5 Reasons for Network Downtime and How to Avoid Them

Modern businesses rely heavily on digital technology to function. When this technology stops working, business can end up coming to a standstill—which could end up costing you a lot of money.

Network downtime is one of the most common tech faults and is likely to affect everyone in the office. If you regularly experience such problems, it could be time to look at the root causes so that you can start putting in place prevention strategies. 

Below are five of the top causes of network downtime and how you can avoid them: 

Cyber Attacks

Cyber attacks are one of the most serious causes of network downtime. Such a security breach may result in the network being down for up to several days before data can be retrieved and systems returned to working order. 

Cyber attacks against businesses have become more common, with 64% of companies reporting being victims of a web-based attack. The damage caused by these attacks can vary depending on how early they are detected. If a breach is serious, it could cause a lot of financial damage and severely damage your reputation.  

Once a cyber attack occurs, there’s a high chance that it will happen again. Only by strengthening your cybersecurity can you fend off these attacks. Make sure that you have strong passwords in place, that you have a reliable firewall installed, and that other relevant network protection measures are in place such as using a VPN.

Human Error

Human error can often lead to network attacks. This could include failing to install a security patch or falling prey to a phishing email (emails containing malicious links that may end up downloading malware onto the user’s system). Misconfiguration can also be the result of human error.

The best way to reduce human error is to invest time into employee training. By teaching employees how to spot phishing tactics and by emphasising the importance of installing updates, you can prevent employees from opening up vulnerabilities. An employee handbook on the subject could also be worth publishing.

Overworked IT Staff

If your IT staff are on top of things, they should address any network problems fast, as well as put in measures to prevent them. If your IT staff is overworked, they’re more likely to let problems slip through the cracks. You could also find that your IT staff takes longer to attend to big-picture issues as a result of dealing with other day-to-day issues.

Outsourcing certain IT management tasks to an IT services company could be a way around this. Such outsourced services can help to protect your network remotely, helping to shoulder the burden for your in-house IT staff. Some of these services include 24/7 support and monitoring, allowing you to solve IT issues immediately.  

Outdated Software

Outdated software can be more susceptible to bugs—and often more vulnerable to cyberattacks. 

Many small companies are guilty of using unsupported legacy software out of convenience. In fact, one report suggests that as much as 48% of SMBs may still be using unsupported operating systems. In other cases, companies may be using modern software that has not had the latest patches installed.

Make sure that the software you are using is up-to-date and that it has all the most recent patches installed. If you need to upgrade to new software, take your time to assess the various options that are out there and make sure that your new software is as secure as it can be. If you are currently not using cloud-based software, this could be an upgrade to consider.

Hardware Misconfiguration

Hardware problems can also be to blame for network downtime ranging from damaged routers to faulty computers. Misconfiguration is a common hardware problem and can account for as much as 80% of unplanned network outages

This could be a system that has been misconfigured by an employee or it could be a piece of hardware that is compatible with other devices. On top of causing a network outage, misconfiguration could leave you vulnerable to cyber attacks.

To prevent misconfiguration, it’s often worth automating day-to-day processes to ensure accuracy. It’s important to also assess the type of hardware you’re using to make sure that there are no compatibility problems. Both old and new hardware can be susceptible to misconfiguration issues.

As your business assesses the causes of downtime it experiences, consider these strategies for how to avoid downtime and the associated costs. Downtime is both expensive and risky, so by protecting your business from extended periods of downtime, you can position yourself for optimal data safety and increased company growth.

Chris Turn