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By - Darren Straight

Two-thirds of PC owners lose data but simply dont know how to protect it!

New research into the habits of 1,626 UK PC owners has revealed that a staggering two-thirds (65%) have lost precious data or files that were stored on their PC’s hard drive.

The research, conducted by Tickbox.net on behalf of online backup provider Carbonite (www.carbonite.co.uk), also found that despite this high rate of data loss experienced, almost a quarter (24%) of respondents never back up their PC data at all.  This is surprising given that almost seven out of ten (68%) stated that their data, which includes digital photographs, music, videos, personal files and work-related documents, is ‘extremely’ or ‘quite’ important to them.

So Why Don’t We Backup?

55% of respondents said they don’t backup because they don’t know how to do it.  Of those that don’t know how, 65% were from the younger age bracket of 16-24 year olds.  ‘Can’t be bothered’ (25%) and ‘too complicated’ (11%) were also reasons cited for not backing up.

63% said they were not aware of automatic online backup services, such as Carbonite; however, 56% of these respondents said that they would use one if it existed.  Only 8% currently use online backup services, showing there is significant growth potential for the future of backing up automatically over the Internet.

But If I Backup I’m Safe Right?…Wrong!

Of those who do back up, roughly 4 in 10 burn their files to CDs or DVDs.  External hard drives are the second most popular backup choice, with almost a third (28%) opting to use them. However, as 59% of respondents keep their backup disks and external hard drives in the same room as their PC, it is highly likely that should there be a fire or burglary their backups would be gone.  Just 5% keep their backup in a separate building. 

Frequency of backup is also a concern, with 37% backing up only once a month.  73% of respondents forget to back up, and the younger tech-savvy generation are the worst for this: 88% of 16-24 year olds have forgotten to back up compared to 69% of 35-44 year olds.  As home contents insurance doesn’t cover information stored on a hard drive, even if the PC itself is insured, a hard drive meltdown could result in consumers being out of pocket, both financially and personally.

Reasons for Data Loss

Of the 65% of respondents who suffered data loss, over half (55%) blamed a faulty hard drive or other hardware failure.  38% was attributed to human error in the form of accidental deletions.

Who’s Most at Risk of Losing Data?

The younger generation were found to be most at risk of losing data. Almost two-thirds (64%) of 16–24 year olds lost data due to hardware failures, compared to 53% of over 55’s, and 38% of 16–24 year olds lost data due to a virus compared to just 25% of over 55’s.

A marked increase in Internet take-up, higher broadband speeds and the presence of one or more PCs in most homes has resulted in people keeping increasingly valuable contents on their hard drives, comments Floyd Bradley, Executive Vice President of International at Carbonite.  The most surprising result from this survey is how many people do not back up at all.  Anyone with a PC should regularly back up their files, including costly music and digital photos.

The number of people who simply do not know how to back up is concerning.  It is often the unsophisticated computer users who are most at risk from data loss, as they are more likely to open an email containing a virus or click through to a site that downloads spyware, malicious programs or other malware.  Online backup services that require minimal input, are continually running in the background and are easy to use, represent the future for PC security and peace of mind.  Consumers need to ensure that data loss becomes a thing of the past, Bradley added.

3 thoughts on “Two-thirds of PC owners lose data but simply dont know how to protect it!

Jason Slater reviews my blog « Darren Straight’s Blog December 9, 2007 at 3:43 pm

[…] include his overview of Microsoft’s new Windows Live Online Services, link here and his article Two-thirds of PC owners lose data but simply dont know how to protect it! which gives a good outline of research conducted on behalf of Carbonite, an online backup vendor. I […]

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