Mullvad vs Private Internet Access

We went head to head with two low-cost, security-conscious VPN services: Private Internet Access, better known as PIA, and Mullvad.

A consumer VPN (virtual private network) is a service that provides an extra layer of security, encrypting all your online traffic and sending it through the VPN provider’s servers.

This makes it impossible for your ISP or anyone on your local network to see what DNS queries or traffic you are sending or receiving, hides your real IP address by assigning one that belongs to the VPN provider, and can make it appear as if you are accessing the internet from a completely different country. To learn more about how this all works, check out our what is a vpn guide.

Mullvad and PIA appear regularly on our best free vpn guide, thanks to competitive prices that make them ideal for anyone who just wants a cheap VPN to add extra security, without the need for extras like dedicated endpoints.

Prices and availability

Mullvad goes to great lengths to have the simplest and most accessible pricing scheme on the market. It costs £4.15 (€5) per month, with no ongoing payment commitment. That’s the only option, and it costs a very reasonable £49.80 a year. You also get a 30-day money back guarantee.

Private Internet Access actually works out cheaper than this, but only if you commit to a one- or two-year subscription.

PIA is generally among the cheapest privacy-oriented consumer VPN providers. A subscription will set you back £8.99 per month, £32.34 per year, or £43.94 for two years, which works out to £2.37 per month. New two-year subscribers also get an additional two months free, but two-year subscribers renew as a one-year subscription at whatever annual rate is at the time of renewal.

Get 83% Off PIA VPN + 3 Months Free

Get 83% Off PIA VPN + 3 Months Free

PIA is now offering an extra 3 months free with its 3-year VPN plan. This equates to just £1.67 per month, saving 83%

  • private internet access
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  • £1.67 per month

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Both offer payment options that can help improve your anonymity and privacy online. You can pay with cryptocurrencies, which can help keep your identity a secret as long as it’s used carefully in conjunction with other operational security measures.

Better yet, Mullvad allows you to send an envelope full of cash along with the ID of the account you want to add it to.

Private Internet Access accepts a variety of gift cards for anonymous payments, but at this time all are from US retailers.

Performance

VPN provider United Kingdom Netherlands USA Average
Mullvad 388.00Mbps 472.80Mbps 197.60Mbps 352.80Mbps
private internet access 263.20Mbps 157.60Mbps 72.58Mbps 164.46Mbps
Reference group average HTTP 310.77Mbps 306.83Mbps 194.52Mbps 270.71Mbps
HTTP referrer without VPN 489.60Mbps 532.80Mbps 490.40Mbps 504.27Mbps

Use a superfast fiber connection in a London data center, our speed tests our goal is to show the fastest speeds we can get from each service during a given trial period. They are designed to show the upper throughput threshold for each service, but if your ISP gives you speeds below this then that won’t necessarily be relevant to you. While a VPN can sometimes improve connection speeds to distant countries, it cannot exceed the speed of your connection to your ISP.

As shown in the table above, Mullvad is consistently faster than Private Internet Access, by a wide margin, as well as beating the average of all the services we tested together as part of this group.

PIA is consistently below average, but nonetheless fast enough to smoothly carry out any task you’re likely to need to do over a high-speed connection, with the possible exception of its US performance, which topped out at 72.58 Mbps in our latest test. Note that we’ve also seen slower speeds in the US from PIA, so it’s not a good option if you want to move a lot of data.

With a few very rare exceptions, longer distances between you and the endpoint location generally mean slower speeds – you’ll notice that both Mullvad and the group average are slower for the US than for the UK or the UK. Low.

Security and transparency

Private Internet Access is based and operated from the US, although it is now a subsidiary of a British technology company. PIA had a well-founded reputation for safety under previous ownership and continues to operate in the same spirit. It is currently owned by Kape Technologies, which also owns rivals. cyberghost Y ExpressVPNamong other VPN services.

PIA has a clear and explicit no-logging policy. Currently, the US does not have mandatory data retention laws, and encrypted traffic passing through a VPN is not accessible to logging devices in data centers.

When it received an order from the FBI to turn over VPN logs, PIA had nothing to offer investigators, making it one of the few VPN providers whose non-registration claim it is known to have been publicly tested. However, as PIA has not been publicly taken to court since Kape Technologies bought it, we have no evidence that it will continue its no-logging policy under new ownership, though I have no reason to suspect anything would change here. .

PIA publishes semi-annually transparency reports – We would prefer this to happen more frequently, but the numbers need to increase regularly to show that records are not being delivered. The company had failed to conduct an independent audit of its infrastructure, security, and no-logging policy.

Based in Sweden, Mullvad has made privacy its mission statement and is very clear about its no logging policy. Although the local law is not as respectful of privacy as that of other jurisdictions, Mullvad says that she is committed to her no-logging policy and details exactly what laws could cause potential problems. His commitment to transparency is admirable and he regularly publishes the results of third party audits of your applications and infrastructure.

Although he does not issue an order saying he had no records to turn over every time a request is made, Mullvad’s commitment to auditing his policies and systems is something we would like PIA to follow.

specs

As with all the VPNs we recommend, Mullvad and PIA have critical features like a configurable kill switch to prevent you from accidentally sending data over the internet if you accidentally disconnect from the VPN.

PIA has support for split tunneling built into its applications. This allows you to route some of your traffic through the VPN while specific applications on your system continue to use your ISP’s connection without going through the VPN.

Mullvad does not currently offer split tunneling in its client applications, but you can configure it manually.

Both Mullvad and Private Internet Access have partially implemented RAMdisk servers in their infrastructure, in the form of PIAs. next generation network and of Mullvad beta diskless infrastructure. By running the entire operating system in RAM, there is no data left to recover if the server is powered off, helping protect against data loss in the event of a seizure.

Mullvad’s Bridge mode is designed to hide the fact that you are connected to a VPN, using ShadowSocks to help hide your activities from state or corporate deep packet inspection. PIA also has an obfuscation option in its settings to produce the same effect.

Private Internet Access supports OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, SOCKS5 Proxy, and WireGuard protocols. Mullvad only uses OpenVPN and Wireguard, but these are definitely the protocols to look for for a modern, fast and secure VPN connection.

Mullvad allows you to have up to five simultaneous connections and publishes official clients for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS, as well as an extension for the Firefox browser.

Private Internet Access lets you have a generous 10 connections and also launches clients on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS

Both provide setup instructions for connecting other devices.

Private Internet Access has terminals in 77 countries, while Mullvad only covers 36 different regions, making PIA the best option for those who want a VPN with wide geographic options.

Verdict

For speed, regular auditing, and ease of cancellation, Mullvad almost beats Private Internet Access. Its privacy features are well thought out and its commitment to transparency is admirable. If you need a simple VPN to improve security every day, then it is the one we recommend as a result.

However, Private Internet Access is cheaper if you want a longer subscription, has a lot more endpoints, and lets you connect 10 devices, making it better if you want to run a lot of devices from one VPN provider.

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