Mobile Security

Why people don't back up their mobilephones and other facts

Stefanie Smith, 30 March 2015

Why people don't back up their mobilephones and other facts

Devastation. The feeling you get when you realize your mobile phone is missing. All those photos, contacts, and other data- gone forever. Why? Because it wasn't backed up.

mobile backup survey

Just in time for World Backup Day, Avast conducted a global survey to find out whether or not people back up data on their mobile devices. We received responses from 288,000 users in countries including the United States, Germany, India, Mexico, and Russia.

In order to get an idea of which kinds of data users store on their devices, we began the survey by asking respondents for what purposes they use their mobile devices aside from making calls and sending text messages. In response, we found that

  • Two out of ten people use their mobile device to take photos
  • 18% browse the Internet
  • 17% listen to music/watch videos
  • 16% use social networking apps like Facebook and LinkedIn

Why do people not back up their data?

Put simply, most people don’t think it is necessary to back up their data. Globally 36% and nearly half of Russians do not think it is necessary (48%).

Almost a quarter of the world attributes not backing up their data to laziness (24%). Thirty-two percent of Indian people admit that they are too lazy to do a back up.

Thirty-six percent of British respondents claimed not to back up their data because they believe their data is not valuable, compared to only 22% of global respondents citing this as their reason for not backing up their mobile data.

What is more valuable to mobile users: hardware or data?

Now that we established that lots of people don't care about their data, are too lazy to prevent its loss, or don't think its worth the trouble, we then asked users what they would be more upset about losing: their data (that has not been backed up) or their device (the hardware).

Globally, 64% of people would be more upset about losing their data that has not been backed up rather than the device itself. Respondents in Mexico backed up this claim most significantly, with 78% of Mexican users claiming they would be more upset about losing their data than losing their hardware.

Which data are people worried about losing?

Across the board, users were most heavily concerned about losing the contacts stored on their mobile device (25%) and photos (21%). Despite these concerns, 37% of respondents said they do not back up their data. Brazilians are the least likely to back up their data (45%), yet 64% of Brazilians would be upset about losing it.

Why you should back up your mobile data

We use our mobile devices to make important calls, capture valuable moments, browse the web, to use our favorite apps and so much more. Anything can happen to your mobile device in a split second; it could fall into the toilet, go missing (either through loss or theft) or even get run over by a car! Yet, as we discovered, many do not back up the data they consider indispensable.

How to back up your data

You can back up your data in many ways: by connecting your mobile device to a PC (like nearly one-third of global users do. See below.), connect to a Cloud service (like Dropbox, iCloud, or Google Drive) or use a mobile back up app like Avast Mobile Backup.

When people actually do back up their data, how do they go about it?

The majority of those who do back up their data back it up on a monthly basis (41%), while another 8% back it up on a daily basis.

Most people back up their data by connecting to a PC (32%) -- only 17% back up their data to the Cloud. When we inquired about this difference in numbers, 46% of users expressed their reluctance to back up to the Cloud due to privacy concerns. Germans were the most concerned about their privacy when it came to Cloud back up (61%), with Spanish (58%) and American (57%) respondents close behind them.