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What’s Up With Downtime?

by Blog

When we think about the things that can stop a business dead in it’s tracks, our minds go to different things. Some may think of a lack of inventory. Recently we have seen problems due to a lack of employees. Others worry about being obsolete in the marketplace, like the milk men and shoe shiners of yesteryear. What about things that can cost a company lots of money? Issues such as not following ever changing laws, not keeping up to date with new technology, or the rising costs of everything from labor to materials. These are all real concerns, however one of the biggest issues a business can face is downtime.

What is downtime? You may think of it as a lack of productivity, which is partially correct. Simply put downtime is the amount of time between a systems outage and getting back up and running. Ask yourself the following question, “How long can my network be down for until I have to close my doors”. For many business owners, 90% in fact, the answer is three days. That is the same amount of time a human being can go without water. We are in the digital age, where everything our businesses do, from bookkeeping, to communications, to billing and the like are done via our network. A system outage for a business dependent on the network could be catastrophic and cost thousands if not millions of dollars in lost business depending on the length of the outage.

There is an old phrase, “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance”. Proper preparation also ensures that you can bounce back from an outage and minimize your downtime. In the past year we have seen massive ransomware attacks that have crippled the supply chain, as well as made key agencies from medical facilities to police departments grind to a halt. However, what about the thousands of ransomware attacks that were unsuccessful? They are usually that way because the company or institution was proactive in being prepared in case of emergency. Take the attack on the Houston Rockets. In April, hacker group Babuk, the same group that successfully perpetrated a ransomware attack on the DC Police department, unleashed a ransomware attack on the NBA organization. However, the Rockets had something that the DC police did not. They had a disaster recovery plan. This allowed them to quickly shut down the attack without having to shut down operations, saving their data and cutting down their downtime.

Reducing downtime is not merely about your cyber-security needs. Think about this, you own a call center that handles logistical issues for trucking companies around the country. You have a disaster recovery plan in place in case of a cyber-attack. One day, a huge storm rolls in, lightening, thunder, and heavy winds. How prepared are you then? If your network goes down, then how do you continue to help navigate these fleets. Do you have a generator to keep the power going? Is your team able to work remotely from their homes or

vehicles on their mobile devices or laptops in case they have to leave the office or can’t come in? It’s called disaster recovery for a reason. You cannot just focus on what happens if there is an internal issue in your system, but also how you deal with external situations that can disrupt your day-to-day operations and cause heavy downtime.

These are just a few of the issues that you can run into that can cause business disrupting if not destroying downtime. What else can you do to ensure you are able to keep going no matter what the circumstances? To start, test your systems, constantly. Check on your backup servers, this way you can make sure that if you do need them, they actually do what you need them to; backup and restore your data. You should also be checking and assessing your facilities. This could be everything from checking for leaks near electronic equipment, making sure walkways are clear so no one is going to trip over a cable that could unplug key parts of your system, making sure your climate control is working to

keep your machines in tip top condition. Also don’t forget about our furry woodland friends who may wander in, racoons and squirrels love chewing through cables.

Give your space a once or twice over every week so you can be on top of any issues that may occur.

Pay attention to your machines. Oftentimes we get notifications that we minimize without reading that are warning us the same way your car’s check engine light lets you know you have a problem. These alerts are there for a reason and can help you stay on top of issues that may be about to occur. You want to maintain your servers with the same diligence that you would maintain your vehicle or your home.

Make sure you update your devices and software when new updates become available. Yes, this can be a chore as usually you have to restart after an update, but it can save you time and money. These updates aren’t just about new features and layouts, but oftentimes they contain patches. These patches allow the hardware and software to deal with reported vulnerabilities, helping keep you and your network safe from unwanted intrusion.

Finally, find yourself a great partner. An MSP, such as the folks at Delval Technology Solutions, can help you create and maintain a proactive plan that will keep your downtime low and increase your uptime. You would never go on a trip without turning your GPS on, so it makes sense that you would have a roadmap to follow in case of an emergency. With a great MSP by your side, you can count on not only expert advisement, but also having a team that can aid in implementing a top-class disaster recovery plan.

It has been said “It’s not about how you fall down, but how you get back up.” No company is impervious to disasters, be it an internal issue such as being hacked, or an external issue like a hurricane. How you deal with these issues is what makes the difference between a company that keeps moving full speed ahead and a train running off the tracks.