Microsoft's survey reveals how you store your sensitive files, why you should go cloud

Microsoft is relaunching its SkyDrive services as OneDrive today but even with the name change it still offers a way for anyone to get at least 7GB of free cloud storage space for things like backing up files, photos and videos, for free. Along with the rebranding, a new survey commissioned by Microsoft shows that the majority of people who are at least familiar with cloud services still have their most important files stored on one device.

The survey was conducted in December and based on results from 801 people ages 18 and older who have previously heard of cloud storage. One finding is that a whopping 77 percent of the survey respondents said they stored important files on one device and nowhere else.

In addition, Logan told us that 69 percent of the people in the survey indicated they would rather lose the device than any of the photos and important files stored on that device. He says that shows the importance of cloud storage services like OneDrive and that they hope to make people more aware they can safely store copies of their important files on Microsoft's service.

Logan also told us the results of another survey commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by OneGov; 1,151 people age 18 years and over were asked what would they be willing to do to get back all of their photos and files if their smartphone were lost or stolen. Of those that responded, 50 percent of them said they would do away with connecting on the Internet for an entire month if it meant getting back the content from their phone.

The good news is that more people are becoming aware that cloud services can be used to store important photos and other content. The Harris Poll survey stated, "Over a third of current users (including half of 18-34 year old users) say that they used their cloud storage account to recover lost content at least once in the past 5 years." Also, 41 percent of cloud storage users expect to access those services even more in the next 12 months.

So how much storage space is being used by these people? The Harris Poll indicated that 35 percent of cloud users access less than 1GB of space, and 45 percent use at least 1GB, with 8 percent using 50GB or more. However, 20 percent of users were not aware of how much storage space they had in their cloud account.

Images via Microsoft

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15 Comments

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I don't have one document locally or in the cloud that the whole world can't look at. But I can see if I was breaking the law on a regular bases how computerize evidence would make me uneasy. All the gains from crime aren't worth the worry.

The only thing I use SkyDrive for is to sync files across my PCs--things like command-line utilities such as the SysInternals ones, as they require no install but are generally a pain to keep in sync when they get updated. Mesh did this nicely, with the added benefit of not having to go for a needless round-trip to the cloud.

I've had the free 25GB for a long time now, and I'm still using well under 1% of that. I don't see that changing in the future either. Even if I had everything backed up to the cloud and disaster hit, my connection is simply too slow to rely on it to redownload it all.

That's why my backup drives are bought in pairs, and they get rotated for off-site storage. For all of my important data, there's the live copy, an offline backup here at home, and an off-site backup elsewhere. I haven't lost a single byte since I've adopted that scheme.

Renec said,
I can't say this enough: Crashplan with a private 448 bit encryption key.

I am reading about crashplan and it looks incredible. Right now, i am comfy with Dropbox+boxcryptor but crashplan looks tempting and cheap.

Yea, sorry Microsoft. None of my sensitive files are going in the cloud. I dont care who is hosting it. A picture here and there, sure, but my sensitive files I dont need to access everywhere I go and not going to put them in a place to get hacked/stolen.

What part of this article stores sensitive files, or are we talking about "nice photos of the dog" sensitive?

I know I probably come off as a total fanboy (and I am), but people wary of cloud storage services should look at Spideroak. End-to-end encryption and Spideroak have zero access to your files because they're all encrypted client-side. Of course, they're still bound by the law, and have to hand over your encrypted files if petitioned by the government, but they can't hand over the unencrypted data.

Trusting any company to store my files unencrypted doesn't sit right with me, especially given many of their policies for automated scanning of documents.

It's not just the issue of data security; access is a big part too. As we've seen only too well with the filelocker debacle, or the number of times Amazon's & Microsoft's cloud services have been down, there just is no way to guarantee 24/7 access to your data.

Sticking your data into the cloud is no bloody use to anyone if they can't then access it when they want it.

FloatingFatMan said,
It's not just the issue of data security; access is a big part too. As we've seen only too well with the filelocker debacle, or the number of times Amazon's & Microsoft's cloud services have been down, there just is no way to guarantee 24/7 access to your data.

Sticking your data into the cloud is no bloody use to anyone if they can't then access it when they want it.

Oh absolutely, no doubt. I strictly use my online storage as a backup, and keep copies of everything locally as well.

At they rate they scan your stuff, then block your entire account and delete your stuff if they don't like what you put on there?

Screw that. Never trust someone else with your data. You have no control over who can access it, or whether you can always access it. Cloud is fine for backups of innocuous things, but never use it for anything even remotely sensitive or critical.

I usually sit back and laugh at many paranoid comments on forums/sites, but this, yeah, I'm with you. There's no way in hell I'd trust the most important information about myself to any company, including Microsoft, who I respect.

plus, the whole "is this allowed" thing, is a pain. Last night I took a pic of my kids playing in the bath and sent it to my partner as she wasn't there. If I had cloud backup on, who's to say some overzealous jobsworth wouldn't decide to shut my account down.
That's just one scenario of many that takes away the ease-of-use usage case for me to ever trust or use the cloud for anything important

scumdogmillionaire said,
In an AMA the Skydrive team specifically addressed this. They said they truly don't care. Pictures of your kids sans clothing was also a non-issue.

Fine. But it should also be NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS as well. There is a huge distinction.

With Microsoft's autoscanning software and the NSA tapped into everything going to and from their cloud service, we're looking at multiple points of failure regarding security of confidential information, from inventions to creative ideas to even people who do nude photography for a living, just as examples.

I'm not advising any of my colleagues or clients to put their data anywhere near the cloud until these overarching security and confidentiality issues are resolved.

excalpius said,

Fine. But it should also be NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS as well. There is a huge distinction.

With Microsoft's autoscanning software and the NSA tapped into everything going to and from their cloud service, we're looking at multiple points of failure regarding security of confidential information, from inventions to creative ideas to even people who do nude photography for a living, just as examples.

I'm not advising any of my colleagues or clients to put their data anywhere near the cloud until these overarching security and confidentiality issues are resolved.

Of course it's their business. If there's illegal activities taking place on *their* servers, then that's an issue.

The NSA comment makes you look even more paranoid.

Dot Matrix said,

Of course it's their business. If there's illegal activities taking place on *their* servers, then that's an issue.

The NSA comment makes you look even more paranoid.

Yep, and therein lies the problem for me. Not the “illegal” bit, but the fact that my data is under someone else's control. They essentially own it, and I access it at their discretion.

For the mundane things, I could care less.. but for important documents and more importantly, photos… That doesn't wash in my book.