The Virtual Private Network (VPN) ecosystem is growing at an incredible rate.
For years, consumers and business users alike have been growing increasingly concerned about the safety and privacy of their connections. When the pandemic hit in 2020, VPN demand skyrocketed, driven by the increased use of internet-based services at home, and the evolution of remote work.
During the first two weeks between March 8th and March 22nd alone, VPN usage in the USA increased a massive 124%. People began using VPN technology to keep their business connections secure, as well as to stay up-to-date with news reports and information from around the globe.
Today, we’re going to be exploring some of the most intriguing VPN statistics to emerge in recent years, so you can see just how valuable this technology is.
Key VPN Statistics – Editor’s Choices
- VPN usage increased by 27.1% in 2020 alone
- By 2027, the VPN marketplace is projected to reach a value of $107.5 billion
- 88% of companies migrated employees to remote work in 2020, raising demand for VPNs
- In 2018, 25% of internet users used a VPN on average
- The top market for VPN usage in 2021 is Indonesia, with 44% people using a VPN
VPN Usage Statistics
1. 68% of adults in the US use a free or paid VPN for work or personal use
A report from 2020 found that around 68% of US internet users were using a paid or free VPN service during 2019, either for personal use or as a work requirement. This equates to around 142 million users on a VPN throughout the year. Nearly all VPN users (96%) rated their service as either somewhat, or very effective.
2. Most VPN users are male
In 2018, Statista found that males led the way with VPN usage. Around 62% of all VPN users were male, compared to around 38% of male users. In 2020, the Global Web Index found that around 25% of VPN users are now female, compared to 34% of male users.
3. VPN usage surged 27.1% during the pandemic
Global VPN network usage surged by 27.1% during 2020, according to BusinessWire. The global market saw an unprecedented growth spurt, which is set to fall slightly in the years ahead. During the years 2020 to 2027, the analysts predict annual growth will reduce back to an average of around 17.2%. The biggest reason for the VPN spike in 2020 was the rapid increase of remote work. 88% of IT companies worldwide said they moved their employees to work-from-home agreements in 2020.
4. Interest in VPNs is growing too
Worldwide, global interest in searching for the term “VPN” spiked dramatically during March 2020, according to Google Trends. Interest in VPN as a search term seemed highest among residents of the USA and people from China.
5. Over 39% of the people using a VPN are between 16 and 22, which means they’re part of the Gen Z
A study by Ofcom into internet usage found that around 39% of the people using a VPN are between the ages of 16 and 22, which means they’re part of the Gen Z generational group. Around 75% of all users are under the age of 37 in total. This indicates that older internet users might not be as well-versed in Virtual Private Networks.
6. 36% of US customers use a VPN today, compared to 1.5% ten years ago
A study from Malware bytes found that around 36% of their 2,330 respondents now use a VPN, as of January 2021, compared to only 1.5% ten years ago (in 2011). The company also discovered that of those who didn’t use a VPN, 58% were aware of what a VPN was.
Where are People Using VPNs?
7. Italy saw a spike of 175% more VPN usage in March 2020
The pandemic marked a turning point in VPN usage for a lot of people. At the height of the pandemic, some countries turned more to VPN technology than others. For instance, Italy had a 175% increase in VPN usage, followed by regions like the USA (132.5%), Spain (62.1%), and Germany (48.4%).
8. Slovakia is the fastest growing market for VPNs
Slovakia is currently the fastest-growing market for VPNs, with interest in the service growing by 300% in the last year. The country is followed by Spain, South Africa, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Iceland, and Japan in speed of growth.
9. 62% of daily VPN users are mobile users
According to DataProt, around 62% of all the people who claim to use VPNs everyday are logging in from their smartphone. This could mean that the interest in mobile versions of VPN technology is growing, particularly over the last year.
Global Web Index released a report in 2020 stating that PCs and Laptops lead the way for percentage of VPN users. Around 72% of Laptop users have a VPN, while 69% of mobile users access a VPN at least once a month. Only 33% of tablet users are using VPNs, according to GWI.
10. The APAC region has the highest number of VPN users
The Best VPN says that the Asia-Pacific region has the heaviest number of VPN users, though the tech is continuing to gain attention among Middle Eastern and Latin American users. 30% of APAC customers are VPN users, compared to 17% of European users, 23% of Latin American users, 19% of Middle Eastern users, and 17% of North American users.
11. VPN Use is illegal in some countries
It’s currently illegal to use a VPN in countries like North Korea, Belarus, Iraq and Turkmenistan. There are also various countries where usage of a VPN is highly restricted. These countries include Turkey, Oman, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates. Even China hasn’t been very open to the use of VPNs until recently. In 2017, using a VPN in China without authorization could lead to a fine of around $2,200.
12. 47% of VPN users use the technology when travelling abroad
Whether travelling for business or pleasure, people venturing outside of their own country are more likely to use a VPN service. Around 47% of consumers say they semi-regularly use a VPN when travelling abroad for personal use. Sometimes, this is just to access restricted TV channels. Around 36% of people used VPNs when travelling internationally for business.
Why are People Using VPNs?
13. The majority of people use VPNs to access better entertainment
In 2018, the majority of people using VPN technology were accessing the service to unlock better entertainment content (57% on mobile and 54% on PC). Other reasons listed for using a VPN included being able to access social networks or news services or maintaining anonymity when browsing. Some customers also admitted to using VPNs for accessing certain services and sites when at work.
14. In North America, retaining Privacy is more Important
For almost every region, including Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Latin America, the Global Web Index found access to better content to be the biggest motivator for using a VPN. However, in North America, the number one reason to use a VPN is to retain anonymity when browsing.
15. Around 33% of people use paid VPNs for music downloads
Among customers using paid VPN services, around 33% say they access the technology for music downloads, while 27% use it for music services. Another 27% say they use their VPN for streaming TV entertainment. Around 29% of all VPN users access Netflix regularly each month.
16. Only 12% of internet users admitted to using VPNs to access the “Dark Web”
Around 12% of people in total admitted to using VPN services for accessing the Dark Web. Around 39% of the people in this study said they access the dark web for anonymity, while 26% said they use it to bypass restrictions on content in their region.
17. VPN usage has increased significantly since the pandemic
Several major VPN providers reported massive increases in users during the initial half of 2020. This usage can likely be attributed to the increasing popularity of remote workers since the pandemic hit. The NordVPN network analysis for 2020 found that users connected to their VPN for several more hours per day during the pandemic.
18. 20% of users access a VPN to hide their activity from the government
Although the largest number of VPN users access the technology to unlock a wider range of entertainment options, there are some less common motivations for using VPNs too. For instance, in a Global Web Index study, 19% said they use VPNs to access a Tor browser, and 20% said they use a VPN to hide their web browsing from the government. 27% of users said they access their VPN to contact friends and family abroad.
VPN, Privacy and Security Statistics
19. 74% of Americans say they have restricted internet usage due to privacy concerns
In 2016, companies were already seeing an increase of consumers restricting their internet usage based on security worries. Around 56% of consumers said they trust companies with their personal information online. In comparison, 74% admitted to reducing their internet use as they were concerned about what other companies could learn about them.
20. Americans consider Identity Theft to be the biggest cybersecurity concern
According to VPN Mentor, the biggest threat Americans perceive online is the risk of Identity Theft. 63% of users said that identity theft was their biggest worried. 45% of respondents mentioned credit card and banking fraud, while around 23% named data collection by online services.
21. 92% of Americans feel online privacy is important
92% of Americans believe that online privacy is important, yet they’re still not taking enough action to stay safe. According to Global Newswire, the biggest reason for customers failing to protect themselves online is they believe it’s the responsibility of their network providers to keep them safe.
22. Around 6 in 10 Americans feel they can’t go through life without having their data collected.
In a study on consumer opinions about privacy and security, Pew Research found that 6 out of 10 Americans feel that it’s not possible to go through life without having personal information collected about them. 63% of Americans said they believe it’s impossible to go through life without the government collecting their information. Additionally, 81% of Americans say they have no control over the data collected by companies, 84% feel the same way about data collected by the government.
23. 62% of people say they’re concerned about the internet eroding their personal privacy.
Around 62% of VPN users in a Global Web Index report said they’re concerned about the internet eroding their control over their privacy, compared to 60% of non-VPN users. Around 64% of VPN users also said they’re worried about how their personal data is being used by companies, compared to 63% of non-VPN users. 68% of VPN users also said they’re constantly connected online, while only 58% of non-VPN users admitted to being frequently online.
24. Americans feel as though they have no control over who can access their personal data
Around 18% of Americans feel they have no control over who can access information about their physical location. Another 54% said they only feel as though they have a little control over who can learn about their location. VPNs are tools for hiding your physical location, which may indicate why VPN usage has skyrocketed in recent years.
VPN Stats – Summary
With many people spending more time online than ever before, for both work and personal reasons, the demand for VPN technology is drastically increasing. In 2020, the need for VPNs skyrocketed thanks to increased remote working strategies. However, even as the effects of the pandemic subside, many experts agree that the demand for privacy tools will continue to grow.
People will continue to use VPNs in the years ahead, not just for accessing better entertainment but for protecting their browsing privacy too.
Want to Learn More?
The Best VPN
Global Web Index