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The virus ate my holiday snaps

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UK consumers often store valuable data only on their computers without backing it up, inviting disaster if hardware failure or malware infection strikes.

Around a third (31 per cent) of 3,000 people surveyed in a new poll have lost important or irreplaceable information that they trusted to their PC. The survey, commissioned by net security firm AVG and run by onepoll.com, also identified the top five reasons people lose information

  1. Hardware malfunction – 45 per cent
  2. Virus – 26 per cent
  3. Human error – 11 per cent
  4. Damage to computer – eight per cent
  5. Power cut – five per cent

AVG is keen to emphasise the role security software can play in helping to prevent malware from chewing through vital data such as music, pictures, and security and financial information. Is it talking about any particular strain of malware here? No, apparently not, just the general risk.

Music downloads from the likes of iTunes can be restored here so the problem the survey highlights, which is genuine enough, seems to focus on data such as personal documents, emails and perhaps photos. On average, UK consumers have more than 600 important photographs stored on a single computer. Four in five (78 per cent) of us have completely irreplaceable pictures stored with no copies backed up or printed elsewhere. The poll found Brits valued holiday snaps and family pictures above other content.

Users should back up this data regularly if they don't want to be faced with an expensive data recovery job if and when things go wrong. The poll found nearly half of us (47 per cent) have lost content that they would pay at least £250 to retrieve.

Simon Steggles, a director at computer forensics and data recovery firm Disklabs, said that many data recovery jobs it handles are the result of malware rather than damaged hardware. PC data recovery jobs its experts handle are split 50/50 between hardware/software problems, though software issues are not all down to malware, he explained. ®

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