Digital Data Loss a Major Personal Risk, Concern: Carbonite Report

Sixty-two percent said they would pay to get back their lost data if their computer crashed.

Although 51 percent of Americans have experienced a computer crash where they lost all of their digital files, more than one-third (39 percent) admit they have never backed up their computers, or haven't done so in more than a year, according to the results of a survey released by Wakefield Research and online backup solutions provider Carbonite.

The general lack of preparedness was "surprising" in light of the fact that 40 percent of Americans feel like they would never be able to recover, recreate or repurchase all of their documents and files if their personal computer crashed.

The study also revealed that Americans are surprisingly trusting of their computer hard drives, particularly taking into account that over half have lost all of their personal files in a computer crash at some point. According to the study, 82 percent of Americans keep electronic files only, and the majority of these files are nowhere else but on their computer hard drive.

The most popular files people store digitally are photos (55 percent), music (46 percent), resumes (42 percent), addresses (28 percent), phone numbers (27 percent), and financial documents (22 percent). Notably, the average American surveyed has more than $400 of digital music and movies on their computers and that, for one in four, the music and movies are worth more than the computer itself.

"It's interesting to contrast the way people insure their treasured possessions, like their home and their car, with the ways in which they leave their often-irreplaceable digital assets unprotected," said David Friend, Carbonite CEO and chairman. "People have priceless photographs, critical personal financial information and hundreds of dollars of digital media stored on their computer. Most have experienced at least one major data loss disaster, yet are still not taking simple steps to protect the contents of their computer."

The study also uncovered the significant value many Americans assign to their digital content, with 50 percent saying they would rather lose all of their vacation time for an entire year than lose all of the files on their computer. Highlighting the importance of data loss, 38 percent of married Americans feel that it would be worse to lose everything on their computer than to lose their wedding ring.

Sixty-two percent said they would pay to get back their lost data if their computer crashed, with 21 percent saying they would pay $500 and 27 percent saying they would pay as much as they needed to get their documents and files back. People would go to extremes to immediately recover all of their data if it were lost, according to the survey, with 34 percent claiming they would give up beer and wine for a year, but slightly less than a quarter (23 percent) said they would give up their cell phone for a month.