Your business’s network uptime is critical to your success. When your network is down, it can cause major disruptions to your workflow and impact your bottom line. Fortunately, proactive strategies can maximize your network uptime and limit the cost to you when the worst does happen.

What is Network Uptime?

First off, what is network uptime, exactly? Network uptime is the percentage of time your network is available. You may hear the phrase “five nines” in reference to network uptime. This refers to the 99.999% of time your network should be available. 

The goal of your IT provider or managed service provider should be to reduce network downtime and the impact it has when it does occur. There are many best practices your provider should follow to ensure this is happening, as outline below.

Stay on Top of Software Updates

Too often, companies wait to install software updates. They may not have time or may not wish to spend money on a new version of a critical program. Unfortunately, this is a very risky strategy. 

Software companies release updates for good reason, often to introduce new features or update security measures. Network downtime can often be caused by outdated software and associated hacks or other forms of cybercrime, so it’s important to stay on top of what updates are needed and install them as soon as possible. 

Ensure that your entire team is also aware of the importance of software updates. If they notice a program they use is about to expire, they should bring it to their manager’s attention immediately. Even the briefest time with outdated security protocols in a software can interrupt your network.

It isn’t hard to find examples of major network outages caused by failure to update software. In 2017, the credit bureau Equifax had a massive security breach. Hackers were able to access over 143 million social security numbers, home addresses, and birth dates through a known vulnerability. 

The worst part? There had been an update to address this vulnerability available for nearly 2 months at the time of the incident. Equifax had waited to deploy the update, and hackers were able to take down their entire network. This is a perfect example of how waiting to update your software can be a disaster.   

Plan Patches for After Hours

Your IT team will have regularly scheduled maintenance they must carry out. In addition, they’ll need to work on patches and updates. All of this work should be scheduled for off-hours whenever possible. 

In many cases, patches require a restart of the system, interrupting your working hours and risking data breaches when you are most vulnerable. Plan these patch and update implementations for times when the system won’t be in use.

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Improve Systems for Cybersecurity 

Cyberattacks are on the rise. According to Norton, there have bene over 25 million new types of malware registered since the beginning of 2022 alone. While updating software and patches are a great start to increase network uptime, there are more robust ways to protect your network. 

Start with vulnerability scans and penetration tests to check your security. A vulnerability scan looks at your network, identifies potential vulnerabilities, and provides a report of these vulnerabilities to your IT team. 

Note that a vulnerability scan does not take action against these vulnerabilities, it merely will report them. However, a penetration test is more advanced. In a penetration test (or pen. test) the scan will not only identify weak points but also verifies them by attacking and exploiting your network. It’s recommended that an experienced IT technician employ these scans, as they may be time-consuming and difficult. 

TAG Solutions is well-versed in carrying out such projects. If you’re looking for help with a vulnerability scan or penetration test, contact us today.

Replace Old Equipment

When was the last time you replaced an old desktop computer or hard drive? All electronic devices have a shelf life. While regular maintenance and upkeep will ensure they last longer, you’ll need to continue replacing electronic devices. 

This is an issue many organizations face. Most companies don’t keep track of their electronics in a way that will help keep up to date with replacements. Things like PC desktops, notebooks, and wireless access points all have an average lifespan of 36-72 months, depending on how often they’re used. By replacing equipment before it breaks you’ll be reducing the likelihood of network downtime. 

This is one benefit to working with an MSP like TAG Solutions. We take the lead on monitoring your equipment and letting you know when something is nearing the end of its usable life. This way, you can budget and plan accordingly, and you won’t be stuck with a non-operational or hacked computer because you didn’t update or replace it in time.

Keep Network Storage Under 100% Capacity

Most equipment comes with a certain capacity in terms of storage. Once the equipment capacity nears 100%, it will often begin performing poorly. This is a risk that comes with using too much storage. 

For instance, a mechanical hard drive that is near 100% capacity will need defragmentation to maintain performance. Most companies will add storage capacity to existing systems rather than upgrade to new storage arrays. To ensure better network uptime, your MSP should reduce storage to under 100%. 

Building Redundancy

Redundancy refers to any backup paths that are in place in case of a network failure. This means that if one path is blocked or down, your network will still run smoothly. 

This can be achieved n a number of ways. Make sure you have multiple paths to your cloud data so that in case of network downtime you still have access to sensitive information. If you’re using on-premises data storage, consider virtualization to ensure multiple paths to the files.

Partner with an MSP

The final way to improve your network uptime is to partner with a managed services provider, or MSP. An effective MSP will identify your weaknesses and vulnerabilities in order to build your infrastructure. This way, your IT needs are being met and your networks are constantly monitored. The risk of network downtime is reduced when you have a team of professionals on your side. 

Contact TAG Solutions today for help developing strategies to keep your network uptime at the 5 nines.