December 9, 2022

RBS Meltdown revisited. Could it happen to you?

Time may be a great healer but how long does it take to recovery from a breach of confidence? This is the issue facing Royal Bank of Scotland customers whose high-profile system crash last July left 17 million customers at three banks within the group - RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank - without access to their money for several days.

For RBS it couldn’t have come at a worse time, with customer attitude towards banks at an all-time low. The RBS computer failure - the largest ever incurred by a UK bank - not only helped stoke further discontent, but cost the bank more than £125m. (See The Register: August 3rd 2012 issue.) The newly formed Financial Conduct authority (FCA) is also deciding whether to take legal action against the bank.

So how did it all happen? You’d think a bank that was founded almost three hundred years ago would be immune to disaster, after all. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this catastrophe is the relative ease with which the IBM mainframe handling millions of customers’ accounts – and over 20 million transactions a day - was brought down. That coupled with the inability of the bank’s IT staff to carry out routine maintenance and the fact you’d expect a major bank to have a backup and recovery plan robust enough to handle any natural or man-made disaster.

It would appear that RBS isn’t alone in its failure to protect its IT systems from disaster. It is just one of many businesses that have had to bear the pain of learning the importance of effective business continuity planning the hard way. In a move to undo some of the reputational damage and prevent further meltdowns, RBS is now spending £450m in addition to its £2bn annual spend to replace the mainframe that failed and on developing a new backup strategy.

The failure to implement effective backup and recovery solutions is particularly prevalent within small and medium-sized businesses where a significant loss of reputation almost always results in the total failure of the business. A recent study of SMBs in the US and Europe by a leading virtualization software company revealed that 85% of respondents surveyed have issues in backing up and recovering their corporate data. A worrying thought when you consider recovering virtual and physical servers can take many hours, while recovering individual files such as emails can take at least half a day. What’s more, the process can cost tens of thousands per hour in business downtime. Not to mention the many thousands needed to perform a satisfactory recovery. 

Finding ways to prevent SMBs from flirting with backup and recovery disasters means focusing on solutions that meet the cost, complexity and capability issues that face small to medium sized businesses. Solutions which contrary to some people’s view don’t have to cost the earth and may just save your business.


DATAFORT provides dependable and secure data protection services that offer enterprise-level functionality with a focus on security and reliability. Its software and services are used by thousands of organisations worldwide, ranging from SMBs through to large enterprises and local government departments. Every hour of every day someone, somewhere backs up with DATAFORT. The company was founded in 2000, is headquartered in Guildford, UK and has offices in London and New York. For further information please visit or call 0800 45 44 35.Guildford, UK and has offices in London and New York.

Press and analyst contacts:

Nabeel Qureshi
01483 872 052