As a business owner, how would you answer the following questions?
- Would you lock the front door to your store if there were customers outside waiting to come in?
- Is it acceptable for employees to sit idly at their desks?
- Are you comfortable with orders not being processed or shipped?
- Could you easily recreate your entire client database if it were deleted?
Clearly, the answer to all these questions is no. Although they may seem obvious, many small to mid-sized business owners do not know that they have not taken the necessary precautions to prevent such scenarios from actually happening.
As your growing business becomes more IT and Internet reliant, you open yourself up to certain risks. Your technical infrastructure has become more complex and needs proper systems, back-up processes and recovery plans in place to help minimise the costly threat of downtime. Downtime, in essence, is like closing your door to your customers. Not only does your business suffer from the revenue loss, but your company’s reputation is potentially damaged, causing you to lose valuable customers.
According to a recent survey1 amongst small to mid-sized companies, the leading cause of downtime was hardware failure (55%), followed by human error (22%), software failure (18%), and natural disasters (5%). And average recovery time was roughly 30 hours.
When your company suffers from downtime, 4 critical areas are affected:
- Sales: when your website is down, customers cannot place orders. Can you absorb the loss of revenue of missed orders for one hour? Four hours? What about a whole day? For some companies, one hour of downtown costs thousands of pounds.
- Productivity: when your e-mail server goes down, there is an immediate halt in internal and certain external communications. And other network applications that your company relies on, like apps that process customer orders or track inventory, completely stop.
- Customer satisfaction: when customers cannot access your website, not only are they unable to make purchases, they may not be able to reach technical support or contact customer service. A study conducted in 2011 by PhoCusWright Inc. found that 57 per cent of online consumers abandon a site if a page takes longer than three seconds to load, and 80 per cent do not return to sites that prove to be a disappointing experience.
- Data loss: viruses, for example, can cause havoc on a computer’s hard drive by deleting files or directory information. Without proper security systems in place, client information can be lost or stolen.
Another cause of downtime, although mostly affecting larger business but something to keep on your radar, is the threat of hackers or cybercriminals shutting your webserver down by a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. These malicious attempts to cripple your website are an unfortunate fact of the Internet landscape and we frequently read and hear about such attacks in the news. In fact, for Q2 2013, DDoS attacks have increased 20%, costing companies millions of pounds in lost revenue.
Check out the following stats:
- Companies experience an average of 501 hours of network downtime every year and the overall downtime costs an average of 3.6% of annual revenue.
Source: The Costs of Enterprise Downtime, Infonetics Research
- 20% of small to medium businesses will suffer a major disaster causing loss of critical data every 5 years.
Source: Richmond House Group
- This year, 40% of small to medium businesses that manage their own network and use the Internet for more than e-mail will have their network accessed by a hacker and more than 50% will not even know they were attacked.
Source: Gartner Group
So, it is essential to be prepared before disaster strikes. However, like most small and mid-size business owners, you may not have the time to proactively monitor or maintain your network, or simply do not know how to do it. Unfortunately, the lack of proper DNS management and infrastructure creates more opportunities for downtime. It is true – websites with internally managed DNS are more likely to suffer from downtime than sites where DNS is managed externally.
One easy, cost-effective solution is utilising secure cloud-based services that combine reliable DNS resolution and DDoS attack protection to support Web-based systems. Verisign, a trusted leader in the industry having managed the DNS infrastructure for .com and .net for more than 15 years, offers such services with a unique promotion called Uptime Bundle.
With Uptime Bundle, you get the protection you need to help keep your website and network service safe and available. So you need never worry about closing your front door.
1 Quorum Disaster Recovery Report, Q1 2013