3 Worst-Case Scenarios when it comes to Business Server Outages

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Servers crash. It’s an unfortunate fact of life and it can happen a few different ways. Whether it’s a virus your employee downloaded by mistake that took down your server, a malicious hack, a hardware failure or corrupted software – it’s bound to happen. In these scenarios, it’s all about what systems you have in place to protect for these things and what backup and continuity or disaster plan you have in place to keep you running when the disaster occurs. But what is going to happen to your server? How will the crash occur? Here are three worst-case scenarios when it comes to your business server and how you can protect your organization.

Server hard drive crash.
The unfortunate part of technology is that you can never be 100% reliant on your equipment working. Hard drives have hundreds of tiny components that degrade over time and eventually the hard drive will fail mechanically. This can even happen in newer equipment (it’s rare, but it does happen). When it does fail, you need to make sure that you had backups running. Why? You can never be sure that forensics can recover your data from a failed hard drive. If your onsite backup has not been running or you don’t have a backup of your data, there’s no telling what can be restored and how many weeks, months or years of data and work you may lose. Data forensics can cost as much as $20,000 or more and there are no guarantees. The process can run between 1 and 4 weeks and your business will be down for that amount of time: unable to produce work, service clients and customers or even send e-mail. It’s quite literally the worst-case scenario, so do what you can to avoid it. I cannot reiterate the importance of backups enough.

A virus from your employee’s laptop spread to the network and infected the server.
Your team has been running backups, but it turns out that the infection happened more than three weeks ago. Your tape-based backup system has no business continuity, so the files have been copied and your provider has to shut down the system completely, rebuild the servers from scratch and import the data files one at a time. This process can take anywhere from 1 to 5 days. It doesn’t end there, once the server is back online, all files must be scrubbed before they’re opened by your employees to ensure the infection is gone. After that? Workstation reconnection and reconfiguration. The entire process cripples your business and it can take weeks to get things back to the way they were. Say it with me: centrally managed antivirus. Someone needs to be responsible for updating virus definitions on servers and every single workstation throughout your network to avoid this catastrophic outage. 

The Monday morning “blue screen.”
We’ve all seen it and it’s never a good thing. Turns out that you’re running on an unsupported operating system despite your IT company telling you that end of support for the OS had come and gone. The blue screen is caused by a  security hole that was never patched, since Microsoft is no longer supporting your server. The worst part? Reports indicate that a highschool hacker created a tool to exploit the security gap and crash servers “for fun”. It’s not much fun for you, because your technology team cannot recover the server and has to use your backup – which they discover is actually corrupted. You lose every piece of business data and cannot afford to have it recovered. After a few months of trying to rebuild the files from pieces and USB drives you have lying around, you’re finally forced to close your business. 

Worst-case scenarios aren’t fun to contemplate, but they happen all the time. I can’t tell you how many businesses I have met with that put their backups, antivirus and operating system upgrades off and end up suffering from massive outages, productivity and monetary loss. The statistics surrounding outages are pretty staggering for those that don’t have some sort of backup and continuity plan in place. Don’t wait until it is too late and costing you in productivity and lost data. Get a proactive strategy started now and a centrally managed solution that can protect you from outages and lost productivity. There are a number of different options including offsite backup, business continuity solutions and the cloud. Work with a professional with experience in your industry that can identify your workflows and budget in order to determine which is the best option for you.