Businesses today are increasingly reliant on the availability of their IT infrastructure – from managing their website to providing services to their customers – and even the slightest amount of downtime can have a massive impact on their wallet, brand reputation, and customer loyalty.
Understandably, downtime is a digital business’s worst nightmare. To help you avoid and overcome unwanted downtime, we’ve outlined four common causes and provided tips, tricks and advice for remediation.
- Hardware failure
Sometimes your hardware can fail, and if your servers aren’t working then it’s likely your employees can’t either. All it takes is a frozen hard drive or broken power supply, and your business operations will grind to a halt.
To minimise the risk of failure, we recommend that you build in resilience when configuring your servers, ensure that disks are always in a RAID format to allow for an individual disk failure, and have plenty of redundant power supplies to fall back on. Data backup services, such as Datto’s SIRIS & ALTO backup technologies or Veeam’s Cloud Connect Solution, are essential tools in any recovery plan and could be the only thing standing between your business and a lengthy and costly period of downtime. If you haven’t already, we recommend investing in these services today to prevent permanent loss of data and ensure you’re able to get back up and running if disaster strikes.
- Human error
Employees are often the weakest link in any organisation, with around 88% of data centre downtime being a direct result of human error. Whilst not entirely avoidable, these errors mostly occur when employees don’t follow standards or protocols.
So, what should be done about it? Create and document consistent operating procedures, and make sure they’re easily accessible to your employees. Training is also central in mitigating the effects of user error; share with them the consequences of not changing their password regularly to instil an understanding of security hygienes and how to best follow them.
- Cyber attacks
Not only is your data at threat from cybercriminals – from ransomware to phishing – but losing it could bring your whole IT estate to a standstill. So what precautions should you employ to minimise your risk of stolen data and the resultant downtime?
The answer lies in building IT applications with a ‘security by design’ approach. Combined with a security-centric culture, as outlined in the previous section, this concept ensures that security, privacy and compliance are included at the design and build stages at every level of infrastructure and application development.
Solutions such as Panda Adaptive Defense 360 for real-time visibility and control of your security, combined with regular security audit reviews in the form of PEN tests and vulnerability scans, will go a long way towards any security strategy. Businesses should also look to cybersecurity accreditations, such as the UK Government-backed Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus schemes which guide you on how to bolster your cyber resilience and demonstrate to others that you understand the threats and have protected your business.
- IT overload
If your website experiences a sudden surge in traffic, the server it’s hosted on may not have the technical capacity to handle all new users at once. This can cause the server to go down and the website to crash. For websites hosted on a shared server, some hosts will temporarily suspend your service to protect other websites using that same server. The end result is the same – systems fail, and you can no longer access the systems your business relies on.
To prevent demand from exceeding capacity, we recommend a technique called load balancing – distributing an IT task between two or more computers to cope with growing demand from users.
What can you do?
Businesses will never eliminate IT downtime. IT systems will fail. Humans will make errors. Cybercriminals will breach even the most stringent company security. But with some smart planning and the right backup, downtime can be reduced – or avoided altogether. Any IT outages that do happen can be dealt with promptly and calmly, minimising disruption to your business.
At Comtec, we work with world-leading security vendors to help businesses like yours find the right solutions at the right price. We deliver best-in-class technologies that make sure unwanted downtime is a minor inconvenience and not a business-halting disaster. We’re a true partner at every stage and offer full consultancy, from concept to deployment and beyond, as well as round-the-clock support to keep your solutions running as they should.