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Consumers Fail to Properly Back Up Large Digital Libraries

New Research Shows Average American Has 1,800 Digital Files

Americans are not backing up their digital photos, music, documents or other types of files, according to a new study released today by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). Results of the study, Amassing Digital Fortunes: A Digital Storage Study, show that nearly one in three consumers don’t see the need to back up their files, while nearly a quarter (22 percent) say they aren’t backing up files because it’s too time consuming. “The issue appears to be a combination of lack of awareness of storage options and ease of use,” says CEA’s Director of Market Research, Tim Herbert. “Generally, consumers don’t know how to back up their data and if they do, they’re failing to back up data because they claim it takes too much time.”
The average American adult has 1,800 digital files, totaling 310 billion digital files nationwide. With another 1,060 being added per user in 2008, the total number is expected to hit just under 500 billion by the end of the year.

“The sheer amount of data being amassed every day creates tremendous opportunities for the digital storage market,” says Herbert.

Photos (85 percent) and music (67 percent) comprise the largest percentage of stored files, making them more common than productivity files, like home office documents (59 percent), which ranked third.

Research results show that consumers are satisfied with their storage options. Eight out of 10 respondents reported using their home computer as their primary long-term storage option. For back-up, over three quarters of people surveyed (77 percent) burn their files onto a CD or DVD. Over a quarter (29 percent) of those surveyed copy their files onto more than one device, such as having a file on a computer and a portable MP3 player.

CEA offers several tips for consumers to keep digital files safe:

  • If you are saving content onto a CD, DVD, USB Flash Drive or other removable device, keep an extra copy off-site, like an office. This ensures your contents safety in case your home is damaged by events such as a fire, flood or earthquake.
  • Use an online backup service to protect your content from disasters and/or hardware failures.
  • Scan and clean your backup drives. Viruses can spread to removable drives and other network connections, damaging your music and photos.
  • Regularly defragment your hard disk drive. This will ensure your computer is running faster for longer with less wear and tear.
  • Establish a regular back-up schedule. Many external hard-drives come with software that can assist in the back-up process and help maintain a consistent schedule to ensure data gets saved even if you forget to.

For more tips on how to protect and archive digital content, visit

The Amassing Digital Fortunes:
A Digital Storage Study (February 2008) was conducted in December 2007. It was designed and formulated by CEA Market Research, the most comprehensive source of sales data, forecasts, consumer research and historical trends for the consumer electronics industry. Please cite any information to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) . The complete study is available free to CEA member companies. Non-members may purchase the study for $999 at

About CEA:
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is the preeminent trade association promoting growth in the $161 billion U.S. consumer electronics industry. More than 2,200 companies enjoy the benefits of CEA membership, including legislative advocacy, market research, technical training and education, industry promotion and the fostering of business and strategic relationships. CEA also sponsors and manages the International CES – Where Entertainment, Technology and Business Converge. All profits from CES are reinvested into CEA’s industry services. Find CEA online at

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