8 Common Reasons for IT Outages

If your company is online, information technology (IT) keeps you up and running–which makes IT outages all the more stressful. Some businesses can’t operate without functioning IT service. But unplanned IT downtime isn’t just inconvenient–it puts your cyber security at risk and can be extremely costly

Knowing how to prevent IT downtime can save your company’s bottom dollar, and understanding the common reasons for IT outages can help your company take preventative measures.

What Is An IT Outage?

An IT outage is when an IT service or resource is not available. IT outages can happen to servers, websites, and any kind of hardware or software. Network downtime can be either a complete or partial failure of services. Downtime refers to the period of time when your server or network is unavailable. 

There are some forms of planned IT downtime, like routine maintenance. However, unplanned network downtime is often the result of two types of outages.

  • System failures: These are commonly referred to as crashes.
  • Communication failures: These are also known as network outages.

Uptime means your system is up, running, and reliable. It typically measures how long your system has gone not only without a crash or outage, but also without requiring a shutdown to implement updates or perform other maintenance.

8 Reasons for IT Failures

Some IT outages are preventable with preventative maintenance. There are numerous reasons that you might experience an IT failure; knowing the causes of IT failures can help your team be proactive and stop these issues before they begin.

Here are some of the most common reasons for IT failures:

Human Error

Sometimes, all it takes is one incorrect keystroke or misclick of a button for a service outage to occur. You may see this more often in an understaffed or overwhelmed IT department. At IT Proactive, our fully managed IT service team can help support your existing IT department to lighten their load and prevent errors from happening in the first place.

Security Issues

Some IT outages are caused by the actions of malicious individuals who seek to cause harm to a business. Cybercriminals can employ a variety of techniques—such as DDoS attacks, ransomware, or network security exploits to cause a major service outage.

This is why it’s essential to verify that you don’t have vulnerabilities in your cyber security plans. Network vulnerabilities leave the door wide open for hackers to access your networks, which means you could experience not just IT downtime, but have to deal with ransom notes from hackers wanting you to “buy” your server back. A proactive cyber security system and strategy ensure that vulnerabilities are patched up before anyone can discover and access them.

Outdated Technology

When was the last time you updated everything on your computer and on your network? We often see downtimes caused by outdated servers, software, and other technology assets. When your operating system (OS) is too old for newer computers, it opens up additional security risks. 

When software needs to be updated, it often includes security patches to help keep your systems working safely. Hackers often take advantage of known vulnerabilities in old operating systems and software solutions, so it’s crucial that you keep everything updated.

Outdated hardware can run into similar issues. When hardware is retired, the manufacturer often no longer provides service on these products. This can leave you prone to security risks and hardware failures due to a lack of proper maintenance.

Configuration Changes on Your Device

Device configuration is how your hardware, software, and systems are all connected. A lack of change control means that your systems aren’t being introduced or integrated into a controlled environment. If you’re running multiple software or data points that all communicate with one another, an unexpected configuration change can cause a variety of problems.

An example of this would be if your computer automatically ran updates overnight. If those updates included a new operating system, some of the programs on your computer might not work because they also need to be updated to work with the new OS. This can also be seen when infrastructure systems update or you change your network routing tables.

Interoperability Issues

Similar to configuration, interoperability is how different stems communicate with each other. Interoperability happens without user interference so systems can speak to each other across your networks by sharing data, formats, or protocols.

For example, in healthcare, interoperability allows for patient information to easily be exchanged electronically. If any hiccups happen with your interoperability, then data may not be fully communicated from one software to another.

Bugs in an Operating System

Your server may have bugs in the operating system. In fact, this is one of the top three causes of IT downtime. OS updates often have bug fixes, so staying up to date with the latest versions can help prevent this issue.

Unstable Server Hardware

Server instability often happens when old hardware and newer technology collide. Even if everything is up to date, if the hardware is outdated, it can result in an unstable server, which crashes.

The cause of the server instability can be narrowed down to a few different possibilities. If you have any glitches, bugs, or damage to your hard drive, or if your RAM is faulty, it can result in a server crash.

Nature-Related Accidents

Plenty of people experience IT downtime during a major storm or natural disaster. But did you know that animals can also cause of IT outages? It is not uncommon for a squirrel or other rodent to chew through an important cable at a data center or cause damage to vital electrical infrastructure. 

Even if you have employees working remotely, pets can sometimes chew through cables or unplug something they shouldn’t without their owner noticing.

The Cost of Downtime

Network downtime can be costly for your business. For small and medium-sized businesses, unplanned IT downtime can cost anywhere from $137-$427 per minute. But the national average regardless of your business size or industry is up to $9,000 per minute. That’s $540,000 per hour!

There are a few different factors that can make the total cost of downtime vary. One computer will cost you less than an entire server, and the length of the service outage can also influence the cost. The size of your organization and any parts you may need to purchase to repair or replace will also factor into the total bill.

How to Prevent IT Downtime

To prevent unplanned IT downtime, there are a few steps you can take. Regular, routine maintenance can help prevent network downtime.

  • Test your backups. You should do this on your physical and virtual machines. A backup of your data is only good if it works, so be sure to give them a test run every now and then to make sure you can restore your data in the event of an emergency.
  • Update your devices. You should do this on a regular basis. Making sure that all of your hardware and software is up to date goes a long way in eliminating vulnerabilities. While working on your servers, there may be some downtime as everything updates. Factor that into when you complete the update; this is why it’s popular for many systems to complete server updates outside of standard working hours.
  • Check the health status. Monitor the health status of your computer both on and offline. If your storage is too full, for example, you may not have enough space to run important updates. Keeping an eye on the health of your hardware and firewalls can go a long way. Additionally, check your environment to make sure no natural accidents are making their way to your cables or systems. 

Start Protecting Your Network Now!

Being proactive about your IT maintenance saves your company time, money, and frustration in the long run. Preventative measures help improve your IT uptime and are less expensive than fixing things after they break.

Even if you have an existing IT department, our team at IT Proactive can work with your team to solve issues and elevate your cybersecurity. See how we can help today.

Why Fully Managed?


Peace of Mind

Outsourcing the daily management activities of your IT environment means your efforts can be focused on your core competencies and business goals. As an IT Proactive client, you won’t have to worry about maintaining your IT hardware, managing an on-site data center, or monitoring for potential network/computer issues that could lead to downtime and profit loss; we will take care of all of that for you. In many cases, we will inform you of a problem before you even see it.


Predictable Monthly Costs

Your accountant will tell you that operational expenses are better than capital expenses. It’s better to spend a predictable flat-rate amount on a service as opposed to an outright purchase, hiring your own staff, or taking a gamble on the pay-by-the-hour repairman. IT Proactive offers a comprehensive flat-rate monthly fee. This allows you to create a simple, easily predicted, yearly budget enabling you to sleep easy knowing you have coverage for all your IT issues.


Professional Technicians

Companies that handle their own IT in-house have to contend with hiring an expensive employee or dealing with someone who’s just good with computers. Even with an in-house employee you have to worry about training, covering vacation and sick time along with the potential of being overwhelmed by a flood of issues. With IT Proactive, you get the benefit of an entire team of professionals who provide up-to date 24/7 support.


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