VPN statistics

People all over the world use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to encrypt their internet connections. This encryption hides their online activities from prying eyes, allowing them to enhance their privacy and express themselves them freely in places where this usually carries significant risks.

While these are some of the main reasons for using VPNs, we wanted to delve into the data to discover more about who is using VPNs, how popular these services are, and exactly why people are using them. We were also keen to learn about how VPN trends are changing and the different VPN landscapes in various regions.

In this post, you’ll find plenty of the most recent facts and statistics to provide an overview of VPN use across the globe.

See also: Cyber security statistics and facts

1. The global VPN market will reach over $135 billion by 2030

The VPN market was worth $53.23 billion in 2023 and shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, it’s expected to grow between 15 and 19 percent, with Research and Markets placing its value at $135 billion by 2030.

2. One-third of Americans used a VPN in 2023

NordVPN’s VPN usage survey shows that adoption is growing. In 2020, just under a quarter of Americans used a VPN, with less than 60 percent knowing what a VPN was. In 2023, however, 66.8 percent had heard of VPNs, and 33 percent used one.

3. 328 million VPN downloads in 2023

A study by AtlasVPN found that there were around 328 million VPN downloads in 2023. This sounds like a lot, but it actually represents 15 million fewer than in 2022, and a steep fall from 2021, when there were 785 million downloads.

Of course, 2020 and 2021 are outliers due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some key statistics surrounding the shift to remote working include:

  • 88 percent of IT companies migrated to work-from-home (WFH) schemes.
  • 92 percent of Asia-Pacific teams implemented WFH programs.
  • 72 percent of companies plan to make the WFH shift permanent.
  • More than 70 percent plan to permanently shift 35 percent of the workforce to WFH positions.

4. VPN demand in Russia rose nearly 2,000% in a single week

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted a huge surge in the demand for VPNs, not only in Ukraine, but Russia as well. According to data from Atlas VPN, it saw a 1,906 percent change in the number of Atlas VPN application installs originating in Russia.

Atlas VPN install data
Source: Atlas VPN

In 2022, this trend continued. In fact, AtlasVPN found that Russians accounted for 33.5 million VPN downloads — almost 10 percent of the annual total!

5. The rise of remote working sparked a surge in VPN usage

Several major VPN providers reported huge influxes of users in 2020, and this growth continued in 2021. This can almost certainly be attributed to the increasing popularity of remote working. According to NordVPN’s network analysis, in March 2020 users were connected to their VPN for several more hours each day than before.


Working hours per day pandemic
Source: BNN Bloomberg

6. Global interest in VPNs continues to increase

There has long been interest in VPNs across the globe and, according to Google Trends, there was a substantial increase in 2020. Additionally, you’ll notice a sharp spike in the global search traffic around September 25, 2022 — that was when Russia announced it was to start mobilizing civilians for the war in Ukraine.

Search volume has been tapering off since 2020, but remains higher than it has been at any point in the the last decade.

Google Trends data for "vpn" january 2024
Source: Google Trends

7. Only 17 out of 70 countries assessed by Freedom House are considered “free”

Freedom House ranking jan 2024
Source: Freedom House

Freedom House assesses 70 countries around the world and assigns them an Internet Freedom Score.  Criteria cover obstacles to access, limits on content, and violations of user rights. Only 17 of the countries assessed are considered free. High scorers include Iceland (94), Estonia (93), and Canada (88). 32 countries are labeled partly free, and 21 are considered not free.

China has the lowest overall score of 9, with Myanmar and Iran not too far ahead with 10 and 16 points, respectively. In other words, each of the world’s worst offenders has lost points in the last year.

8. Qatar has the highest rate of VPN adoption

AtlasVPN found that Qatar has been adopting VPNs at a startling rate. In the last four years, VPN adoption has remained well about 30 percent. In fact, it hit a record high of 69.87 percent in 2023.

The United Arab Emirates and Singapore took second and third place, with 2023 adoption rates of 61.7 percent and 53.71 percent, respectively.

Conversely, of the 85 countries surveyed, Madagascar has the lowest adoption rate (just 0.79 percent of the population in 2021).

9. Usage differs by country

NordVPN’s Usage Survey reveals some interesting insights about VPN adoption and how people use them. For instance, most South Koreans rely on free services, with Gen Z particularly likely to choose one of these over a paid VPN.

Meanwhile, in Switzerland, almost half of all respondents said that they used a corporate VPN instead of a commercial service. This country also has higher than average usage by people in the 45–64 age group.

10. Men are more likely to use VPNs than women

NordVPN surveyed users in 18 countries and found that the average user was male, employed, and between the ages of 25 and 44. Hong Kong was the only location where the average user was female. This is particularly interesting because 87.2 percent of people know what VPNS are in Hong Kong, and a full 50 percent of people use one.

11. Most VPN users are looking for improved privacy

According to a 2024 survey conducted by Forbes, 39 percent of British VPN users are looking for enhanced privacy, with 34 percent trying to stay more secure on public wifi networks. Meanwhile, 24 percent say that only use one because their employer requires it.

12. Around a quarter of users want to access blocked entertainment sites

Accoridng to Forbes, 24 percent of VPN users report using their VPN to get around geogprahic restrictions. For example, Netflix serves different content depending on the viewer’s location. By using a VPN to change your IP address, users can access a different library of shows and movies.

Other popular reasons for using a VPN include getting another layer of encryption (27 percent) and beating censorship (20 percent).

13. You need at least 3 Mbps for streaming HD video

With 62 percent of free VPN users experiencing speed issues, it’s only natural that they’d worry about being able to actually take advantage of their newfound security. However, as per Netflix’s recommendation, you don’t have to have blazing fast speeds for streaming.

Netflix speed recommendations jan 2024
Source: Netflix

In fact, anything above 3Mbps should be okay for HD streaming. That said, if you’re looking to stream Ultra HD, you’ll need at least a 15 Mbps connection. And let’s face it, in general, faster is better in terms of overall internet experience, so users still need to look out for VPNs that offer great speeds.

14. Almost two-thirds of VPN users are concerned about how companies use their personal data

GWI found that 64 of VPN users worry about how their personal data is used. That said, this figure is not that different from non-users of VPNs, of which 60 percent are concerned. Similarly, concern about the internet threatening personal privacy is strong among both VPN users (62 percent) and non-users (60 percent).

15. People are increasingly concerned about their online privacy

Digital Information World found that 52 percent of people didn’t believe that online privacy exists. Interestingly, 55 percent believed that private companies should be doing more to protect users, while only 43 percent wanted the government to step in.

16. Over 40 percent of people worry about cybercriminals

Naturally, people are most concerned about criminals being able to access their data, particularly if it could be used to steal their identity. That said, there’s a significant lack of trust in the government, tech companies, and advertisers, with just five percent of people not worried about any of these misusing their data.

Concerns over misused data stats
Source: Digital Information World

17. VPNs are banned or restricted in 10 countries

The governments of several countries do not take kindly to VPN usage, often because they want to prevent their citizens from bypassing censorship. VPN use is currently outlawed or restricted in several countries: Belarus, China, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Oman, Russia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

18. Providers still have many hurdles to clear

Security.org polled 998 Americans and found that 54 percent didn’t use a VPN at all. When asked why, the most common was “I don’t need one” (52 percent), followed by “Too expensive” (27 percent), and “Too much trouble to set up” (20 percent).

Crucially, a full 17 percent said that they didn’t trust VPN companies’ privacy or security. Considering this is their whole reason for existing, it’s clear that much works remains to be done.

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