Internet and cloud services - statistics on the use by individuals
Half of Europeans used the internet on the go and a fifth saved files on internet storage space in 2014
Statistics in focus 16/2014; Author: Heidi SEYBERT, Petronela REINECKE
ISSN:2314-9647 Catalogue number:KS-SF-14-016-EN-N
This article presents an overview of the findings of the 2014 ‘Survey on ICT (information and communication technology) usage in households and by individuals’. It takes a closer look at individuals' internet and mobile internet use in the EU and a set of newly released indicators relating to the use of cloud services.
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
- 6 External links
Main statistical findings
A large majority of Europeans make use of the internet. In 2014, half of the EU population aged 16-74 used the internet on portable computers or handheld devices through a mobile phone network or wireless connection when not at home or at work. About one sixth of Europeans has never used the internet. The proportion of 'non-users' varies significantly between Member States.
In 2014, one in five EU citizens aged 16-74 saved files on internet storage space. Most cloud users appreciated the ease of accessing files from several devices or locations. A considerable part of the population has not yet, however, become aware of the existence of cloud services despite being internet users. Among those internet users who were aware, concerns about security and privacy were a major factor that prevented them from using such services.
Internet use by individuals
Almost four out of five individuals (78 %) in the EU used the internet at least once in the three months prior to the survey. The Digital Agenda target of 75 % of the population using the internet regularly in 2015 (on average at least once a week, at home, at work or elsewhere) was reached in 2014. The proportion of internet users who go online on a daily basis was high in all Member States and in Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. Just under two thirds of all EU citizens (65 %) used the internet every day or almost every day. Furthermore, around half of the population (51 %) used the internet on the go on portable computers or handheld devices (table 1).
Mobile internet usage in the EU recorded notable growth between 2012 and 2014, jumping by 16 percentage points. The fastest growth was seen in Germany, Estonia, Spain and Hungary, where usage rates increased by over 20 percentage points (figure 1).
The proportion of individuals living in the EU who have never used the internet dropped to 18 % in 2014, and is just three percentage points above the Digital Agenda 2015 target of 15 % (figure 2). Nonetheless, a significant 'digital divide' remains, with large differences still seen between the rates of non-use in individual countries. The proportion of the population with no experience of using the internet (whether at home, at work or elsewhere) was highest in Romania (39 %), Bulgaria (37 %), Greece (33 %), Italy (32 %) and Portugal (30 %), and lowest in Denmark (3 %), Luxembourg (4 %) and the Netherlands (5 %).
Use of cloud services
Services based on cloud computing technology allow users to store large files or use software on a server run over the internet. Cloud services are a relatively new phenomenon compared with web applications for social networking, listening to music or watching films. One of the main challenges faced when measuring the usage of cloud services is being able to make a clear distinction between these and other online services. The following indicators therefore focus on the use of cloud services for file storage and sharing, provide information on type of content stored or shared on a server accessible over the internet, use of paid-for and free services and the reasons for using or not using cloud services.
One in five individuals stored files on internet servers
In 2014, 21 % of the EU population aged 16-74 reported having used internet storage space to save documents, pictures, music, videos or other files. Internet storage space can also provide opportunities for sharing files with others. The percentage of individuals in the EU who additionally used internet storage space for sharing files was 15 % (figure 3).
The Member State with the highest proportion of individuals using cloud services for saving files was Denmark (42 %), followed by the United Kingdom (38 %), Luxembourg and Sweden (35 %) and the Netherlands (34 %). The same countries, plus Estonia, also registered the highest levels of usage of cloud services for sharing files (between 22 % and 29 %). Fewer than one in ten individuals in Poland, Lithuania and Romania used cloud services for saving or sharing files.
About a third of young people in the EU saved files on internet storage space
The proportion of young people aged 16-24 using cloud services for saving files was more than three times higher than the proportion of 55-74 year olds making use of such services (35 % compared with 10 %). Similarly, the younger population made greater use of internet storage space for sharing files (figure 4). At 25 %, the proportion of 16-24 year olds sharing files via the internet cloud was more than four times higher than the percentage doing so in the 55-74 age range (6 %).
Cloud services used less than social media for sharing files
Compared with other ways of electronic file sharing, services offering internet storage space were used less often (figure 5). While only 15 % of the population used internet storage space for sharing files, 44 % used e-mail applications to do so and 30 % used USB sticks, DVDs or Bluetooth. Almost twice as many people as used cloud services used personal websites or social networking sites for this purpose (28 % compared with 15 %).
A large majority of cloud users saved or shared photos and used services free-of-charge
Photos were the most popular type of file for storing or sharing via cloud services. Among those who used internet storage space, 82 % saved or shared photos whilst 54 % reported saving or sharing text documents, spreadsheets or electronic presentations. Around a third of EU cloud users saved or shared music, a quarter video files and one in seven e-books.
Many cloud services are provided free-of-charge to citizen within a certain storage limit. At EU level, only one in ten cloud users chose to use paid-for internet storage space for saving or sharing files (figure 6).
Ease of accessing files from several devices or locations was a main reason for using the cloud
Amongst the reasons for using cloud services (figure 7), three in five users of internet storage space identified the possibility to use files from several devices or locations (59 %) and to share files with other persons easily (59 %). Furthermore, over half of users gave protection against data loss as a reason for using the cloud (55 %). Users also valued having a larger memory space (44 %) and being able to access large libraries of music, films or TV programmes (22 %).
Over a quarter of the population using the internet but unaware of cloud services
In 2014, 55 % of the EU population used the internet but did not use internet storage space for saving or sharing files. Individuals who used the internet but were not aware of the existence of cloud services offering internet storage made up over a quarter (26 %) of the population (figure 8).
Concerns about security and privacy a main barrier to the use of cloud services
Looking at the population segment of those who used the internet and were aware of cloud services but did not use them, 44 % cited security or privacy concerns as reason for not making use of such services, 28 % mentioned concerns about the reliability of service providers and 22 % a lack of skills . The majority (64 %) saved files on their own devices or e-mail accounts (figure 9).
One in ten individuals used software run over the internet for editing documents, spreadsheets or presentations
Cloud services can give users access to software for editing text, spreadsheets or presentations. In 2014, 12 % of the EU population used such software. The proportion was higher among 16-24 year olds, at 23 %, than among older age groups, with 13 % of 25-54 year olds and 4 % of 55-74 year olds reporting making use of such software (figure 10).
Data sources and availability
The data in this article are based on the results of the annual surveys on ICT usage in households and by individuals. Data for 2014 were aggregated from microdata transmitted by all EU Member States and other countries (Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland). They are available on the Eurostat website (see link below). Researchers can also apply for access to the microdata.
The 2014 survey results are based on responses from a total of 150 427 households containing at least one person aged 16-74, and 211 325 individuals aged 16-74 across the EU.
Individuals were asked about the last time they used the internet, how often they used the internet, use away from home or usual place of work, e-skills, e-government and e-commerce related activities and use of a wide range of online services fulfilling different functions, e.g. communication, access to information and entertainment. The 2014 survey included a specific module with questions on the use of cloud computing services for private purposes by individuals. It provides information about the current trends in moving from using own hardware and software to using resources provided by a cloud service.
The main reference period for data relating to activities carried out over the internet and the use of cloud services was the first quarter of 2014, as most countries collected data in the second quarter. A 12-month reference period was taken for e-government and e-commerce related activities because they tend to be irregular and seasonal.
The ‘digital divide’ refers to the divergence in the patterns of computer and internet use seen across countries and between different sections of the population. 'Cloud services' use cloud computing technology and offer internet storage space for saving, sharing or editing text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, photos, e-books and e-magazines, music and video.
The findings of this survey are used for monitoring several EU policies, in particular the Digital Agenda for Europe, one element of the Europe 2020 growth strategy. The Digital Agenda includes a number of targets for internet use and take-up of services. Annual Digital Agenda Scoreboard reports monitor progress towards these targets and on the basis of the indicators specified in the 2011-2015 Benchmarking Digital Europe Framework.
Further Eurostat information
- Computers and the internet in households and enterprises (isoc_ci)
- Special module 2014: cloud computing (isoc_ci_cc)
Methodology / Metadata
Source data for tables, figures and maps (MS Excel)