Mullvad Review

Daniel Rosehill

In a Nutshell

Based in Sweden, Mullvad VPN is an interesting VPN provider that is very transparent about its server network—even providing information on whether each connection endpoint is rented or owned by the provider. It’s a cross platform tool with good connection speeds. An interesting choice that we recommend.

pros

  • Detailed information about server network
  • Totally anonymous account creation process
  • DNS leak inspector

cons

  • Small server network
  • Based in an EU country

Mullvad VPN Mullvad VPN Compare All

Mullvad VPN at a Glance

Best for: Privacy enthusiasts

Price (or price range): €5 per month

Location: 737 servers in 36 countries

Netflix: Unblocks Netflix US

Torrenting: Yes

Logging: 24 hour Apache logging only

Number of Devices: Up to 5

Operating Systems: Windows, Mac, Linux

Browser Extensions: No

Privacy

Mullvad evidently takes its users’ privacy very seriously. The company has instituted privacy safeguards throughout the user signup and registration process.

For instance:

  • Registration can be completed totally anonymously. Users are automatically assigned an account number after signing up. No personally identifiable information (PII) has to be handed over at all

  • The site is accessible over a Dark Web mirror. To access it, users simply need to put the .onion URL into TOR.

Users can also choose to include IPv6 communication in the VPN tunnel.

Features

Mullvad VPN features:

  • Auto launch on startup: Users can configure the app to automatically boot upon system startup.

  • Auto connect: Users can connect automatically to a server of their choosing. This ensures that the VPN remains in continuous connection mode.

Users that want to fine tune their connection can also choose which transport protocol to use (TCP/UDP) and which protocol to connect with (OpenVPN / WireGuard)

Speed

I tested out Mullvad VPN through the following connection servers and achieved the following speeds:

Endpoint
Speed (Mbps)

Baseline

91

Malmö, Sweden

51

Hong Kong SAR

11

Dublin, Ireland

46

New York, USA

21

Mullvad VPN speed test
Mullvad VPN speed test
Mullvad VPN speed test
Mullvad VPN speed test

Most European servers provided a very workable connection in the region of 40-50 Mbps on the downlink. The slowest connection speeds were through New York (21 Mbps) and Hong Kong SAR (11 Mbps).

Pricing and Deals

Many VPN providers take a complicated approach to pricing, levying separate charges depending on whether users sign up for a month, a year, or 3 years of service. Mullvad VPN takes the complication out of the process by charging a flat monthly fee of €5. The amount in US dollars will vary slightly according to the exchange rate. The company backs that affordable price with a 30 day money back guarantee—only cash payments are exempt.

Subscription Period
Price

Month to month

€5

Users have a variety of payment options at their disposal. Besides classic options like Paypal and bank wire, users can pay in Bitcoin, Bitcoin cash, with Swish, and in cash. In order to avail of the cash option, users need to send cash in an envelope to the company’s PO box in Sweden. The account number obviously needs to be indicated in the envelope.

Although Mullvad doesn’t offer a free tier its choice of privacy-secure payment options is second to none.

Torrents

Judging by the fact that Mullvad maintains a help resource guiding users on how to use BitTorrent more securely, it would appear as if using torrents is fine with the company. To make sure, I checked the terms of service and couldn’t find any prohibition on using torrents.

Netflix

The good news for Netflix fans is that, at the time of writing, Mullvad VPN works to unblock Netflix. After geolocating through the New York server I was able to access Netflix’s American content selection.

Client Setup

For this review we used the Linux client. For Linux users, Mullvad offers both a .deb and .rpm download for Debian and Fedora-based distributions respectively. The Linux client is a full-fledged GUI. After opening it, I inputted the registration code generated from the web UI. This then allowed me to open up a monthly subscription. After paying the subscription the desktop client automatically activated and I was able to begin connecting through the desired connection servers.

The Ubuntu application is one of the best designed Ubuntu VPN GUIs that I have encountered and navigation is simple. Users simply call up a list of servers and can click into a country in order to receive a list of cities available for connection.

Apps

Mullvad makes apps for both Android and iOS. The iOS app supports the Wireguard protocol. Both apps provide the full functionality found in the desktop versions.

How Does Mullvad VPN Compare?


MullvadVPN
NordVPN
ExpressVPN

Price

€5 per month

€10.64 per month

$12.95 per month

Number of Devices

5

6

5

Number of Servers

737

1960

3000+

Best for

Serious privacy enthusiasts

Those that want a variety of server types

Those that want a fast network

P2P

Yes

Yes

Yes

Customer Support

Those that require personal support can access the online Mullvad help centers. Users can search the knowledge base for topics of interest and view FAQs to help them resolve commonly encountered difficulties.

Personalized support is delivered by an email and ticket tracking system.

Ease of Use

Mullvad is a very easy VPN to get running. After downloading the Debian package for Linux I installed it using Package Installer. After copying and pasting my unique activation code, and paying for a subscription, I could begin using the VPN. The one page of options was easily accessible from the sidebar.

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FAQs

Can Mullvad be installed on routers?

Yes, Mullvad can be installed on routers running compatible firmware, including OpenWrt.

Does Mullvad have a Linux client?

Yes, it supports a full GUI for Linux.

Where is Mullvad based?

Mullvad is based in Sweden

Bottom Line

Mullvad is a smaller VPN from Sweden that packs a big punch when it comes to finding innovative ways to protect its customers’ privacy—including supporting cash only purchasing to their PO box. Their Linux GUI was one of the best designed clients I have seen and their network was fast throughout Europe.

Daniel Rosehill is a technology writer and reviewer whose experience includes leading marketing communications strategies at 2 SaaS companies. His interests include backups and disaster recovery, Linux and open source, and cloud computing.

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31 Oct 2020

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