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VPN Users: How Many People Use VPNs in 2023?

Hey there! Wondering how many people actually use VPN services in this day and age? You‘ve come to the right place. As an experienced cybersecurity professional and streaming enthusiast, I‘ve got the latest data and insights into VPN usage and trends for 2023. Let‘s take a deep dive!

VPN Adoption Hits 31% Globally

First, the big picture. According to data published in 2022 by Surfshark, 31% of internet users around the world now use a VPN. That‘s up 6 percentage points from just a year earlier in 2021.

This lines up with estimates from other firms like GlobalWebIndex, which pegged VPN usage at 28% globally in 2022. The growth is likely being driven by remote work and rising privacy concerns.

However, at 31% penetration there‘s still room for wider adoption. Once niche tools, VPNs are firmly going mainstream – but the majority of internet users have yet to make the leap.

VPN Usage Stats By Region

VPN usage varies widely across different regions worldwide.

The Middle East and Africa has the highest usage at 37% according to Surfshark‘s study. This region includes the UAE which has a world-leading 43% VPN adoption rate.

Europe follows closely with 36% of internet users having a VPN. Mature digital markets like the UK and Nordic countries show strong demand.

In Asia Pacific and the Americas, usage sits at 32% and 30% respectively. India is a standout in Asia, while the US leads for sheer volume in the Americas.

Bringing up the rear are Central and South America at 28% and Central Asia at just 19% adoption. But all regions are seeing double digit growth in VPN use.

RegionVPN AdoptionGrowth
Middle East & Africa37%+12 pp
Europe36%+9 pp
Asia Pacific32%+7 pp
Americas30%+6 pp
Central & South America28%+5 pp
Central Asia19%+3 pp

Who Is Using VPNs Most?

Now let‘s look at VPN usage broken down by demographic factors like age, gender and use case.

Over 60% of VPN users are male globally, per data from GlobalWebIndex and other sources. Tech-savvy middle aged men are the driving force.

By age, the 45-60 bracket has the highest usage rates. They likely have more disposable income and value privacy. Millennials and Gen Z have plenty of room to catch up.

In terms of use cases, around 75% of consumers say they use VPNs for personal reasons. Only 25% use them for work purposes.

Top personal uses are accessing geo-blocked content like Netflix libraries (46%), enhancing privacy (47%), and torrenting or file sharing (16%).

Daily Usage High in Mature Markets

How frequently are VPNs being used? In the United States and United Kingdom, 36% of consumers say they use a VPN daily.

This reveals mature digital markets are not only adopting VPNs widely, but integrating them deeply into daily internet routines.

The high daily usage demonstrates that VPNs are progressing beyond niche status. They‘re becoming must-have privacy tools, not just occasional utilities.

VPNs Dominate on Desktop and Mobile

VPN usage is consistently high across devices and platforms.

On desktop and laptops, 72% of users report having a VPN according to Statista. The usage is nearly as high on mobile at 69% of device owners.

Breaking it down further, VPN adoption is noticeably higher on iPhones compared to Android phones. 52% of iOS users have a VPN versus just 37% on Android.

The reasons likely include tighter security controls on iOS, VPN marketing in the App Store, and technical hurdles to setting up VPNs on Android.

In any case, it‘s positive to see majorities using VPN protection across all platforms – especially on mobiles connecting to public WiFi.

47% Opt For Free VPN Services

When it comes to the choice between free or paid services, the data shows cost is a key factor for many VPN users.

Per GlobalWebIndex, a substantial 47% of VPN users opt for a free provider. However, free VPNs often have privacy risks or technical limitations.

Of those using paid services, 26% purchase a personal VPN themselves while 24% use a VPN supplied by their employer.

Offering a VPN as a work perk could be valuable for companies, especially in fields like finance or technology.

Type of VPNGlobal Usage
Personal paid26%
Employer-provided paid24%

Why Are VPNs Restricted in Some Countries?

VPN adoption is surging almost everywhere – except in authoritarian states like China, Russia and Iran. These countries actively restrict or even ban VPN access.

The reason? VPNs threaten their control over information by allowing citizens to bypass state censorship and surveillance.

VPNs are completely illegal in North Korea, Belarus, Turkmenistan and Iraq. Meanwhile Russia, China, Turkey and Egypt have introduced constraints like user logs or blocking unsanctioned VPNs.

It‘s a clear human rights issue – and reveals VPNs are geopolitically disruptive technologies when used to counter authoritarian regimes.

VPN Providers Still Lag in Server Coverage

As VPN adoption grows globally, providers face pressure to expand their server footprints.

Unfortunately, surveys show only 27% of companies currently operate VPN servers on every continent. Large coverage gaps impact speeds and reliability.

Choosing a provider with worldwide servers helps unlock content anywhere and maintain performance. This should be an urgent focus area as competition intensifies.

The Bottom Line

VPN usage has hit 31% globally today, and continues growing at a rapid clip. Adoption is highest across Europe, the Middle East and among middle aged men.

Mature markets like the US and UK show strong everyday VPN usage. But free services remain popular, limiting privacy.

Authoritarian states recognize the threat VPNs pose to censorship, and are cracking down. Meanwhile, VPN companies need to expand server coverage to enable true global access.

The next few years will be pivotal in determining whether VPNs cement their place as essential online privacy tools, or remain niche products. All signs point to an embrace of VPNs across both developing and mature digital markets worldwide.

How about you – are you already using a VPN, or considering joining the trend? Let me know if you have any other questions!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.