How do our readers use a VPN, what sites do they visit with it, what are the criteria for choosing a VPN provider, and what are the fears of those who would like to, but do not use a VPN? Research Department “Paper” together with “7×7” asked you to tell us about it.
Readers of the Eyewitnesses, Novosti Kupchino and Kedr publications, whose resources are not blocked in Russia, also answered the questions.
Read about the user experience we summarized.
The online survey was conducted from September 19 to October 9, 2022, and 589 people took part in it.
It’s interesting that half of the respondents (47%) used a VPN and before February 24 2022 – that is, before the blocking in Russia of Facebook, Instagram, the Papers and 7 × 7 websites (as well as Meduza, the Dozhd TV channel and other independent media).
Prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Internet was also censored: Roskomnadzor blocked the websites of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, Smart Voting, OVD-Info, Open Media, Human Rights Postcards, LinkedIn and others.
Most users need a VPN for social media. In second place in terms of popularity are websites of independent media. And only a small part visit Russian sites that are not available abroad using VPN.
Some readers use VPNs to use tools for work, services and applications whose copyright holders have blocked access to them from Russia.
Here are the most popular resources for which readers need a proxy server:
Many also write that Using a VPN to fight internet slowdowns – for example, with a proxy server, according to them, Google services load faster and YouTube works better.
Another strength of a VPN, according to readers, is the ability to anonymize your search queriesprotect them from the “Comrade Major”.
Over 60% of readers use a free VPN. Every tenth user pays no more than 100 rubles per month for this service, a quarter of users spend more on VPN.
The top three among specific providers looks like this:
- Psiphon Pro – 99 users;
- Proton – 56 users;
- PaperVPN – 53 users.
Another 23 people said they use their own VPN service. Among the advantages of a particular service, they most often called reliability and ease of use.
In the general audience of Papers, 7×7 (whose sites are blocked), Eyewitnesses, Novosti Kupchino and Kedr, only a small part, approximately 4% of those who answered the survey, do not use VPN. Of these, some are hindered by technical difficulties, while others, in principle, do not need access to blocked resources.
We also asked readers to tell us what concerns about VPNs were expressed by their acquaintances. The main biases are related to the leakage of user data – the risk that providers will sell them to advertising agencies or open them to the security forces.
Someone is embarrassed that VPN in Russia may be illegal. There is also a perception that a VPN service drains the battery of the phone or slows it down.