The little mole that could

Rating:
9/10
?

  • 1 – Not working
  • 2 – Barely functional
  • 3 – Severely deficient in most areas
  • 4 – Functions, but has numerous issues
  • 5 – Fine but leaves a lot to be desired
  • 6 – Good enough to buy on sale
  • 7 – Awesome and worth buying
  • 8 – Fantastic, almost best in class
  • 9 – Best in class
  • 10 – Perfection on the edge

Price: $5/month

Mullvad logo on a white background
Wart

Wart is a Sweden-based VPN provider with a long-standing reputation for privacy and efficiency. It holds a spot in our best roundup of VPN services as the best option for privacy, thanks to the many ways it protects your identity. However, how does it perform in other areas?

After testing it, it turns out that privacy isn’t the only area where Mullvad pushes 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 so well is getting through to Netflix, but any other way, Mullvad can tunnel through anything just like the mole it’s named after.

This is what we like

  • Sign up anonymously
  • Transparent
  • Fast
  • Easy to use

And what we don’t

  • Server selection is tricky
  • Has trouble getting through to Netflix

How-To Geek’s expert reviewers get to work practically with every product we review. We spent hours testing each piece of hardware in the real world and running them through benchmarks in our lab. We never accept payment to recommend or review a product and never collect reviews from other people. Read more >>

Using the Mullvad VPN app

First, let’s look at the Mullvad VPN app, which is almost identical on all devices whether you use it Windows, Mac, Linux (one of the few VPNs to provide a GUI for Team Penguin), Androidor iPhone/iPad—there is also a browser extension, but only for that Firefox. Note that the Firefox version is free for anyone to use, but comes with all the caveats associated with VPN browser extensions.

I’ve been using Mullvad on both my Linux machine and my Android smartphone for over six months now without any problem. The app is as stable as it gets, with no crashes, hangups, or anything. Trust me, it was nice to return to Mullvad after reviewing PureVPN and its many software glitches.

The Mullvad Customer

The app is easy to use because 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 icons means there’s no confusion about what each button does.

Mullvad app, unsecured

The map image of the app does nothing but when you connecting to a server, it will center on the location it is in with a little animation. If you want an interactive map that connects to where you click, check out VPN or NordVPN.

Mullvad connected to CA

Connection times are extremely short, which is nice, and I like that once you’re connected, you can easily switch locations; just press the button, select a new server and get started.

Server selection

There are two ways to connect to a server: click on a country or location in it and Mullvad will select one for you. You can also choose a specific server by clicking the drop-down arrow 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 didn’t really like about the app. The process of choosing a server is a bit cumbersome. It works fine in the Israel example above, which only has one location and only three servers, but gets tedious if you want a specific server in a vast country like the United States. Then your screen will look like this:

Mullvad Server List USA

It’s hard to see where the list ends or where the next location is. Since you can’t resize the app on the 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.

Mullvad also has two types of servers: one that runs on the OpenVPN protocol and one on WireGuard. I like this setup because it removes the possibility of confusion, but if you’re a Mullvad newbie, it might take you a while to figure out how to tell the difference between the two types. WireGuard servers say “wireguard” or “wg”, while OpenVPN servers usually don’t have a special tag. Just as a reminder.

What Can Mullvad VPN Do?

Now that we’ve established that Mullvad acts 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 penetrate to, for example, Netflix. That said, I’ve gotten through on a few servers, I just wouldn’t count on them, that’s all.

Mullvad security

When it comes to safety, Mullvad has his act together. I like that you can only choose between two types VPN protocol, WireGuard and OpenVPN, both of which are fast and secure. There is no chance of a novice working their way through using a bad protocol and exposing their traffic, which is good.

I have 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 like a house like a house when it comes to safety.

Another thing I like is that Mullvad has a kill switch that is not only on by default, but cannot be turned off under any circumstances. For some unfathomable reason, many VPNs have the kill switch turned off by default, meaning you could expose your traffic if your VPN server goes down, if only for a second. Fortunately, Mullvad completely avoids this problem.

Mullvad kill switch

Other interesting security features include various blockers, which can help you encounter 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 house.

Mullvad blocking technology

If you’re an experienced VPN user, you’ll be happy to know that Mullvad lets you play with settings to your heart’s content, though I’ll 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, useful if you only want to secure part of your internet traffic.

Is Mullvad reliable?

When it comes to VPN privacy, there’s always a question 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 coined by marketers who don’t hold up to scrutiny.

But not Mullvad. Like its equally private competitor, IVPN, Mullvad pretty much lays it all out for all to see. For example in his privacy policythe company explains some of the technology it uses to destroy its logs, and in other parts of the site, Mullvad gives the names of the parent company, the address, and the full names of most of the people who work in it.

In addition, Mullvad is evolving into so-called diskless servers, making it nearly impossible to keep logs and making connections faster. Since this type of server only uses RAM instead of hard drive space, files simply cannot be stored for the 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 crazy speeds, even faster than VPNwhich says something, and conveniently strikes ExpressVPN by a country mile. The WireGuard protocol, which I mainly used in my testing, certainly played a role. OpenVPN wasn’t quite as fast, although it came close.

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, connected to five locations around the world. The results are in the table below; I connected to WireGuard servers every time.

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

These speeds are very, very good. It is extremely rare to see results like this. On relatively close servers in Israel and the United Kingdom, I lost practically no speed, while the 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 when I tested.

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

Price

When it comes to pricing, Mullvad keeps it simple. It is 5 euros per month, regardless of how long you subscribe. Register for a month? 5 Euro. Sign up for six months? 30 euros. It’s a breath of fresh air in a market where you feel like you have to calculate the pros and cons of plan lengths. You just figure out how many months you want to use the service, multiply that by five, and you’re done.

Mol prices

It’s great because if you just want to test the service for a month, you don’t need to spend more than a few dollars. Besides, so does Mullvad offers many different ways to pay, including cash, which is a bit inconvenient as you have to send an envelope full of bills to Sweden, but guarantees anonymity.

pay Mullvad in cash

At $5 a month, which usually converts to $5-$6 USD 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 just two, play the bait-and-switch game with customers, asking for a low introductory piercing and then stabbing them after the honeymoon, Mullvad stands out.

RELATED: Surfshark VPN Review: Blood in the Water?

Do you need to sign up for Mullvad VPN?

I recommend Wart 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 some decent prizes to that and you have a winner.

That said, if you want a VPN to mainly penetrate Netflix, Mullvad shouldn’t be your first choice. You can use Mullvad and combine it with a decentralized VPN for streaming, or sign up ExpressVPNwhich is pretty good in the Netflix cracking game.

Rating: 9/10

Price: $5/month

This is what we like

  • Sign up anonymously
  • Transparent
  • Fast
  • Easy to use

And what we don’t

  • Server selection is tricky
  • Has trouble getting through to Netflix

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