Hosting company Star has announced a new service that it claimed can help enterprises keep systems running in the event of a major server crash.

The service, Critical Switch, requires no additional hardware at the customer site, or change of internet hosting provider and allows businesses to re-direct traffic to one of Star's five scalable Hosting packages.

James Griffin, Star's head of hosting strategy, said that the system would give peace of mind to small enterprises in the event of a disastrous system crash. "We take ownership of the DNS records when things aren't working like they should be; it works by sending the customer's A records within Star's own system."

The service had been offered because so few companies had disaster recovery plans in place. A recent Star-sponsored survey had revealed that only 40 percent had recovery plans for their IT systems - even though 48 percent of firms surveyed has suffered an outage in the previous year.

Griffin said that Critical Switch would offer a speedy restore. "We claim a two hour time to recovery. In a lot of cases we actually can do it within 30 minutes but the TTL (time to live) of some providers isn't so great so we actually give the figure of two hours to restore service - most of our SMEs are very happy with two hours," he added.

Most importantly of all, Griffin claimed that it would offer effective disaster recovery at a cost-effective price. "We have something in place without breaking the bank. The service is £50 ($94) a month and the customer has to be pay for the VMware environment and that's another £225; so we offer recovery for £275 a month."

The service provider already has a few customers signed up but has attracted other interest. "Being near Gloucester, we have lots of interest from companies worried about flooding. What seems to be putting them off is the fear that our service has been priced too low," Griffin said.

He agreed that it will take some time to see whether the service has been a success pointing out that it's not really been possible to fully replicate the effects of server crash. "I don't think we'll able to assess this for about eight months."