4 Things That will Take You Out

SYSTEM FAILURECommon Causes of System Downtime

A recent industry report (published by Quorum) has highlighted the four most common reasons for system downtime. The findings reveal that, while “natural disasters tend to take center stage when considering the causes of downtime, hardware and software failures and human error are statistically more common.” In fact, hardware failures alone comprise more than one-half of disasters for small to mid-sized businesses. Given that it takes an average of 30 hours for recovery (according to IT managers), small to mid-sized businesses are at risk of losing customers, their reputation and hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.

What Are The Four Most Common Causes Of System Downtime?

Hardware failure
At 55 percent, hardware failure is the number one cause of downtime for small to mid-sized businesses. With several levels of redundancy of various components — such as multiple power supplies, network controllers, raid systems and hard drives — it may seem like your bases are covered. Still, like any other disaster, no one can predict when the air conditioning will fail on a hot day, what unforeseen event will trigger a widespread power outage, or which cords the resident rodent will chew through.

Storage-area network (SAN) devices, external hard drives, and tapes are among the hardware-failure disasters many small to mid-sized businesses experience. In fact they constitute a significant risk to disaster recovery and it’s not uncommon for them for them to fail when needed most – during recovery.

Human error
According to the report 22% of disasters are caused by human error. This could include accidentally wiping out a file system on a server. While something like this may be considered a ‘rookie move,’ it’s not necessarily relegated exclusively to rookies; many a senior executive has deleted a critical file at a critical time. By using a disaster recovery system that is based on full and rapid recovery, the recovery of valuable correspondence and avoidance of certain personal disaster is possible.

Software failure
Software failure ranks third in overall disasters at 18 %, and it’s no wonder, given the number of patches routinely sent out. The issue lies in the lack of attention to testing patches before they are sent out, resulting in corruption of applications that can bring down entire systems or make them otherwise unavailable.

Operating systems that have been limping along for some time and finally die also contribute greatly to software failure. And we cannot overlook the impact viruses and malware have, of course.

Natural disasters
Since tornadoes, earthquakes and the like are often the first that come to mind when we consider the word ‘disaster,’ it’s ironic that natural disasters comprise a mere 5 percent of actual causes of downtime. Still, their effects are obviously without parallel.

In my experience small and medium business owners rarely understand the importance of backups. Until you experience a truly catastrophic data loss, and survive to live another day, it’s typically not something that keeps you awake at night.  Don’t wait until it’s too late, be proactive and make sure your business is protected from unexpected disasters.

About Bob Milliken

Bob Milliken is the owner and president of Cascadia Systems Group, a leading provider of enterprise hosting, business continuity, and IT Services to clients throughout the lower mainland. With over 30 years in the IT industry, Bob has provided technology solutions and business consulting services to the transportation industry, aerospace, the national railways, retail auto, wholesale and retail distribution, and professional service associations. Bob learned his trade with technology industry leaders Univac and Microsoft and continues today to keep abreast of technology innovations. Bob is the Master of Disaster and is known for his expertise in Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery planning. His “Save Your Monkey” disaster recovery platform protects small business from unexpected disaster. Bob is also an expert in Cloud Computing. His Made-in-Canada cloud solution is used by small and medium-sized businesses to keep their data safe and out of the reach of the US Patriot act. Bob is the co-author of “What is Cloud Computing and Why Should I Care”, and “I Don’t Care, Just Fix IT”. He is also the author of “Computer Cents”, a series of weekly news articles and blogs that focus on the impact that today's fast changing IT technologies are having on Canadian Businesses, and is a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines. Bob is a member of the Surrey Board of Trade, the Surrey Board of Trade Innovation Council, and Vancouver Rapid Time Networks. In his spare time, Bob is a sailor and appreciates any time that he can spend on the water.

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