Mullvad review (2020) – Excellent in terms of privacy and speed
Mullvad is a VPN provider situated in Sweden (a “14 eyes” country) that mainly focuses on privacy. They take their mission very seriously: you don’t even need an email address to register for an account. On their website, Mullvad will provide you with a unique code that allows you to log in and get a paid subscription. Paying can also be done anonymously.
Besides this very private system, Mullvad is also ahead of the game when it comes to VPN protocols. Mullvad users can choose to use the WireGuard protocol, for example. This protocol was developed specifically for Linux users and is expected to perform even better than IPsec and OpenVPN.
- Simultaneous connections: 5
- Operating systems: Windows, Mac, Android, Linux
- Protocols: OpenVPN, WireGuard
- Logging policy: No logs
- Servers: 410 servers in 39 countries
- Price: €5,- a month
- Money-back guarantee: 30 days
Speed – How fast is Mullvad?
Do you want to browse, stream, and download effortlessly while protected by a VPN? Then you’ll need a VPN that barely affects your internet speed. That’s why we extensively tested Mullvad’s speed. Below are our test results.
Speed test results Mullvad
Before testing Mullvad, we first ran a test of our own ‘bare’ connection without VPN via speedtest.net. We then switched on Mullvad and chose a local server to check to what degree our download and upload speeds were affected. We went on to do the same with a server in the United States. We have tried to keep the test variables as consistent as possible.
Speed without VPN (speedtest.net):
This was the speed of our connection when we weren’t using a VPN. We will use these results to compare our other tests to.
Local server (speedtest.net):
These are the speedtest results of our connection after connecting to a local server in The Netherlands provided by Mullvad. Both the upload and download speeds were barely affected.
Server in the United States (speedtest.net):
Mullvad’s US servers are extremely fast compared to those of other VPN providers. As usual, the ping strongly increased, but both the download and upload speed remained high.
Speed during daily use
Mullvad’s speedtest results are incredible. Therefore, we weren’t surprised when we didn’t notice a difference in speed when Mullvad was activated during our daily internet use. Streaming on YouTube, gaming via Steam, downloading both in our browser and through torrent networks, and all other internet use went smoothly and without hiccups: our speed was barely affected by Mullvad. With these results, Mullvad is one of the fastest VPNs we’ve tested.
Conclusion speed Mullvad
Initially, our expectations about Mullvad’s speed were low, since this VPN provider is so heavily focused on security. Regardless, Mullvad performed amazingly when it comes to speed and managed to surprise us. Here are our conclusions:
- Mullvad reached very high speeds during our extensive speed tests
- Our internet speed during daily internet use was barely affected by Mullvad
- Mullvad is an extremely fast VPN provider – faster than most other VPNs
Safety – How secure is Mullvad?
Arguably the most important aspect of any VPN is its safety. This is also closely related to privacy. On those fronts, Mullvad is a great choice. They use the safest protocols and even thought of a unique system to handle customer accounts, so they ask as little personal data of you as possible.
Mullvad chooses to use only the safest protocols: OpenVPN and WireGuard. OpenVPN has slowly become the standard for VPN providers. WireGuard is a relatively new protocol that’s still in development, but is supposedly already better than IPsec and OpenVPN. In other words: when it comes to protocols, Mullvad is ahead of the game.
Logging and Privacy
Mullvad has a strict no-logs policy. Their privacy statement is very clear, telling everyone exactly what they do and don’t log. Generally, they keep little to no information on you. They even mention how any data they do collect is saved and for how long. They also openly admit that, if you use specific payment methods, there will be other parties that’ll receive certain information about you.
What information does Mullvad need?
Mullvad doesn’t require you to give them your email address. This is quite unique, because most other private VPN providers will need your email to open an account for you. With Mullvad, you only need a unique code provided to you by them. You can link your subscription payment to this code. That’s all Mullvad needs to give you access to their VPN network.
Conclusion safety Mullvad
Mullvad is an extremely safe VPN. It might be one of the safest premium VPNs we’ve come across up to this point. Therefore, our conclusions are as follows:
- Mullvad only uses the safest protocols: OpenVPN and WireGuard
- Mullvad does not keep logs of any kind
- You don’t need an email address to create a VPN account with Mullvad
- Sending emails to customer support can also be done through PGP encrypted email
- The only noteworthy thing is that Mullvad is based in a “14 Eyes” country, which could mean Mullvad might be pressured (now or in the future) to give up logs (even though they won’t have them so they can’t share them)
Usability – How user-friendly is Mullvad?
Mullvad’s user-friendliness is decent. A lot of VPN software looks alike these days, and Mullvad is no exception. This familiar formula makes Mullvad a very user-friendly VPN provider. Even so, there are a few options we miss when we compare the service to that of, for example, NordVPN. This is mostly when it comes to minor things, such as not being able to see how crowded a server is and which servers are most suitable for torrents or streaming. Moreover, you can’t install Mullvad on your iPhone through the AppStore. Instead, you’ll have to do this through OpenVPN or WireGuard configuration files.
The Mullvad website
Mullvad has a structured website containing some useful information. You’ll be able to find most of what you seek on the homepage. Any more in-depth, specific information can be found on their FAQ page. In our opinion, this isn’t always convenient. While there is an “about” page with information about the company behind Mullvad and the provider’s vision, we miss the more practical info that most other VPN providers would have stored on a “Features” page.
To log into the website and access the page “My Account”, all you need is the code you use for your VPN account. This code is perfect when it comes to privacy, but the big drawback is that everyone could log into your account once they have the code. In practice, this makes little difference, since the only options available on this part of the website are the managing of ports and the possibility of doing a payment. Regardless, it’s something to be aware of. After all, people could use your account if they had your code and downloaded the software. Therefore, it’s important never to share your account code with anyone else.
If you wish to download Mullvad, you won’t have to log in first. Simply download the software by clicking the clear green “Download” button at the top of the homepage. Once you reach the download page, you’ll be able to choose the right software for your operating system.
Installing Mullvad is easy, but doesn’t work quite the same way as installing any other VPN provider. That’s why we wanted to take the time to explain how it works. You can either start by downloading the software or generating an account number. Doing one or the other first doesn’t really change the procedure much. We opted for generating an account number first, which we’ll explain below.
- Go to the Mullvad homepage, scroll down, and click ‘Generate Account’. You’ll reach a page with a unique code. This code is all you’ll need to log in and configure your account, so make sure to keep it safe.
- Complete the payment by selecting your payment method on the account number page and following the indicated steps.
- Download the Mullvad VPN software by downloading the .exe installation file for your OS.
- Follow the steps indicated by the Mullvad VPN installation screen.
- Open the Mullvad software once the installation is complete.
- Fill in your account number and connect to whichever Mullvad VPN server you like!
Mullvad’s appearance and ease of use
While Mullvad’s software may look like that of most other premium VPNs, there’s something to say for the minimal amount of options it allows you. Since Mullvad has opted for limiting the choice between VPN protocols, among other options, the software is very easy to use. The only drawback is that there’s very little information available about the different servers, for example how busy they are and whether they’re suitable for downloading torrents and deblocking the American version of Netflix.
Besides those minor things, there’s little to say about Mullvad’s usability. The software isn’t extraordinary, but everything is easy to find and works well. A small annoyance we had was that the software is tied to the taskbar and minimizes whenever you click anywhere beyond that screen. In general, however, Mullvad is a decent, minimalistic VPN when it comes to appearance and ease-of-use.
Pricing and methods of payment
At €5,- a month, which is approximately $5,50, Mullvad is quite expensive. This price doesn’t change, no matter whether you want a subscription for just one month or many more. They do promote payment via Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash by giving you a 10% discount if you choose to pay in one of those ways. While this isn’t a huge discount, it might be worth to check it out if you wish to use Mullvad for a longer period of time.
When it comes to payment methods, you can choice from the following options:
- Credit card
- Bank transfer
- Bitcoin Cash
Payment via Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash is the most anonymous option. It’s also possible to transfer the money directly from your bank account to theirs. In this case, you’ll be sharing your account information during the transfer, which means you won’t be completely anonymous anymore. Another thing worth mentioning is that Mullvad offers a 30 day money-back guarantee.
Mullvad offers excellent customer support. While they don’t offer an on-site live chat, they respond quickly to emails. We often received an answer to our questions within 10 minutes. It was evident that actual employees were replying to us and that they genuinely were trying to help us instead of giving us standard replies, which we greatly appreciated.
The only thing they couldn’t help us with, was unblocking the American version of Netflix. Since Mullvad focuses on safety and privacy, they chose not to try to unblock Netflix. This is a shame, but we do understand a privacy-aimed provider such as Mullvad making this decision.
Conclusion usability Mullvad
After testing Mullvad, we came to the following conclusions regarding the provider’s usability:
- Mullvad is a minimalistic, but user-friendly VPN provider
- Mullvad’s software is fast and easy to use
- Creating an account is simple and done in a couple of clicks
- Mullvad is easy to install
- Mullvad doesn’t have an iOS-app in the AppStore
- Mullvad’s customer support reacts surprisingly quickly via email
- Since a subscription costs €5,- a month (approx. $5,50), Mullvad isn’t the cheapest VPN
- Mullvad offers a 30 day money-back guarantee
Server network Mullvad
Mullvad has a reasonably large server network. It isn’t as big as that of ExpressVPN or CyberGhost, but does include a couple of hundred servers. Mullvad has divided its servers into three categories:
- OpenVPN Servers (the more “standard” VPN servers)
- WireGuard Servers (the “new” kind of VPN server: these should be faster than the OpenVPN servers, but are still in development)
- Bridges (a special kind of VPN server for when other servers aren’t available due to online censorship)
Mullvad doesn’t differ between streaming or P2P-servers. Moreover, they don’t offer any special ‘Onion’ servers for the Tor network, like NordVPN does.
Number of servers and locations
Mullvad has a total of 410 servers spread out over 63 cities in 39 countries. The locations of the servers can be seen in the tables below:
Mullvad OpenVPN Servers
|Country||Number of servers||Locations|
|Australia||10||Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney|
|Canada||13||Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver|
|Hong Kong||2||Hong Kong|
|Sweden||57||Göteborg, Helsingborg, Malmö, Stockholm|
|United Arab Emirates||1||Dubai|
|United Kingdom||27||London, Manchester|
|United States||67||Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Phoenix, Piscataway, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Seattle, Secaucus|
Mullvad WireGuard Servers
|Country||Number of servers||Locations|
|Hong Kong||1||Hong Kong|
|Sweden||9||Göteborg, Malmö, Stockholm|
|United Kingdom||7||London, Manchester|
|United States||19||Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Phoenix, Piscataway, Salt Lake City, Seattle|
|Country||Number of servers||Locations|
|Hong Kong||1||Hong Kong|
|Sweden||3||Göteborg, Helsingborg, Malmö|
|United States||4||Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York|
Dedicated IP address
Mullvad doesn’t offer dedicated IPs. All their IP addresses are shared, and we don’t expect this to change anytime soon. Mullvad is focused on privacy and security, and static IP addresses, such as a dedicated IP, are more easy to trace back to one person. Hence it makes sense they would choose not to offer those.
Conclusion server netwerk Mullvad
These are our conclusions concerning Mullvad’s server network:
- Mullvad has a reasonable number of servers all over the world
- Mullvad has 288 OpenVPN servers, 105 WireGuard servers and 17 Bridges
- Users of Mullvad can only use shared IPs
Mullvad is a simple and functional VPN. Aside from a good kill switch and Bridge servers, they don’t offer additional functions like providers such as Surfshark do. There’s no whitelister, possibility to use MultiHop servers or tracking blocking. In a way, this is part of Mullvad’s strength: they aim to offer a private and safe VPN. Any other luxuries come second.
Mullvad and Netflix
We can’t guarantee Mullvad will work to unblock the American version of Netflix. Netflix actively tries to keep VPN users from using their services, and Mullvad’s servers seem to be unable to get around this block. When we asked them about this, Mullvad let us know that some users manage to get access to Netflix when using the SOCKS5 proxy and a New York server, but this didn’t work for us. This is a real shame for a VPN that reaches such speeds and would be perfect for Netflix streaming, if only it managed to give you access.
Mullvad and torrents
While Mullvad doesn’t have any dedicated P2P servers, our local servers did work while downloading torrents. Files were downloaded quickly due to the high speeds of Mullvad’s servers. Moreover, you can find extra instructions to guard your BitTorrent client on the Mullvad website. Other clients aren’t supported by Mullvad, since those aren’t open source, contain adware or junkware, or simply don’t offer decent privacy settings.
Conclusion options Mullvad
- Mullvad does not work with Netflix
- Downloading torrents with Mullvad is possible and there are extra safety options for BitTorrent
- Mullvad has a kill switch
- Mullvad’s Bridge servers can help you get around tenacious firewalls
Conclusions – Our experience with Mullvad
|Very good when it comes to safety and privacy||Netflix doesn’t work|
|Doesn’t keep logs||Relatively expensive|
|Only uses the strongest VPN protocols||No software for iOS|
|Extremely fast servers||Located in a “14 Eyes” country|
|Very user-friendly software|
|Customer support reacts quickly|
|Optional WireGuard servers|
|Download via torrents possible|
All in all, Mullvad is an excellent VPN provider. Even though they mainly focus on safety and privacy, they also score very well when it comes to speed and usability. In our opinion, Mullvad is without a doubt one of the best VPNs out there. The only drawbacks are that Mullvad is quite expensive and doesn’t work with (the American version of) Netflix. For some users, this will be reason enough to pick a cheaper VPN that does give users access to Netflix.