Every business knows that one of the most important keys to productivity, customer satisfaction, and revenue is having a strong and consistent network connection. But as we also know, there are so many different factors that can impact your ability to stay connected, whether it’s adverse weather conditions, hardware failures, or even a cybersecurity breach. While it can be difficult to prevent all of these things from happening, there are steps you can take to minimize or eliminate many of the threats to the uptime of your network:

1. Replace your equipment before its end of life

All electronics have a lifespan. What many organizations miss is checking when their products have run their course. Things including servers, network switches, wireless access points, desktop PCs, and notebooks typically have a useful life of 36-72 months depending on the type of product and how it’s used. According to IDC research, server performance erodes at an annual average of 14%, so after five years, the server’s performance is 40% less than when it was out of the box. Older servers with lower performance and higher failure rates increase yearly unplanned downtime by 20%. It’s important to make sure that it’s replaced prior to that end date. Many companies don’t track these dates and experience network outages due to equipment failures. The best environments identify what equipment they have and document when things need to be replaced.

2. Keep your equipment storage capacity below 100%

Most equipment comes with a certain capacity in terms of storage. When equipment gets close to reaching that capacity, it typically starts performing poorly. A nearly full mechanical hard drive requires frequent defragmentation to help maintain performance.  All the additional reads and writes associated with the defragmentation process reduce the overall lifespan of a mechanical drive. Oftentimes, server purchases don’t account for additional file storage, increased workloads, or increased processing due to company growth. Unlike PCs, the refresh cycle for storage is more likely to be driven by storage consumption rates and DASD performance. In our experience, most companies replace their storage arrays when it is no longer practical or cost effective to add expansion disks to the frame. The cost of storage continues to fall, and it is almost always less expensive to purchase or lease a new array than to try to upgrade and extend an existing array.

3. Test and improve systems for cybersecurity

Cybercrime is growing at an alarming rate. Estimates have shown that cybercrime is on track to be a $6 trillion business is 2021. Cybercriminals are opportunistic and constantly coming up with new ways to penetrate networks. Organizations who want to ensure resilience in their networks need to be doing regular vulnerability scanning, penetration testing, and educating their workforce for safety in terms of email and web browsing. Larger companies need to be looking at SOC-as-a-service so that in the event their networks get penetrated, they have alerting mechanisms. It is also important to know how you will react to a cybersecurity breach: who will you call for support, what systems get shut down, and how do you recover are all questions that are critical to know.

4. Eliminate single points of failure

One of the most basic ways to guarantee that a system will maintain consistent uptime is to eliminate single points of failure. Ensure you have multiple external paths to your cloud data so that even if one path is unavailable, you can still access that critical information in the cloud through a secondary path. If you are storing your data with an on-premises option, it’s wise to utilize virtualization to ensure you have multiple ways to access that storage. Redundancy is one of the key tenets for ensuring uptime and business continuity, so regardless of where you choose to store your data, always make sure you have a more than one way to access it.

5. Stay on track with all software updates and patches

Software companies put out updates for a reason. Those reasons include fixes for bugs, performance improvements, but also enhanced security measures to protect against cybercrime. Many organizations wait and complete these updates when they can find the time to get to them, without realizing the urgency of staying updated in real time. If you want your network to be stable and reduce the risk of exposing your data to a cybersecurity incident, patching and software updates should be done on a regular cadence. Many MSPs have tools that automate the process of patching. Ask your managed services provider what the best plan is to keep you up to date so your company doesn’t risk losing valuable uptime due to software issues or a cyberattack.

Until we find a way to eliminate bad weather and create an indestructible piece of hardware, the risk of downtime is there, however small. But as a business, you have significant control over how much of a risk you’re taking with your network uptime by implementing these steps into your IT processes. For 30 years, TAG Solutions has consistently been the leader among IT and managed services providers in Albany, so to get started on creating a foolproof network plan for your business, reach out to us today!