Mullvad is a small but mighty VPN provider that offers incredible speeds along with security and performance that stacks up with the best VPNs. Mullvad VPN is fast, great for torrenting, and excellent at keeping you safe online. It uses AES-256 encryption, OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols, multi-hop, and a dependable kill switch. However, Mullvad prioritizes internet privacy over entertainment. Despite its excellent privacy and security offering, the VPN is terrible when it comes to unblocking streaming services.
But when you are using Mullvad VPN, who’s networks are you really using? After my testing I concluded that Mullvad uses 48% M247, 15% 31173, 11% Tzulo, 8% DataPacket, 7% 100TB, 3% xTom, and the remaining servers use Blix, QuadraNet, and Intergrid.
Looking at the chart above, you can see that Mullvad VPN has effectively surrendered a significant degree of control over their VPN network to the British authorities. This means that M247 and DataPacket may be required by the courts to monitor, censor, or eliminate certain nodes. The UK is notorious for mandating that internet service providers keep records of every website visited by a user for a year. Furthermore, the country has proposed that social media and ISPs block posts containing “legal but harmful content.” Additionally, the so-called independent regulator Ofcom, which is not truly independent, has the power to censor anything it deems to be misinformation or disinformation, much like China and Russia.
Either the government or Ofcom could easily categorize M247 and DataPacket as ISPs, rather than web hosts. This would result in the enforcement of censorship on their global networks or a 10% global turnover fine. M247 provides internet services to UK-based businesses, making it an obvious candidate for ISP classification. DataPacket, on the other hand, could potentially be classified as offering an internet service due to their active advertising to VPN providers, although this is a weaker argument.
Other Security Features
- Kill Switch — A kill switch acts as your last line of defense when your VPN connection unexpectedly drops. Mullvad has a built-in kill switch that can never be disabled, but it’s only available on its desktop apps. I tested it by trying to load a page when changing servers on my laptop, and it said my connection was cut off.
- Split Tunneling — Split tunneling allows you to use your VPN connection and local network at the same time. The advantage is that you can use local apps while bypassing geoblocks on your browser. Mullvad only enables split tunneling on its Android and Linux apps, and are currently building a Windows version. When I tried it on my Android smartphone, I could use my local banking app while watching US Netflix through the encrypted VPN tunnel. If you’re not using Android or Linux, then you can configure your routes on your OpenVPN or WireGuard protocol to enable split tunneling.
- Double VPN — Mullvad’s Bridge servers are a version of Double VPN or MultiHop. This is when your internet traffic gets redirected through 2 VPN servers instead of just 1 for extra security. It can also help you bypass firewalls on restricted networks. You can easily toggle Bridge on or off in settings. I was impressed that I didn’t notice any decrease in speed when I used them — usually, the extra encryption layers reduce your speeds. However, you can’t use Bridge servers on mobile devices, which was disappointing.
- Tor compatibility — You can configure your OpenVPN connection to use the Tor network through Mullvad. Once the configuration is done, then you’ll need to configure your Tor browser to connect to Mullvad using the Shadowsocks proxy. This means that you can only connect to the Tor network through the Tor browser by using Mullvad as the exit node. Luckily, there are instructions available for this.