British businesses are lagging behind many of their global competitors when it comes to disaster recovery in the clouds, according to research from Acronis. And even the companies who are diligent about backing up are failing to treat virtual servers in the same way as they treat physical ones.

The disaster recovery company found that more than a third of British businesses have no off-site back-up plan in place and found that more than a third also manage four or more different backup technologies.

David Blackman, Acronis's general manager for northern Europe, said that the UK was not alone in its lack of preparedness for business disruption. He pointed out that the US and Australia were equally culpable when it came to spending on off-site back-up but he added that wasn't due to lack of business disruption. "According to a previous survey, only five percent of UK companies had not experienced any data loss, implying that 95 percent had. That doesn't compare well with a global figure where two-thirds of organisations said that they had lost data."

The ever-increasing rise in storage was adding to the problem said Blackman. "According to IDC, there will be 1.8 zettabytes of data generated globally this year, juggling these storage demands will become a problem," he added.

The clear leaders when it came to confidence in their back-up systems were German and Dutch companies said Blackman. "One of the main factors there is that they get buy-in from the top, that's really important. But the Germans also seem to spend more on their back-up too." Fast catching up are countries like China and India that have no complex legacy systems to maintain, a factor that bedevils mature countries

Blackman said that the onset of cloud would present the next challenge to organisations. "One of the factors that has prevented offsite back-up has been the cost of using a hosted solution – it's been expensive. Cloud will change that, it offers a cheaper option."

However, he admitted that this wouldn't be the simple option as companies were not rushing to adopt cloud. Blackman pointed out that even countries that have been forward thinking when it came to disaster recovery were not necessarily going to be early adopters of cloud. "Norway and Sweden, for example, are less likely to adopt cloud - they're more conservative in their approach. This will change and I do expect a dramatic increase in 12 months from organisations."

In advance of the switch to cloud, companies are already switching to virtualisation, he said, but that threw up other problems. "Companies are backing up virtual servers as readily as they back up physical ones," he said. "More than two-thirds of UK organisations are not backing up their virtual servers. And globally, 56 percent of companies are using different solutions for physical and virtual environments."