More than half of average internet-using consumers use more than one computing device every day – and are increasingly turning to the cloud to help access and share their important files.

This is one of the findings from a newly-release Microsoft MSN poll, which shows that 56% of respondents use at least two devices everyday (PC, laptop, tablet, smartphone) to access their files, and almost one-third (28%) use three or more devices on a daily basis.

In this multi-device world, the number-one reason consumers are turning to the cloud is to ensure they have easy access to important files across devices or on-the-go, with 58% citing photo sharing as being at the top of their list. Consumers also use the cloud to share documents, spreadsheets and presentations with friends, family and/or work colleagues from smartphones, PCs and tablets.

“These days people are juggling multiple devices and need easy access to their files, and services like Microsoft’s SkyDrive allows them to get what they need, when they need it,” says Colin Erasmus, Windows client business group executive at Microsoft South Africa. “No matter what device you’re using – your phone, iPad, a friend’s computer, a PC or a Mac, services like SkyDrive keep you constantly connected to the files you need.”

Overall, about 40% of respondents store files online as they ‘like being able to easily access  things when they are on the go/across devices’, followed by ‘not have to worry about losing data if PC/laptop were lost/stolen/crashed’ (34%) and ‘easier to share things with friends, family and /or work colleagues’ (32%).

When asked what they would pay if their digital photos were held for ransom, 44% of South African respondents said “nothing” – while 12% said they would pay R5 000, or more.

Personal PCs and laptops remain the top devices being used by South African respondents every day (42% and 41% respectively) to access videos, pictures, school projects and work files. However, smartphones are close behind (39%), with work PCs being used by 31% of respondents and tablets by 9%.

Erasmus believes South Africans are still early in consumers’ adoption of cloud storage. “Our past research shows that even amongst people who use the cloud, the files stored in the cloud are small compared to what’s stored on the PC: 22% of the photos people have on their PC are stored online, and only one percent of documents. It’s important that we make it simple for anyone to store and access files with the cloud.” 

The poll also revealed that the number-one concern consumers have about the cloud is privacy, closely followed by security.