Back in the old days, snooping into other people’s business was reserved for governments, relatives, and nosy neighbors. Today, it’s too uncomfortable even to begin listing everyone who might have access to our data — but that’s where VPNs come in.
Because they route our traffic through a remote server, VPNs anonymize our browsing and protect our data from the prying eyes. They also enable us to access content that is restricted or unavailable in our country.
As the COVID-19 crisis unraveled in 2020, correct and timely information became more precious than ever. And as VPN statistics show, many people used VPNs to access it.
Finally, tracking VPN use can tell us a lot about the state of the internet in a country. In this article, we’ll review the latest information on this technology and its use to see how and why VPN’s popularity grew so much in recent years.
Top VPN Statistics and Facts for 2021 (Editor’s Choice)
- The VPN market is currently worth $30.05 billion.
- 31% of internet users worldwide use a VPN.
- 36% of male and 26% of female internet users use VPNs.
- 74.1% of the VPN market is made up of commercial users.
- VPN use in the US saw a 124% increase during the first COVID-19 wave.
- Asia-Pacific and Middle East & Africa are the regions with the highest VPN usage rate.
- VPNs are illegal or restricted in several countries across the globe.
- 51% of US and UK users rely on VPNs to protect their privacy on public Wi-Fi networks.
Essential VPN Statistics
1. The VPN market size currently stands at $30.05 billion.
(Grand View Research, Statista)
The security features VPNs provide are becoming more appreciated all over the world. As a result, the market is steadily growing. In 2020, the VPN market experienced 18.3% growth from $25.41 billion a year earlier. These positive VPN trends will continue in the coming years.
Although initial projections saw the global market reaching $92.6 billion by 2027, industry experts have adjusted this number in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. They now predict the market will be worth $75.59 billion by 2027 — an impressive 151.6% rise over seven years.
2. 74.1% of the VPN market is made up of commercial users.
(Grand View Research)
Meanwhile, individual users account for just 25.9% of the total VPN market. The demand for virtual private networks increased during the pandemic. With most people working remotely, companies and employees now better understand the need to protect their data and privacy.
3. OpenVPN holds 26.9% of the commercial VPN market in the US.
ProtonVPN ranks second with 16.1%, and Cisco VPN follows with 12% of the VPN market share. PureVPN is close with 11.7%. Combined, these four VPN providers make up a fascinating 66.7% of the commercial VPN market in the US.
4. VPN stats in America show growing interest in the technology.
According to VPN statistics, the interest in VPN use in the US has been growing steadily over the last five years. The Google Trends chart indicates an increase from 44 points in May 2016 to 89 in May 2021. As the pandemic started and most states instituted lockdowns, the interest in VPNs spiked. It reached its peak (100 points) during the third week of March 2020.
5. Between 2017 and 2020, VPN usage grew by 14%.
Although VPNs are still less popular than ad blockers, incognito browsing, and deleting cookies, it’s the only one of these features to display a significant growth rate. The increased use is in line with VPN statistics showcasing the growth of interest based on Google web searches.
VPN Use Statistics
6. 31% of internet users worldwide use a VPN.
VPN usage statistics show that the number has grown significantly from 26% in 2018. As for free vs. paid VPN usage, free is unsurprisingly more popular, with 72% of US and UK users relying on non-paid VPN tools. On the other hand, 36% of users pay for their online protection.
7. 36% of UK and US VPN users rely on the technology daily.
Asked about their reliance on VPN and their frequency of use, another 41% said they use it at least once a week. Most users intend to keep using VPNs indefinitely. Almost half (44%) of them use VPNs for general browsing, and not just when trying to access restricted content.
8. Turkmenistan is the country with the highest interest in VPNs.
Looking at VPN interest by country, Turkmenistan (100 points) is currently the global leader due to the government’s repressive internet policies. There were even reports of VPNs malfunctioning in March 2021 across the country, most likely due to government interference. Côte d’Ivoire (72 points), China (46), Myanmar (28), and Uganda (27) round out the top five.
9. VPN usage in the US saw a 124% increase during the first COVID-19 wave.
Stats on VPN usage show that between March 8 and March 22, 2020, there was a rise in both COVID-19 cases and VPN use in the US. The connection can be explained by millions of people switching to remote work and accessing digital content like videos and shows. In other countries, access to various news sources and social media platforms was the prevalent factor.
10. 36% of male internet users use VPN.
(Top10VPN, PR Newswire)
Demographic analysis reveals that men use VPNs more frequently. VPN users statistics show a significant gender gap among VPN users, with only 26% of women using this privacy tool. It’s not just VPN, as stats point to a similar gap among users of all other privacy tools and features.
11. Asia-Pacific and Middle East & Africa (MEA) are the two regions with the highest VPN usage rate.
VPN statistics by region show that 35% of internet users in Asia-Pacific and MEA use VPNs. As for individual countries, Indonesia is in the lead with a 61% rate, followed by India (45%) and Saudi Arabia (44%). Malaysia (43%) and United Arab Emirates (42%) round out the top five.
Statistics for VPN usage around the world suggest that developed countries typically have lower VPN usage rates. On that note, research puts VPN usage in Latin America at around 31%, while Europe (24%) and the US (25%) have similar usage rates.
12. With a 76% increase since 2017, the Netherlands is the global leader in VPN usage growth.
Although they don’t have nearly as many VPN users as the previously mentioned Asia-Pacific and MEA countries, developed economies lead in usage growth. Besides the Netherlands, Australia (69%), Japan (62%), Russia (61%), and South Korea (60%) all rank in the top five.
Looking at VPN use by country, four of them have seen a decrease in usage during this same period. In all four cases, the decline was in the single-digits — 6% in China and Egypt, 4% in Taiwan, and 2% in Turkey. Brazil is the only country with no changes in usage rates since 2017.
Interesting Facts About VPN
13. VPNs are illegal or restricted in several countries.
Given that virtual private networks offer possibilities for anonymous internet use and access to otherwise unavailable content, repressive regimes don’t look on them too favorably.
One of the least-known VPN facts is that it’s illegal in several countries around the world. North Korea and Iraq have outright banned VPNs, while Russia and China have heavily restricted their use. In these two countries, VPNs are only legal if they don’t provide users access to content their respective governments have censored. As of 2021, VPN use is also somewhat restricted in Belarus, Turkmenistan, Oman, United Arab Emirates, and Turkey.
14. One of the scariest VPN facts: most providers store at least some user data.
Although VPNs hide your online activity from your internet service provider (ISP), the companies behind them still have insight into your browsing. And while many of them don’t keep logs of the websites you visit, they might store some basic information like session duration and connection times and dates. This data allows them to improve their services while keeping you anonymous.
However, one of the well-known facts about VPN is that some countries require providers to keep in-depth logs of user activity. These countries are members of the cybersecurity alliances known as Five Eyes and 14 Eyes. The former includes the UK, US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Besides these five countries, the latter also includes Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium.
15. VPNs can save you money.
On any list of VPN fun facts, saving money should be at the very top. When browsing from a US IP address, you can get cheaper flights and hotels. That’s because the prices are typically higher when converted from dollars to foreign currencies. Similarly, you may save a few bucks on your Netflix or Apple Music subscription by registering from a country with lower prices.
16. 51% of US and UK users rely on VPNs to protect their privacy on public Wi-Fi networks.
Other frequently cited reasons why VPNs are important to users include the desire for anonymous internet browsing (44%) and more secure online communication (37%).
Although the fourth most cited reason is accessing restricted content (e.g., streaming services available in specific countries only), VPN users are not pirates. On the contrary, they are more likely to pay for a Netflix or Spotify subscription than other internet users.
17. Cybercriminals and hackers are the main privacy concern for 66% of internet users.
One reason why having a VPN is important, according to statistics, is the widespread misunderstanding of the main threats to our privacy. When asked about their greatest online privacy concerns, most internet users think about one-off threats like hacker attacks.
However, large-scale data gathering social media and corporations engage in is far more concerning. This is why internet users are becoming more adept at keeping their data safe through blockchain technology.
What Can We Conclude from VPN Usage Statistics in 2021?
In 2021, VPN use is an integral part of browsing experiences around the world.
With the COVID-19 pandemic raging and most companies forced to switch to remote work, businesses worldwide have become concerned for their data’s safety. This led to a spike in commercial VPN use, which currently accounts for almost three-quarters of the market.
While VPNs can’t solve all online privacy and security issues, their increasing use points to a growing awareness of online safety among regular internet users, too. This trend will continue in the future, driving the market’s growth from $30.05 billion in 2020 to $75.59 billion by 2027.
How big is the VPN market?
In 2020, the VPN market was worth $30.05 billion — and it’s bound to keep growing. Recent projections see the VPN value increasing by 151.6% over the next seven years, reaching $75.59 billion by 2027.
Does a VPN use a lot of data?
According to Norton, VPN encryption increases the amount of data you use. Because VPNs reroute your connection through another server, there is some loss of bandwidth. Therefore, you’ll need slightly more data to perform your typical online activities. But the data consumption increase — ranging from 5% to 15% — isn’t jarring, especially compared to the privacy benefits.
How effective are VPNs?
Some VPNs can help you bypass geographical restrictions and access geo-blocked content. However, they can’t protect you from everything. For example, websites can still store tracking cookies on your computer, record your on-site activity, and remember your product preferences.
VPNs come with their share of issues. Mainly, VPN providers need to be trustworthy enough not to keep too much of your data or sell it to third parties. Also, if your VPN fails mid-browsing and doesn’t have a “kill switch” feature, your IP address and data will suddenly become visible.
All in all, staying safe online requires more than simply adding a VPN extension to your browser.
Is VPN a waste of money?
This depends on what you want from your VPN. If you want to improve your safety on a public network or access geo-blocked websites when traveling, a VPN will be well worth your money. However, you shouldn’t expect a VPN to solve all your cybersecurity concerns. For optimal protection, you’ll also need antivirus software with built-in antimalware tools.
Are VPNs 100% safe?
Nothing on the internet is 100% safe — and neither are VPNs. Free unlimited VPNs are the least secure option because they don’t usually provide online anonymity. Worse yet, they don’t use servers, instead routing your traffic through another user’s IP address. As such, someone else may be assigned your IP address and put you at risk if they use it for malicious activity.
Limited free options are better, and paid VPNs are usually considered the safest option. Still, using any VPN means trusting someone else with your data, so make sure to choose a reliable provider that doesn’t keep extensive activity logs.
Why do people use VPNs?
VPNs are useful because they offer protection and anonymity on the internet. They enable people from countries with strict online censorship to bypass these restrictions and access all kinds of content. Virtual private networks also prevent your ISP from keeping track of the sites you visit, while those websites can’t see your actual IP address and use it to identify you.
These tools act as an intermediary between you and the rest of the open internet by redirecting your traffic through a remote server. All the data is encrypted and sent down a virtual tunnel connecting your computer with the website you’re visiting. No one outside of that tunnel can see your data — and even if they somehow sneak a peek, they won’t be able to decipher any of it.
How many people use a VPN?
As of 2021, there are 4.66 billion internet users worldwide. VPN statistics reveal that 31% of those users — around 1.44 billion — use virtual private networks. The two regions with the most VPN users (35% of all internet users) are Asia-Pacific and Middle East & Africa. Indonesia is the country with the highest VPN usage rate, with India in second and Saudi Arabia in third place.