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A survey by hosting company Rackspace estimates that British consumers, between them, have 'digital assets' stored 'in the cloud' that are worth some £2.3bn ($AA3.6b) and says 31 percent have given some thought to passing on their 'digital inheritance'.

The figure is extrapolated from a survey finding suggesting that 24 percent of the UK adult population hold no less than £200 ($A309 worth of assets in the cloud. (A recent survey of 3000 consumers around the world commissioned by McAfee estimated that each, on average, has digital assets worth $US37k, but did not distinguish between cloud any other means of storage).

The Rackspace study of 2000 adults, 'Generation Cloud', was undertaken in association with the Centre for Creative and Social Technology (CAST) at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Eleven percent of respondents had "addressed their digital entities with care - eg they have left passwords to their digital treasures in their will - or are at least planning to do so," and 53 percent "have what they consider 'treasured possessions' stored with cloud services."

Fabio Torlini, VP of Cloud at Rackspace, said: "The cloud is becoming more and more part of our everyday work and personal life. With the large investment so many UK adults seem to be making in digital treasures, it's imperative that people consider the associated security and legacy implications. Businesses have a great opportunity now to shape consumer understanding of cloud computing and build trust. It's important to remember that although cloud is for everyone, it's not for everything."

The survey identified four distinct cloud user profiles:

- Head in the Clouds: "The most common new social profile which represents 66 percent of online respondents who are cloud users but don't think or don't know they are."

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- e-Hoarders (eight percent): "These people are completely immersed in the cloud and use it to stash everything for safekeeping, and sometimes to keep their physical space tidy. They are as digitally disorganised as they are in their homes - never properly naming files etc and have thousands of digital things which they are afraid to delete, just in case."

- Cloud sceptics (20 percent): "While they rely on the cloud, they worry about control of their data and wonder who, or what, has their stuff."

- 2020 Teenagers: "This group of pre-teens are digital natives and do not distinguish between hardware, software or data - cloud is simply a way of life. They also reveal the most about the future direction of cloud services and usage."

Respondents indicated a healthy future for cloud and relegation of physical media in all its forms to the museum of antiquities.

Thirty one percent of respondents believe that all their music will be stored and'Generation Cloud'or accessed online, and they won't own any CDs; 28 percent believe the DVD will be a collector's item; 25 percent believe they will no longer print photos, just store them in the cloud; 14 percent don't expect to own any physical books.

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