Mullvad VPN review

Excellent anonymity, but lacking in creature comforts

Mullvad vpn review
(Image: © Future)

Tom's Guide Verdict

Mullvad just about tops the list when it comes to privacy and anonymity, which will appeal to many – and its great speeds are an excellent bonus. However, it's somewhat expensive compared to bargain rivals, and a big black mark is the fact it's unable to unblock streaming content. If that matters to you, look elsewhere.

Pros

  • +

    Top notch anonymity

  • +

    Awesome connection speeds

  • +

    Open-source and audited apps

Cons

  • -

    Not that many features

  • -

    Poor unblocking capabilities

Why you can trust Tom's Guide Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Mullvad is a Swedish VPN with a primary focus on privacy, and the name carries a lot of clout in the industry. Every one of the best VPN providers promises privacy but Mullvad really goes to another level. For instance, to use the service you don’t need a name, email, or any other personal detail. When paying, the company even recommends using Bitcoin or cash to further protect your anonymity.

That sounds good and is a great start, but in our complete Mullvad review, we’ll look at just how good the old favorite is at protecting your privacy, as well as how good their other features and capabilities are. So, read on and see if this VPN is a good pick for you.

Mullvad VPN review

(Image credit: Mullvad)
(opens in new tab)

Latest updates

As of June 21, 2022, Mullvad has said goodbye to recurring subscriptions. While on the surface this could seem like an inconvenience, as a security-focused provider this allows the Swedish VPN to collect even less data.

Users can still purchase 1, 6, or 12-month plans at €5 a month. You'll just need to resubscribe at the end of your plan, since Mullvad will have deleted your payment data. 

Mullvad has also undergone another independent audit, with good results (opens in new tab).

Specs

Supported platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Firefox

Supported protocols: OpenVPN, WireGuard

No. of servers: 844

No. of countries: 39

Country of registration: Sweden

Payment options: Credit card, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Monero, bank wire, PayPal, Swish, Giropay, Eps transfer, Bancontact, iDEAL, Przelewy24, cash

Real name necessary? No

Encryption protocol: AES-256-GCM, 4096-bit RSA certificates (with SHA512)

Data usage: Unlimited

Bandwidth usage: Unlimited

Max. no. of simultaneously connected devices: Five

Customer support: Email and help centre 

Privacy policy: No logging 

Plans and Pricing

Unusually, Mullvad has only one pricing plan at €5 (~$5.20) per month. No matter if you pay for one month or for one year, the price stays the same. When compared to other monthly plans this is quite cheap, but since there’s no long-term discount, the service comes up as a bit pricey. 

For instance, Surfshark price is at most $2.49 per month before deals if you pay for two years. That said, not everyone is keen on subscribing for long periods of time, so the current price is quite reasonable since you can cancel at any time.

As mentioned, to get started with Mullvad you don’t need an email address, name, country, or any personal detail. Instead, the service generates an account number which is the only thing needed. To remain fully anonymous the company accepts Bitcoin, Monero, Bitcoin Cash, and there’s even a 10% discount if you use mentioned cryptocurrencies.

If that’s too annoying to you, the company accepts PayPal, Swish, bank transfer, and credit card payments. The most unusual option here is the ability to pay with cold hard cash. You need to put the cash and payment token (which is randomly generated on their website) in an envelope and send it to Mullvad, and you’re done. This is an awesome option if you truly wish to keep yourself anonymous.

It's worth noting that Mullvad no longer supports subscriptions for privacy reasons. You'll need to resubscribe manually at the end of your plan to continue using the service.

Features

Mullvad has a solid network of 844 servers in 39 countries. That’s quite a bit smaller than some other VPNs, like NordVPN which has over 5,000 servers, but it still should be adequate for most users. You can download Mullvad on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS, and there’s also a browser extension for Firefox. Worth noting is that the apps are open-source, which is great news for security-conscious users as they can exactly see how the apps are built.

The company logs nothing, with only the number of concurrent connections per account being monitored.

During our testing, we noticed that our real IP address remained hidden at all times, even when changing between servers, which just shows you that the company takes the promises of anonymity and total privacy, very seriously.

A kill-switch feature is present that automatically blocks your internet connection if for any reason VPN disconnects. We tested this several times by forcibly closing the connection and the kill switch always worked perfectly, blocking our internet access immediately until we connected to the VPN again.

On June 25, 2020, Mullvad released the results of its independent audit (opens in new tab). It seems to have been generally positive, and the minor issues detected by the firm Cure53 have been addressed. This is good news, as Mullvad joining the ranks of fully-audited VPNs such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN can only boost its credibility as a secure provider.

Mullvad VPN review

(Image credit: Mullvad)
(opens in new tab)

Interface and in use

Compared to most other VPNs, Mullvad’s interface is basic-looking. However, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. There’s a ‘Secure My Connection’ button that when clicked will show you a list of countries and cities for you to choose from. That’s basically it, as there are no usual options like favorites, fastest/closest server based on your location, no filters, and no search option. 

Mullvad is very focused on user privacy, so it might not come as a surprise that the unblocking capabilities aren’t good. In our tests, the service failed to grant us access to any geo-blocked content, including Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video.

In our speed tests, the service performed impeccably. In our tests for the UK, we reached speeds of 480-490Mbps when using OpenVPN, which makes it among the fastest services around at the moment, if not the fastest for OpenVPN. Switching to WireGuard, we got even more impressive performance with speeds reaching 540-620Mbps for the UK, and 740-820Mbps for the US, which again makes it among the fastest VPNs on the market, with only a few like TorGuard and IPVanish having better speeds.

Mullvad supports up to 5 devices, and you can get the apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. There’s a Firefox extension too, although those looking for a Chrome VPN will be left wanting. All the apps look almost identical so there will be no learning curve when if you’re switching from one app to another.

(Image credit: Mullvad)
(opens in new tab)

Support

If you need help, the company has a Help Center on its website with some solid content there. For instance, there are comprehensive setup guides for the VPN apps and examples of how to use each of its functions. It’s not abundant when compared to some other competitors, but the guides are well written and easily accessible and found, due to a search option.

You can also contact the service via email, and what’s more, a GPG key is available so you have the option to use PGP-encrypted email, so you can keep absolute privacy, further proving the company’s focus on privacy. Unfortunately, live chat isn’t available.

The competition

For a reliable, security-focused VPN service with a larger network, you can’t go wrong with ExpressVPN (opens in new tab). It has over 3,000 servers in 94 countries, an excellent support website with hundreds of useful guides and tutorials, and 24/7 live chat support.

Another privacy-focused VPN available is StrongVPN (opens in new tab), which has a zero-logging policy. You can connect up to 12 devices at a time, but its monthly plan costs around twice as much as Mullvad’s.

Mullvad: Final verdict

If your main concern is anonymity and privacy you’ll love Mullvad. The company’s commitment to protecting your personal data is admirable and the company has taken many steps to ensure that. From not needing anything to create an account, not even an email, to the ability to pay just with cash, Mullvad seems to have taken every possible step to secure the privacy and anonymity of its users. Add the open-source apps and audits to all of that, and the trustworthiness and credibility of the company just increases.

Speed and performance are also excellent, among the top in fact. However, the apps are basic and they are missing some of the features that competitors have, and you won’t be unblocking anything with Mullvad, so if you want to watch Netflix, Disney+, and others, look elsewhere. All things considered, Mullvad is a reliable choice that puts anonymity and privacy above all else, and if that’s your only priority it’s well worth a look.

Richard brings over 20 years of website development, SEO, and marketing to the table. A graduate in Computer Science, Richard has lectured in Java programming and has built software for companies including Samsung and ASDA. Now, he writes for TechRadar, Tom's Guide, PC Gamer, and Creative Bloq.