Half of UK businesses would be unable to recover data and systems for days in the event of a disaster, according to a survey from business continuity provider Topio.

The survey of 260 executives at BCE Expo last week found that only four per cent believed their business would be able to recover in minutes, with 11 per cent saying downtime would last for weeks. But 46 per cent claimed system failure leading to critical data loss is the issue that worries them most.

"The impact of downtime and an inability to recover IT systems and data quickly is clear. More than two thirds of the respondents questioned in this survey said the result of being unable to recover quickly would be financial loss,” said Boaz Palgi, Director EMEA at Topio. “For too long the focus of businesses has been simply moving data offsite - back-up and archival, but if the systems needed to access and utilise that data cannot be recovered for several weeks, the business may be unable to operate whether it has that data or not."

Respondents recognised the need for fast recovery, with 65 per cent saying that speed of recovery was more important than the long-term secure archiving of business data. However, the way to achieve this is still a significant challenge. A quarter referred to replication and recovery as 'a large, unwieldy, money-swallowing problem'.

A further concern identified was the distance between primary and secondary sites. Events such as the Buncefield Oil Depot explosion in Hemel Hempstead, which affected a significant area across southern England, highlight how even localised disasters can affect a wide area. According to the survey, 15 per cent of businesses have secondary sites for data replication within ten miles of their primary site.