5 leading causes of network downtime
When the network stops, business stops, you don't want that to happen! Aside from being frustrating, network downtime costs companies hundreds or thousands and even millions of sales and revenue. So how to avoid this? Let's look at the leading causes of network downtime and what can you do to avoid it.
Causes of network downtime in the UK
Organisations and businesses today are highly dependent on their IT infrastructure, and a single IT outage can bring revenue loss, customer dissatisfaction, decreased productivity, and a tainted business image and reputation.
And a lot of pressure will be placed on your IT staff to fix things up and get the business running. Knowing the leading causes of network downtime can help your company and IT professionals to plan and come up with preventive measures to avoid or lessen network downtime.
What is network downtime?
Cambridge dictionary defines downtime as "the time during which a machine, especially a computer, is not working or is not able to be used".
In other words, downtime refers when a system can not complete its function. When the network of a business faces a critical problem, this could cause network downtime. For example, a phone without tone, a website leading to a DNS error, an APP that is not responding, a POS that shouts an error are some network downtime scenarios you may be familiar.
There are planned downtime scenarios for regular maintenance, updates or hardware replacement, and these are planned, controlled and scheduled. On the other hand, there are totally unplanned scenarios that can result in loss and harm of reputation if it's not controlled efficiently.
Most common reasons of network downtime in the UK
A study suggested that almost 60 million hours of working time were lost by UK businesses to internet outages in 2018. This study performed by Beaming shows that UK businesses experienced two major outages in 2018, with estimates that these outages cost the UK economy £742 million in lost productivity and extra overtime.
To avoid this loss in your productivity you can get a private server where you can store your core vitals information so your business can keep running while the internet connection is fixed.
Failed hardware and software
One of the most common causes of network downtime is a piece of hardware failing. A deficient wire, an old computer or even a cable chewed by a mouse, hardware will fail eventually. They have limited lifespans.
Recovery from a hardware failure often requires repair or replacements, which are costly! To avoid these costly expenses, establish a server contingency plan, and a secondary server hardware such as multiple power sources, redundant RAM and backup servers.
A server monitoring system can also help you keep tabs on servers and monitors, and alert you if there are potential risks.
Reasons for hardware failure include:
- Power problems
- Extreme temperature changes
- User errors
- Mechanical and internal failures
- Firmware corruption
Outdated software has the potential to cause network outages too. Software failures can corrupt applications. Updates and patches, if not compatible with your hardware or drivers aren’t installed properly, can harm your system as well.
To prevent software failures, you should do these:
- Automated testing
- Find the right software provider to monitor your system
- Hire an in-house programmer
- Invest in a high-quality system
Network changes that are not properly tested and evaluated can cause downtime. These issues arise when you intend to make a change that does not work properly alongside your other devices. 44% of IT professionals agreed that incompatible network changes resulted in downtime or performance problems several times a year.
Avoid these problems by testing changes and new devices in the lab setting before putting them into production.
Security flaws and attacks
Other of the most common causes of network downtime are attacks and data breaches. Make sure you have the appropriate security controls and antivirus software in place to keep intruders and cybercriminals from hacking and overloading your network.
If attackers can gain access on your devices, they can control your network. They might exploit your data, as well as your client’s information. And you don’t want that to happen.
To combat security threats and avoid network downtime try this:
- Keep antivirus up to date
- Implement two-factor or multi-factor authentication
- Closely monitor network devices
- Update the network regularly
For any business, network downtime can be distracting and frustrating. Missed sales and lost data caused by network outages affects your bottom line and your relationships with clients and partners.
You can avoid or help keep your network downtime to a minimum. Remain vigilant in your own network monitoring and do these:
- Proactive and continuous network monitoring
- Conduct preventive maintenance
- Outsource specialist Network Operations service provider
- Keep your IT fully staffed
- Keep your software and security patches up to date
Human mistakes are inevitable, they happen even to those who are really good in their field. Stress, too much workload, fatigue or lack of sleep are some common causes why humans break down during business hours.
Human error in IT is growing and it remains the primary cause of network downtime and data breaches. The Insider Data Breach Survey 2019 showed that 79% of IT leaders believe that employees have put their company data at risk.
Hey! this even happens to big companies, so don't say "no this will never happen to me" because it could. Anyways, it can be prevented and here are some steps that can be made to prevent or minimise human errors.
- Train your employees and test their knowledge: Educate them about their job-specific roles to improve workplace competency and reduce the likelihood of future work errors.
- Invest in refresher courses for your team: Some employees might forget the information they learned during the training, so a refresher course is needed. Also, you need to update them on the current trends in technology, and best practices in your industry.
- Limit access to sensitive systems: This may sound dumb but happens too frequently, don't let inexperienced people handle the systems without supervision. Only give access to well-trained employees, this way you’ll reduce human errors.
- Develop a strong disaster recovery plan: Since human error is inevitable, create contingency plans to identify and mitigate risks. Just make sure that all employees handling important systems, know how to implement your recovery plans.
You can also reduce stress in the workplace. Set clear goals for your team members and recognise their efforts. Setting clear goals, make them focus on the important deliverables. Then, appreciate what they have done to boost their morale and confidence. That makes them go to work motivated and ready.
Power failures and natural disasters
You never know when a natural disaster will hit, or when a power outage will overthrow your system. Sometimes, power can be out for hours or days depending on what causes it.
You can avoid data loss, reduced productivity, and other negative impacts of network downtime by keeping good records and reducing the amount of manual work your team performs with automation.
An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) can be a very good investment for your company. It avoids damage to hardware caused by voltage spikes, and ensures that networks and other software are usable while minimising downtime.
Natural disasters such as fire, flood, typhoons, affect the viability of many organisations. One solution is to migrate to the cloud to ensure your business is still operating despite these calamities. Cloud computing offers security, and promotes collaboration even if your teams are working remotely.
Preventive maintenance monitoring and performance go a long way to minimizing the risk of equipment failures bringing down your network.
Keeping your network secure
All businesses need to avoid network downtime. It is sometimes beyond control, but the most important thing is that you are able to recover quickly in the event of severe situations.
Read our IT Security Guide for a full breakdown of all the things you need to know, to keep your business safe.
Avoid Network Downtime?
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