In this post, we’re sharing some of the best insights from specialists across a variety of industries to answer: What is downtime & why is downtime so detrimental for businesses?
As well as answering this key topic we’ll also cover how businesses can take steps to prevent downtime & understand the underlying causes behind this often costly concern.
What is downtime?
Downtime is a term used to refer to a period of time in which a system, website or service is unavailable to its users.
Often downtime occurs because networks and servers have not been optimised for peak performance.
For a typical eCommerce customer, downtime serves as an indicator for them to take their business elsewhere and, for business users, it's a frustrating issue as they may not be able to gain access to their auditing, software or tools required for their projects.
To a business owner or IT technician, the impact of downtime can have effects on the wider stability of their company and could mean risking their operations breaching their SLA (Service Level Agreement) which could mean potentially losing millions in revenue.
What are some of the causes of downtime?
Telsea Greene of business and technology solution provider, Cogneeseol, was very helpful in contributing the following reasons behind a few of the common causes for downtime;
- UPS battery failure
- Human error
- IT equipment failure
- Heat / CRAC failure
- UPS capacity exceeded
- Water incursion
- CDU / Circuit breaker failure
In addition to these, Telsea said; “According to Dynamic Technologies, hardware failures cause 45% of total unplanned downtime. Followed by the loss of power (35%), software failure (34%), data corruption (24%), external security breaches (23%), and accidental user error (20%).”
What is the average cost of downtime?
To gain an insight into the average cost of downtime, there are a number of statistics commonly referenced so we’ve aimed to gather a number of these to allow you to see a clearer picture and pull together a quick estimate of how much downtime could cost your business.
According to this report from ITIC in their 2019 edition of their annual Global Server Hardware Report, downtime costs businesses on average $301,000 per hour.
This has risen significantly since 2010 and continues to rise each year as the complexities associated with downtime also grow in difficulty and their associated costs to maintain.
Consultant, Daniel Foley’s statistics closely mirror this, he details;
“Downtime can be extremely bad for business because, without a particular service or product, users can't get on with their work or complete their tasks.”
“The average cost of downtime is $5,600 per minute ($300,000 per hour). To prevent downtime, we need to keep our services, machinery and staff in good health and we need to fix any problems that occur straight away.”
“Also, planned maintenance is fantastic as this allows time for maintenance and users to know when to expect services or products to be back up and running.”
“If downtime does occur then it is vital that your users or customers don't suffer. Consider offering them a discount as a way of compensation. This shows you're sorry for any inconvenience as well as showing them that you are truly grateful for their custom, patience and understanding.”
Phil Strazzulla, CEO of Select Software Reviews is keen to emphasise that the timing of downtime may additionally increase business losses significantly. He states;
“Many people outside of tech don't understand why it's such a big deal when service providers claim 100% uptime. After all, a minute of downtime can't be that big of a deal, right? Of course, it all depends on the industry and the minute in question. Downtime is usually associated with heavy traffic.”
“Imagine if that minute of downtime for an online retailer took place in the middle of a Cyber Monday flash sale?”
“Not only do you lose the money that you could have gained during the minute of downtime, but you also lose credibility with your potential customers. Users live in the age of instant gratification and, when a site goes down, people will move on to something else.”
To calculate the individual cost of downtime for your business specifically you may wish to use a downtime calculator that takes into account your operating hours, turnover from site traffic, among other business-critical factors.
How can users find out if your website is down?
By using a website down checker like Freshping, users external to your organisation can quickly find out if your website is suffering an outage from a range of different locations around the world.
Internally by using a log management tool like Logit.io, you can use this platform to set up alerts on a range of preconfigured conditions to spot the first signs of your services becoming overloaded.
What are some other negative consequences of downtime?
Deindexing in Google A severe instance of downtime can result in your site not being able to be seen within the SERPs, this is obviously a disaster for any business relying on organic traffic for success.
Experienced marketing specialist, Andrus Purde, CEO at Outfunnel explains more;
“For online businesses, downtime can lead to getting de-indexed on Google. Google has numerous ranking factors, and in 2020 the algorithm is more complex than ever.
One thing is for certain — there is a strong correlation between site reliability and rankings. If your site is unavailable or down often, Google may not rank your site high up on the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs).”
How can a business prevent downtime from occurring?
With the exception of unscrupulous security incidents, such as a DoS or cybersecurity attack, downtime usually occurs because of bottlenecks in IT architecture as systems run overcapacity.
In other words, a company's IT landscape must prioritise its bandwidth to business-critical applications to remove bottlenecks so that slowdowns do not turn into downtime.
This can be achieved with the right monitoring tool; for example, one built upon using the ELK stack - which consists of the trio of opensource tools Elasticsearch, Logstash and Kibana. This works in assisting to identify bottlenecks and pinpointing associated problems quickly.
A proactive tool such as Logit.io does not just aid in preventing downtime, our platform also helps IT departments allocate resources effectively to mitigate issues before users are impacted.
Additionally, Lumena Mukherjee, a regular columnist for InfoSec Insights & cybersecurity consultant for Sectigo Store contributed the following advice to help prevent businesses prevent downtime;
“A high level of preparedness (a business continuity plan and a disaster recovery plan) goes a long way to recover or perhaps even prevent unplanned downtime.”
“For instance, do you have backups in place that can be used to restore systems? Do you have a redundant network connection or a backup power source?”
“If, however, your customers are unable to access any services, work to restore critical functionality at the earliest, share regular updates, and communicate the estimated time to recover.”
How log analysis can prevent downtime?
“Studying logs can reveal the event that led to downtime. It helps us understand trends, analyze if there was a security breach, and take corrective actions to prevent future failures”
adds Lumena Mukherjee. Daniel Foley also said on the topic;
“Log analysis can prevent downtime by locating the problem area and giving the end-user the reason why the error occurred. This would also help us keep track of machine downtime too.”
Get started with log analysis today by using Logit.io for 14 days completely free and start taking steps to prevent your business from facing downtime and outages. If you enjoyed this post on why downtime is unacceptable why not check out our post on everything you need to know about DDoS? or our article on the Software Development Life Cycle?