop devices, including macOS, Windows, iOS, and Android.
It’s also available on Linux as a custom app. We’d like to see a Smart DNS feature and Fire TV Stick app, though, and some browser extensions.
Mullvad is available to use one these devices:
Mullvad has built user-friendly and open source VPN apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux.
The software looks very similar on all platforms, although each application comes with slightly different settings.
You can use the VPN on five connections at once, which is the industry standard these days, but less generous than many other services.
Mullvad’s desktop software: Windows, macOS and Linux
Mullvad’s dekstop software isn’t the most eye-pleasing, but it’s easy to use and worked well throughout our testing.
The VPN’s desktop clients include OpenVPN and WireGuard protocol selection, multi-hop (bridge mode), and traffic obfuscation.
The Windows and Linux clients also come with a split tunneling setting.
Mullvad’s mobile software: Android and iOS
As with the Windows and macOS software, Mullvad’s Android and iOS applications are almost identical.
What differs between the two platforms are the settings on offer.
The Android application allows split tunneling, which the iOS app doesn’t.
On the flip side, the iOS app includes an ad and tracker blocker, which isn’t available on Android.
Both mobile applications use the WireGuard protocol and automatic WireGuard key rotation. This setting changes your WireGuard keys every four days for extra security.
Mullvad lacks a Firestick app and Smart DNS functionality
Sadly, Mullvad doesn’t have a native Fire TV app. There is an .apk file for the Android app, which you can side load. It’s much easier to a native Firestick VPN, though.
There is also no Smart DNS tool, which complicates using the VPN on Apple TV, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox, and similar devices. The only solution is to set up the VPN on your home router, but it’s not the easiest process.
Mullvad VPN’s limited compatibility extends to web browsers, too.
Disappointingly, the company hasn’t built a proper VPN browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
However, Mullvad recently launched a proxy extension for Firefox called Mullvad Privacy Companion. It’s not a VPN add-on, and it’s only in Beta mode.
Privacy Companion is a SOCKS5 proxy browser extension that lets you connect to Mullvad’s proxy servers. It spoofs your geo-location, and it blocks WebRTC leaks.
Well-designed, functional apps
Ease of Use
Mullvad's apps are simple to use and they look good. They're foolproof but not entirely without faults.
How to Install & Set Up Mullvad VPN
Mullvad VPN has a sleek and simple desktop client for Windows, macOS, and Linux users. The main screen is clutter free, displaying only your connection status and selected server.
When connected, the banner at the top turns green and the app reads ‘secure connection’. A red banner indicates that the VPN is not connected.
The app disappears in your toolbar whenever you click elsewhere, which is annoying.
Changing VPN server location is simple and is done by clicking ‘Switch Location’ on the main screen – you can drill down to city level in some locations and even choose a specific server.
The main settings are located in the top right corner, but there is no access to many of the advanced features, such as split tunneling, which require manual configuration.
The app’s advanced settings only allow you to toggle between UDP and TCP and select your preferred port.
Similarly to the desktop clients, Mullvad’s mobile apps are also easy to use.
Limited customer support is frustrating
Mullvad can improve its customer support system. It's not easy to find the information you need on its website and there's no live-chat feature to get quick answers. Instead, you send an email and the reply time can vary. The agents are knowledgeable and helpful, though.
Sadly, there isn’t any live chat support available, and the speed of email replies can vary from a couple of minutes to 12 hours. This is frustrating if you need quick answers.
At least, Mullvad’s customer support agents are friendly and helpful.
Mullvad’s website contains detailed FAQs and user guides that answer most common queries.
There’s no website search functionality, though, so it’s quicker to search for your question on a search engine to find the answer on Mullvad.net.
$5.70 flat price no matter the subscription length
Price & Value for Money
Mullvad costs the same no matter what: $5.70 per month. A single tier pricing system is rare to find among VPNs, and its simplicity is appealing. You aren't tied to long-term deals but it's still too expensive; on longer-term deals, top VPNs can cut the price to as low as $3.00 per month or less.
Unlike most VPN services, Mullvad VPN doesn’t offer longer-term subscription plans. Or longer-term discounts for that matter.
With Mullvad, you pay one monthly price and ‘top up’ for however long you want to use the VPN.
For $5.70 a month, Mullvad is a relatively cheap VPN service, considering you aren’t tied in for 12 months or longer, and most one-month VPN deals cost over $10.00.
At $5.70 per month, Mullvad represents ok value for your money. The fact it doesn’t unblock streaming services is a problem, given there are cheaper VPNs that can bypass streaming geo-blocks.
Payment & refund options
Mullvad accepts payment via a large number of methods:
Mullvad is also one of the very few VPN services that lets you pay with cash, which is great for anonymity.
Just mail it an envelope containing an amount of money, along with your account number. The company will then top up your account accordingly. You can pay in EUR, USD, GBP, SEK, DKK, NOK, CHF, CAD, AUD, and NZD.
If you pay with Bitcoin, you get a 10% discount.
Mullvad’s money-back guarantee
Mullvad’s offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, as long as you don’t pay using cash.
Mullvad offers no free trial
Sadly, Mullvad doesn’t offer any kind of free trial. The only way to test Mullvad is to take advantage of its refund promise, but you will have to purchase a subscription outright.
Alternatively, you can try one of our recommended VPN free trials, some of which don’t even ask for payment details on signup.
Mullvad VPN review summary
The Bottom Line
In summary, Mullvad VPN is reasonably fast, secure, and is gaining popularity with privacy-focused users.
Private browsing and torrenting is where Mullvad delivers the best results.
However, there are several important areas where Mullvad needs to improve. Mainly, device compatibility and bypassing streaming geo-restrictions.
If these issue don’t bother you, then Mullvad is a solid VPN choice. Otherwise, take a look at the two VPN alternatives below.
Additional research by David Hughes
Alternatives to Mullvad VPN
ExpressVPN excels where Mullvad struggles. It works well on most devices, bypasses most geo-blocks, and is very fast across long-distances. Read ExpressVPN review
CyberGhost is a better streaming VPN than Mullvad and is the better value for money. Mullvad is pretty expensive for what it offers. Read CyberGhost review