Identical surveys conducted in both the UK and in the US reveal that businesses in America are more proficient at archiving data than in the UK.

According to technology specialist BridgeHead Software the surveys also show that organisations in the UK feel the burden of compliance regulations more than in the US - despite much of the hype about regulation emanating from the latter.

Respondents in both countries also demonstrated uncomfortably high levels of confusion around the different roles of backup and archiving.

Jon Toigo, chief executive of data management consulting and research firm Toigo Partners International, said: "The differences between US and UK companies with respect to archiving practices may well reflect the dilemma confronting US IT organisations - that of having to select and manage separate archive tools for databases, email, content management systems, and unsorted user files.

"Thus far, the US vendor community has shown little interest in cooperating in any sort of overarching scheme of archive management, which in turn imposes a huge burden on IT administrators."

Key findings include:

* In the UK, 28 per cent of companies do not archive data. In the US, the figure is 23 per cent - a small improvement but still a significant minority.

* In the UK, 25 per cent of those that do archive use some kind of automated tool. In the US, this figure rises to 32 per cent.

* Respondents have different levels of faith in their archive procedures. In the UK, 15 per cent didn't know how long it would take them to retrieve a vital file lost three months ago, but in the US this rises to 20 per cent.

In the UK, two per cent of respondents admitted that they wouldn't be able to find the file, but this rose to six per cent among US companies.

* Twenty two per cent of UK respondents cited compliance/corporate governance as a driver for archiving, but this figure fell to just 15 per cent among US counterparts.

* However, asked if regulatory compliance was a factor at all in their business, 48 per cent of UK respondents said no, compared to 42 per cent in the US.

* Forty eight per cent of UK respondents say that business continuity and disaster recovery is a driver for archiving in their organisation.

In the US the figure is 40 per cent, but - despite making backups/restores faster and simpler by reducing the size of primary data stores - archiving, according to the survey, is not the answer to data protection.

Tony Cotterill, chief executive of BridgeHead Software, said: "Generally, the respective figures are within shouting distance of each other, lending validity to the survey.

"Too many respondents in both countries are using backup software to create archives, which just isn't appropriate.

"An archive involves indexing content so it can be retrieved later using a keyword search, anything else is just backup. The fact that business continuity and disaster recovery heads the list of drivers for archiving in both countries reinforces the conclusion that many people are confused."