How have VPN usage statistics changed over the last decade?
Recently, two major developments have influenced the trajectory of VPN usage.
It started with increased public awareness on online privacy practices courtesy of mainstream media reports indicating massive surveillance by governments.
In addition, the unprecedented increase of cyberattacks equally made internet users more concerned.
This development contributed to the gradual growth of VPN usage across the globe.
However, a more recent event, Covid Pandemic shifted gears and took virtual private network usage statistics to a whole new level.
Arguably, the impact of the pandemic such as a major shift from office to remote work necessitated better online security and privacy.
In addition, government restrictions from accessing certain content on the internet which has hampered internet freedom bolstered this growth as affected internet users strived to bypass the restrictions that governments impose.
To get a good grasp of these changes, here are 25 VPN usage statistics, facts, and trends you should know of in 2021.
VPN Global Usage Statistics
1. More than 31% of all internet users rely on VPN services. (Surf Shark)
According to estimates by Surf Shark the VPN usage around the world has been on a steady increase especially after the penetration of smartphones and the increased usage of the internet for work and business transactions.
Currently, one of the most basic VPN facts is that 31% of all internet users use VPNs to access the internet.
2. VPN usage grew by 27.1% in 2020. – Global Newswire
2020 saw an unprecedented growth of VPN usage which shot up by 27.1%, almost 10% points higher than the compound annual growth rate of 17%.
This growth is attributed to the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic which saw many companies transitioning their employees into the remote-work experience.
For instance, 88% of organizations offered their employees work-from-home schemes while 92% of Asia-Pacific teams implemented the same.
3. The VPN industry is expected to reach $31.1 billion this year. (Statista)
The world’s VPN market size has been on a constant rise over the past decade. In 2016, the overall worth of the VPN industry was $15.4 billion. In 2019, the industry market value had grown to 25.59 billion before reaching 31.1 billion this year.
The VPN market is expected to continue growing at a faster rate and is forecasted to reach 75.59 billion by 2027 according to Statista.
4. Among VPN users who employ the service daily, 64% are mobile users.
The Global Web Index 2020 report revealed that 62% of internet users who use VPNs services daily are desktop users while 64% are mobile users.
This shows that VPN usage statistics today are on an upward trend with the rise of smartphone penetration while desktop still remains a preferred option for VPN usage.
Another VPN fact is that among internet users using VPNs 4-5 times a week, 15 % are desktop users while 13 % are mobile users.
5. Free VPN users account for 29% of all VPN users
According to a report by Security.org, enterprises and organizations pay for 24 % of all VPN services used. Meanwhile, 26% of VPN users pay for their own VPN accounts, and an additional 12% pay for personal VPN accounts while using a business VPN at work.
Free VPN users account for 29% of all users and are used mostly for personal use. However, we do not recommend free VPN services as they don’t provide security and privacy. In fact, if you are a Windows PC user, here are some of the best
Instead, try these great and affordable VPNs to guarantee your online privacy
6. More than 4 in 5 times, VPN usage takes place at home
The Global VPN Usage Report 2020 shows that 81% of the time, VPN services were used at home. It’s likely that the increased percentage of remote workers has contributed to this percentage.
Meanwhile, 34% of VPN users take advantage of VPN services in cafés or restaurants, 32% in workplaces, and 31% in hotels.
Who is using VPNs?
7. Most VPN users are Male – Statista
Global VPN users’ statistics reveal that only 38% of VPN users in the world are women. Men dominate VPN usage statistics today representing 62% of all VPN users.
Meanwhile, only half of all VPN users use VPNs at least once a month of which 60% are men while 40% are women. These statistics reveal the gender disparity in VPN usage globally.
8. Over 39% of the people using a VPN are between 16 and 22
According to the Global Web Index report, 75% of all VPN users are below 37 years of age indicating that younger generations are better versed and interested in the technology than older people. Meanwhile, users between 38-55 years account for 25% while those above 55% account for a paltry 16%.
9. A third of all VPN users have postgraduate degrees.
Based on Global Web Index research, there exists a plurality of VPN users’ educational backgrounds; 32% of VPN users have postgraduate degrees, and an additional 28% have undergraduate degrees. Overall, there seems to be a positive correlation between the level of education and VPN usage.
10. The Asia-Pacific region leads the world with 35% VPN usage – Global Web Index
Countries with the highest VPN usage are Indonesia (61%), India (45%), Saudi Arabia (44%), Malaysia (43%), UAE (42%), and the Philippines (41%). Apparently, the countries with the most stringent online censorship laws had the highest percentage of VPN users.
For instance, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and India score below 50 for their Freedom on the net score. In addition, India and Indonesia have recorded some of the highest internet shutdowns.
11. Australia, the UK, and Germany rank as countries with the least VPN Users percentage
The countries with the least VPN users are Australia (4%), the UK and the US (5%), and Germany (6%). Considering these countries are ranked high in the Freedom the Net ratings, it appears VPN usage statistics today are directly proportional to the level of internet freedom in a country.
12. 41% of US and UK VPN users leverage the technology weekly – Statista
With VPNs becoming an essential layer of online security, most internet users go online with a VPN either daily-36% or at least once a week (41%). Meanwhile, 13% use it once a month, and 10% use it less often.
VPNs are not used solely for particular reasons, rather they are becoming part and parcel of users’ daily activities with most expecting to continue using them indefinitely.
13. Over half of the VPN users are iOS owners
One of the latest VPN trends is the dominance of iOS VPN users.
A survey by Security.org found that 52% of VPN users access the service using iOS devices. 37% use Android devices while both Windows and macOS accounted for less than 10 percent of the devices.
The study focused on primary devices hence did not account for those that use multiple devices.
Why are people Using VPNs?
14. The majority of people use VPNs to access better entertainment – Statista
Most internet users use VPNs to access better entertainment. In 2018, a study by Statista revealed that most people (57% on smartphones and 54% on pc) want to unlock better entertainment platforms.
Other reasons include maintaining anonymity online and being able to access social media networks and news platforms.
15. 33% of VPN users download music
A study by Global Web Index found that among the internet users using paid VPN services, 33% say they use it for music downloads while 27% use it for music services making music access one of the popular VPN trends.
Another 27% of respondents said they use VPN for streaming while 29% of all users said they use VPNs to access Netflix regularly each month.
16. In North America, retaining privacy is more Important – Global Web Index
According to the Global Web Index VPN facts, the number one reason internet users in North America use VPN services is to retain anonymity while browsing. This is different from other regions where the biggest motivator is access to better content.
Considering that most of the biggest content platforms are hosted in North America, access to these platforms is not restricted.
17. 20% of VPN users want to hide their activity from the government – Global Web Index
While the largest percentage of VPN users implement the technology to access a wide range of entertainment content, 19% say they use VPNs to access Tor Browser, a privacy-enhanced browser.
20% said they use a VPN to hide their web browsing traffic from the government. Lastly, 27% of users said they access VPNs to contact friends and families abroad.
18. Only 12% of internet users admitted to using VPNs to access the “Dark Web” – VPNMentor
A survey by VPNMentor revealed that 12% of the people use VPN services for accessing the Dark Web. Around 39% of the respondents admitted they access the dark web for anonymity while 26% said they use it to bypass restrictions on content imposed by their regional authorities. Lastly, 21% use it to avoid censorship.
19. 47% of VPN users use the technology when traveling abroad – VPN Mentor
Tourism and business-related travel are fueling VPN adoption. According to Global Web Index, 47% of travelers use VPNs for personal pleasure and 36% for business when they travel to various regions of the world with internet restrictions.
In countries where certain services are not available, tourists use VPNs to access home country entertainment. If you happen to be an avid traveler, here are the best VPNs for digital nomads you can use.
Latest VPN trends
20. Globally demand for VPN increased due to the pandemic.
VPN service demand received a huge boost following the onset of the CoronaVirus pandemic. Italy and the United States led in expanding usage of VPNs in March of 2020, with Italy seeing 160 percent growth and the U.S. increasing VPN usage by 124 percent.
21. Business VPN demand is booming
According to OpenVPN, 68% of respondents said their companies have either started using VPNs for the first time or increased their use since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, 29% of the respondents said their organization started using VPN for the first time. Based on these statistics, the study proved that remote work is the future. These VPNs for remote workers should prepare you for this imminent future.
22. Slovakia Leads as Fastest Growing Markets for VPNs – VPN Mentor
According to a study by VPNMentor, the fastest-growing markets are countries where the numerous reasons why people use VPNs converge. To start with Slovakia leads the pack with a 300% growth rate over the previous year followed by Spain, South Africa, and Costa Rica among others which have recorded over 200% increase.
23. Interest in VPN has been growing steadily since 2009
Based on Google Trends, interest in VPN has been on a steady rise since 2009. Major growth in interest was also apparent during the pandemic as 2 spikes were recorded.
The first spike was in mid-march 2020 when the virus gained traction and the second spike happened when the world experienced the second wave beginning September 2020.
24. Security is the most associated quality with VPN.
A Global VPN Usage Report revealed that 64% of users associate security as the most important quality that VPNs offer them. 54% of the respondents chose useful while safe and effective followed at third and fourth respectively with 52% and 51% respectively.
Meanwhile, users look at speed and quality of connection when shopping for VPNs before they look at privacy policies. If speed matters a lot to you, here are the fastest VPN services in the market.
25. Data of over 20 million free VPN users was compromised
In March 2021, an attacker hacked into three mobile VPNs which were all free VPN services; Super VPN, Gecko VPN, and Chat VPN. The hacker got access to data associated with 21 million users of the three VPN applications.
Details including names, email addresses, passwords, and payment-related data were put on sale on a popular hacking forum.
After going through the most important VPN facts and statistics, it is safe to say that you understand the importance of VPNs.
The benefits of VPN coincide with the advancing needs of internet users who find the digital landscape becoming more restrictive. To improve your internet freedom, consider choosing a good VPN to safeguard your internet traffic.
These virtual private network usage statistics prove the increased interest in the online privacy of internet users.
In addition, as remote work takes center stage in the business world, VPNs will be indispensable in securing internet usage for remote workers.
Hence, it is likely that the demand for VPN services will continue to grow and the industry as predicted, will explode in the coming years.