VPN statistics

Each year we have more privacy violations and security breaches. And each year, VPN popularity grows with them. 

To keep track of all the changes, we decided to collect the most sought-after VPN statistics and put them under a single roof. Below, you’ll find the most recent information about VPN users, popularity, market size, and legality.

Table of contents

    How much do VPNs cost?

    The average cost of a VPN varies from company to company. Any product that belongs to more popular brands costs an average of $3.69 a month for their discounted 1-3 year deals. Regarding monthly prices without discounts, it averages at $10.45.

    How many people use a VPN?

    People in the world
    Internet users
    VPN users
    7.98 billion
    5.37 billion
    1.6 billion

    There are 8 billion people in the world (the number grew slightly, but world-record-significantly by the time this article got published). Over 5 billion (67.3%) of them are internet users. Out of these, we estimate that there are over 1.6 billion (31% of all internet users) people who use VPNs – that’s a fifth of the world’s population!

    However, these numbers are approximate because they only account for countries where VPN market penetration is above 10%. Market penetration measures how much a service is used compared to the total estimated market. So, the total number of VPN users is likely higher.

    How many people use free VPNs?

    A significant chunk (around 50%) of all VPN users use only free VPN services. However, free VPNs are rarely safe. They don’t offer online security or privacy but sell users’ data to maintain their services.

    The high percentage of free-only users suggests that a free VPN user’s intent is not security but accessing geo-restricted content.

    Biggest VPN markets in the world by country

    The top 3 biggest markets by country are all in Asia: India, China, and Indonesia.

    Why Asia? We guess that it’s due to two factors:

    • High country populations;
    • Government censorship in those regions.

    These two factors also suggest that VPNs aren’t going anywhere. The global population will only rise and, considering the number of data leaks, internet shutdowns, and hacks happening yearly, privacy will only decline. Considering this, it’s little surprise that the VPN market is projected at nearly $76 billion by 2027.

    How the interest in VPNs changed over the years

    VPNs have a peculiar relationship with popularity. If we look at the global Google search volumes, the interest in VPNs peaked a few times in the last two decades: in 2004, 2019, and 2022.

    So, what happened? VPNs started as workplace tools. They allowed people to remotely access and protect their shared business resources. Recently, their popularity declined due to better and more convenient cloud solutions. So, we see that the general interest in VPNs peaked in 2004 and then started to decline until 2012. 

    Around this time, the first VPNs for personal use were released. The privacy concerns were further fueled about a year later (June 2013) when Edward Snowden shared NSA documents with the public. 

    While the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2019 gave VPN interest a boost, it was 2022 that made it go sky-high. Between the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the protests in Iran, there are suddenly a lot more people interested in secure communications.

    Who uses a VPN the most?

    Who is a VPN user? There are many ways to answer this question, but for our customer survey, we only used a few demographic stats: 

    So, the majority (54%) of VPN users are men, though the difference isn’t that significant. A more interesting split appears when we look at the ages of our users. 

    VPNs are mostly used by Millenials: around 1 in 5 users aged between 25 and 34 said they used a VPN. Gen Z, the generation that doesn’t even remember the internet not being commonplace, used VPNs less than Millenials, with only 16.5% of people aged between 16 and 24 claiming VPN use.

    While some say this disparity comes from Gen Z being a lot more used and thus relaxed about the internet, a more pertinent argument is that some Gen Zs are still underage and therefore can’t afford to use one. 

    Why do people use a VPN?

    A VPN is primarily a privacy tool, but it serves many functions. We wanted to find out the primary reasons why people use VPNs. So we looked at Google Trends to identify the following reasons why customers use a VPN:

    We analyzed 5 VPN use cases: work, security, gaming, travel, and privacy. Out of them, people were the most interested in VPNs for work, accounting for 4 out of 10 such searches in 2022 on average. This was followed by VPNs for security and gaming, both accounting for around 25% of global searches.

    Searches in the US follow the same pattern in terms of use case popularity. People in the US googled VPNs for work even harder, their searches making up around 45% of total US searches. VPNs for security accounted for a fourth, and gaming accounted for a fifth of US searches.

    How do people use VPNs?

    Of course, just because people are interested in VPNs for work doesn’t mean they’re using them solely for work purposes. Here’s how the VPN use breaks down: 

    4 out of 10 people use a VPN for personal reasons only, which could range from privacy and security to overcoming content blocks.

    On the other hand, 3 out of 10 people use a VPN for business. This could also imply that some people only encounter a VPN at work. 

    Lastly, 23.1% — or less than 1 in 4 — said they mix business and pleasure: they use a VPN for both business and personal reasons.

    How frequently do people use VPNs?

    While a VPN could potentially stay always on, not every VPN user does so. That’s why data on how frequently people use VPNs is interesting:

    More than a third of users (36%) use VPNs every day. However, even more (41%) use them sparingly, at least once a week. So that’s 64% of the VPN-user populace that doesn’t use it daily.

    This may support the claim that people are most interested in overcoming content blocks — assuming that’s when people who don’t use VPNs daily switch them on — with security and privacy being a lot more important to only 1 in 3 people.

    How many cyberattacks happen each year in the US?

    It’s hard to say how many cyberattacks happen yearly because not all are successful or reported. However, here’s how many victims were affected by cybercrime each year in the US from 2015 to 2021:

    Nearly half a million people (496,501) fell victim to cybercrime in the US in 2021. That’s 1,360 victims per day.

    Still, this is an improvement over 2020, which saw massive growth in attacks over 2019, with 1481 cyberattack victims per day.

    The curve may be going down as all the nasty Covid-19 scams are losing their potency while the people and the institutions are getting smarter. 

    Are VPNs legal to use?

    VPNs are legal in most places around the world. That said, legal doesn’t necessarily mean entirely free of danger and hassle to use.

    Around 45% of internet users live in countries that restrict VPN usage one way or another. That’s 2.4 billion people.

    Here’s a list of countries restricting VPN use:

    VPN status
    Currently restricted
    Currently restricted
    Currently restricted
    Currently restricted
    Currently restricted
    Currently restricted
    Currently restricted
    Currently restricted
    Currently restricted
    Currently restricted
    Currently restricted
    The U.A.E.
    Currently restricted
    Currently restricted
    Currently restricted
    Restricted in the past

    For more details on what those restrictions entail, read our summary.

    Why don’t people use a VPN?

    From privacy to security, from cybercrime to accessing blocked parts of the internet, there are many reasons to use a VPN. However, a large part of the population doesn’t. Why is that the case? This is what the research reveals:

    As mentioned in the report — which allowed for multiple answers — 6 out of 10 respondents said that they don’t use a VPN because they don’t need one. Reasons such as price, lack of obvious benefits, or trouble setting it up each scored about 20% of the audience.

    Crucially for VPN developers, 7% of answers included a lack of trust in secure VPNs. This is one of the reasons why Surfshark carries out independent auditing. It also compels us to cover educational topics like whether VPNs can be tracked

    What devices do people use VPNs on?

    One interesting aspect of VPN use is the device choice. While premium VPNs like Surfshark are available on most platforms, not everyone uses them like that. As such, here’s how the usage-by-platform stats shake out:

    Somewhat surprisingly, smartphone and PC/laptop use seems equally widespread (64% and 62%). Smartphones aren’t the premier platforms for streaming or downloading files. One could theorize that privacy and the ability to bypass local firewalls matter a lot to their users. On the other hand, with laptops and PCs not lacking in power, almost all VPN use cases apply to them. 

    A fifth of users install a VPN on their tablets – while they’re not as portable as phones or powerful as laptops, a lot of people still use them daily. The rest of the devices — smart TVs, consoles, and so on — only constitute around 10% each. 

    And while only 8% of users install a VPN on a router, that’s still 1 in 10 users taking the not-uncomplicated step of doing that. This may show the technical sophistication of some of the VPN customer crowd. 

    What do VPN statistics tell us?

    From search interest about VPNs to the constantly-expanding VPN market, we see a growing worry about individual privacy each year. People feel like they cannot trust organizations and governments to protect their data. A lot of the time, these institutions are the reasons people turn to privacy tools like Surfshark VPN and Incogni.com.

    The projected growth of the VPN market suggests that things are unlikely to get better anytime soon. Our lives are becoming more digitized, which causes the number of cyberthreats to grow. The solution? Use cybersecurity tools and form good browsing habits

    We offer both. Feel free to check out Surfshark One – our comprehensive security suite for all devices. In addition, we have articles that will help you to stay safe online – especially useful for our GenZ readers who may not yet be of the VPN-purchasing age.

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