Mysterium VPN is a node-sharing P2P decentralized VPN network in very early development. You can join the network as both a provider and a customer, and it’s powered by cryptocurrency micro-payments, smart contracts, and blockchain technology.
I put the new VPN through a series of tests to see how it holds up, and if there’s areas that need improvement. My assessment is based on its ability for streaming, speeds, security, privacy, torrenting, and more. It’s beginning to get a firm footing on the VPN ladder, but it still needs to grow in some areas. As it’s open-sourced, you’re likely to see many developments and spin-offs based on this technology.
Security features seem a bit lacking, but it has a fantastic ability to unblock streaming platforms. You’re placing your privacy in the hands of multiple providers so you’ll need a lot of trust to use Mysterium, especially at such an early stage. Decentralized VPNs could be the next greatest thing, but make sure you compare it to other premium VPNs first. For now, you can try it completely free while it’s in early development.
Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings
- Unblocks major streaming platforms. Mysterium VPN unblocked every platform I tried including Netflix, and you have a wide selection of locations. These countries are subject to change though.
- Unpredictable speeds. The decentralized nodes can give you unpredictable speeds. I found mine reduced but still high enough for HD and fast downloads.
- Decentralized network. Mysterium VPN isn’t based in any one central location, with user operated nodes available worldwide.
- Security has some concerns. Overall the encryption level is good with OpenVPN and WireGuard, but it leaked my DNS and lacks some important features.
- No registration needed. You don’t need to provide any details to set up an account, giving you extra anonymity.
- Questionable privacy. As the VPN is decentralized, in theory you should have more anonymity, but on the flip-side you’ll need implicit trust in every node provider. Ironically, you could be more exposed to cyber-attacks.
- Torrenting isn’t recommended. Mysterium VPN doesn’t disallow P2P, but given the privacy concerns of the decentralized network you should exercise caution.
- No iOS app. Mysterium VPN has multi-platform support, but at this time there is no support for iOS.
- Limited support. “Live chat” is the only support option and it was never live when I tried it. It can take a day for Mysterium VPN to respond.
- Free whilst in development. As the VPN is in “pilot” mode, you can currently try it for free. Following this it will move to a more complex cryptocurrency-based nano-payment system.
Mysterium VPN Features — Updated in December 2021
|Does VPN keep logs?||No|
|🖥 Number of servers||1000|
|🛡 Kill switch||Yes|
|🗺 Based in country||Switzerland|
|🛠 Support||Ticketing System|
|📥 Supports torrenting||No|
Mysterium VPN unblocked every streaming platform I tried. It was difficult at times to determine where I was connected. Regardless of the server I chose, the app kept displaying the UK and my original IP address. This seems to be a bug in the app, as when I used 3rd party websites to determine my IP, it had successfully changed.
Unblocked: Netflix US, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, and DAZN
I was able to access the US Netflix library and start streaming with the first server I tested. Other major US streaming platforms like Hulu and HBO Max also worked without a problem. Connecting to a UK server bypassed BBC iPlayer’s geoblocks with just as much ease.
Blocked by: Nothing
There may well be a few platforms out there that Mysterium can’t quite crack, but it wasn’t the case during my tests. Overall, I was extremely impressed with its geoblock busting ability. It’s a shame that the app is buggy and didn’t always show where I was connected to. Despite this, I can recommend Mysterium for streaming purposes.
I got highly variable speeds, mostly on the lower end but still good enough for HD streaming. Decentralized networks depend on “node-runners” (servers, if you like) that provide the IPs you connect to. This determines the given speeds and would hopefully improve over time as the number of providers increases.
The measurements of speed are:
- Download speed — measures the amount of data you can receive in a determined time frame, measured in Mbps.
- Upload speed — the time needed to send files from your computer, measured in Mbps.
- Ping — the server response time. This is measured in ms, and the lower, the better.
I captured my base speed first, so I had something to compare against. In the UK, I got 74.81 Mbps — a very respectable starting speed. Usually, a VPN will slow you down by around 20% because of the encryption process. What I noticed is that my download speed dropped by approximately 70% to 22.8 Mbps. This is quite a significant drop, and my ping also increased to 48 — relatively high for a local server. However, this is still enough even for 4k streaming.
Long Distance Speeds
When connected to IPs farther away from me, speeds were usually no faster than 13 Mbps. An interesting anomaly was that my download speed increased to the fastest it had been when choosing an Australian IP. Everything else was just as I expected, with ping steadily rising to 325 and upload speed gradually lowering but not unusable.
These speeds are decent for HD streaming and casual downloads, but this is where it stops. If you’re after 4k ultra HD streaming, cutting-edge online gaming, or super-fast downloads, take a look at these lightning-fast VPNs.
Mysterium VPN has a decentralized network. This is different from other VPNs as it consists of other user’s nodes around the world. These act as the “servers” you connect to, and I was impressed with the range of locations I could choose from.
The actual number can change according to the number of node providers, but there are around 67 locations. Coverage is throughout Europe, North America, South America, Africa, and more — pretty impressive for a startup.
You can get paid for providing nodes, which further adds to the network infrastructure. This makes Mysterium VPN a crypto marketplace of sorts, where you can be rewarded in ETH for your stake in the VPN.
Each “server” has a price next to it and a quality indicator to help you choose the best performing IP.
If this all sounds confusing to you (which is more than understandable), you may want to explore more traditional VPNs with simple server structures.
Mysterium VPN uses robust encryption protocols like OpenVPN and the newer WireGuard, but I had a few concerns. The network functions almost as a Tor-VPN hybrid, in theory offering superior obfuscation and security.
It lacks some features associated with traditional VPNs, like a kill switch and multi-hop. Adding a kill switch would mean you’re protected if the VPN connection fails, as it turns off your internet traffic in that event. Allowing multi-hop would also be beneficial, as it could improve security by rapidly changing your IP.
You need to be extremely trusting of every node provider on the network. Though it adds a layer of security by decentralizing the network, it may also put you at risk of MITM (man in the middle) attacks if a node-runner gains the ability to intercept your web traffic. Decentralization also means that the network is unlikely to go down in its entirety unless something catastrophic happened.
It’s reassuring to know that as a node-runner, whitelisting is employed to prevent malicious use of your IP. That would be my principal concern if I were staking an interest and offering up my bandwidth to internet users. I’d want to know my IP wasn’t being used for any illegal or shady activities. How exhaustive and reliable this whitelist is, though, is down to Mysterium VPN, so you’d need to trust it to vet your connection.
Most locations prevented leaks, but one of the US connections leaked my DNS.
A VPN should prevent the following types of leaks:
- IP address — exposes your real location, making you vulnerable to online threats.
- DNS — your personal web traffic can be intercepted.
- WebRTC — the real-time peer-to-peer communication between your browser and webpages can unknowingly reveal your IP.
- IPv6 — internet protocol that sometimes misses the VPN “tunnel,” allowing data to fall into the wrong hands. Most VPNs disable it entirely.
Most of the time, my IP, DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 were protected. However, one node in Florida resulted in my DNS leaking. This isn’t great, as leak protection should be consistent and reliable. DNS address visibility could compromise your online activity and expose you to cyber threats.
You may want to explore these tried-and-tested secure VPNs as alternatives for now.
Decentralized VPNs may not be as privacy-friendly as you think. No central company will be logging your information, and it’s based in Panama outside of any ”eyes” agreements. However, you’re putting an awful lot of trust in the providers of every node you connect to.
The reputation of each node is bolstered by the whitelisting, meaning if you’re a provider, you’re assured somewhat against malicious use of your IP. But not enough can be said about the other way around — there is no real 100% guarantee that you can trust the person offering your connection. As a customer, you are connecting to someone else’s IP address, and they are providing your service.
You don’t need to log into the apps or create an account, which adds to the privacy and anonymity of using the VPN. In the same way, cryptocurrency nano-payments add a certain degree of anonymity as you don’t have to input any card details. Instead, you create a “key” when you install the app, and your spending and earning are linked to it.
It might sound like a terrifying prospect to have your web traffic flung around the world. You might find it easier to put more trust in other premium VPNs with solid no-log policies.
Mysterium doesn’t specifically state anywhere that it disallows torrenting, but you should consider the privacy concerns above. Torrenting is often used for shady purposes, so the VPN might deem it against its standards and exclude it in the whitelist vetting process. You’d need to trust each node-runner handling your downloads, as you could be susceptible to online threats.
It’s important to note that I don’t condone any illegal downloads or copyright infringement, and you shouldn’t use a VPN for these purposes. You should also check that torrenting is allowed in your location before trying it.
Does Mysterium VPN Work in China? — No
Mysterium VPN doesn’t work in China, and the provider is very clear on this. It states that this might be worked on in the future, but it’s not available there right now.
As an alternative, have a look at these VPNs proven to work in China.
Simultaneous Device Connections — One Connection Per IP
You can connect to 1 node per IP; for example, you can only connect one device per WiFi network if they share an IP. If you’re connected to the VPN on your laptop, and then try to use it on your phone while on the same WiFi network, it won’t work. On the other hand, each node can have multiple sessions from different users/IPs.
Mysterium VPN has multi-platform support but doesn’t have an iOS app at this time. It’s compatible with the following operating systems:
- Android (including the APK)
- Raspberry Pi
Mysterium is in the early alpha development stages, but I’d like to see an iOS app released soon. I tested it on the Windows app and found it to be a bit buggy — not correctly displaying where I connected to.