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Downtime Causes Explained and How to Drastically Cut it

July 08, 2016 in Downtime and Business Continuity

As the old saying goes, “time is money.” This phrase applies to small businesses better than almost anything else. If your business’ tools fail and prevent you and your team from continuing work, how will your business make profit? “Downtime” is when your business’ systems or other tools fail to perform their primary functions, ceasing company operations.

Almost every type of business is susceptible to experiencing downtime. This unfortunate, but nearly inevitable, experience is something every business goes through. The reality is, small businesses are usually hurt the worst by downtime. Many small businesses do not have the expansive budgets that large businesses do. When a small business experiences downtime, there are many more noticeable side effects compared to larger businesses with more resources.

Some examples of small businesses that are hurt the most by downtime include:

  • Law Offices - Lots of data and tight looming, deadlines demand uptime. 
  • Medical Offices- Without access to client records and scheduling, business comes to a halt. 
  • Accounting Firms - During peak seasons, up-time is crucial to meeting deadlines and securing data. 

If businesses like these are unable to operate for even a few hours, thousands of dollars are at stake. This is why a strong IT structure is crucial to preventing disruptive and damaging downtime.

Large businesses are affected by downtime as well. Just because a large business has more money and greater resources, doesn’t mean downtime isn’t devastating. No matter the size or type of business, people should always be aware of what causes downtime for their business and what the underlying causes are so it can be corrected. 

Here are the top causes of downtime for small businesses and how IT can prevent it: 

Hardware Issues 

Servers are a crucial piece of hardware for doing basic day-to-day operations. When a server crashes or becomes unavailable, the business no longer has access to data and programs the server houses. This can cause large amounts of downtime for a business. It is crucial to keep your servers and all other hardware properly working and maintained to prevent this type of hardware induced downtime.

How to Correct Hardware-Caused Downtime:

If you are experiencing a lot of hardware-related downtime, your servers and other hardware are not being monitored properly. An IT provider helps prevent hardware-related downtime through active monitoring. Close network surveillance lets your IT provider know the current state of  hardware. When your company experiences hardware failure, a good IT provider is instantly aware of it. The proper hardware repairs are then made to further prevent any more downtime.

Software Issues 

Software updates are the main cause of software downtime. Though updates are made to improve software, it doesn’t always work as planned. Updates occasionally cause additional bugs to form in programs, making it hard or impossible to use the software correctly. There are also circumstances when an update changes a program so much that a learning curve for users is created. Employees then use company time to learn their new software to do their jobs. These bugs and learning curves cause large amounts of downtime for businesses.

How to Correct Software- Caused Downtime: 

If you keep experiencing software-related downtime, your software updates are not being properly monitored. Just like hardware monitoring, a good IT provider also monitors a business’ software usage. The IT provider monitors the software’s updates to ensure there are no bugs or any other issues that cause downtime. Most IT companies recommend businesses stay one week behind on software updates. This lets a company know if the new software update has been successful or not, and if it is worth downloading.

User Error

Even with all the right hardware and software in place, sometimes honest mistakes cause downtime. Virus and malware infections are the main culprits to human-caused downtime. Employees receive emails with malicious links from anonymous senders, or senders posing as legitimate sources, and after a few clicks, a company’s entire system is infected. Flash drives can also infect company systems. If an employee brings a personal flash drive to work and that flash drive happens to be infected from their personal use, after plugging the drive into a computer, viruses and malware can infiltrate your company’s system. There have also been cases of hackers playing on people’s curiosity by leaving infected flash drives in public spots. Curious people, or do-gooders looking to find the rightful owner of the drive, take it with them, plug it into a computer at home or work, and unknowingly infect systems.

How to Correct Human-Error- Caused- Downtime:

If your business continually experiences  downtime from human-caused errors, you don’t have the right security in place. An IT provider should set up businesses with the right security systems to prevent downtime. Businesses often purchase security software to prevent any infections, but this isn’t always enough protection. An IT provider needs to implement a strong, layered security system to ensure there will be as little downtime as possible from malware attacks.

Natural Disasters 

Although rare, there can be extreme circumstances like natural disasters that cause large amounts of downtime for businesses. If your business’ building is destroyed from a natural disaster, there will obviously be many things needed to rebuild the company. One crucial aspect that can prepare you for situations like these is having offsite server backups. If all of your servers are on-site, and they all become destroyed, you could lose decades of important information.

How to Correct Natural Disaster-Caused Downtime:

It is very important to have off-site servers store business information as well. This way if your onsite servers are destroyed due to extreme circumstances, all of your information can be secure and out of harm’s way. There are many things to be done in rebuilding a destroyed business, but having the proper offsite server back-ups can drastically help in improving the chances of your business rebuilding and becoming successful again.

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Live Consulting is the complete IT solution for business. Focused on providing IT Managed Services to the Denver market, we provide expert IT planning, support, and delivery to companies desiring streamlined technology and processes. Live Consulting was founded in 2004 around the idea that small and medium sized businesses deserve access to Enterprise level service and technology.

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