Mullvad is a Swedish VPN with a focus on privacy, and the name carries a lot of clout in the industry. Most of the best VPN providers promise a high degree of privacy but Mullvad really does take things to a whole new level.
You don’t need to supply a name, email, or any other personal details to use this service. And when paying, the company recommends using Bitcoin or cash to further protect your anonymity.
In May 2022, it upped the ante again by publishing its first security audit of its DNS servers, in order to back up its security claims (you can read the report here).
That's a great start, but in my complete Mullvad review I'll look at just how good the old favorite is at protecting your privacy, as well as how good its other features and capabilities are.
Read on and see if Mullvad VPN is a good pick for you...
- Click to head straight through to the Mullvad website (opens in new tab)
Mullvad on paper
|Number of servers||895||Row 0 - Cell 2|
|Server countries||39||Row 1 - Cell 2|
|Supported platforms||Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Firefox||Row 2 - Cell 2|
|Simultaneous connections||5||Row 3 - Cell 2|
|Split tunneling||Yes (Windows, Linux, Android)||Row 4 - Cell 2|
|Kill switch||Yes||Row 5 - Cell 2|
|Protocols supported||OpenVPN, WireGuard||Row 6 - Cell 2|
|Country of registration||Sweden||Row 7 - Cell 2|
|Support||Email, help centre||Row 8 - Cell 2|
Mullvad 1-minute review
Like most of the top providers, Mullvad is packed with features to protect your privacy – including high-strength encryption. But Mullvad goes further, promising total anonymity when you pay with cash or cryptocurrency.
What's more, while most VPNs publish their privacy policies, they're often hard to untangle. Mullvad's policy is refreshingly clear, and backed by both a 2021 infrastructure audit and a 2022 DNS server audit. This is as close to a clean bill of health as you can get.
The second big reason to go with Mullvad the speed of its network. Although it 'only' has some 895 servers – the likes of ExpressVPN boast upwards of 3000 – Mullvad seems to punch well above its weight, reaching blazing-fast speeds across multiple protocols.
Now the bad news. If you're a streamer and want to unblock your favourite streaming service when travelling abroad, Mullvad is a bust. Well, almost. It did unblock the odd niche service in my tests, but you can forget about unblocking Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime.
The service is reasonably priced compared to rivals, and simple enough to use. The apps are basic-looking but dig deeper and you'll find a some great advanced features, such as the ability to block adult and gambling content. Stuck? There's no live chat so you'll have to rely on the Help Center, or email the team queries.
Mullvad isn't an all-rounder. But if your core concern is privacy, and you want to open a VPN account without handing over a shred of personal data, it's tough to beat.
- Authoritative DNS server audit completed by Assured AB in May 2022
- Post-quantum safe VPN tunnels available on all WireGuard servers
- Account numbers now available via Amazon (an anonymity plus)
- Expansion of diskless server infrastructure
- Recurring subscriptions revoked (allows the VPN to collect even less data)
Mullvad price and payment
|Plan length||Overall cost||Monthly cost|
|1 month||€5 (around $5.20)||€5 (around $5.20)|
|1 year||€60 (around $62)||€5 (around $5.20)|
|10 years||€600 (around $625)||€5 (around $5.20)|
Unusually, Mullvad has only one pricing plan at €5 (around $5.20) per month. Whether you pay for one month, one year or a decade, the price stays the same. Compared to other monthly plans, this is quite cheap, but since there’s no loyalty discount as such, the service can appear a bit pricey. Surfshark, for example, is priced at around $2.49 per month before deals if you pay for two years.
Still, not everyone is keen on subscribing for long periods of time, so the current price is quite reasonable in my view. What's more Mullvad has been charging the same monthly free – €5 (around $5.20) – since it launched the service in 2009. The company says it does not "ever" have a sale, so there's no need to wonder if you're getting the best deal.
To get started with Mullvad you don’t need an email address, name, country, or any personal details. 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 the aforementioned cryptocurrencies.
If that’s too much hassle for 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. The company accepts a wide range of currencies including USD.
It's worth noting that Mullvad no longer supports subscriptions for privacy reasons. This means that you'll need to resubscribe manually at the end of your plan to continue using the service.
- More: Stay safe on the go with the best mobile VPN apps
Does Mullvad have a free trial?
No. Mullvad says it avoids them because many "free" VPN trials actually come at a cost, whether it's annoying intro ads, data collection in some form, or limited functionality.
However, the company does offer a 30-day money back guarantee (except for cash payments due to anti-money laundering regulations). So you can effectively sign up to Mullvad and try it out risk-free, even without a "free trial".
How private is Mullvad?
Mullvad uses 256-bit AES encryption, which is the gold standard I've come to expect from all top secure VPN providers. The company logs nothing, with only the number of concurrent connections per account being monitored.
During my testing, I noticed that my real IP address remained hidden at all times, even when changing between servers. That indicated to me that Mullvad really does take its promises of anonymity and "total privacy" very seriously.
In June 2020, Mullvad released the results of its independent audit. It seems to have been generally positive, and the minor issues detected by the firm Cure53 have been addressed. Joining the ranks of fully-audited VPNs such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN can only boost Mullvad's credibility as a secure provider.
In May 2022, the company's DNS servers underwent an independent audit by Assured AB security consultants (here's the report). Assured AB found no critical issues and no logging, but did make a few recommendations that have now been implemented.
A kill-switch feature is present that automatically blocks your internet connection if for any reason VPN disconnects. I tested this several times by forcibly closing the connection and the kill switch always worked perfectly, blocking my internet access immediately until I connected to the VPN again.
Mullvad's malware blocking software is a welcome bonus too. I found it to be very effective but you shouldn't ever rely on it – it’s no substitute for a real antivirus package.(opens in new tab)
How fast is Mullvad VPN?
Mullvad has a solid network of 895 servers in 39 countries. That’s quite a bit smaller than some other VPNs, such as NordVPN which has over 5,000 servers, but don't be fooled – Mullvad is no slowpoke.
Indeed, the service performed impeccably across the board. In my US tests I reached speeds of 600Mbps when using OpenVPN, which makes Mullvad among the fastest VPN services available right now.
Switching to WireGuard, I clocked up similarly impressive speeds that reached 770Mbps for the US. Again, that puts Mullvad among the fastest VPNs on the market with only a few, like TorGuard, NordVPN and Hide.me, offering better all-round speeds.
So, Mullvad may not be the very fastest service I've tested, but it's by no means a slouch and offers speedy enough performance for the vast majority of users. It's just a shame that those speeds can't be leveraged by those who want to unblock streaming services...
- More: See what we rate as the best Netflix VPN
How good is Mullvad for streaming?
|Disney Plus||Not working|
|ITV Player||Not working|
A VPN is an essential tool for anyone who wants to stay safe online, but they have lots of other advantages. One of the biggies is the ability to unlock geo-restricted streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Sling.
A streaming VPN can come in extremely handy when travelling abroad, since most services take note of your location and then prevent you from watching movies and TV shows when outside of your home country.
Unfortunately, since Mullvad is focused on user privacy above all else, its unblocking capabilities aren’t too impressive. In our tests, the service failed to grant us access to a string of geo-blocked streaming services, including Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video. It did, however, unblock Channel 4 (UK) and 9Now (Australia).
Ultimately, if you want a VPN for unblocking streaming services such as Netflix, Mullvad won't cut the mustard. You'd be better off with ExpressVPN, Hide.me, NordVPN, PureVPN or Surfshark, all of which are capable of unblocking most major streaming services.
How good are Mullvad's apps?
Compared to most other VPNs, Mullvad’s interface is basic-looking. However, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially if you're a newbie when it comes to VPNs.
There’s a ‘Secure My Connection’ button that when clicked will show you a list of countries and cities for you to choose from. This makes things simple, but the lack of options – there's no favorites, fastest/closest server based on your location, filters or search – may frustrate some.
You can download the Mullvad app for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS, and there’s also a browser extension for Firefox, although those looking for a Chrome VPN will be left wanting. 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.
All the apps look almost identical so there will be no learning curve when switching from one device to another. Simplicity appears to be the order of the day but there's a surprising amount of custom functionality lurking beneath the surface here.
For instance, whereas most VPNs offer an ad-blocking feature, Mullvad's Windows VPN, Mac VPN and iOS VPN apps allow users to separately block out ads, trackers and malware – in addition to adult and gambling content. Another nice bonus.(opens in new tab)
What customer support does Mullvad offer?
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.
Should you buy Mullvad?
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 best 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 (you can’t go wrong with ExpressVPN).
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.
Sign up to Mullvad if:
- You want one the most secure, private VPNs on the market today
- You want ultra-fast Openload and WireGuard speeds
- You want straightforward desktop and mobile apps
- You want an affordable VPN with a transparent pricing structure
Avoid Mullvad if:
- You want to unblock streaming services such as Netflix
- You want 24/7 live chat support
- You want a VPN that automatically re-bills you at the end of your plan