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The Most Common Causes of Downtime – and How to Avoid Them

14 March, 2016

data centre downtimeThere’s plenty of debate surrounding the true cost of server downtime. One 2013 study from the Ponemon Institute claimed that the price of unplanned downtime for businesses in the US was an astonishing $7,900 per minute – but in 2014, a Gartner analyst calculated that the average cost of network downtime was actually $5,600 per minute.

The downtime cost debate still rages on – but if there’s one thing all parties can agree on, it’s that downtime costs businesses big, and should be addressed. So what are the causes of this unfortunate downtime – and how can you combat it?

The environment

Humidity and temperature play an enormous role in unplanned downtime. When these two factors aren’t kept at a certain level, an outage can occur which can take hours or even days to rectify. In order to keep the environment from pushing your server offline, it’s wise to invest in quality heating and cooling systems, as well as monitoring the humidity your computing equipment is exposed to.

Natural disasters

Here in the UK we have it fairly easy when it comes to protecting our data centres from natural disasters. Earthquakes occurring here are incredibly small – but we do get the occasional severe storm which can damage external cabling or the building your datacentre is housed in. This type of damage is incredibly hard to predict, and even harder to protect against – all you can do is ensure your datacentre is built somewhere deemed ‘low risk’.

Power cuts

A failure in your power infrastructure can cause a totally unplanned outage. The only way you can protect yourself against this particular threat is to ensure you not only have backup power systems in place, but that your primary power sources are up-to-date and regular maintained. Redundant or outdated power systems are more likely to fail and put you in the awkward position of explaining to clients why their server was inaccessible.

Human error

It’s a problem that is faced in almost every sector or industry – human error. Many studies put human error as the top cause of downtime, with one survey finding that an incredible 75% of downtime comes down to a mistake made by in-house staff. You can’t legislate for human error – it’s called an error for a reason – but you can ensure that your staff are regularly trained, as well as keeping them motivated and engaged in their work by any means necessary.


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