VPN Usage Explodes: Must-Know VPN Statistics for 2024

Updated on December 16, 2023
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Written by
Andrea Mercado
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Layla Varela
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Fact-checked by
David Mercado
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VPN statistics

Have you ever wondered how some people access restricted websites or keep their online activities private? Well, by routing traffic through encrypted tunnels to private servers, VPNs allow anonymous browsing plus access to blocked content. 

Whether you're at a coffee shop or want more online privacy, a VPN can offer significant benefits. But how exactly are VPNs impacting privacy, travel, and work in 2023? Stay for 10 key VPN statistics that capture their use heading into 2024. 

VPN Market Statistics

Virtual private network (VPN) usage surged globally in 2023, moving beyond niche status. 

With a 30% market growth forecast in North America, this trend extends globally, with over a third of the world's internet users relying on VPNs, indicating a shift toward routine integration into digital lifestyles.

Explore the primary growth factors like cost and use cases, and discover more facts detailing the current state of the global VPN market in 2023.

1. The VPN market is projected to hit $77 billion by 2026

Virtual private networks already represent big business, with the current market valued at around $44.6 billion by some estimates. But growth is rapidly accelerating. Projections suggest the market could soar to over $77 billion by 2026.

This substantial market growth responds to the widespread adoption of VPN solutions across various industries. Businesses, especially in the IT sector, increasingly recognize the speed and benefits of VPNs.

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2. Global VPN downloads reached 130 million in H1 of 2023

Virtual private networks keep growing in worldwide installations. Analysis of 85 countries found global VPN downloads hit 130 million in just the first six months of 2023.

Singapore leads adoption, with over 19% of residents using a VPN this year. The UAE and Qatar also rank nearly 17% and 15% respectively. But holdouts remain, with Japan below 0.5% and many Latin American nations struggling with limited VPN penetration.

3. Paid VPNs cost average $2-$15 monthly

Signing up for a virtual private network often involves balancing features, trust, and pricing through subscriptions. Costs vary substantially based on commitment length.

Yearly and multi-year bargains are around $2-$10 per month. However, the volatility of VPN providers means experts caution against plans over two years. Paying monthly raises costs to a typical range of $10-$15 without longer-term savings.

Ultimately, more expensive VPNs don't necessarily provide better security or speeds. Assessing needs and carefully researching companies offers the best chance of finding an affordable and reliable option that fits within budget constraints.

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VPN Usage Statistics

VPNs now serve both personal and professional needs of many users. Surveys find that 44% leverage VPNs for private browsing, while 56% combine personal and business use.

But how do VPN usage trends break down globally, across devices and demographics in 2023?

4. 41% of users browse with their VPN weekly

Virtual private networks now see frequent, regular use rather than occasional privacy measures. 

In a recent survey by The Independent, over a third of VPN users connect daily, while 41% tap into encrypted browsing at least weekly.

The top reason remains personal activities, cited by almost 44%. But a combined 56% also use VPNs for business and work purposes. This split highlights the technology's dual utility for secure access and tunneling into company resources.

5. 45-60 year olds are most likely VPN users

Despite the assumption that VPN users skew young and tech-savvy, recent data from Security.org reveals that 45-60-year-olds are the top demographic at 28%.

Global Web Index adds another layer to the demographic picture, indicating that 32% of VPN users have postgraduate degrees, while 28% hold university degrees.

The data establishes a positive correlation between education level and VPN usage, highlighting that individuals with higher education are more likely to incorporate VPNs into their browsing.

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6. 22% of people use VPNs to access geo-restricted entertainment content

Global Web Index found that 22% of VPN users cite 'accessing better entertainment content' as a primary reason for using a VPN, reflecting the growing trend of seeking out-of-market content. 

When you travel, your ability to access familiar content may be restricted. A VPN addresses this by enabling you to use an IP address from your home country, regardless of location, using an extensive network of servers worldwide.

Statista echoes that approximately 26% of VPN users are motivated by streaming content not available in their region.

7. 72% use VPNs on computers, while 69% on mobile devices

Virtual private network usage remains highest on traditional computing platforms like desktops and laptops. 

A recent Forbes survey found that 72% of these users run VPN software for encrypted browsing sessions. This likely reflects remote work needs and sensitivity to accessing personal data on shared networks.

But mobile is just a little behind at 69% of VPN adoption. Smartphones and tablets connect to many public Wi-Fi networks with high risk, explaining heavy VPN protections. 

As workforces stay dispersed outside offices and employees judiciously secure mobile activities, these trends should persist through 2024.

VPN Performance and Security Statistics

While VPNs effectively add an extra layer of defense by changing your IP address, it's important to note their limitations. 

Connecting to a VPN won't suffice if a website lacks HTTPS encryption, exposing your information. Additionally, changing your IP address has nuances, as technologies like WebRTC can potentially reveal your actual IP even with a VPN.

In 2023, the security currently offered by VPNs generally depends to a greater extent on whether the VPN is free. Here are some recent facts on the actual performance of the most basic VPNs:

8. The fastest VPNs reduce speeds by about 10%

Virtual private networks (VPNs) can slow your internet speed as a tradeoff for added security. This happens because of the encryption and rerouting processes involved. Unless your internet provider deliberately slows down your connection, a VPN will naturally introduce some delay.

According to a report from CNET, the fastest VPNs typically only decrease speeds by around 10%, which is hardly noticeable for users with good internet connections. However, cheaper VPNs can cut your bandwidth in half or more, significantly affecting your online activities. 

For activities like gaming and streaming, which require a network speed of 25Mbps, starting with rates under 50Mbps leaves little room for slowdowns before the quality suffers.

In summary, checking your internet speeds without a VPN is essential to understand the potential impact. Users with high-speed base connections may notice little difference, but those with weaker networks might struggle with the added overhead of a VPN.

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9. 99.98% of VPN users are potentially traceable 

VPNs promise anonymous browsing by concealing identities. However, research shows nearly all users can be re-identified from supposedly anonymous records.

One study mentioned by CNET found that 99.98% of people were traceable in any anonymized data set using just 15 points. That device ID or a few seemingly harmless interactions might be all it takes to connect the dots and expose your online persona. 

As we delve deeper into the complexities of VPNs, it's crucial to understand the fine line between privacy claims and the potential risks of data exposure. 

10. 85% of top free VPNs still share data despite privacy policies

VPNs promise privacy, but free options raise red flags around data harvesting. 

Even with Apple's App Tracking Transparency policies, recent research found that 85% of top free VPNs in the Apple Store share user data with advertisers.

Despite lacking access to advertising IDs after tracking opt-outs, these free apps still provide info like IP addresses and device details to monetize usage. 

Summary: VPN Statistics 

1. The VPN market is projected to hit $77 billion by 2026

2. Global VPN downloads reached 130 million in H1 of 2023

3. Paid VPNs cost average $2-$15 monthly

4. 41% of users browse with their VPN weekly

5. 45-60 year olds are most likely VPN users

6. 22% of people use VPNs to access geo-restricted entertainment content

7. 72% use VPNs on computers, while 69% on mobile devices

8. The fastest VPNs reduce speeds by about 10%

9. 99.98% of VPN users are potentially traceable

10. 85% of top free VPNs still share data despite privacy policies

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Photo by Dan Nelson on Unsplash

FAQ

What is the first step to using a VPN?

Sign up with one of the many VPN providers available to create a username and password granting access to the network with a VPN.

Remember, some VPN services are free, but most require a monthly fee for a membership.

What should I consider when choosing a VPN provider?

When selecting a VPN provider, consider your specific needs, the provider's no-log policy, kill switches, split tunneling features, the number of servers, and simultaneous connections it offers.

What is a verified no-log policy?

A verified no-log policy ensures that the VPN provider doesn't keep logs of your internet activity, providing enhanced privacy. 

Look for VPNs with independently verified no-log systems.

Final Thoughts:

In 2023, VPNs have become integral for many Internet users. Huge sectors now rely on encrypted connections for secure remote work and globe-hopping content unblocking. 

But as adoption exploded, cracks emerged in VPNs. In some cases, free services faced scrutiny for shady tracking and data sharing that counter user intentions, and recent tests found targets were still vulnerable despite IP masking. 

So, while VPNs provide important in-depth defense, exercising sound privacy practices remains essential. Using secured browsers, toggling permissions, enabling multi-factor authentication, and other methods protect user's data when VPN tunnels fall short. 

Sources:

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Andrea Mercado is a tech-focused journalist and copywriter with over 5 years of experience covering innovation, edtech, AI, and internet trends across media outlets. She is passionate about how technology can democratize access to education and is an avid learner when it comes to emerging tech like AI. Her articles and webinars help readers stay informed on the latest tech developments.
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