Last Updated: January 28, 2023
VPNs are helpful for various reasons, such as browsing privacy and accessing geo-restricted content. VPNs have been quietly gaining popularity worldwide as online threats and security risks increase. VPNs get a bad name, but they are not just for internet pirates, so here are a few facts about VPN usage in the UK to set the record straight.
- 44% of UK internet users have used a VPN at some point.
- 41% of people in the UK and US used a VPN at least once a week.
- Approximately 39% of all VPN users are between the ages of 16 and 22.
- Men use VPN services more than women.
- 52% of VPN users reported using an iOS device.
VPN Usage Statistics
44% of UK internet users have used a VPN at some point
As you can see, VPNs are quite widespread in the UK. On top of that, approximately 23% of the UK population said that they understood the need for VPNs. This percentage is higher than in countries like the US, where only 19% said they knew why VPNs were used.
This shows that UK residents are more sophisticated regarding their internet activity and more concerned about their data privacy.
41% of people in the UK and US used a VPN at least once a week
36% said they used a VPN either every day or nearly every day and 13% said they used a VPN around once a month. Overall, this shows that VPN users in the UK and the US often use such services; they do not use VPNs just for a one-off activity but rather integrate them with their everyday internet usage.
Around 44% of UK residents reported using a VPN in a personal or work capacity
An astounding number of people in the UK use VPNs. The number has been increasing over the years. A major reason for this increase has been the introduction of the Investigatory Powers Act and the rise of internet censorship in the UK.
The number is even higher in the US, with 65% of those surveyed saying they have used a VPN at least once.
31% of the total number of internet users said that they had used a VPN at least once
As per this trend, using a VPN is fast entering the mainstream. A few decades ago, VPN usage was almost exclusively reserved for people trying to bypass censorship and for accessing illegal content, however, these days VPN is seen as a must-have for those simply browsing the internet as well.
VPN Usage Growth Trends
VPN usage is expected to grow worldwide at a CAGR of 15.3% between 2021 and 2026
The main reason for the global growth of VPN usage is corporations. Corporations are increasingly using VPNs to do business over the internet securely. Another big driver of VPN usage has been the coronavirus crisis which has caused remote working to become mainstream.
The value of the VPN industry, as a whole, is expected to reach $107.6 billion by 2027
In 2020, the total value of the industry stood at $35.4 billion. This shows the high rate at which the industry is growing. The industry’s value is expected to approximately triple in just half a decade. Some of the primary initiators of the industry’s growth include the need for greater privacy by internet users, increasing censorship around the world, and accessing content that is geo-restricted.
Demographics of VPN Users in the UK
Approximately 39% of all VPN users are between the ages of 16 and 22
VPN users are pretty young; most of them are below the age of 36 (around 75%). This shows that older generations are not fluent with the technology yet. Over the years, this may change as VPN usage grows to be more mainstream. What is more, only 16% of VPN users were found to be older than 55.
Men use VPN services more than women
Studies have shown that approximately 57% of all VPN users are male. In contrast, only 43% of VPN users are women.
In terms of income, 45% of overall VPN users were found to be in the mid-50 percentile
As shown by the above data, most VPN users are middle class, and the usage of VPN services decreases amongst the lower and upper classes. This may be because most internet users have also been found to be middle class.
Approximately 32% of VPN users were found to have postgraduate degrees
Education and VPN usage have been found to be positively correlated. Meaning that the more educated you are, the more likely it is that you use a VPN. Additionally, 28% of VPN users had a graduate-level degree from a university.
Reasons for VPN Usage
51% of VPN users in the UK and US used VPN services for improved privacy on public internet networks
The most common reason for using a VPN is to protect privacy or to protect against identity theft. VPNs have been found to be immensely successful when it comes to protecting your identity online (particularly paid VPN services). In addition, users were most afraid of their data being captured by the websites they visited.
As we already mentioned, many VPN users(51%) were looking to protect their data while accessing the internet through public internet connections. For example, while they were using the wi-fi from a cafe or a restaurant.
Approximately 22% of VPN users from the UK or the US said they used VPN to bypass geo-restrictions
For example, these users avoided geo-restrictions to access entertainment content that was only available in other countries. Unblocking restrictions imposed by services such as Netflix was found to be the most common reason for VPN usage.
Additionally, around 21% of VPN users said they used a VPN to avoid bandwidth throttling.
VPN Usage by Device
52% of VPN users reported using an iOS device
As you can see, the most common device used by VPN users is the iPhone. In contrast, 37% of VPN users said they used a VPN for an Android device.
The number of users who used a desktop and a VPN service was found to be astonishingly low. For example, only 6% of Windows users and just 3% of MacOS users said they used a VPN.
The most probable cause for this discrepancy is that smartphone users are more likely to be accessing the internet through a public network like at a restaurant. However, laptop and desktop users are much more likely to be using a private network while sitting at home.
Most Popular VPNs
The most commonly used VPNs by people worldwide are NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and Surfshark
The paid VPN industry is dominated by the three players listed above. Also, these VPN providers have been found to provide the best services when compared to other such providers.
The reason for the popularity of these services is that they can unblock a large variety of restrictions and also provide secure connections. Also, these VPN services do not affect the internet connection speed as much as other providers.
According to NordVPN, they are used by more than 12 million subscribers worldwide
As mentioned in the previous statistic, NordVPN is one of the most popular VPN providers around the globe. The high number of Nord users may be attributed to the highly user-friendly service and bypass tracking by double VPN encryption. In addition, users of Nord can use advanced features such as Malware blocking.
Impact of COVID-19
Around 20% of respondent organisations increased their VPN capacity by 76% during the pandemic
On the other hand, 26% of the respondents said they did not increase their VPN capacity. The main reason for increasing such capacity was employees working from their homes. Organisations wanted the internet connections of their employees to be secure and private while they worked from their homes.
Between 8th and 22nd March 2020, the amount of VPN usage in the UK increased by 18% during these two weeks
The increase in VPN usage during the COVID-19 pandemic could be due to various reasons. However, we can assume that one of the causes is accessing otherwise inaccessible news sources. In addition, people signed onto a VPN in order to access digital content that was either geo-restricted or censored.
VPNs are a life-saver in protecting privacy and security while operating online. They are used by companies and individuals who want to stay protected, adults and children who want to access geo-restricted entertainment content.
We hope that you have enjoyed these VPN usage statistics and have gained a fresh perspective on VPNs as a whole.