Yes, Virginia, people do keep their information in the cloud

Call it a personal cloud or a digital locker. People like keeping stuff online.

Four out of five people are aware of the terms “personal cloud” or “digital locker,” and only one in 10 didn’t have any idea what those services might be for, according to a survey from Funambol. However, those who are aware of the terms are also big users of the “Facebook cloud” (at 76 percent) and the “Google cloud” (s goog) (at 75 percent). Essentially, the survey looked not at clouds as the title suggests, but measured how comfortable people are with keeping their data and files online.

It turns out most folks are very comfortable with doing this: Even when asked about more “pure-play” cloud services such as Dropbox, 47 percent of those asked were already using such services. Funambol, which provides white-label online storage services, asked 232 people from its email list a few questions about personal clouds (only 5 of those surveyed used the service). The respondents were mostly males in their 30s.

Three-quarters of those surveyed said they expected to use such digital lockers in the future, mostly so they could access their files, music and contacts across a variety of devices (89 percent cited that motivation). Seventy-one percent also thought that it made a nice backup, and 48 percent said it made it easier to share information. So it seems that people want access to their own media on all of their devices, don’t want to lose it when a hard drive dies and less than half are thinking about collaboration or sharing content. If the driving factor of cloud adoption in the enterprise is agility, for consumers it’s about convenience.

But consumers need to feel their data is both secure (75 percent cited this as a concern) and kept private, even though a mere 2 percent of folks surveyed said they won’t use the cloud because they were worried about privacy. For the most part, convenience was the biggest factor in cloud use, combined with a desire to get as much storage as possible for the cheapest amount: A little over two-thirds — at 67 percent — were willing to pay for their access to a digital locker, with the most popular price point being $5 per month. That prices assumes that a personal cloud account provided a sufficient amount of storage, with 50 GB being the most common example.

Rather than provide new insights with regard to personal clouds, the survey confirmed what many of us already know: that people want to store stuff online, for it to be kept secure and to not have to pay a lot for it. And this set of desires has only gained in urgency as people carry around smartphones and tablets that are also connected to the web and thus able to offer access to more content and applications.