IT downtime or IT outage refers to when an organization's IT system shuts down or becomes inoperable. Downtime can be either planned or unplanned. Planned downtime means deliberately shutting systems, usually to allow for routine maintenance. This is normally scheduled at the most convenient time to avoid disrupting business activities.
Unplanned downtime occurs randomly and unexpectedly. It catches the business by surprise, causing interruptions and untold losses in delays, unrealized revenue, and recovery costs. Some estimates put the average cost of IT downtime at $5,600 per minute, while others quote much higher figures. But the true cost of downtime depends on the incident and business in question. For instance, analysts speculate that a recent 14-hour Facebook outage might have cost the company a whopping $90 million in lost revenue.
But even if an unplanned IT outage doesn't cost your business millions of dollars in losses, it can still be painful and wasteful. And given how IT ties so many business processes together, maintaining IT uptime should be a top priority.
How to prevent downtime
Common causes of downtime include:
- Hardware/software crashes
- Human error
- Cyberattacks and sabotage
- Power outages
- Systems overload
- Data loss
- Network outages
- Natural disasters and accidents
- Third-party supplier outages
By looking at the leading causes of downtime, we can deduce what it would take to minimize the risk of costly IT outages. Here are five practical measures you should consider to optimize IT uptime:
Check and update your systems regularly
Older and unhealthy systems are more susceptible to failure, lag, and even cyberattacks. Check your servers, computers, and network devices regularly for signs of damage, weakness, or aging that might lead to failure. The same goes for software tools as well. Ensure your systems run the latest operating systems, software applications, drivers, and firmware.
Invest in cybersecurity and employee training
Cybercrime is one of the most common and devastating causes of downtime. According to Acronis Cyber Protection Week Global Report, cyberattack is the third leading cause of IT outages, after system crashes and human error.
Invest heavily in defensive cybersecurity to protect your IT against destructive threats such as malware, DDoS traffic, ransomware, data theft, and cryptojacking. Also, train your employees to use the available digital resources correctly, efficiently, and safely.
Reduce your dependency on on-premise hardware
On-premise servers, computers, and network systems can easily go offline due to power loss and physical damage from sabotage, accidents, and disasters. Mitigate such risks by moving more of your critical workloads to the cloud and relying less on on-premise hardware. Most cloud providers guarantee 99.99% uptime, which is more than you'll get from any on-premise setup.
Have a disaster recovery plan
You can't prevent or even anticipate every IT outage. So, you need to have a disaster recovery plan to get your business up and running as quickly as possible after an unavoidable IT failure. The recovery plan should include swift response procedures for every possible IT downtime scenario, from data loss and cyberattack to natural disaster.
Part of the recovery plan should focus on preserving business continuity, perhaps by running mission-critical operations on backup systems.
Focus on proactive IT maintenance
You won't avoid downtime if you always wait until an IT component crashes in order to fix it. You can prevent catastrophic IT failures by anticipating technical issues and resolving them before they arise or grow into big problems. This is called proactive IT maintenance. For instance, if a server starts to slow down, fix or replace it before it grinds to a complete halt.
Proactive IT maintenance is the most holistic measure you can take to minimize the chances of unwanted downtime. And that's what we do here at Highway 99 Technology Solutions Inc. With our managed IT services, you can plan, manage, and maintain your IT infrastructure to optimize efficiency, safety, performance, and uptime. We will also help you develop a disaster recovery plan to handle any IT threats that slip through the net. Call us at 604-262-2999 or book a consultation to get started with expert IT management.
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