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How Many People Use a VPN? (Usage Statistics For 2022)

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When they were first invented in the late 1990s, VPNs (virtual private networks) were the sort of niche tool that only some businesses (and your nerdy, computer geek friend) might have known about. However, that all began to change in the mid-2010s when the popularity of VPNs began to take off. Here are all the latest VPN usage statistics for 2022

Today, the number of people using VPNs around the world is skyrocketing, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down.

For obvious reasons, the number of people using a VPN was easier to measure when the field was dominated by only a small handful of companies. 

However, thanks to its expanding popularity, there are now tons of different VPN providers, making it much more difficult to say exactly how many people around the world are using a VPN in 2022.

But that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to estimate. First, let’s take a look at what we know about VPNs, who uses them, and for what purposes.

Summary: How many people use a VPN?

VPN use has been increasing rapidly around the globe, although this increase is more drastic in some countries and regions than others. 

Thanks to the diversity and sheer size of the VPN provider market, it’s difficult to get an exact number of how many people use a VPN globally. However, it’s estimated that out of the 5 billion internet users in the world, about 1.2 billion of them are using a VPN as of 2022.

2022 Trends in VPN Usage

The data doesn’t lie: it’s clear that VPNs have gone from being a tool used by only a small niche of computer geeks and businesses to a standard, widely-used solution to a whole range of problems.

In 2020, users from 85 countries downloaded a VPN product over 277 million times. By 2021 – only one year later – that number had risen to a whopping 785 million downloads.

Source: Atlas VPN ^

And the upward trend shows no sign of stopping. The market for VPNs can be divided into two general categories: consumer VPNs used by individuals and business VPNs used by companies.

Currently, the VPN market of consumer and business VPNs combined is estimated to be worth at least $43 billion worldwide.

Source: Surfshark ^

And this growth trend is likely to accelerate rapidly. Unless something unforeseen happens, it’s estimated that the total value of both the consumer and business VPN markets combined will be an astounding $92.6 billion by 2027.

While a lot of this profit is accounted for by the business VPN market, the market for consumer VPNs alone is estimated to be valued at $834 million as soon as 2024.

Source: Grand View Research ^

In other words, to say that the VPN market is a growth industry would be an understatement. It’s an exploding industry, and it’s not surprising that so many new VPN providers have flooded the market looking to get their share of the action.

Who Is Using a VPN?

US vpn usage statistics 2022

North America accounts for the largest share of the total global VPN market, with 35% as of 2021.

Source: Statista ^

Considering that 41% of VPN users in the U.S and the U.K reported that they use a VPN at least once a week, it’s safe to say that VPN usage has become integrated into general internet usage for many people.

However, growth rates in the U.S and Europe have largely evened off (after a spike in 2020 caused by the Covid-19 pandemic), and it’s becoming increasingly clear that the future of growth in the VPN market is shifting towards the east.

One way to measure the growth in popularity of VPNs is a metric known as adoption rate, a percentage that reflects how many individual VPN downloads occurred in a country in a given year adjusted for population size.

In 2021, the country with the highest adoption rate was Qatar, with a surprising 69.69% increase in adoption. A close second was the United Arab Emirates, which had a 59.52% rate of adoption in 2021.

Source: Statista ^

Third place goes to Singapore, with a 49.14% adoption rate in 2021.

Interestingly, 7 out of the top 10 countries with the highest adoption rates in 2021 were Middle Eastern countries, a trend that seems poised to continue in 2022.

On the other hand, the three countries with the lowest adoption rate are South Africa (3.96%), Japan (1.56%), and Madagascar (0.79%).

If we look purely at the numbers (not adjusted for population size), then the countries with the highest number of VPN users as of 2021 are India (45 million users) and Indonesia (42 million users).

Source: Atlas VPN ^

biggest vpn markets stats 2022

The top 3 biggest markets for VPNs as of 2022 are India, Indonesia, and China, which likely has to do with the large population size of all three of these countries combined with political factors such as government censorship. 

Source: Surfshark ^

But who exactly are these individual users? Can we get a bit more specific?

Across all countries, Global Web Index found that the majority of VPN users are young (between the ages of 16 and 24), in the mid-50% of household income, and usually male (62%, with female users accounting for only 38%).

Source: Global Web Index ^

Why Are People Using VPNs?

VPNs have a wide range of uses and functions, and so it stands to reason that people use them for a variety of reasons. Additionally, the reasons are likely to change depending on the political circumstances of the country that which a particular user resides in.

49% of active American VPN users chose “security” as their primary reason for using a VPN, followed closely by “privacy” (40%) and “to use public WiFi” (31%). 

Source: Security.org ^

The remaining 30% reported that they were required to use a VPN by their employer.

It’s clear that for North American users (including Canada), the primary reason they chose to use a VPN was related to protecting their privacy or the security of their devices while browsing.

vpn usage around the world 2022

Outside of the U.S, however, the statistics look a bit different. 

The majority of VPN users outside of the U.S (as high as 50%) reported that gaining access to entertainment such as streaming services and other video content was their primary reason for using a VPN.

34% reported that they use a VPN to access social media and/or news content that is blocked in their country, and 30% said that they use it to protect their identity and stay anonymous when browsing online.

Source: Global Web Index ^

The other reasons people listed included accessing sites and files at work (30%), torrenting and downloading other restricted files (27%), communicating with friends and family abroad (25%), hiding their internet activity from the government (18%), and accessing a tor browser (17%).

In countries where the news and social media outlets are often blocked, censored, or monitored, using a VPN is an easy and popular way to get around government restrictions while keeping your identity anonymous.

How Many People Are Using VPNs in 2022?

In short, a lot of people are using VPNs.

The popular VPN provider Surfshark estimates that there are about 1.2 billion people using a VPN in 2022.

To give you an idea of just how huge that number is, think about it this way: there are around 8 billion people on earth. Of those 8 billion, just over 5 billion are internet users. 

If 1.2 billion people are using a VPN, that means that around ⅓ (or 33%) of all internet users are using a VPN.

Source: Surfshark ^

However, this estimate is likely slightly less than the real number of VPN users, as the statistic only includes users in countries with a market penetration (a measurement of how much or how often a service is being used relative to its estimated market) of 10% or greater.

What about in the U.S specifically?

According to security.org, two-thirds of all Americans reported that they have used a VPN at some point in the past. 

Source: Security.org ^

That means that (theoretically) around 142 million Americans are familiar with the technology, although the current number of active VPN users is much lower – around 38 million Americans.

Summary – 2022 VPN Usage Statistics

All of these VPN usage statistics paint a clear picture: the VPN market is booming and shows no sign of slowing down. Although the United States still accounts for the largest market share, the fastest rate of adoption is being seen in Middle Eastern countries.

People all around the world use VPNs for a variety of reasons, from accessing entertainment and bypassing pesky government censorship and geo-blocking to protecting their privacy and anonymity online.

Although VPNs were once primarily used by businesses, the individual consumer demand is growing even faster. And as this demand continues to increase, so does the number of VPN providers.

If you’re in the market for a VPN, it’s important to consider your options carefully and choose a secure, trusted VPN provider.

References

  1. https://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/17/vpn-for-the-masses/?searchResultPosition=1
  2. https://atlasvpn.com/vpn-adoption-index
  3. https://surfshark.com/blog/vpn-users
  4. https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/virtual-private-network-market
  5. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1219770/virtual-private-network-use-frequency-us-uk/
  6. https://insight.gwi.com/hubfs/VPN-Usage-Around-the-World-Infographic.pdf
  7. https://www.security.org/resources/vpn-consumer-report-annual/

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