Nearly a quarter of British businesses only back up their data once a week, according to a NetApp survey. That could expose them to four day's data loss and even fines from regulators if they are subject to compliance rulings.

The reluctance to do backups was put down to the length of time it takes. Two thirds of the businesses surveyed took over 6 hours to backup their data (to tape presumably). Astonishingly over a quarter (27 percent) took over 12 hours.

The restoration side was equally staggering. A quarter of the respondents needed more then 24 hours to fully restore company data. Half of all survey respondents admitted to being less then 90 percent confident about the reliability of their backup data.

The one bright part of the survey was that 7 percent of the 245 participants could restore within a hour.

Sixty nine percent of the respondents backed up to tape. Network Appliance commissioned the survey and it sells disk-to-disk (d2d) backup products which backup and restore data at disk speeds, very much faster than tape.

NetApp would like business to change to disk-based backup.

To the extent that tape backup time is the main reason why so few backups get done, backup and restoration windows are so long, and also the low confidence people have in the integrity of tape data, NetApp is absolutely right. Its idea is that organisations should backup to disk first and then archive to tape.

It is possible that in a year or two some business governance guidelines will require businesses to be able safeguard their operations so that data loss and operational restore time limits will rule out the use of tape as a first level backup medium. Public sector computing organisations are already facing very much stiffer operational guidelines.