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Widespread personal backup complacency

Symantec : 28 May, 2009  (Technical Article)
Home computer users are continuing to pay scant regard to the importance of making regular backups of their personal and valuable files according to Symantec survey
Our PCs are now 'life storage' facilities and 'emotional hubs' with personal correspondence, photos, CVs, music, academic documents and multimedia files all stored electronically. Yet despite experiencing anger, irritation and upset at the loss of this emotionally valuable data, according to the latest survey from Symantec, only a third of us (34%) back up our content on a regular basis and just 22 per cent back up all their content. In fact, UK consumers are more likely to check the oil and water in their car regularly than back up valuable data on their PCs.

Examining the data storage habits of 1,000 people in the UK, the survey showed that two in five Brits (38%) admit to having lost files and, when asked to put a value on the total cumulative replacement cost of all files stored on their PC, the UK average was a worrying £1,258 per person: that's enough to buy a one-way ticket to Sydney with plenty of spending money.

UK PC users ranked video content files as the most expensive to replace, at an average of £158 to replace free downloaded TV content, £105 to replace home videos and £101 to replace paid-for, downloaded film content. Also in the top five were the irreplaceable documents relating to important household information (£85) and downloaded music (£80).

But the financial costs are just one part of losing data. Symantec's survey also confirmed a strong emotional connection to the huge range of personally significant files stored on PCs. Losing photos, personal information, financial information and work or academic documents has the most emotional impact. Topping the list of potential distress are photos, with more than eight in 10 (82%) agreeing they would be upset at losing these irreplaceable memories. Worryingly, these are the most likely type of file to be lost: among those who had experienced a data loss (45% of those surveyed) almost half (48%) had seen their photographs vanish.

Con Mallon, director of product marketing at Norton said: "Our relationship with our computers has changed in recent years. We now use them as the storage vault for priceless, unique files with huge emotional value, replacing the treasured photo albums, or the stacks of love-letters tied with ribbon. This is why I am concerned at people's complacency: only 22 per cent of people surveyed backup all of their files."

The research also revealed that the majority of these treasured memories and crucial documents are being backed up using inherently risky methods. 58 per cent of those who had lost data had done so due to a hardware failure - yet the majority of people use hardware (CDs, DVDs, USB sticks or hard drives) to store data!

Backing up to disk or other removable media and then restoring it later in the event of a hardware crash or computer virus can be tricky and involve a great deal of time and frustration. In fact, more than half (52%) of those surveyed found restoring their files difficult, and two thirds of people (66%) who had lost files were sadly not able to recover them.

Con continued, "People don't take the risk with the contents of their houses, they insure their physical possessions, so why should it be any different for computer content? Backing up is a big issue for our customers and because of that we have just launched Norton Online Backup. The software makes it simple for people around the world to backup their digital photographs, critical financial documents, music collections and archived e-mail."

Norton Online Backup allows up to five household computers to be safely backed up, managed and restored through a single, central, remotely-accessible account. Once a small desktop agent is downloaded and manages a backup of the PC, a Web browser is all that is required to restore or download previously backed up files from anywhere. The secure and easy to use Web interface simplifies backup management, allowing customers to manage, access and restore all of their backed up files from any supported Internet browser anytime, anywhere.
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