NordVPN vs. Mullvad Face to Face Comparison Review
Now, to the day's main business, how does Mullvad compare to NordVPN? To help readers understand better how the two brands stack up against each other, we have compared them based on the factors considered when selecting a VPN. Without further ado, let's get into it.
The VPNs industry is filled with hundreds of brands, some genuine, but others are not worth your time. That said, it's first important to assess the brand's trust. In this first segment of this Mullvad vs. NordVPN comparison review, find out which of the two VPNs has the best reputation.
Launched in 2009, Mullvad is one of the most trusted VPN brands. The award-winning company owned by Amagicom AB is known for its open-source nature and support for WireGuard’s development. Mullvad has been praised heavily by many cyber security pundits and major publications.
For example, TechRadar describes it as one of the five VPN providers to satisfactorily address the set of trustworthiness concerns posed by the Washington-based Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT).
We checked it out on TrustPilot to find out what users are saying. At the time of writing, it has a 4.3 score after 53 reviews.
NordVPN is also a top brand and arguably the best VPN brand. Established in 2012, the company is owned by Nord Security, a market leader in cybersecurity software.
The award-winning company is known for innovation and technology, especially its proprietary protocol dubbed NordLynx. This is a state-of-the-art protocol that boosts speeds drastically. It has been praised more than Mullvad by both cybersecurity experts and major publications.
Interestingly, it’s one of the highly-rated brands on TrustPilot. At the time of writing, it has a TrustScore of 4.3 after 13,500+ reviews.
Once you have settled on the most trusted brand, it's also essential to assess the devices it supports. Some VPNs are compatible with all devices, while others are compatible with specific devices only. Besides the compatible devices, it's important to check the number of simultaneous connections allowed. So, without further ado, let's get into it.
Mullvad is a great VPN that has been designed for all PCs, from Windows to Mac and Linux. The only shortcoming is the lack of mobile browser apps.
Besides, this VPN works with Android and iOS devices and routers, but specific routers. When it comes to simultaneous connections, you can connect up to 5 devices at a go.
NordVPN, on the other hand, is a versatile VPN that supports almost all devices. The VPN is compatible with PCs (Windows, Linux, and macOS) and mobile (iOS and Android).
You can also connect routers, smart TVs, TV sticks, etc. Furthermore, NordVPN allows for up to 6 simultaneous device connections.
Gone are the days when VPNs were for the techies, hackers, and hacktivists. Today, every online user should consider getting a VPN. That said, the best VPN should be simple to use so that everyone, even those without technical skills, can take charge of their online security and privacy. So, how do you get started with the two VPNs?
To get started with Mullvad, the first step is to generate an account number. This is the only thing you will require to connect to Mullvad VPN across all devices.
While generating codes can sound like a tedious process, the advantage is you won’t be required to use your email, phone number, or any other personally identifiable information.
The next step is to pay the flat rate of $5.5, download the app, enter the account number, and that’s it!
To get started with NordVPN, click the ‘Get NordVPN’ button.
The page redirects to the plans page, where you need to select a plan and pay for the subscription.
Then download and install NordVPN, run it, log in and you are all set.
Encryption is the method that the VPN uses to create a secured path between two devices with the aim of preventing your data from being intercepted. So, what encryption technologies do these two VPNs use?
Just like most modern VPNs, Mullvad uses AES-256 bit encryption, which is the industry standard. AES 256-bit is so secure that it’s impossible to perform a brute force attack on systems secured using it. With Mullvad, security is a notch higher.
When it comes to NordVPN, there’s no difference. It also uses AES-256 bit encryption, which is impenetrable even when a brute force attack is performed using the world’s most powerful computers.
VPN protocols, also known as tunneling, is also an important consideration when looking for the best VPN. For starters, a VPN protocol refers to the system that connects devices to another network where your real IP address is hidden.
Mullvad, despite being an expensive brand, supports just two VPN protocols; OpenVPN and WireGuard, which use state-of-the-art cryptography and is simpler than IPsec and OpenVPN.
To make matters worse, OpenVPN is limited to TLS 1.3 for the control channel and AES-256-GCM for the data channel. As for WireGuard, the VPN uses standard Linux kernel implementation if available, but if not, wireguard-go takes over.
On the other hand, NordVPN tags along with three protocols, OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, and WireGuard (NordLynx). OpenVPN allows peers to authenticate connections using a username/password combination, pre-shared secret keys, or certificates.
IKEv2/IPsec, on the other hand, is the preferred protocol for those looking for uptight security, while NordLynx is NordVPNs proprietary protocol based on WireGuard.
Besides the encryption and protocols, it's also essential to assess the security extras that each VPN comes with. So, what can users expect from these two brands?
Mullvad is a great deal when it comes to security extras. The VPN features a kill switch that disconnects your device from the internet immediately your VPN connection drops but then, it’s available on desktop only.
We are also glad that it features DNS leak and IPV6 leak protection and Bridge for multi hopping. Another feature worth mentioning is split tunneling, which lets users decide which traffic to be routed via the VPN and which one not to.
However, it’s available in OpenVPN only and requires a 3rd party app. One great feature of Mullvad is port forwarding which allows users to forward up to five random ports. Lastly, Mullvad comes with Shadowsocks and SSH.
NordVPN is equally packed when it comes to features. It also comes with a kill switch that prevents your internet activity from leaking even for a second when the VPN connection drops abruptly.
Besides, it features split tunneling that lets you choose which traffic to route via the VPN and which one shouldn’t pass through the VPN. Another security is DNS and IPV6 leak protection which work 100% as NordVPN has zero leaks from our tests.
Also worth mentioning is the SOCKS5 proxy and double VPN, which offer extra security by routing traffic via two VPN servers instead of one.
7. Privacy and Confidentiality (Jurisdiction)
In this age of global surveillance, the last thing you want to do is buy a VPN located in a jurisdiction that is a member of alliances such as 5-Eyes, 9-Eyes, and 14-Eyes. Countries in such alliances have agreed to share intelligence where necessary and may force VPNs to open their servers and share user data. So, where is Mullvad and NordVPN located?
Mullvad is unfortunately based in Sweden, a country that is part of the 14-Eyes alliance. The company will definitely have to cooperate with the authorities where necessary. For instance, if another member state wants data on a Mullvad user, they will get help from the Swedish government.
On the other hand, NordVPN is a Panama-based VPN service provider. Furthermore, Panama is not a member of any surveillance organizations, so users can be rest assured that their online activity is always secure.
8. Privacy and Confidentiality (Logging Policy)
The logging policy determines which information, especially personally identifiable information that apps can track. This information can be used to identify, profile and track you when going about your online activity. So, what's the logging policy of these two VPN providers?
Mullvad claims to have a 100% no-logging policy, meaning it doesn’t keep any logs of your activity. Well, this is such a nice thing now that even if Swedish authorities come knocking, there won’t be any data that can reprimand you. But this can’t be verified now that the service doesn’t use RAM only servers, so anything is possible.
On the other hand, NordVPN has an independently verified no-logging policy, so users can be rest assured that none of their personally identifiable data is collected. What’s more? NordVPN uses RAM-only servers, so it’s guaranteed that no information is stored.
9. Server Network and Distribution
One of the basic infrastructure of a VPN is the server network. The more the servers spread in multiple countries and locations, the more robust the server network. Besides the number of servers and their distribution, other sweet spots include dedicated IP servers, specialized servers, high-speed servers, and RAM-only servers. So, how do Mullvad servers compare to NordVPN's?
Despite having been around for over a decade, Mullvad still has a small server network compared to other service providers that have been around for longer.
As of March 2020, Mullvad has 783 rented/owned servers spread in 68 cities across 38 countries. These servers are very much concentrated in North America and Europe.
For the record, Mullvad doesn’t have P2P specialized servers, but the company says they are all P2P-friendly – don’t believe that. All the same, they performed as per expectation, but there’s room for improvement.
NordVPN is the best bang for the buck because of the robust server network. It boasts over 5,300 high-speed servers in 60+ countries. Some servers are rented while others are owned.
They are also highly specialized as there are servers for Onion over VPN, Double VPN, dedicated IP servers, and even obfuscated servers.
The dedicated IP servers are suitable for companies as all employees can be assigned this IP for safety and unrestricted access to company data.
10. Speeds and Performance
Whether you are into normal browsing or heavy torrenting, you should worry about VPN speeds. This is because even the best VPNs on the market incur speed losses. The speed losses are even higher when users are clogged on one server. So, here's the thing, when selecting a VPN, check how much speed loss it incurs and settle for one with minimal speed losses.
One area Mullvad excelled in is speed and performance. While it flopped in most of the other areas, at least it gives many VPNs out there a run for their money, but of course not top VPNs such as NordVPN.
As for NordVPN, the performance was still splendid from the last time we tested it when we were drafting the NordVPN vs. Bitdefender comparison review. It’s still among the fastest VPNs today.
11. Streaming Torrenting and Gaming
VPNs are not just about security and privacy, they have become integral in the entertainment scene. They help unblock streaming sites and facilitate P2P sharing. They are also a favorite in the gaming world. But obviously, performance in the above varies from one VPN to another. Find out which of the two VPNs is the best for streaming, torrenting, and gaming.
As far as streaming goes, Mullvad shouldn’t be on your wishlist. This is an average VPN that won’t even unblock Netflix libraries. From the tests we did, it managed to unblock Hulu, but just for a few minutes before the IP address was blocked.
However, when it comes to torrenting and P2P sharing, it’s up to the mark – not the very best but above average. There are no P2P-friendly servers, but some select servers are P2P-friendly and reliable.
Lastly, Mullvad is a great deal for gaming if you want to use routers, but it’s not compatible with consoles.
On the other hand, NordVPN is an all-rounder in streaming, torrenting, and gaming.
As far as unblocking Netflix is concerned, NordVPN is one of the best VPNs we have tested. It managed to unblock several Netflix libraries plus a host of other streaming sites, including Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, ITVHub, and All4.
As for gaming, NordVPN is a true VPN for gaming that can protect you from DDoS attacks and enable you to access geo-blocked discounts and content. Lastly, NordVPN is a gaming VPN that can come in handy when you want to snap a deal or discount in another country or access the latest maps or DLCs not available in your region.
Shoppers should also assess the level of customer support when looking for the best VPN subscription. Nothing sucks like a provider who doesn't respond to customers' questions, queries, and complaints. So, which of these two brands takes the crown as far as customer support is concerned?
Mullvad is among the worst brands in terms of customer support. In this age, it is among the VPNs that don’t have a live chat, whereas the industry standard is 24/7 live chat.
That means there is no way for users to get immediate feedback. The only available customer support channel is email which takes ages before a response is drafted. There are also fewer resources to help out users.
On the other hand, NordVPN excels. It boasts 24/7 live chat support so users can have their issues sorted in minutes. There is also an email address, but feedback is not immediate here again.
Unfortunately, NordVPN has no telephone line, but you are good to go with live chat and email alongside a knowledgebase.
13. Plans, Pricing, Free Trials, and Payment Options
Now, in this last segment of this VPN comparison review, let's find out which of the two is the best when it comes to value for money. We will assess the plans, pricing, free trials, if any, and, importantly, the payment options.
Mullvad is more expensive than NordVPN, yet it lags in features and performance. The VPN has no free version or risk-free trial, but a 30-day moneyback guarantee is available.
Unlike most VPNs with more expensive shorter plans and cheaper longer-term plans, Mullvad is available for $5.5 a month whether you are buying a single month’s play or five years.
Payment options include bank wire transfer, credit cards, PayPal, Swish, Eps transfer, Bancontact, Giropay, iDEAL, and Przelewy24. Mullvad also accepts cryptos and in cash in the mail payments.
NordVPN has better features and is more affordable, making it the best bang for the buck. Unfortunately, there is no free version or risk-free trial, but the company offers a 30-day moneyback guarantee.
As for the plans, NordVPN starts at $3.99 a month. Regarding payments, the VPN supports several online payment options, including Mastercard, American Express, Maestro, and JCB Discover.
Interestingly, NordVPN accepts crypto, which enhances anonymity. Users can deposit using Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple.