Brits stash £24bn of digital assets in the cloud

Brits are storing about £24bn of photos, music and videos in the cloud, as well as sensitive data such as passwords, study shows

Britons may be storing treasured memories worth about £24bn in the form of photos, music tracks and video files in cloud computing platforms, along with sensitive data such as passwords, research has shown.

Some 68% of respondents to the Generation Cloud 2012 study stored an average of 920 photos, 226 music tracks and 45 video files in the cloud. The research was conducted by OnePoll on behalf of open cloud provider Rackspace.

The study of more than 2,000 UK adults showed that, on average, people spend three hours each day using cloud services – an increase of 45 minutes per day from 2011.

Any application or platform that provides computing power as a service is considered a cloud computing service. Email services such as Gmail and social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are all cloud-based services as they allow users to upload, store and access personal files on the provider’s servers using an internet connection.

While only 12% of respondents said they “totally trusted” their cloud provider and more than half cited security (57%) and privacy (54%) as their biggest concerns around cloud computing, more than half (55%) admitted to storing passwords in the cloud.

Nearly 40% also kept other important financial or legal documents such as credit card numbers, bank statements and copies of their will in the cloud, according to the study.

Don't rely on the legislation tortoise to protect your data as the state will never be able to catch up with the innovation hare

Sarah Needham, Taylor Wessing

“There is no doubt that cloud computing is the key trend for the tech sector and for us as consumers over the short and long term,” said Sarah Needham, senior associate at international law firm Taylor Wessing. "Consumers must rethink their approach to the data they put in the cloud and how they can ensure the content is protected as they wish.”

The study showed that few users are planning ahead with regards to what happens to their personal assets when they die. Some 68% said they have not considered what will happen to their digital assets when they are gone. This means that billions of pounds of digital assets could potentially be lost forever, the study claimed. 

“The key message is still to check site terms and conditions match what you expect will be done with your data, and consider including passwords in your will for your executors to manage your data after you have gone. Don't rely on the legislation tortoise to protect your data as the state will never be able to catch up with the innovation hare,” said Needham.

UK businesses exercise cloud caution

But UK users’ confidence in the cloud is a stark contrast to the approach of UK enterprises to cloud computing.

A study by Vanson Bourne showed that UK businesses are cautious about adopting cloud computing, with only 14% using the cloud to automate their business, 24% for capacity management, and 35% to store private data. This compared with nearly twice as many US businesses using the cloud for those purposes.

“American organisations seem to be worlds ahead in their knowledge, usage and confidence in the cloud,” said Tijl Vuyk, chief executive at Redwood Software, the company that commissioned the survey.

The Generation Cloud study concluded that Britons’ digital assets in the cloud amounted to £24bn on the basis that the average value of digital assets the respondents stored electronically was £508 and the UK adult population totalled 48.2 million in 2009.

Image: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

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