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How IT Outages Affect Your Business

Information technology systems are a lifeline for modern businesses. When they go down, they can have tremendous consequences.

IT outage

An IT outage can be so much more than an inconvenience for staff and clients – it can have a flow-on effect that touches nearly every facet of your business operations.

Outages can lead to decreased revenue both as a result of lost sales and business, as well as the loss lost wages, lost inventory, labor and marketing costs. It can also cause reputational damage and, depending on the type of outage you’ve experienced, you could also lose valuable data. There could be banking fees or legal penalties for failing to deliver on agreed service levels.

The true cost to your bottom line is going to vary depending on the nature of your organization’s business operations, the size of the organization and how much it relies on IT systems.

However, it is estimated that just one hour of down time costs a small business $8000 on average, and can be as much as $700,000 for large enterprises.

According to Dunn & Bradstreet, some 59 per cent of Fortune 500 companies experience at least 1.6 hours of downtime every week.


IT systems outages can be both planned and unplanned. These are the most common IT outage scenarios:

Maintenance and upgrades

Planned maintenance on your computer systems is carried out by your IT department where necessary – for example when systems need to be updated. It’s an unavoidable part of life with information technology, however most IT departments will try to minimize the impact on users and schedule maintenance and upgrades for times where it will have the least amount of inconvenience to staff.

Unplanned maintenance

This occurs when a situation arises and an update, patch or fix needs to be implemented as a matter of urgency, for example when a critical patch is released by a software vendor because of a known security issue.

Problems with the Internet Service Provider

Sometimes your company’s internet access may go down because of issues with your internet service provider. All of your other software applications would continue to function, except for those that rely on the internet (for example cloud solutions, email, banking).

Problems with specific applications

Particular software applications may not work for a period of time until a resolution is found – sometimes these can be critical programs that you need to keep your business running.

Hardware failure

Your IT systems can go down as a result of hardware failure, for example the network servers. As infrastructure ages, it becomes more susceptible to component failure. If you do not have appropriate back ups in place, you could lose data as well.

Malicious attacks

If your systems become compromised as a result of viruses, DDOS attacks, malware or ransomware, you may experience significant downtime while a solution is found.


When disaster strikes, it could take your IT systems with it. It might not even be a disaster such as fire, flood, hurricane, tornado or even terrorism affecting one of your organization’s work sites, but those of a third party vendor such as your internet service provider a data center where you host your information.

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