Rating: 9/10 ?
  • 1 - Does not work
  • 2 - Barely functional
  • 3 - Severely lacking in most areas
  • 4 - Functions, but has numerous issues
  • 5 - Fine yet leaves a lot to be desired
  • 6 - Good enough to buy on sale
  • 7 - Great and worth purchasing
  • 8 - Fantastic, approaching best-in-class
  • 9 - Best-in-class
  • 10 - Borderline perfection
Price: $5/month
Mullvad logo on a white background
Mullvad

Mullvad is a Sweden-based VPN provider with a long-standing reputation for privacy and efficiency. It has a spot on our best VPN services roundup as the best option for privacy, thanks to the many ways it safeguards your identity. How does it perform in other areas, though?

After testing it, it turns out that privacy isn’t the only area where Mullvad cinches it. It has a clear pricing policy, a great app, and is lightning-fast, even beating ExpressVPN in this regard. The only thing it doesn’t do as well is getting through to Netflix, but in every other way Mullvad can tunnel through anything, just like the mole it’s named after.

Here's What We Like

  • Anonymous signup
  • Transparent
  • Fast
  • Easy to use

And What We Don't

  • Server selection is a pain
  • Has trouble getting through to Netflix

How-To Geek's expert reviewers go hands-on with each product we review. We put every piece of hardware through hours of testing in the real world and run them through benchmarks in our lab. We never accept payment to endorse or review a product and never aggregate other people’s reviews. Read more >>

Using the Mullvad VPN App

Let’s first take a look at the Mullvad VPN app, which is almost identical across devices, whether you use it on Windows, Mac, Linux (one of the very few VPNs that offer a GUI for Team Penguin), Android, or iPhone/iPad—there’s also a browser extension, but only for Firefox. Note that the Firefox version is free to use for anybody and everybody, but comes with all the caveats associated with VPN browser extensions.

I’ve been using Mullvad on both my Linux machine as well as my Android smartphone for over six months now with no issues whatsoever. The app is as stable as can be, with no crashes, hangups, or anything. Trust me, it was nice to get back to Mullvad after reviewing PureVPN and its many software issues.

The Mullvad Client

The app is easy to use as it’s really just three buttons: one for the settings at the top, one for the country selection screen, and finally one that connects and disconnects the app. It literally couldn’t be simpler, and the fact that Mullvad relies more on plain language than pictograms means there’s no possible confusion about what each button does.

Mullvad app, unsecured

The app’s map graphic doesn’t do anything, though when you connect to a server, it will center on the location it’s in with a small animation. If you want an interactive map that lets you connect to where you click, check out IVPN or NordVPN.

Mullvad connected to CA

Connection times are extremely short, which is nice, and I like that when you’re connected you can easily switch locations; just hit the button, select a new server, and away you go.

Server Selection

There are two ways to connect to a server: either click a country or location in it and Mullvad will select one for you. Alternatively, you can pick a specific server by clicking the drop-down arrow icon on the location and selecting your country of choice from an alphabetical list. That will give you a list of cities, and beyond that a list of servers.

Mullvad server list Israel

This is something I actually ended up not liking so much about the app. The process of choosing a server is a little cumbersome. It works fine in the example of Israel above, which has just one location and just three servers, but becomes annoying if you want a specific server in a vast country like the United States. Then your screen will look like this:

Mullvad server list US

It’s hard to see where the list ends or where the next location is. Since you can’t resize the app on desktop, you’re stuck with this tiny screen to perform these actions. I realize it’s a minor gripe, but it seems like it would be an easy fix.

Also, Mullvad has two types of servers: one that runs on the OpenVPN protocol and one on WireGuard. I like this setup as it removes the possibility of confusion, but if you’re a Mullvad newb, it may take you a sec to figure out how to tell the difference between the two types. WireGuard servers will say “wireguard” or “wg,” while OpenVPN servers usually have no special tag. Just a heads-up.

What Can Mullvad VPN Do?

Now that we’ve established that Mullvad handles like a dream, let’s take a look at what it can do, and how well it works. Mullvad’s main appeal is as a secure and private provider. It makes no pretensions to be able to get through to Netflix, for example. That said, I have gotten through on a few servers, I just wouldn’t count on it, is all.

Mullvad Security

When it comes to security, Mullvad has its act together. I like how it only lets you choose between two types of VPN protocol, WireGuard and OpenVPN, both of which are fast and secure. There’s no chance of a novice blundering their way to using a poor protocol and exposing their traffic, which is good.

I tested several connections using ipleak.net, a site that can track down any security issues with a VPN connection, and found no issues. Mullvad seems to be as solid as a rock when it comes to security.

Another thing I like is that Mullvad has a kill switch that’s not only on by default, but cannot be switched off under any circumstance. For some unfathomable reason, many VPNs will have the kill switch off by default, meaning that you could expose your traffic should your VPN server fail, even just for a second. Happily, Mullvad avoids this issue completely.

Mullvad's killswitch

Other interesting security features include several blockers, which can help you from coming across trackers and malware. You can also use Mullvad as a blocker for adult content, including gambling, which is good if you have kids in the home.

Mullvad blocking tech

If you’re an experienced VPN user, you’ll be happy to know that Mullvad lets you fiddle with settings to your heart’s content, though I will add the usual disclaimer that you should only mess with this if you know what you’re doing. You can also set up split tunneling, which is handy if you only want to secure some of your internet traffic.

Is Mullvad Trustworthy?

When it comes to VPN privacy, there’s always an issue of what I like to call the “black box.” Few VPN providers care to explain how their product works, relying instead on vague terms and phrases dreamed up by marketers that don’t hold up under scrutiny.

Not Mullvad, though. Like its equally private competitor, IVPN, Mullvad pretty much lays it all out there for everybody to see. For example, in its privacy policy, the company explains some of the tech it uses to destroy its logs, and on other parts of the site, Mullvad gives the names of its parent company, its address, and the full name of most of the people working in it.

On top of that, Mullvad is moving toward so-called diskless servers, which make it nearly impossible to keep logs as well as speeds up connections. As this type of server uses only RAM instead of hard disk space, there’s simply no way for files to be stored long-term, giving customers peace of mind.

We use VPNs to keep our browsing private. Somewhat paradoxically, though, it’s hard to trust a VPN unless it’s very open about how it works. Mullvad VPN passes this test with flying colors thanks to its transparency.

Speed

Mullvad offers some insane speeds, even faster than IVPN, which is saying something, and handily beating ExpressVPN by a country mile. The WireGuard protocol, which I used primarily in my testing, definitely played a part. OpenVPN wasn’t quite as fast—-though it came close enough.

RELATED: How to Test Your VPN Speed (and How to Speed up a VPN)

As usual, I tested speeds in the morning using www.speedtest.net, connecting to five locations around the world. The results are in the table below; I connected to WireGuard servers each time.

Location Ping (ms) Download (Mbps) Upload (Mbps)
Cyprus (unprotected) 5 99 42
Israel 94 97 39
United Kingdom 65 98 33
New York City 140 93 39
Japan 287 70 34

These speeds are very, very good. It’s extremely rare to see results like this. On relatively nearby servers in Israel and the United Kingdom, I lost practically no speed, while speed loss when connecting to the United States was barely noticeable. Only Japan saw a significant drop, but it’s on the other side of the world and it was late afternoon there when I tested.

The only thing that suffered was ping—properly known as latency—and even that wasn’t too bad, with only the really faraway places suffering badly. That said, the ping was worse using OpenVPN instead of WireGuard, but not by much.

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Best Overall VPN
ExpressVPN
Best Budget VPN
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Best VPN for iPhone
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Best VPN for Android
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Best VPN for Streaming
ExpressVPN
Best VPN for Gaming
TorGuard
Best VPN for Torrenting
IVPN
Best VPN for Windows
NordVPN
Best VPN for China
VyprVPN
Best VPN for Privacy
Mullvad VPN

Price

When it comes to pricing, Mullvad keeps things simple. It’s 5 euros per month, regardless of how long you sign up for. Sign up for one month? 5 euros. Sign up for six months? 30 euros. It’s a breath of fresh air in a market where you feel you need to calculate the benefits and drawbacks of plan lengths. You just figure out how many months you want to use the service, multiply that by five, and you’re good.

Mullvad pricing

It’s great because if you just want to test out the service for a month, you don’t need to commit more than just a few bucks. On top of that, Mullvad also offers a lot of different ways to pay, including cash, which is a bit awkward as you need to send an envelope stuffed with bills to Sweden, but guarantees anonymity.

Paying Mullvad with cash

At 5 euros per month, which usually converts to $5-$6USD or so, Mullvad isn’t the cheapest option, but I really like this consistency. In a market where too many services—like Surfshark and NordVPN, to name but two—play the bait-and-switch game with customers, charging a low introductory pierce and then stinging them after the honeymoon, Mullvad stands out.

RELATED: Surfshark VPN Review: Blood in the Water?

Should You Sign up for Mullvad VPN?

I recommend Mullvad to one and all. You know what you’re getting when you use it thanks to the company’s transparency, it’s easy to use and ridiculously fast. Add to that some decent pricing, and you have a winner.

That said, if you want a VPN mainly to get through to Netflix, Mullvad shouldn’t be your first choice. You could either use Mullvad and combine it with a decentralized VPN for streaming, or sign up for ExpressVPN, which is pretty good at the Netflix-cracking game.

Rating: 9/10
Price: $5/month

Here’s What We Like

  • Anonymous signup
  • Transparent
  • Fast
  • Easy to use

And What We Don't

  • Server selection is a pain
  • Has trouble getting through to Netflix
Profile Photo for Fergus O'Sullivan Fergus O'Sullivan
Fergus is a freelance writer for How-To Geek. He has seven years of tech reporting and reviewing under his belt for a number of publications, including GameCrate and Cloudwards. He's written more articles and reviews about cybersecurity and cloud-based software than he can keep track of---and knows his way around Linux and hardware, too.
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