Most of us have been there: a server crashes or the network goes down and productivity throughout the office slows to a snail’s pace. Or maybe it’s just you and your aging laptop that finally decided it wasn’t going to turn on today. It’s frustrating when that happens, but your patience isn’t the only thing you lose when your technology fails you. 

The most obvious loss is money. When your output slows, you’re likely to see a downturn in sales, new business connections, productivity, and more. You may have only experienced an hour-long outage, but the collateral damage to your schedule could mean you’re playing catch up for the rest of the day or week. 

Imagine what would happen if a large company like Google experienced an hour-long outage. In 2013, Google was down for less than five minutes and the direct loss to the company was estimated at over $500,000. It’s amazing what an unplanned standstill can do to a business. 

If you provide goods or services to your customers daily, you also run the risk of damaging your reputation. Are you a reliable service? Can you be called on when you say your are available? Not if you can’t get your work done due to downtime from an IT outage.

Clients could start to lose faith and trust in your organization simply because of a short period of unreliable service. Building that trust back up could take much longer than the amount of time your outage lasted.

Depending on how serious the issue is, important files and intellectual property could be lost as well. What you initially think is a short-term server issue could end up being a critical failure that means years of files are gone for good. What happens when a client calls and needs a copy of a file from two years ago? What happens if you have to start from scratch on that big project that was nearly complete? 

Fortunately, proactive monitoring and maintenance of your servers and computers can help reduce the possibility (and potential duration) of downtime. Proactively checking that backups are working and testing your data recovery process is an important step, too. You should also change passwords every six to twelve months (or more often in some industries) and regularly check your security systems and protocols. 

While an IT outage can create serious problems for your business and impact your bottom line, a few proactive steps for monitoring and maintenance can help reduce the risk of an outage in the first place.