5 Causes of Network Downtime and How to Avoid Them

network downtime

Our digital world is full of possibility. We can now work anywhere, at any time, traveling with just a phone and a laptop and stay globally connected. 

But this level of connectivity requires businesses to maintain a reliable network and prevent downtime wherever possible. If something goes wrong and your business faces unplanned network downtime, this can have a serious and even devastating impact on the business’ productivity and revenue. 

The estimated cost of downtime can range between a shocking $55,000 and $1,000,000 per year for a range of different-sized businesses. With this to bear in mind, it’s worth considering the possible sources of network downtime before they occur and taking preventative measures so your business isn’t one that can’t recover.

Security Incidents

Security incidents can take many different forms, including ransomware attacks, phishing attempts, and internal data theft. If your data is breached, not only is the cleanup very costly, you will undoubtedly face extended periods of downtime while the infiltration is detected. 

Keep in mind that SMBs are more often the target of hackers than larger corporations as they are less likely to have rigorous internet security in place, meaning their systems can be breached more easily. It’s absolutely vital that you have measures in place to protect you and your customers’ data from these threats and eliminate the costs associated with downtime.

To be more specific, your business should have 24/7 surveillance and monitoring of your systems. Remember, hacking, ransomware and phishing are evolving all the time, so your IT systems should be evolving just as rapidly. The best way to prevent attacks is by round-the-clock monitoring that detects and patches system vulnerabilities immediately.

Human Error

It’s an unfortunate but true fact—studies have shown that more than a third of system downtime is caused by human error. Downtime due to human error might be the result of a failure to upgrade, a lack of awareness of how to manage an update competently, or not implementing security patches regularly. 

Malware also commonly targets businesses via phishing emails, which staff are susceptible to clicking on and giving valuable information to hackers. More and more regularly, the perpetrators make the hostile emails seem innocuous or even mask it as business-related content.

You can avoid human error by providing security awareness training for all members of your staff to ensure that they can safely handle company data without risking its loss.

Too Few IT Personnel

Your IT department is responsible for designing, building, supporting, and maintaining your organization’s technological infrastructure. If there aren’t enough members of staff in this department, it will slow down system analysis, as well as upgrades and routine maintenance. 

This is a dangerous position to be in as an organization, as it opens the door to potentially threatening breaches. Simultaneously, an understaffed IT department will have to spend much of their time firefighting issues as they occur, rather than designing and implementing preventative measures, which will improve security and lessen the chances of network downtime. 

To avoid this, many businesses are turning to a Managed Service Provider (MSP) to ensure they get access to a full team of experts without breaking the bank to hire a full in-house team. MSPs offer round-the-clock support, assessments, software installation and updates, data backups and more.


If devices are configured incorrectly, it can incur significant periods of downtime. This occurs when the digital system’s settings behave contrary to expectations. Additionally, while the associated downtime is deeply problematic for many organizations, it’s not even the most serious consequence to a misconfiguration

One of the simplest ways to avoid misconfiguration is to allow changes to occur automatically to the system instead of using manual implementation. This removes further risk of human error. The changes can (and should) also be tested in a lab environment before being applied to the entire system.

Outdated Equipment

As equipment ages, it becomes increasingly unable to run updates, and this poses a risk of cybersecurity breaches. An operating system needs to be able to run the latest—and most efficient—software and, if the equipment cannot keep up, it’s time to consider upgrading. 

Taking a regular inventory for timely upgrades is one way of monitoring your equipment and analyzing whether the speed is appropriate. Ensure your hardware is compatible both with your cybersecurity software and operating system.

Aging hardware increases the likelihood of downtime due to server and application crashes. Despite increasing reliability and continual digital advancements, software and hardware crashes can still occur.

Network downtime can have disastrous consequences for a business. Not only does it reduce cash flow, but it can also damage reputation (sometimes irreversibly) and lower employee morale. Put measures in place to lessen the likelihood of internet downtime, and invest in a strong IT force who will ensure you have the best possible preventative measures in place.