Mullvad Review

Mullvad is a Swedish VPN service that’s committed to privacy and transparency. It doesn’t have the shiniest user interface or app, and the name isn’t well known. But if you prioritize security, it’s definitely something to check out.

If you want to know a little more about this interesting new player on the market, check out our full Mullvad review. We’ll go through everything about this VPN provider, including the amazing privacy and transparency features.

mullvad review

Jurisdiction: Where Is Mullvad Based?

Many VPN users prefer to find a service that’s not from the same jurisdiction, to keep their information more secure. Others avoid countries like China or the United States, out of the reasonable concern that the company would be forced to share your information. 

Mullvad is based in Sweden, which is part of the 14 Eyes alliance. The member countries of this alliance share information with each other and the Five Eyes nations too, which is a major privacy issue. However, Swedish law doesn’t require VPN apps to log data or share it, and Mullvad doesn’t.

This makes it a good option for those VPN users worried about their information being shared with third parties. The company also monitors the legislation on information security in Sweden to stay up-to-date on any potential threats.

Who Owns Mullvad?

Mullvad VPN AB, as well as its parent company Amagicom AB, are fully owned by the founders, Fredrik Strömberg and Daniel Berntsson. As a show of transparency, the company includes this information on its website, as well as the names of the rest of the team members.

It’s a small company, so you can’t expect the same level of service as with some of the big names on the market. But you do know who’s behind your VPN service, which isn’t possible with all leading companies.

Third-Party Audits: Is Mullvad Committed to Security?

Mullvad is committed to doing third-party audits regularly to ensure the safety of the users’ information and publishes the results for customers to see. These audits go through the VPN app and detect any possible vulnerabilities in the system.

The latest audit took place in 2020 and was performed by Cure53 in the desktop app, as well as Android and iOS. The desktop audit was performed on Windows, OS and Ubuntu to get a full picture.

Of the seven issues the auditors found, none were critical or dangerous. Two were of low importance and two were medium, while the rest were classified merely as “information”. Overall, the report found that Mullvad does a good job of protecting its users’ information.

With the information of the audit, Mullvad fixed five of the security issues in the preliminary report. The company concluded that the remaining two issues were out of its control and didn’t represent a real threat to users.

Top Mullvad Features 

While Mullvad doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles like ad blockers and antivirus specs, it has a decent amount of features. Especially those who prioritize privacy and security will find these details important.

Encryption

The security of the Mullvad app is one of its leading features. It uses AES-256 bit encryption, which is the highest-level encryption standard. 

This is because the larger the bit size, the higher the possible key combinations needed to crack the encryption. With a 256-bit long key, it’s currently virtually impossible to hack, so it’s used for transmitting classified US government information.

No Personal Information

Mullvad doesn’t ask for your personal information or store it. When you sign up, you’ll get an account number which you’ll use to identify yourself. There’s no need for an email or phone number, which helps keep you in the clear. 

It can be a little uncomfortable to remember the account number to log in for those who are used to using their email. But for VPN users who want to maximize their privacy, this feature sets Mullvad apart from many competitors.

If you forget the account number, there are a couple of ways to trace it. You can do it through your payment or on the app itself if you can still access it. And in the worst-case scenario, you’ll have lost the money, but your information is protected. 

The company even encourages you to use cryptocurrencies or cash for payment to keep your VPN use free of tracing. You won’t have to use bank or credit card data that could be traced back to you. Of course, you can do it, but it does leave a trace of your personal information on the app.

No Activity Logs

If you want to keep your data safe from third parties, the best software options are those that don’t store it in the first place. 

Whether it’s your VPN, your browser or your search engine, look for companies that store a minimal amount of data. This way, even if they suffer a hack or are required to share your information, there’s nothing to share.

Mullvad doesn’t store activity logs of your surfing, so they’re not able to share them with third parties. This is another great feature for a VPN service that’s designed to improve your privacy.

What Information Does Mullvad Keep?

The only information the company keeps is your payment method, which is necessary for administration purposes. However, remember that the payment doesn’t need to be traceable to you if you use cash or Bitcoin.

Mullvad also monitors the number of connections and the bandwidth used. This is also understandable since the company needs to maintain a good level of service and improve when needed. However, there is no data linking the connection to you.


No Spying

Mullvad is prepared to shut down its operation in any jurisdiction if ever required to spy on its customers. This shows a big commitment to protecting the user’s information. You, of course, have no legal guarantee of this, but the company’s apparent prioritization of your privacy is definitely a good sign. 

No Virtual Servers

If you’re worried about virtual servers that appear to be located somewhere else than where they physically are, Mullvad can give you some peace of mind. The company not only doesn’t use virtual servers but also provides information on exactly what city they’re located in.

Mullvad also provides you information on whether the servers are owned or leased, so you’ll have a better handle on who has your data. This is a lot more information than what most VPN companies provide their users. 

Kill Switch

Nothing is perfect, not even a good VPN. For the situations when the connection to the secure VPN server fails, you lose your protection. This is where a kill switch is necessary.

Mullvad has an automatic switch that drops your connection if your VPN is disabled. This is a handy security feature to have because it protects you from being exposed even when you don’t notice it. 

Many VPN providers include a kill switch, but you’ll have to know how to enable it. Not with Mullvad, though. You can’t disable the kill switch feature on Mullvad even if you wanted to, so it’s always on, protecting your browsing.

Double VPN

Some users who need to take their security to the next level, for example, to keep their work confidential, need to use a double VPN. This means that the VPN routes your connection through two servers, making it harder to trace.

Mullvad offers this option for users, so you can use a double layer of protection for your information.

Split Tunneling

Split tunnelling is handy when you need to use a connection from two locations at the same time. For example, if you’re watching Netflix and you need to simultaneously use an app from another country.

Mullvad allows for this type of split tunnelling but only on mobile apps. They’ll likely add this feature to the desktop app at some point, but for now, it’s not included. 

Shadowsocks Proxy

If you live in or travel to China, you’ll need a VPN service that lets you work through the country’s internet censorship. China is good at blocking popular VPNs, so not all of them will work.

Mullvad supports Shadowsocks proxy, which means it’ll even work with China’s Great Firewall. This open-source proxy creates a new proxy connection each time you use the VPN, which makes it harder to detect. So the next time you’re in China, you should be surfing without issues with your Mullvad VPN.

Protocols

VPN protocols define how your information is routed through the service. The different protocols prioritize different features, such as the speed of transmission or encryption.

Mullvad operates with two protocols, OpenVPN and WireGuard.

OpenVPN

OpenVPN is an open-source protocol, which means any developer can access its code. It uses AES-256 bit encryption, so it’s very secure and transparent for users. However, this level of encryption can sometimes slow down your connection.

WireGuard

WireGuard is designed to improve speed, and it’s really one of the fastest and most stable VPN protocols you can find. However, it has had some privacy issues, such as storing IP addresses on the server after the user has logged out.

To fix this problem, your VPN provider needs to work through the limitations. Mullvad does this by erasing the activity logs from the server, so your privacy won’t be affected by it.


Speed

In general, this VPN won’t slow down your browsing. Like any VPN, it does have a small effect on downloads, but it’s usually minimal and hardly noticeable for a common user. 

The choice of your protocol will affect the browsing speed, though. WireGuard is much faster than OpenVPN. If speed is the most important feature, opt for the former.

Note that WireGuard is the default option on macOS and Linux, as well as Android and iOS. When using Mullvad on Windows, you’ll have to activate it separately.

Ease Of Use

Mullvad has an easy-to-use, intuitive desktop app. This is also in part because there aren’t a lot of special features. The app also isn’t trying to sell you more services, which keeps the interface clean.

On mobile, the situation isn’t as straightforward. There’s an app for iOS that uses the WireGuard protocol, but you can also use the OpenVPN and WireGuard apps.

For Android, note that there’s currently no specific Mullvad app. You can configure it with the OpenVPN app, but this isn’t for those looking for the simplest VPN solution.

Browser Extensions

Say that you don’t always want to use the VPN for your entire connection, but only for one site. This is where a browser extension can be useful. You can quickly connect it only to a certain site you need to check, without having to route your entire connection through it.

This feature allows you to multitask, for example, by watching Netflix and playing a game, without losing your connection in the middle.

As of today, Mullvad doesn’t offer this possibility, but you do have the option of split tunnelling on the mobile apps. With the desktop version, you’ll need to pass your entire connection through the VPN.

Additional Plug-Ins for Your Safety

Remember that a VPN is only a VPN, made to hide your IP to improve your privacy. However, it doesn’t solve all your security issues or prevent you from being tracked, especially for marketing purposes. 

For this reason, many of the most well-known VPN brands offer additional tools and browser extensions. They’ll help protect you from ad tracking and websites that use cookies to follow your activity or help encrypt your data.

Unlike many of the big-name players, Mullvad doesn’t provide this.

Mullvad does recommend you use some protective plugins together with the VPN. The company also advises you to use the free Firefox browser to protect your data.

  • HTTPS Everywhere: This plugin requests the use of HTTPS encryption when possible.
  • uBlock: A free, open-source adblocker.
  • Privacy Badger: A third-party link blocker that prevents ad providers from following you across sites.
  • Cookie AutoDelete: This extension automatically deletes all cookies when you leave a website.
  • Disable WebRTC: This plugin blocks a potentially harmful communication protocol, WebRTC, from exposing your real IP address. 

All these extensions are free of charge, so you can solve these common needs easily, even though your VPN doesn’t provide them.

Speed

VPN speed is one of its most important features. It connects you to another server to make it harder to track you, but it also adds another step that might slow your connection down. Your VPN needs to be fast enough so you don’t get frustrated while using the service.

Mullvad is pretty fast in general, and customers are happy with the speed for common internet usage and downloading speeds. It’s not among the fastest on the market, like ExpressVPN, but it’s definitely a solid option for the price.

Customer Support

Customer support is where Mullvad suffers a bit when you compare it to its competitors. There’s no online chat or phone number to call, only an email and social media accounts for contact.

If you’re going to use the VPN from Australia and run into problems, remember that the time difference with Sweden is 10 hours. When you send an email to the company during your workday, prepare to not get an answer on the same day. 

Some customers also comment that the customer service’s responses aren’t always ideal. They sometimes take a long time to get back to you, and you may receive a generic answer.

One thing to note is that Mullvad’s public key is posted on the website, so you can send an end-to-end encrypted email to customer support. Just make sure you’re using a secure email service to do it!

Servers Network: How Many Servers Does It Have?

Mullvad has servers in 36 countries, which isn’t a bad number. However, it’s not among the highest, and most of these countries are in Europe. The US, Hong Kong, Singapore, Israel and the UAE are also included.

The company does neglect some continents, with no servers in Africa and only one in South America.

In Australia, Mullvad has 26 out of a total of 762 servers. This is decent enough for normal VPN use.

Streaming: How Well Does Mullvad Work?

This VPN isn’t the best pick if you prioritize high-speed streaming in every service and libraries across the world. 

As you probably know, streaming services are dedicated to blocking VPNs that try to bypass their copyright limitations. These companies are massive and have lots of resources, so many of them are quite effective at this. Netflix, especially, has taken a harsh approach.

Does Mullvad Unblock Netflix?

Some of Mullvad’s servers may unblock some streaming services in the US, like Netflix. However, this doesn’t work all the time and with all servers, so we would go with another VPN if your priority is streaming. 

Multiple Mullvad users do comment about being able to access the full Netflix libraries in other countries, but this experience isn’t universal. That’s why we can’t fully recommend it for Netflix.

Mullvad and Other Streaming Services

Mullvad also isn’t ideal for other popular streaming sites. You likely won’t be able to unblock the streaming libraries of apps like Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+ or Amazon Prime.

Some customers have been able to use Mullvad on HBO Max. Together with Netflix, these two services are the only ones it seems to work with.

If you’re trying to find a VPN that reliably unblocks streaming services in the US, they often advertise it. Mullvad doesn’t include this mention on the website, because it’s not the company’s focus and doesn’t work seamlessly.

Is Mullvad Good for Torrenting?

If you’re just looking for some extra protection for P2P sharing, Mullvad is a good pick. All the servers are enabled for torrenting use, and Mullvad uses AES-256 bit encryption, which prevents others from seeing your information.

The VPN can slow down your download speed a little bit, depending on the server you’re using. In general, though, you’ll only be a couple of minutes slower when downloading something, and in normal use, it’ll hardly be noticeable. 

Do note that downloading copyrighted material, which is what torrenting is often used for, is illegal in most countries, including Australia. Torrenting may not be an illegal act in itself, but distributing a copyrighted movie or a game via P2P sharing is. 

Remember: Torrenting may work seamlessly with a VPN, but you could still be committing an illegal act, so we don’t recommend it.

Price: How Much Does Mullvad Cost?

Unlike most other paid VPN services, Mullvad has a fixed price of 5€ per month for five services. There are no advanced plans with more tools and higher pricing or a discount for a long-term subscription. And there are no sales or price hikes, either. 

This makes the pricing transparent and easy. It’s also about half the price many top names offer for a one-month plan, but not the lowest price on the market.

The payment options are another privacy-enhancing feature of this VPN service. You can pay with the usual credit cards and PayPal, but you can also opt for payment through Bitcoin or even cash. This way, you can keep your account as private as possible and not share your banking details with anyone.

How Many Simultaneous Connections Does Mullvad Support?

For your fixed monthly fee, you’ll get up to five simultaneous connections. It’s usually enough for one or two people with computers and phones and a tablet to boot. If you want to get your entire family into the same plan, you’ll have to pay for another account.

Does Mullvad Have a Free Trial or Money-Back Guarantee?

As part of the straightforward pricing policy, Mullvad doesn’t offer a free trial or other discounts. The flat fee is the same regardless of how long you use the service.

There’s also no easy money-back guarantee if you’re not happy with your investment. If you do run into some problems with your purchase, you can contact the company and ask for a refund.

However, there are no guarantees that this will work. Since the company is in Swedish jurisdiction, you’ll have a hard time contacting local authorities to demand your rights as a consumer to be respected.

Still, considering that the price is low, the risk for your investment is, as well.

Summary

This Swedish VPN is simple, secure and transparent. It’s designed specifically to maintain security and keep your information private. While it doesn’t include tons of extra features, it does its job well, routing your data and encrypting it.

The privacy and security features are what sets this VPN service apart from the rest. Not only does Mullvad not log your activity, but you also won’t need to give any of your personal information. You won’t need an email address or a phone number to create an account, and you can even keep payments completely private.

Mullvad also follows a strict no-spying policy in order to protect your data. And if the server should ever crash, this VPN comes with an automatic kill switch that cuts your connection before it becomes exposed.

Streaming and Pricing

On the downside, it’s not the best for unblocking streaming services in other countries. Some customers are able to watch US Netflix and HBO Max using some of the servers. Others report problems here. None have been able to unblock Hulu, Amazon Prime, or Disney+ with it.

Mullvad also doesn’t have ad blockers, malware blockers or other services, so you’ll have to find them separately. You can use free extensions and plugins, so you don’t necessarily have to pay extra for them. But it’s more work for you since Mullvad isn’t a one-stop-shop.

Another thing users love is the simple and straightforward pricing. There are no sales or price hikes, and no discounts for a longer subscription.

We think the low price and privacy make this VPN worth the money.

Alternatives

If you’re not in love with Mullvad, there are other VPNs you can check out.

NordVPN — Best Speed

NordVPN is a super popular VPN across the world because of its speed. It has a massive amount of servers, too, topping 5,400 across 59 countries. This makes it great for unblocking most streaming services.

Features

For those looking for a VPN mostly for streaming purposes, Nord definitely beats Mullvad. Whether you want to watch Netflix, Disney+ or Hulu, this VPN is stable, fast and unblocks libraries quickly.

This VPN permits six simultaneous connections, so you can set it up for your computer, smart TV, phone or router. It’s also fast to connect and includes malware-blocking technology to make your surfing more secure.

NordVPN also has 24/7 customer support, which is ideal for Australian users. So many companies are located in North America or Europe, and it’s hard to find the right time unless it’s always available. A big company like NordVPN always has more resources to manage customer queries effectively too.

Pricing

Nord is one of those traditional VPN services that have complicated payment plans with occasional sales and discounts. You’ll get an even cheaper subscription than with Mullvad if you subscribe for two years, but the one-month plan is double the price.

The lowest price is $3.71 per month, but you’ll have to pay for two years in advance, taking the total to $89. If you opt for the one-year subscription, you can get it for $4.92, at about $59 for the whole year. The one-month plan costs $11.95.

Having to pay $89 for a two-year subscription straight up may not be possible for everyone. This is where a simple system like Mullvad’s makes sense.

On the positive side, NordVPN offers a full 30-day money-back guarantee. If you don’t love it, you won’t have lost a cent.

Keep in mind that these prices are all in US dollars.

ExpressVPN — Best User Experience

Another popular VPN, this one has over 3,000 servers in 94 countries. This makes it another great pick for streaming.

Features

ExpressVPN is constantly ranked among the top VPN services. It has tons of high-speed servers in a wide variety of countries, so you’ll be able to browse, stream and download without issues.

This VPN is also good for getting through censorship in countries where you have restrictions, so it’s ideal for those who travel.

The apps for mobile and desktop are among the easiest to use on the entire VPN market. This is one of the reasons why this VPN is a user favourite.

The customer service is also top-notch and available 24/7, so you won’t have issues getting your questions answered from Australia.

Pricing

With this VPN, you have the traditional three pricing options, with the price dropping when you go for a longer subscription.

Remember that these prices are in US dollars.

The longest subscription option available is for 15 months, at $6.67 per month or $99.95 in total. Note that this includes 3 free months for your first subscription, and the renewal will only include 12 for the same price. You can also pick the 6-month plan for $9.99 a month, or $59.95 in total.

If you don’t have the will or resources to pay for these longer subscriptions, the one-month plan is higher-priced, at $12.95 per month. It’s over double the price of Mullvad.

ExpressVPN also has a 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not completely happy with your purchase. This makes it a risk-free option. 

If you don’t want to spend so much upfront, we recommend going for Mullvad.

The Takeaway

Mullvad is a relatively small company that’s not as well-known as the heavy hitters, but it’s definitely an interesting option. We recommend this VPN for those who prioritize their privacy and want to control every bit of information they give out to companies.

The pricing is simple and transparent, as is the amount of information you share with this VPN provider. Unlike most other VPNs, Mullvad accepts payments in cash and Bitcoin, and you don’t even need to give out your email address.

Mullvad isn’t reliable for streaming, though, so we recommend going for another company if that’s your priority. But as far as keeping your information to yourself goes, it’s hard to do better.