back to article BT seals free Digital Vault

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 …


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  1. Adam Foxton

    Legality? More to the point, Morality?

    What if all your pics were on there? For example, if your other copies had broken and you needed to retrieve them.

    Surely this is blackmail, or selling under false pretences? Even if they said "this service may be withdrawn later" you'd have expected some sort of warning to let you retrieve all your files!


  2. Geoff Johnson

    What's in his Vault

    The film Deathwatch explains what that bloke keeps backed up.

  3. Leslie Greenhalgh

    Or alternatively you could just use MSN Skydrive for free

    Skydrive is actually quite good, 5 gig online storage for free.

  4. Humph

    Rip-Off BT once again

    So I can pay BT £5 per month for the rest of my life to back up 50GB of data (say another 40 years = £2395.20), or I could pay a one-off cost of £50 for a 500GB external USB disk to backup to and maintain control of my data independant of ISPs, broadband network failures, etc., etc. and not have my data being held to ransom.

    For the life of me I can't fathom out which of the two options would be more cost-effective.

    Needless to say I chose not to sign-up to the Digital Vault bollocks when it was first touted.

  5. Jodo Kast

    Bait and Switch!

    You go.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Some very nice photos there Sir, shame if something were to happen to them eh? Fires happen all the time.. data gets corrupted, files lost.. only that ain't going to happen, because we're going to look after ya boy. For a price of course.... 4.99 euros by midnight, or I'll set me eels on you again.

    (sorry for the spot of fandom towards the end, it's friday and I'm stuck in the office).

  7. Natalie Gritpants Silver badge

    Your data. it's precious, but only to you.

    Nip down to your high street gizmo shop, buy an external USB drive, plug it in, copy your stuff, keep it in the garden shed, greenhouse or take it to work.

  8. Paul Livingstone


    Why pay BT when you can just run a cron job of rsync, gzip and mcrypt over ssh to an off-site server. Duh!

    Seriously though, poor show BT.

  9. James Pickett (Jp)
    Thumb Up

    A Drive

    I've been using 50GB free online storage and a usable interface.

    Only thing I would say for UK readers is that it's a lot faster for major uploading in the morning than it is in the afternoon!

    It got a mention on BBC Click so it must be good!

  10. Fluffykins Silver badge

    Alternative business model

    30 Gig, access at least every 90 days.


    How can you offer free storage? What is your business plan?

    We offer premium upgrades which you can purchase to increase the capacity and capabilities of our standard free account.

    There is no obligation to purchase a premium upgrade, customers who don't want or need the premium services can continue to enjoy our service, free of charge.

    Find out more about our plans & pricing.


    Oh, and no phorm <gak, ptui>.

  11. Kyle
    Thumb Down

    @ Adam Foxton

    If all your files are so important, you probably wouldn't have a problem with using a paid-for backup service rather than whingeing about how what you used to have for free isn't free anymore because *gasp* it turns out that providing resources costs money.

    I'm not going to claim that BT are wonderful or anything, because they're not. But there's a retarded mentality that gets encouraged every time a new free service launches where people assume that every service, no matter what it is, can and should be free.

    In the context of this, the article states that the free access cuts off after the 30th of October. Which is about 10 weeks time by my reckoning. Now if someone manages to completely ignore their irreplaceable data storage service and doesn't have other copies elsewhere for 10 weeks, to my mind they forfeit any right to whinge about it. Especially when it's a free service we're talking about.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Adam Foxton

    "You'd have expected some sort of warning to let you retrieve all your files!"

    Well, clearly you didn't read the story... the bit where it says:

    "Customers will lose online access to their files on 30 October"

    Today being 15th August, that gives customers 2.5 months of warning to let them retrieve their 2GB worth of files. Even if you're on a 56k dial-up modem, that's enough time.

    And what about "selling under false pretences"? It was a FREE service...

    You really need to read a story and take a few seconds to digest it before posting...

  13. Eponymous Cowherd

    Customer retention....

    ***"The customer retention ploy has been heavily promoted recently in BT's TV campaign "***

    Yeees, I've notice BT stepping up their broadband ad campaign. I assume its to compensate for all those (like me) who have pissed off to other ISPs who *don't* spy on them and throttle their bandwidth.

  14. Tim

    Sounds like blackmail to me

    Surely they should offer to return your files to you for free instead.

    Anyway, why bother with this? Instead, just set up a gmail/yahoo mail account and send yourself (or to be precise just draft and save) an attachment of anything you which to keep a copy of. You can even share things (e.g. pics) with trusted friends or family by telling them the password to it. So long as the file is under 10mb it works fine.

    For backing up anything bigger just get a cheap memory stick.


  15. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @Adam Foxton

    Um, not sure how this could be construed as blackmail - all they are really doing is withdrawing a free service (and as it's free, there's no sale to be made, under false pretences or otherwise).

    And they _are_ giving plenty of notice: "Customers will lose online access to their files on 30 October". Loads of time to switch to another service, ideally one that isn't run by an organisation that jumps in bed with Phorm... though it is getting tricky to find a backup service not hosted in the US. Sealand anyone?

  16. Anonymous Coward


    There ain't no such thing as a free lunch!

  17. Carl


    They *are* offering to return your files to you for free. As it's a backup service you should already have a local copy. If you don't, then you have until 30th October to retrieve one from their servers.

    And to those touting USB disks as an alternative: what happens if your computer and USB drive are destroyed in a fire or stolen? My kit's insured, but the data (documents, financial accounts, etc.) is irreplaceable.

    Always best to use a paid-for service for important stuff. By their nature free services are best effort and liable to be withdrawn at any time.

  18. Matthew Willcock
    Thumb Up

    One to watch

    I've been keeping an eye on its UK based so should be fast if/when it actually launches

  19. Jon H


    Mozy gives you 2GB free.

  20. Phil Huff

    @ Adam Foxton

    You want advance warning? They do appear to be giving people somewhere in the region of 77 days, or well in excess of two months.

    I'd consider that fair warning...

    Unless you've got a veeeeeeeeery slow internet connection, you should be ok. Just.

  21. GettinSadda

    Where have I seen this tactic before?

    Where have I seen this tactic before?

    Oh yes, drug pushers:

    Hey take this heroin - it's free because I like you.

    Later... oh, you want some more? Sure why not, and you can have this one for free too.

    Later still... oh, you want some more? What's that? You NEED some more? Sure... £50 per bag!

  22. Mick F
    Thumb Down

    sooooooo slow

    I binned it after first few tries - it is so slow and would never pay for it.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    In other words..

    Phorn has finished indexing your files thanks. We can't extract any more value from them so you'll have to pay from here on in...

  24. alex cee
    Thumb Down

    @Leslie Greenhalgh

    "Or alternatively you could just use MSN Skydrive for free" and have Microsoft do it to you instead of BT

    Thats the problem with all this 'cloud' computing bs. Once a company decides its not feasible any-more and pulls the plug to your data that has taken you years to accumulate!

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Adam Foxton

    Eh... the report says the service will close on 30th October. That's 10 weeks notice. Even for those on capped Internet packages, that should still be plenty of time to download 2GiB! (I think my connection would manage that in about 20 minutes).

    Still, the pricing's better than it was. When I wanted online storage, the cheapest way was a 1&1 root server giving 160GB (minus the OS) for £50+VAT pcm - but I still hate BT for the "you can only have free evening/weekend calls if you prove you're loyal with a 1 year contract" thing. After 10 years of being a BT customer we moved everything to Sky.

  26. Michael

    @Adam Foxton

    Um, you have till the 30th of October to get them off.

    If you can't download 2 GB in over two months, I think you should ask BT to have a look at your connection.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    umm, doesn't it say "Customers will lose online access to their files on 30 October"?

    Maybe they can download their files beweeen now and then....?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    > you'd have expected some sort of warning to let you retrieve all your files!

    Well today's 15 August and the "free" service is to be withdrawn on 30 October so BT have given over ten weeks notice.

  29. Law
    Black Helicopters

    Others including Mozy could profit here

    I can't believe BT are going to get away with advertising this free "awesome" service - and within a month of me seeing the advert, pulling it and charging £5 a month.... it's very shady.

    Mozy have same 2GB free storage thing though don't they? And an OSX client... so maybe there could be a quick campaign letting people know they can use something none BT that does the same thing, but probably better - it's the interweb after all!! Oh - and they can get unlimited backup storage (not just 50GB) for under $5 a month, not the £5 one BT are touting.

    Next step for BT - start throttling third party online backup solutions while giving your own super speedy uploading (not officially obviously), and locking people into 12 month service contracts then pushing the price up after the first 3 months!!

    Anybody else getting slightly worried that communication companies are become more and more like data pimping/policing/ransoming companies rather than what they are paid to be, which are communications companies.

  30. Steve Renouf


    Hmmm..... Be interesting to see just how long it would take to do a restore from this 50Gb backup, given the current BB speeds...

  31. James Bassett

    Use sugarsynch

    I use SugarSync which, as well as allowing me to backup my files, lets me synch them accross multiple machines, maintain different sets of backups, retrieve old versions of fils, deleted files, share files with others and backup/synch with a windows mobile device.

    For exactly the same money as BT's backup only.

  32. Pete Silver badge

    ahhh - *this* is how web 2.0 makes money

    We heard yesterday about an online review service that was offering to reorder bad reviews on payment of an advertising fee. Now we have another service that has turned evil and is demanding money from it's vic^H^H^Husers.

    How many online retailers, communities or websites have people handed out their personal details to. I can just imagine the next stage:

    "Dear Mr. X, we have noticed a breach in our security and think your bank details have have been compromised. However for a fee of £5 we will review your account and notify you if, in fact, your personal information was among those inadvertently published."

    Maybe we should all just sit back and wait for the ransom emails to start arriving.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trust is a wonderful thing...

    ... if you trust your valuable data to a third party file space provider "in the cloud" so to speak, then you get what you pay for, or in the case of BT, you get what you pay for and then pay for it again.

    "All your base are belong to us"...

  34. Chris

    re: Sounds like blackmail to me

    Are you seriously saying that you should email yourself everything you want to back up in 10mb chunks? That's totally unworkable.

    Best off using the Gspace Firefox add-on, which accesses your Gmail space in a more sensible manner. There's 7Gb of it available now for free so it's even better than the BT free option ever was.

  35. Joe K

    Service for morons

    I've always wondered what the point of this is.

    Why not just email your valuables to your own Gmail/Hotmail/Yahoo account?

    Gigs of storage, and those companies aren't going to go anywhere soon, and competition keeps those gigs of storage free.

  36. martin burns
    Gates Horns

    No worries here

    Not having a Windows machine in the house, BT's service was never any use to us.

    I do have to say: TimeMachine is bluddy grate.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    True off site backup?

    Its clearly the next step for Google ... true off site backup - put the data centre on the moon and next to nothing on earth will damage it!!! (plus that way the 'merikans can't see your data)

  38. Anonymous John


    How long does it take to upload that much? ADSL upload speeds are much less than download ones.

    Mine's the one with a pocket full of USB memory sticks.

  39. Anonymous Coward

    Offsite Backups

    @Humph - I've been agonising over the same decision for a while. I've got a couple of hundred gigs of stuff to back up (including virtual machine snapshots).

    I'm tempted to just get a terrastation and stick it somewhere else in the house and use powerline ethernet to connect it back to the main workstation.

    My main fear is getting broken into and having both the main workstation and the backup drive nicked together. There have been a few breakins around my area recently. Having said that, I can't see a subscription based offsite backup service being all that cost effective since you gotta keep paying and paying.

    @Paul Livingstone - maybe you've got a different setup, but the bandwidth to/from my rack in Telehouse isn't cheap (We're relatively low net bandwidth users so get charged per amount used rather than the tastier all-you-can-eat tarrifs). Routine backups to a box there would probably end up costing me slightly more than the BT offering.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    @Fluffykins might keep all your data securely encrypted on their servers.

    But they transfer it TO their servers over plain old http for all to see.


  41. JK
    Thumb Down

    Never heard of offsite backups

    "And to those touting USB disks as an alternative: what happens if your computer and USB drive are destroyed in a fire or stolen? My kit's insured, but the data (documents, financial accounts, etc.) is irreplaceable."

    Disaster recovery plan:

    1) Trust my data to BT

    Mmmm - very sensible.


    1) Regular backups

    2) Keep an offsite copy

  42. Slartybardfast
    Thumb Up

    The Cloud - Pah!

    Many web sites and people depend apon free services in "the cloud" and then whinge when they get crap service.


    There's no such thing as a free launch. (sic)

    I suspect that most of the whingers are under 30, many older and more experienced folk wouldn't trust their data (without backup) to any free service no matter who it was from.

  43. adnim

    Not surprised

    Here's a big fat free juicy worm. Somebody please correct me if I am wrong but I bet they didn't mention the hook, line and sinker at the time this service was created. Did the T&C's at the time of the services creation state anywhere that... "two years after you subscribe to this service we will start charging for it, and delete your data if you don't pay"? I assume not.

    The RAID server in my garage and the USB drives I have do me very well. Besides I don't trust anyone with my data.

  44. k
    Thumb Down


    BT are not a cheap ISP you already pay for all the Free Stuff they "give" you, anti virus, this vault thing, and all the other stuff. Its not free you pay for it!!!. Are they going to knock 5£ off the price? No they are just going to be greedy....l

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Local archive storage

    To those who were complaining about the possibility of a fire at home destroying their valuable archived data there is a simple solution:-

    Buy a small fire safe.

    even at say 300GBP for a decent sized one, the payback time using the BT costs are IMHO reasonable. Plus you don't have to frigging wait while it all copies especially with all this ADSL throttling that is going on these days...

    Paris because she's always so safe......

  46. Steve Davis


    I tried it when they first offered it (there is probably something still there) but I found it too silly for words and abandoned it forthwith.

    I don't accept that is was 'free' as you had to pay for an accout in the first place. It was just an additional 'attraction' that they now want addicts to caugh up more for.

    They can stuff it.

  47. Zmodem

    better off

    getting a domain with 300mb for £20pyr

  48. Dave Bell

    And connection speed?

    Hopefully, there is something about the connection used for this BT service that is recognised, and means it doesn't get throttled.

    Especially if you have to pay extra for it.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Genius at work

    "Why pay BT when you can just run a cron job of rsync, gzip and mcrypt over ssh to an off-site server. Duh!"

    Bugger me!

    You've got it sorted. Just start knocking on the doors of BT customers to tell them that and you will make a fortune.

    Paris : because she thinks my mum wants to run cron jobs as well.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC looking for a terastation

    there are much cheaper NAS boxes around rather than a terastation, but regardless of device I agree that is a good solution for on-site but physically separate storage, the biggest problem with off-site storage being the connection to off-site (ie. your internet connection)

    if theft is your main concern then stick it under the floorboards, problem solved - of course that won't help much for a fire but any on-site solution has that problem

    i did have a laptop under a floorboard at one time, i had some data that needed to be kept secure and my house was the best place for it, just stuck a socket on to one of the existing power cables under the floor and plugged the laptop in there, connected via wifi, problem solved! (of course with all the standard security for the network connection to keep the data safe, no point in going to all that trouble then doing something stupid like running windows on it so the whole world can have a look)

  51. Jordan Bradley


    Would you actually entrust your personal and private data to Microsoft !?

  52. Anonymous Coward

    The USA is a foreign country

    Now this is really worrying. I have been watching the adverts for BT and the couple in them are having a big problem in their relationship. Adam, his name is, has got his dream job, and his moody girlfriend with the kids is in the huff so he's gone off to some hotel by the seaside. They seem to be too grand to use the phone to talk to each other so they're emailing each other about their relationship, which is really stupid. You don't conduct a relationship by email. unless you're eleven, in which case you use MSM. And the hotel wireless is dodgy.

    But the point is that they are not very bright, they are already paying BT for all sorts of stupid services, and they were using this service. But if they are on the verge of breaking up, will they even notice in time? I could see this being very sticky indeed, and would probably be the final straw that broke the camel's back.

  53. Mark C


    300 milli-bits? Are you sure?

    Mones the one with the Rough Guide To Pedantry in the pocket,

  54. Anonymous Coward

    A drive

    Yup I use Adrive, up to 30gb and rising. It's not the quickest, but the ftp just sits in the background slowly synching up.

    Restore will be a pain, but it's better than no offisite storage.

    And as I'm not with that certain company that spends a year advertising how good their free backup service is, I won't be capped when I try to download my files...

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: gangly man-child

    Didn't he have have a run in with a motor vehicle not so long ago? is he ok now?

  56. Anonymous Coward

    @ Adam Foxton Flamers

    First: The digital vault is not a 'free' service - you've effectively been paying for it as part of your BT line rental. It's a 'free' service about as much as your bill and webwise are 'free' services.

    Second: I believe the issue is not about the amount of warning that BT have issued, but the way in which they have gone about promoting the 'free' digital vault. Does anyone think that BT have only just thought about charging for it? No, they waited until people started to store their data there, knowing that they planned to hold it to ransom later.

    Yes, if anyone is foolish enough to trust BT on anything they deserve to suffer the consequences, but the real point here is that BT have once again proved themselves to be a bunch of untrustworthy, decietful wankers.

    I'm glad I left BT

  57. Barry Lane


    My files are important to me, which is why I as a customer of BT - and soon to be ex-customer of BT - would never dream of letting that bunch of shysters take care of any of my data.

    This is the UK's foremost ISP, allegedly, but they clearly know as much about customer care as they do about the technology of which they are supposedly the masters. Worse, they are now pushing their own brand of TV show provision. BT's belief a decade or so ago that what UK customers wanted was not the ability to send and receive data, but to watch Coronation Street on their Compaq 486 PC, is one of the reasons this benighted nation lags so far behind many others.

    'Go', because that is what this distinctly peed-off BT customer is about to do.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Adam Foxton can't read

    Adam Foxton: You mean a warning like an email telling you you have until 30th October to access your files? Like they sent?

    Not BTs fault you can't read.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    It's rubbish anyway

    The most important fact about BT Digital Vault is that it is deeply, hopelessly crap. Lousy interface, takes ages to do anything, says it's uploading when it isn't, inaccessible for hours at a time. Don't know why anybody bothers with it, certainly don't know why anybody would PAY for it.

  60. Tony


    'Anybody else getting slightly worried that communication companies are become more and more like data pimping/policing/ransoming companies rather than what they are paid to be, which are communications companies.'

    No, I can honestly say that that this has never occurred to anyone that reads the Reg and even if it did we would probably be cool with it, as after all if you can't trust big companies like BT, who can you trust?

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Big deal...

    They've withdrawn a FREE service. So what? Where is the contract that says it's forever? What's that? It doesn't. Why do so many posters on here make themselves look foolish so often by spouting about legal and contractual issues without thinking first?

    To all those freetards suggesting alternative services. Do you really trust your precious personal data to strangers? If so you are bigger fools than you first appear.

    Get some rewritable media and store it at a (trustworthy) friend or relative's house or in a secure locker/desk at work. Keep multiple copies and back up regularly. If you care about your data that is.

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