Nearly a quarter of British businesses have had an outage lasting at least a day according to new research from Neverfail. And that's despite most of them claiming to have business continuity plans.

As IT becomes a more essential part of modern business, the cost of downtime becomes greater. According to the survey 20 percent of respondents estimated the cost of downtime to their business could be valued at £10,000 or more per hour, with one respondent stating that "£1m of daily sales throughput could be jeopardised in what is a fast turnaround, opportunity driven market."

Andrew Barnes, SVP of corporate development at Neverfail, said that he was immediately struck by the fact that the companies claimed to have business continuity plans, even though their systems remained down. "People are assuming that a recovery designed to protect data is the same thing as continuity - rebuilding applications and connecting users are two different things," he said.

He said that IT managers should think how long it takes to rebuild after an outage. "Even something like a PC takes a time to rebuild," he pointed out.

Thirty-seven percent of respondents said that loss of revenue was their major concern about downtime, although said that companies should be wary of the damage to reputation if a custome can't get the response that he wants.

Barnes said that companies should be more aware of the problems that downtime could bring. "The first thing that people have to do is to understand the impact of downtime. Don't treat all applications the same, find the processes that everyone notices if they're down for 15 minutes and concentrate on those."

He added that the survey hadn't looked at the causes of downtime this time but said that previous surveys had found that application failure was the major cause.