VPN-related media coverage grew by 43% in 2021

Data extracted and compiled by Atlas VPN reveals that the average number of VPN-related pages published monthly grew by 43% in 2021 YTD compared to 2020.

The wave of data breaches, consumer privacy issues, and increased internet usage due to the pandemic are some of the main factors that sparked interest in VPNs.

The research team at Atlas VPN extracted and analyzed data from the Ahrefs platform. The data depicts how many monthly pages were published on the internet that contained the keyword “VPN” in the story.

The data reveals that the popularity of VPN-related media coverage was increasing steadily since 2017. However, in the last two years, the popularity exploded.

Throughout 2021 so far, the total number of unique pages published stands at 5.71 million. Yet, in 2020, the total reached 4.35 million. Even though 2021 still has another month to go, it has already hit a record number of VPN-related stories ever.

This year, the volume of pages published hit its peak in July, with 866 thousand sites in a month. Although historically, the record was set in October 2020, where Ahrefs counted 935.4 thousand monthly stories.

Going back in time even further, we see that the increase in VPN-related stories had a huge growth from 2019 to 2020.

In 2019, the volume of VPN-related pages published per month hovered at around 106 thousand. By the end of 2020, the number increased to 362 thousand pages monthly, representing an increase of 241%.

Comparatively speaking, in 2017 (23 thousand monthly stories) and 2018 (47 thousand monthly stories), media paid only a fraction of their attention to the VPN industry.

Back then, even avid internet users rarely turned to VPNs to secure their online connection.

Why are VPNs exploding in popularity?

So what are the reasons behind the surge in VPN coverage? It’s like anywhere else – supply and demand. The reality is that media outlets are responding to the interests of their readers.

Privacy and security issues on the internet have skyrocketed in the past couple of years. Naturally, concerned internauts are looking for ways to protect themselves online.

Thanks to Virtual Private Network (VPN) services, users can hide their real IP address and encrypt their browsing traffic. As a result, nosy third parties like hackers, ISPs (Internet Service Providers), and even the government are unable to track the individuals’ online activities.

VPN users can also alter their IP addresses in order to access geo-restricted streaming services.

Moreover, individuals turn to VPNs when governments ban essential applications. Commonly, authorities ban VoIP services (Voice over Internet Protocol), like WhatsApp, Telegram, Skype, and others.

Governments in Arabic countries tend to restrict content that goes against the moral values of Islam. Most of the pornographic and gambling-related websites are unavailable in the Middle East.

Finally, it is worth noting that authorities often censor messages that critique the government in the Middle East.

Our VPN Adoption Index reveals that Arabic countries stand at the top of the list when it comes to VPN adoption. The VPN penetration rate was calculated by summing up VPN downloads by country and dividing them by the country’s population.


The research showed that 2021 is a record year for VPN downloads globally. In 2020, people downloaded VPN applications over 277 million times. In H1 2021 alone, the number reached 616 million, a jump of 122%. It’s important to note that we are comparing the first half of 2021 to the whole year of 2020.

Even so, it’s already clear that 2021 will be marked as a year when VPN popularity exploded globally.  Be it media coverage or actual download numbers – interest in VPNs is increasing to never-seen-before heights. The data shows that this growth is not likely to stop anytime soon.

Will there come a time when having a VPN application on all of your devices becomes the norm? If the pattern continues – it’s not a stretch to expect it within the next couple of years.

Readers interested in trying out Atlas VPN on Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS can download it here.

Written by Edward G, Atlas VPN.