Woman reacts to network downtime

3 of the Top Causes of Downtime and How to Stop Them

Advances in technology have transformed the modern workplace. People are working faster and more efficiently than ever before. But all of that work and efficiency comes to a crashing halt the moment your system stops working due to downtime.

We’ve all experienced some form of downtime. Your computer won’t start. A website won’t load. You’re left staring at that blue screen of death wondering exactly what to do next. Downtime can cause frustration to your customers, your employees, and on average costs your business $5,600 per minute.

There are many different causes of downtime, but the majority of them fall into one of three categories: system failure, human error, and network outages. Complete prevention will never be possible, but understanding the major causes can help you reduce its likelihood and limit its negative impact on your business.

System Failure

Most workplaces rely on dozens of types of technology to operate. Desktop and laptop computers are the first systems that to come to mind. However, telephones, printers, servers, routers, switches, and hubs are a few of the others working hard in the background. All it takes is a frozen hard drive or broken power supply to bring your well-oiled system to a standstill.

These tips can prevent system failure from translating to business failure:

  • Network monitoring and system updates are an obvious way to keep your system running smoothly. If you don’t have in-house technicians to run regular maintenance checks, look into managed IT services who will do the tough work for you.
  • Having a well-rehearsed recovery plan is the best thing you can do for your business. Data backup and cloud services can prevent permanent data loss and allow you to get back up and running in no time. You will never eliminate system failure completely. But, being able to recover in a matter of minutes instead of days will save you time, stress, and money.

Human Error

Human error accounts for 22% of system downtime. All it takes is the slip of a finger to accidentally delete a system file causing an application to crash. And even the most careful person can trip and spill a cup of coffee on the network server.

Luckily, there are things you can do to lessen the likelihood of human error (like not keeping your network server anywhere near people walking around with cups of coffee):

  • Create and document consistent operating procedures. Make sure these procedures are easily accessible to employees. If it takes someone more than a few minutes to find what they’re looking for, they are more likely to try to perform that task from memory. This increases the potential for human error.
  • Provide employees with the training and skills necessary to use systems and software correctly. Training is especially important when introducing new or updated systems to the workplace.

Network Outages

Network outages are one type of downtime that is mostly out of your control. When you rely on other businesses to provide services such as internet, phone, and power, it is impossible to control how their systems function. Thankfully, in most cases, you are in control of who you hire to provide these services. Doing research and asking questions before hiring a provider can help you make the best choice for your business.

  • Find out the average uptime for your provider options. Selecting the one with the highest average is a good indicator of future consistent service.
  • Ask about past outages and how long the downtime lasted. A provider with only one outage on average a year may seem like a great option, but if that outage typically lasts multiple days you may want to keep looking.
  • Consider using different providers for different services. It may save you money to bundle services, but having only one service down at a time instead of two or three can make a big difference in your ability to run your business.

Downtime is not something that can be completely prevented, but having the right processes in place can lessen its impact and keep your business running as smoothly as possible.