The Mullvad review takes a look at a not so well known Swedish company that is making its way into the VPN market.
Released back in 2009 and developed by Amagicom AB, the VPN software comes with some useful features. But, the VPN market is swamped with other VPN services, so, can they do enough to make them stand out.
While the company is based in Sweden, the company is outside of European jurisdiction, so they are exempt from having to follow any European Union Data Retention Directive. However, they are part of the 14-eyes jurisdiction.
The company can stand against data retention initiatives, internet censorship, and NSA/GCHQ eavesdropping, and this they appear to plenty of.
The VPN might be safe and secure, but, is it enough to make Mullvad VPN a worthy choice over market leaders, and do they deliver more on top of merely being secure?
- Jurisdiction: Gothenburg, Sweden – Inside 14 eyes
- Connections: 5
- Logging Policy: Strict no logging policy
- Support: Email only
- Locations: 33 countries supported
- Zero logging policy
- OpenVPN & WireGuard
- No IP Leaks
- DNS and Malware proof
- Decent download speeds in Europe
- P2P and Torrenting allowed
- Poor customer support
- Doesn’t work reliably with Netflix
- No refunds on cash payments – anti-money laundering practice
- Limited device support – no Android or iOS apps use OpenVPN
- The main client interface not user-friendly
Plans and Pricing
Mullvad pricing is right up there with their super simple zero logging policy.
Mullvad only offers one plan and one price, and there are no discounts for longer-term subscriptions.
They offer one price of €5 and when converted equates to around $6 USD. This can fluctuate with exchange rates, although not by much.
This is where the Mullvad does things which are very different from other VPN competition.
The Mullvad website doesn’t even have a dedicated pricing page. And for accounts, all the company does is to generate an account number on behalf of the customer.
There are a few payment options that include cryptocurrencies, cash, PayPal, bank transfer and credit card, etc.
When signing up the company doesn't request any personal information, so, even from the very first steps, new users will have nothing but peace of mind at their anonymity.
Although there are no discounts, you do get a 10% discount when signing up with cryptocurrencies because of the lower fees and administration costs.
The company offers a 30-day money back guarantee on all payment options aside from cash payments because this has something to do with money laundering regulations.
If you want to cancel the VPN service, all you have to do is send your request to their support email address within the refund timeframe.
There is a free trial, and it has to be the shortest in history. The trial only lasts for three hours, so there isn’t much of a chance to thoroughly test the service.
Mullvad does take a solid stance on user privacy because the random account number is the only way the company will recognize users unless they pay with a method that is traceable.
Being based in Sweden, the company falls inside the 14-eyes jurisdiction, but Mullvad goes the extra mile to protect their user's privacy.
The company delivers one of the best privacy policies you can find from any VPN company in the industry.
The company retains no logs whatsoever, and online activity isn’t monitored in any shape or form.
If there was a governing body which attempted to enforce EU Data Retention, there is no need for any user to be concerned. This only applies to ISP’s and telecoms operators, and this VPN isn’t in these categories.
The company goes even further and recommends users to pay either by cash or by Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash which are now accepted.
The company provides a very effective Kill Switch that cuts internet connections should the VPN service be compromised, or the service loses its connection at any point.
While testing, we saw there were no traces of any IP address leaks, and this everything worked as detailed and as expected.
User connections with Mullvad VPN are well catered for when it comes to the Encryption department. They use industry-standard AES-256 Encryption over UDP.
They also provide access to the open source VPN – WireGuard. DNS protection is set to on by default, so users don’t need to delve into any settings. Other areas of encryption are 4096-bit RSA with SHA384.
The company owns all their own equipment which is rare, but it would be nice to see a little more information regarding their security.
But, just like a lot of information that can be found on the website, it is a bit scarce. This could be the price you pay for ultimate privacy.
Ease of Use
The Mullvad VPN supports a few devices that cover most of what users will be using, with custom clients. This includes clients for the Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems which run directly from the client downloads.
However, when it comes to other platform support, they lack compared to other VPN services.
There are no client apps for either Mullvad Android or iOS, but they do give detailed set-up instructions for OpenVPN configuration files when mobile users download Mullvad.
It can be seen from the very start, Mullvad wants to know as little as possible about their user's identity. This is reflected in its client software.
The interface is clean and straightforward, and nothing shows as to who is using the software.
Once the client is installed, you are connected instantly. There is a displayed map that shows which VPN server users are connected to.
Below this, there is a switch location, or a disconnect button, while at the top of the screen, you see a banner with the word Mullvad.
This banner remains the same color when Mullvad can’t connect, or it changes over to green to show there is a VPN connection.
Users may find a few problems with the service disconnecting where it then attempts to connect to another server.
When checking the user guides, it appears there is a continual problem with TAP driver issues.
There is an explanation of how to correct this problem, but, for users who are unaccustomed to VPN’s, this may be a little daunting.
Mullvad offers some router configuration files for installation, so it is worth checking to make sure your router is supported before signing up.
Mullvad connections were tested on a few different servers in various regions, and the internet connection speeds on the VPN servers around Europe were impressive.
When connecting outside of Europe, there was a drop in speeds, and transatlantic speeds were a little underwhelming.
This being said, the VPN connection speeds fast enough to stream with no obvious or continual buffering.
To the company’s credit, although they have a small network, their systems and connections are robust and reliable. We experienced very few connection drops, so downtime is minimal compared to some other more substantial VPN services.
For standout features, Mullvad doesn’t offer too many compared to the competition.
The company doesn’t state they can access any Netflix that is faced with geo-blocking, but on occasion during testing, we found they could.
These ad-hoc connections are probably blacklisted IP addresses that are changed, so another is being used. This, like other VPN services, isn’t reliable enough to say it is a selling point.
Torrenting is supported, although on the slower side, and users should be aware. The company is based in Sweden and inside the 14-eyes.
Although they explicitly state they have strict zero logging, you never know what can happen. The Pirate Bay fracas was in the same region, and they were dragged through hellish waters.
From a company that delivers substantial privacy and anonymity, it was a surprise to see their customer service as being their weakest link.
There is no live chat, and the only way they can be contacted is via email.
Response times are on the slow side, and contact times are all based on Swedish working hours.
With any time difference when outside Europe, it can amount to well over a day before an issue is resolved. This is one area where they really need to up their game.
For users who want privacy and security online, along with high levels of anonymity. The Mullvad VPN delivers a service as excellent as many other top-quality VPN’s. It is also far better than quite a few of the better-known names.
The company does have a lot in its favor, and issuing users with only a number for an account is pure genius. This alone isn’t enough to gain new users or make users jump ship from their current VPN provider.
They appear to have the users interests at heart, but being based inside the 14-eyes jurisdiction may be a weak point at some time because of increasing pressure.
For a service that is robust but no-frills, it can be one of the best options. However, for anyone who wants more from their VPN service, it is easy to find alternatives which offer more for the same cost, or they deliver more for less.