In the modern business world, even a few minutes of downtime could cost your business big time, and an extended outage could leave the very survival of your company in doubt. The heartbreak of downtime is real, but there are solid ways to protect a business and reduce the risk of downtime.
Even if you do everything right – backing up your data, patching your servers and training employees, Mother Nature could still put your business at risk. Every part of the country faces its own weather challenges, including the state of Wisconsin.
Wisconsin businesses may not have to worry about mudslides or hurricanes, but power outages, tornadoes, or flooding could strike at any time without warning. Without a disaster recovery plan in place, just think of the hardship your company would face if the local electric grid went down or water invaded your server room.
Timing is Everything
In the cutthroat world of online commerce, there is never a good time for downtime, but Black Friday is arguably the worst possible day for a website outage. Yet that is exactly what happened to retail giants Lowes and Wal-Mart; when both companies experienced significant downtime on the biggest shopping day of the year.
Even online behemoth Amazon.com is not immune to unexpected downtime, and once again the outage happened at the worst possible time. After weeks of promoting its Prime Day shopping extravaganza, Amazon.com saw its website crash just as the fun was getting started. No one knows for sure how much money was lost, but it’s almost certain that some shoppers took their business elsewhere during the extended online outage.
Avoid Downtime with Proactive Planning
You may not be able to predict a disaster, but you can prepare for the worst. Proactive planning is the best way to avoid downtime, and now is the time to start.
Both data backup solutions and disaster recovery planning are important, and these two measures can work together to reduce downtime and prepare your business for the unexpected. Backing up your data to the cloud is a good place to start, but even the best data backup plan is no substitute for a comprehensive disaster recovery plan.
Disaster recovery involves the creation of a comprehensive plan of action, one that can be put in place the minute a disaster strikes. Whether that disaster is a fire, flood, tornado or something else, the process is pretty much the same.
The exact process of a disaster recovery plan will vary from one network to the next, so at Ontech Systems, we always customize the plan to the unique needs of your business.
The Cost of Downtime
The cost of downtime is enormous, and a significant percentage of businesses that close during a disaster never reopen.
“If you would like to calculate the potential damage for your own business, this popular downtime calculator can help.”
The direct cost of downtime is only the beginning – the indirect damage can be far more severe. A business that suffers from an extended period of downtime or data loss could lose the confidence of its customers, and that lost confidence may never be restored.
Other indirect costs of downtime include, but are not limited to:
- Lost sales.
- Fines from governmental agencies and private organizations.
- Loss of productivity.
- Significant recovery costs.
- Higher costs for overtime and wages for members of the IT team.
- For publicly traded companies, loss of shareholder value and investor confidence. As a result of downtime, many companies experienced stock market losses, and while some have recovered, others have seen a long-term decline in share prices.
What Are the Causes of Downtime?
Aside from natural disasters, other common causes of downtime include hardware failure, software glitches, and attacks by hackers such as ransomware assaults. Disaster recovery for small businesses is of particular importance since cyber criminals target smaller businesses, given their track record for weaker network security.
Insider sabotage is another common cause of downtime, and this threat often goes undetected. It’s easy to overlook the threat of an insider attack, especially given the current focus on hackers and other forms of cyber-attacks. Solid employee screening, access restrictions and ongoing monitoring can reduce these internal threats.
How to Prevent Downtime
While it’s not always possible to avoid downtime entirely, there are things you can do to reduce the risks and mitigate the damage.
- Monitor Threats: Installing network monitoring software that detects threats and blocks unauthorized access is a good place to start.
- Maintain Functional Backups: Making sure your backups are actually working as intended is a great step in the right direction – and it’s one that is often overlooked.
- Define a Disaster Recovery Plan: A well-rehearsed and comprehensive disaster recovery plan is a necessary step to prepare for a disaster. Practicing this disaster recovery plan at least once a year and making sure all IT staff are fully trained can make the plan more effective should a true disaster strike.
- Plan Ahead: As the saying goes, “fail to plan, plan to fail”. Businesses today face a variety of threats, and many security experts agree it’s not a matter of if, but when your business will face a cyber-attack. Unfortunately, in the volatile digital world we live in, planning is no longer optional.
The good news is that you are not alone in your struggle to maintain a secure, stable network. Help is just a phone call – 262-522-8560 or click away. Ontech Systems works with small to mid-sized businesses throughout the southeast Wisconsin area to create reliable, stable, and customized data backup and recovery solutions.