How much would you pay to recover your digital life?


Rhiannon Williams

July 30, 2014

Would you pay £10,000 to save lost photographs, songs and videos in the event of your devices being wiped, asks Rhiannon Williams

What’s the first feeling to come to mind if you found that upon logging into Facebook, all of your pictures had disappeared into the digital ether? If your natural reaction is one of horror, you’re far from alone.

A survey by Juniper has found that when asked, nearly half of 2,000 UK consumers said they’d be willing to stump up at least £50 to get their digital lives back if their devices were wiped clean. Around 40 of them admitted they’d be willing to pay £10,000 to rescue their personal digital assets from oblivion. On face value this seems ridiculous – handing over thousands of pounds to regain what is effectively strings of code and masses of pixels.

But given that much of our lives are now documented digitally, from shaky videos of a daughter’s first steps to photographs of your grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. It’s no exaggeration to say that for some, losing the photos, messages, music and videos accumulated over the years would be devastating.

Another recent survey found that predictably photos are the digital asset we store online the most, followed by personal emails and music. The sum total of UK consumers’ digital assets, ranging from photos to episodes of favourite TV shows, is £25 billion, according to research from PwC, yet a third of the 2,002 adults surveyed said they’d be left unable to replace these assets if they were lost.

It’s a sobering thought to realise we give relatively little thought to protecting increasingly sentimental information, given that many of us use the same passwords for multiple accounts and each week brings news of yet more malevolent cyberattacks on high-profile companies and governments.

A particularly nasty strain of hackers have created malware that infects an innocent internet user’s computer, threatening to wipe all data if you fail to pay a cash sum, usually within a tight timeframe. While many of the popups and emails demanding a ransom are fake and can simply be ignored, a small percentage do have the potential to wipe all of your data and steal your personal information.

The best way to protect your data from such attacks is to use a variety of passwords, which should be changed regularly, use a reputable antivirus protection programme and use services which encrypt your data. But all of the contingency data plans in the world can’t prepare you for spilling a can of Coke on your keyboard, or having your iPad stolen from your gym locker.

Only a third of those questioned by PwC said they used external hard drives to back up their information, and 29 per cent regularly used cloud services. The figures are surprisingly low, given the potential for file corruption or the ease with which an entire hard drive with years worth of data can be wiped, lost or broken.

Perhaps the answer, somewhere between forking out thousands and merely tolerating with the fact you’ll never be able to see a precious selection of photos again, is to either do things the old fashioned way and make physical copies, or to merely back them up religiously across both cloud-based and physical storage systems. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but I remain unconvinced it’s worth a thousand pounds.

Great ! Thanks for your subscription !

You will soon receive the first Content Loop Newsletter