Almost 1 million UK households have lost treasured family memories of adorable babies, beautiful spouses and dream holidays because they are failing to keep their digital archives safe from cyber criminals according to a new survey released today.

Based on a survey of 1,500 adults across Europe, the research revealed that over one in ten (12%) of UK respondents (970,000 households) had permanently lost irreplaceable precious items memories they had digitally stored on their PCs due to a virus.

The research found that there is £1.8bn worth of unprotected music digitally archived on people's PCs which is at risk of attack from internet criminals with over a third (39%) of UK respondents now only storing their music digitally. Furthermore only two-thirds (68%) archive their photos digitally.

The survey comes as McAfee aims to dramatise the issues facing all of us who have precious information stored digitally with the opening today of a free interactive exhibition Digital You at the Science Museum in London.

There are some - 4% - that admitted they would have no way of contacting many of their friends and colleagues if they lost their digital address book.

In Europe Spain comes top when it comes to digitally archiving their most precious items with three-quarters (78%) of people surveyed solely archiving their photos digitally (14% of which store their entire photographic memories
digitally) and half (49%) house their favourite music digitally.

89% of respondents in Italy said they kept their entire address book of friends and colleagues digitally - the highest in Europe - but worryingly one in ten (9%) respondents said that would permanently lose touch with many of their friends and associates if anything happened to their digitally stored address book.

Germany was the most cautious with half (48%) of those surveyed archiving their photos online and a quarter (28%) archiving their music digitally. UK respondents said that they had lost the least (only 12% of respondents).