Did you know that, since 2013, almost 25% of global internet users have accessed the web through a VPN each month?
In other words, a quarter of all the people browsing the web around the world find that their ISPs simply don’t (or can’t) offer the best internet experience.
Instead, for one reason or another, users turn to virtual private networks in order to get the most out of what the internet is supposed to be in the first place – a world wide web promoting democracy, equality, and freedom of choice.
Why do people actually use VPNs around the world? How is this market growing? What is the typical profile of the people who use VPNs and what devices do they use?
Below, you will find the most up-to-date statistics for VPN usage around the world.
VPN market growth over time
The number of VPN users has considerably grown over the past decade. This figure increased by 185% in 2017 compared to 2016. Moreover, from 2017 to 2018, the number of users increased by an additional 165%.
This data is only supported by the fact that the VPN global market value only seems to increase as time goes by:
- In 2016, the VPN global market was worth $15.46 billion
- In the following year, it amounted to about $18 billion
- The figure continued to increase, reaching $20.60 billion in 2018
And based on some estimations, this trend will only continue in the future:
- This year, it is estimated that the VPN global market is worth $23.60 billion
- In 2020, this figure will further rise to an estimated $27.10 billion
- Two years from now, in 2021, it will go over $30 billion – $31.10 billion, to be more accurate
- Finally, in 2022, the VPN global market value is predicted to reach a whopping $35.73 billion
VPN use statistics by region and country
When it comes to the percentage of VPN users in different regions across the world, Asia Pacific is an undisputed champion, where 30% of all internet users are using services from VPN providers.
Below listed is the data for different world regions:
- Asia & Pacific – 30%
- Latin America – 23%
- Middle East & Africa – 20%
- North America – 18%
- Europe – 18%
Logically, this is supported by the fact that as many as 38% of internet users in Indonesia and India access the web through virtual private networks, closely followed by other Asian countries.
These are the top markets for VPN usage:
- Indonesia and India share the top spot with 38%
- Turkey is the runner up with 32%
- China takes the third place with 31% of users
- Next come Malaysia and Saudi Arabia with 29% each
- Brazil follows with 26%
- Finally, 25% of people browsing the web in Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates and the Philippines use VPNs
On the other hand, these are the countries where VPNs are used least:
- In Australia, only 4% of people browsing the internet use virtual private networks
- The United States and the United Kingdom share the second place with 5% each
- Germany comes third with 6% of VPN users
How old are VPN users?
Almost 70% of people who use VPNs are 34 years old or younger, which is hardly a surprise, as the younger generations heavily rely on the internet for information and entertainment.
- 35% of users are between 16 and 24 years of age
- 33% are aged 25 to 34
- Now comes a huge drop, since only 19% of VPN users fall in the range between 35 and 44 years of age
- Only 9% are aged 45 to 54
- Finally, and not surprisingly, 4% of VPN users are seniors, aged between 55 and 64
VPN users by gender
If you think that men use VPN more than women, you are right. The difference in VPN usage between the two genders is not to be underestimated, since 62% of users are male and 38% are female.
VPN use by frequency and device
Many people who use virtual private networks do so at least once a day. In the table below, you can see how frequently people across the globe use desktop and mobile devices to access the internet through virtual private networks.
Top reasons for using VPN
You probably know the most common reasons why internet users access the web through virtual private networks. However, the data below will give you a perfectly clear picture of the top reasons for VPN usage:
As you may have supposed, one of the main drivers for using a virtual private network is access to better streaming content. Not surprisingly, as many as 29% of VPN users need this type of connection to access Netflix.
Reasons for using VPNs by region and country
While the stats showing the reasons for global VPN usage may be somewhat expected, the data below shows the reasons by region that you may find rather interesting.
In addition, here are the leading reasons for using VPNs in major countries:
- Accessing better entertainment content:
Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, China, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Vietnam
- Keeping anonymity while browsing:
Canada, France, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United States
- Accessing restricted download/torrent websites:
Countries where VPNs are illegal
Is using a VPN legal in my country? This is a very common and legitimate question. While virtual private networks are legal in most countries, some governments have decided to declare them illegal.
However, even if using a VPN is legal in your country, by no circumstances does this mean that you can use it for illegal activities. If you do engage in such activities, you are bound to be prosecuted under the laws of your country of residence.
But I am sure that you already know this, so let’s get straight to the list of countries where using a VPN means breaking the law:
Even though using a virtual private network is illegal in China, VPN providers can technically still operate if they manage to get licensed by the government of this country. However, the terms and conditions the government imposes are unrealistically stringent by western standards.
The same as in China, citizens of Iran are allowed to use VPNs that come from providers licensed with the government. Again, it is easy to see why this defeats the whole purpose of using a VPN.
In Iraq, the official reason for banning virtual private networks is the government’s goal to track and stop ISIS.
- United Arab Emirates
This country has even announced heavy fines against those who dare to use VPNs. According to the UAE government, the primary reason behind this decision is the fact that using VOIP services undercuts the profit of telecommunication providers. Therefore, the government has made this decision with the goal to support telecommunication companies.
The government of Turkey has blocked a number of websites, including VPN providers. The reason behind it – to block access to social media.
Oman prohibits personal use of VPNs, but institutions are still allowed to use them if permission is granted by the government.
After the Egyptian Revolution in 2011, just like in Syria, the government of Egypt decided to block certain VPN protocols and some websites.
In 2015, the government of Belarus officially decided to block the use of VPNs and Tor. What’s more, ISPs are required to regularly check with the daily list of banned services which is published by the local government agency.
Russia has passed a law declaring the use of virtual private networks to be illegal but only in case of trying to access websites that are already blocked in this country.
To conclude, it seems that the VPN market will only grow in the forthcoming period, with $23.60 billion estimated value for this year and as much as $35.73 billion estimated worth for 2022.
The emerging markets, most of which are located in Asia, are headed by Indonesia and India. In both of these countries, a whopping 38% of people access the internet through a virtual private network. By contrast, in both the US and the UK, only 5% of people use this type of network, while in Australia this figure is even lower – only 4%.
When it comes to users’ age and gender, most of them are male (62%) and younger than 34 (68%). Furthermore, the more often people access a VPN, the more likely they are to do it from a mobile device, while the drop in the access frequency goes in favor of desktop devices.
As you may have supposed, the top reasons for VPN usage are accessing restricted entertainment content (50% of users), accessing social networks or news services (34%), and keeping anonymity while browsing (31%).
Finally, almost all countries where VPNs are illegal to use are located in Asia, which is a further confirmation of the infamous internet censorship in this region.