Forget the boogeyman and the little vampire asking for candy at your front door. Few things are more chilling for a business owner than the prospect of network downtime and the costs associated with it. According to Continuity Central, the top causes of network downtime include, in order:
- Hardware failure. Listed as the cause of a whopping 55% of SMB downtime. Corrupted cabling, power surges and other hardware problems are often unexpected and tend to stop business in its tracks.
- Human error. We all make mistakes, but when those mistakes happen in the context of business there can be serious repercussions. Causes 22% of network failures.
- Software failure. Viruses and outdated software (among other technical maladies) constitute the cause of 18% of network crises.
- Natural disasters. While Continuity Central emphasizes that natural disasters only “comprise a mere 5 percent of actual causes of downtime,” many business owners know firsthand how devastating natural disasters can be. They are perhaps the scariest of the risks because they are most out of our control.
So what steps can you take to ensure things stay up and running with minimal risk of network operations failure, no matter the cause?
- Inspect all critical hardware periodically. This means checking for frayed wires, replacing old equipment and keeping an eye on the Storage Area Network (SAN) for any signs of problems. When it comes to cabling, it may be worth it to call a structured cabling expert like BCS to ensure that cables are organized in a safe and beneficial way.
- Build an internal IT department or outsource tasks. The best way to minimize the risk of human error is to make sure that the humans using the technology are well-trained in its complexities. Depending on the nature and size of your company, you may prefer a specialized internal IT department or outsourced managed support. Keep in mind that even the most skilled staff is bound to make mistakes, but doing what you can to combat human error is better than doing nothing.
- Be proactive about software updates and continually investigate emerging technologies. Software updates often include important security fixes and efficiency improvements. Delaying or failing to update puts your entire infrastructure at risk of malware, viruses and general continuity issues. Accordingly, avoid getting complacent with applications that just aren’t “working” as well as they should and instead keep one eye open for potential alternatives.
- Prepare as best you can for natural disasters by creating an IT Disaster Recovery Plan. Much like working to prevent downtime caused by human error, avoiding downtime resulting from natural disasters is all about planning. Having an IT disaster recovery plan on hand can make the difference between simple data restoration and rebuilding the network from the ground up (read our advice for creating such plan here).
- Invest in 24/7 network monitoring. Detect problems before they make a costly impact with professional network monitoring. BCS offers remote management of each device and application in a network, self-healing automation for instant resolution of network issues, virtual machine management and more.