One of the biggest nightmares of today’s CXO is discovering that her company’s data has been lost. However, new research from Infrascale, published Wednesday, shows that 92% of SMB leaders feel ready to face this kind of a disaster.

The research measured responses from over 500 business leaders, mostly including CEOs, but also CIOs and CTOs. The big takeaway is that while most executives display confidence, it may be ill-founded:

Despite a quarter of respondents saying they could recover data lost in a disaster in under 10 minutes and 30% in under an hour, 16% confess that they don’t know their RTO, or recovery time objective, which is an important measure that shows how quickly an organization can bounce back from a data loss. And more than 20% haven’t instituted an actual recovery plan.

“That data suggests that there are either varying definitions of what it means to be able to recover from a disaster or, quite simply, a lack of understanding of what it truly means to be able to recover from a disaster,” said Russell P. Reeder, CEO of Infrascale, said in a press release.

“Make no mistake,” Reeder said, “if a business does not have a disaster recovery solution in place, or at the very least a solution to back up its data, there is no way it can get the data back from a data loss event.”

SEE: Dell: Cost of data loss per organization surpassed $1M in the past year

Predictions of RTO varied by sector, with 26% of telecom execs reporting an RTO of 10 minutes, finance/accounting and retail/e-commerce saying under one hour, and healthcare positing that it would take one full day to fully recover from a data loss.

A low RTO is key to the successful functioning of an organization.

“Having a low RTO can be achieved one of two ways: You either have redundant, highly automated infrastructure or an expensive disaster recovery solution,” said Reeder. “Every industry uses technology differently to achieve their business goals, which in turn will have a different requirement around the redundancy and availability of their systems. While it may be possible to have an RTO of less than one minute if you implement redundant systems, those costs usually outweigh the benefits.”

Industries differed in their goals for data recovery, with three quarters of retail and healthcare execs citing a speedy recovery as the top priority, whereas 64% of finance executives listing zero data loss as the aim.

Of the 8% of respondents who don’t believe they’re prepared to bounce back from a disaster, most cited resources: 39% cited budgetary reasons, 37% said they didn’t have time for research, and 27% said their technology was lacking.

SEE: Big data management tips (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

“This survey data highlights how important it is for businesses to understand and address their disaster recovery risks before it’s too late,” said Reeder.

The bottom line? It’s essential for organizations to be prepared for a disaster—before it hits.

Data recovery solutions such as Infrascale replicate material in the cloud—but first, they back up physical servers locally—offering a hybrid approach, which “enables business users to access their data and applications from a temporary production site, giving them time to fix the root problem,” Reeder added.