Mullvad is a Swedish VPN service entirely dedicated to user privacy. The company is well-known as the only VPN that accepts cash payments sent by post. Apart from zealously defending the privacy of its users, Mullvad is also one of the most sophisticated VPNs with the widest range of anti-censorship technologies.
For all its elaborate features, Mullvad is actually pretty easy to use even for people without prior technical knowledge. This makes it one of the best VPNs for beginners, so if you aren’t particularly tech-savvy, it won’t overwhelm you with a complicated interface and cryptic settings.
If you want to know more about this impressive VPN, read our dedicated Mullvad review and see if the service can answer all your security and privacy requests.
Once you’ve generated your personal account number on the Mullvad website, you’ll be able to download its software. Admittedly, the client looks pretty bare, but it functions perfectly. The experience is very smooth and we haven’t encountered any of the ubiquitous VPN problems like lagging, unresponsive client, connection troubles, etc.
The client is divided into status and settings tabs. The first will inform you of your remaining time, your connection (status, country, IPv4, and IPv6), the server you’re connected to, and the software version you’re currently using.
The settings tab will allow you to change your account number and manage your network settings (ports, kill switch, DNS leaks, and tunnel IPv6). Lastly, you can mark the auto start option here as well. This tab holds advanced settings too, but we wouldn’t recommend tinkering with those unless you’re an experienced VPN user.
Performance And Reliability
In order to relay the most reliable data possible, we tested Mullvad across a number of different servers while researching for this Mullvad review. The European locations provided us with excellent speeds and we barely noticed we had a VPN running. Transatlantic servers were a different story, however, as the speeds there were a bit underwhelming. Don’t get us wrong, we could still stream and download reasonably fast, but the European servers were so much faster.
The peculiar thing was, the servers in Sweden were much faster than the ones geographically closer to us at the time of our testing. We must admit, this was the first time geographical location played absolutely no role in the average connection speed we were getting.
Bottom line, Mullvad offers a fast and reliable service without any disconnects or other similar problems.
Mullvad supports all the popular platforms we use today. It offers custom clients for Windows (7 and up), MacOS (10.7 Lion and up), and Debian Linux right out of the box. The company also provides OpenVPN configuration for all devices running Android and iOS.
Mullvad features a reasonable number of servers mostly located in Europe but also in Australia, North America, and the UK. This range might appear somewhat constricting compared to some other VPN services as it limits the worldwide scale usability. For example, people can’t effectively use Mullvad in Asia with only one server in Hong Kong and two in Singapore for the entire continent.
On the other hand, Mullvad’s servers are not VPSs but physical, “bare metal” servers. The company also owns and keeps tight control over its servers. With Mullvad, you can maintain up to 5 simultaneous connections, which sounds pretty lavish compared to most of the competitors within the same price range.
Mullvad also features a kill switch, which will automatically disconnect you from the Internet the moment your VPN gets compromised for whatever reason. The company also allows P2P traffic on all of its servers, which is excellent news for all BitTorrent aficionados. This, paired with the unlimited bandwidth, speed, and data volume creates a veritable torrenting heaven.
Security And Privacy
First of all, Mullvad doesn’t keep any connection logs nor does it monitor your online activities. You also shouldn’t be worried about the EU Data Retention Directive since it’s only relevant to phone operators and ISPs. Even if the company was presented with a court order, the zero-logging policy means it wouldn’t have any relevant data to hand over. Mullvad servers use OpenVPN protocol, which is the safest option currently available. We always recommend it since it comes with the best set of security features on the market.
The company encrypts your connection with AES-256-GCM with RSA-4096 handshake and HMAC SHA-1 hash authentication. DHE-4096 Hellman key exchange provides perfect forward secrecy and is re-keyed in 60-minute intervals.
If you so choose, you can manually upgrade the hash authentication to SHA-384 by editing the configuration files. There’s really no need for it, though, since this is a very solid security configuration, even at the default level.
We had one of the most pleasant surprises during our registration process with Mullvad. The company doesn’t only protect you from outside influences but from itself as well. You can register and create your personal account without even giving your email, not to mention your name and other personal data. Additionally, we haven’t discovered any DNS leaks during our testing phase.
User support is probably the weakest link in the Mullvad chain. There is no live chat on the official website and the only way to contact the support staff is through the provided email. Their reaction time is somewhat sluggish and it usually takes some time before you get a satisfying answer.
There’s a lot of room for improvement here and we would definitely like to see Mullvad make an effort to improve its customer support. Granted, most people probably won’t even need it, but that’s definitely not an excuse for a subpar service.
When it comes to pricing, Mullvad is as simple as it can be. The service costs 5 EUR per month and that’s pretty much it. Note that you won’t be getting any discounts for longer subscriptions. However, you will get a 10% discount if you decide to pay with Bitcoin due to “lower fees and less administration.”
Mullvad allows you to test its VPN for free, but the trial period lasts only 3 hours, which is definitely not enough to grasp the service properly. Additionally, you’ll also get a 30-day money back guarantee unless you decide to pay cash (issues with the anti-money laundering regulations).
Apart from cash and Bitcoin, Mullvad also accepts PayPal, bank wire, and Swish. You can use vouchers available in certain stores too. The vouchers can be paid for in cash, so you’ll have absolutely no contact with the company.
Mullvad Pros & Cons
Finishing off this Mullvad review, here’s a quick overview of the features that wowed us and the aspects of the service that could use some improvement.
- No logging
- Solid encryption
- Perfect forward secrecy
- Free trial period
- 30-day money back guarantee
- P2P allowed on all servers
- Unlimited bandwidth/speed/data volume
- Good speeds on European servers
- Cash and Bitcoin accepted as payment methods
- Subpar user support
- Blocked by Netflix