Avoid the Heartache - Just Call for Back-Up; ONLINE DATA STORAGE SERVICES STOP THE LOSS OF VALUABLE FILES IF A COMPUTER FAILS

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), June 28, 2009 | Go to article overview

Avoid the Heartache - Just Call for Back-Up; ONLINE DATA STORAGE SERVICES STOP THE LOSS OF VALUABLE FILES IF A COMPUTER FAILS


Byline: JO THORNHILL

ALMOST 40 per cent of home PC and laptop users have lost downloaded files as a result of viruses, technical failures or the loss or theft of their computer. Only about one third of those affected ever retrieve their data. With home computers increasingly becoming a 'life-storage' facility, holding family photographs, music and TV downloads, as well as CVs and financial spreadsheets, the financial and emotional cost of losing the files can be huge.

The cost of files that are stored on the typical PC exceeds [pounds sterling]1,200, with an average value of [pounds sterling]101 for paid-for downloaded film content and [pounds sterling]80 for music downloads.

Yet despite the risks, recent research by Symantec, which owns the Norton range of computer security software, shows that just 34 per cent of PC users back up their files regularly and only 22 per cent bother to back up all of their content.

Con Mallon, director of product marketing at Norton, says the complacency of consumers is worrying at a time when broadband usage is expanding and more people are downloading expensive music and multimedia files.

'Our relationship with the personal computer has changed in recent years, with many now used as a storage vault for priceless, unique files with huge emotional value,' says Mallon. 'People wouldn't take the same risks with the contents of their houses. Valuable computer content should not be overlooked.'

There are different ways to back up your digital life, including hardware, such as copying files on to CD, DVD or memory sticks. But Mallon says backing up data to other removable media and then restoring it later in the event of a hardware crash or computer virus can be difficult.

'Restoring files from disks is often timeconsuming and frustrating,' says Mallon. 'Our research shows that half of people find restoring files difficult.'

PC and laptop users who want to go the extra mile and back up their data securely should consider specialist backup software. This will back up all files within a secure online account.

It typically costs about [pounds sterling]30 to [pounds sterling]40 a year to store up to 25 gigabytes of online files. If the worst happens and files are lost, all that is required to restore or download previously backed-up files is a web browser.

It is a good idea to make sure all your files are organised and stored in one easy to find place before you start the back-up.

According to independent research by consumer group Which? the best packages are on offer from Carbonite at [pounds sterling]27.99 a year and Norton, from [pounds sterling]40 a year. Apple offers its free Time Machine backup software automatically to Mac users.

Andy Woodward, senior researcher at Which? Computing, says: 'What level of back-up you require will depend on your circumstances and what files you have. For some PC users, backing up files to disk or memory sticks will suffice. …

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