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BT will shutter its free 2GB online storage service and press users to take a £4.99 per month 50GB package, it said today.

Customers will lose online access to their files on 30 October unless they upgrade to a paid-for Digital Vault account. Digital Vault is pitched as a backup service rather than an alternative to local storage.

The free version of the service launched in October 2006.

Now BT has emailed users to say it's time to cough up. "Make sure you upgrade now to get continuous protection for all your precious photos, files and more," it wrote.

BT Total broadband customers get 5GB of Digital Vault storage as part of their broadband package. The customer retention ploy has been heavily promoted recently in BT's TV campaign centering on a very modern domestic situation and starring that gangly man-child from My Family. ®

Update

BT sent us this statement:

Customers who are using BT Digital Vault Basic 2GB may recently have received an email notifying them of the closure of the service. We would like to assure customers that despite the closure of the product their data will continue to be stored safely. However customers who currently have more than 1GB of data stored will not be able to add any further data to their vault unless they upgrade.

The Digital Vault portfolio is currently made up of a 1GB, 5GB and 50GB product. BT Digital Vault Basic 2GB has not been available to new customers since June 2007 and the majority of users are BT Total Broadband customers who qualify for the larger 5GB product for free, this is why we are now withdrawing the product.

We recognise that the initial email sent to customers was not as clear as it should have been and we will be writing to all customers clarifying the closure of the service and reassuring them that their data will be safe.

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