Businesses could fall foul of regulation because of their failure to optimise database archiving and make information readily accessible, Forrester has warned.

A "store and forget" attitude is being blamed for over a quarter of businesses ending up running production databases of over 50 terabytes in size, and for their difficulty retrieving important historical information. The growth in database storage size is occurring alongside a 50 percent rise in online transactional data, Forrester said.

A worrying one fifth of expenditure on data centre infrastructure is directed at supporting data growth, as businesses attempt to retain data for analysis, and 64 percent of businesses surveyed by the analyst firm store the data on high-cost tier-1 storage.

Noel Yuhanna, principal analyst at Forrester, said: "Database archiving often fails to get the attention it needs compared to other critical activities related to production databases and data warehouses."

"An archival system becomes critical when you need to access archived information in response to a legal summons, customer service issue, security investigation or technical issue. The value of archiving grows considerably as it becomes easier to access the archived data."

Clearpace, the database archiving software supplier that commissioned the research, said IT managers need to place the same priority on the long term retention and retrieval of structured data, that they place now on managing email and document archives.

Conventional approaches to database archiving often focus on moving inactive data out of production databases, Clearpace said, instead of optimising data storage and making information easily accessible.

But database archiving is not the only data compliance risk companies are struggling to tackle. According to research released separately, around a third of IT users have lost important documents and been unable to find them when required.