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The Hidden Cost Of Computer Downtime And What To Do About It

It’s nearly impossible for a small business today to survive without the use of technology. How many small businesses are left that don’t at least use email? The catch is that even if only a small amount of technology is used by a business, it becomes dependent on that technology and can’t properly function without it.

The technology must allow users to reliably and efficiently access the systems and data they need to do their job. If it doesn’t, there are significant costs and these costs are often underestimated. If there is an attempt to quantify these costs, it often doesn’t go beyond just multiplying employee downtime by the employee’s hourly wage. Direct employee cost is only a small part of overall cost of downtime.


There are numerous indirect or “soft” costs associated with downtime and though difficult to quantify, they can drain massive amounts of profit from a business.

A major indirect cost resulting from downtime is the cost of poor customer service when systems are unavailable or slow.


When a customer calls to place an order, or check the status of an order, and can’t because the system is slow or down, what does that cost in customer goodwill? Will they order again? Are they likely to promote your business? What’s the cost of losing that customer? What’s the opportunity cost of that customer not promoting your business?  What damage results from them actually badmouthing it?


Another indirect cost relates to employee morale. When employees can’t effectively perform their duties because the system or their workstation is slow or down, not only is there lost productivity, but there’s frustration.


Frustration can affect employee morale and employees can feel management doesn’t provide them the tools they need to succeed or that management in general, doesn’t care about them. Low employee moral can lead to a poor work ethic and employee turnover, both of which can represent huge costs.

So, because of a small businesses’ high dependence on technology, downtime costs are high when that technology is unavailable or inefficient.  The trick becomes minimizing downtime. The traditional “Break-fix” approach to IT management, where nothing is done until something “breaks” is largely responsible for excessive downtime. There is an increasingly popular realization that the Break-fix model is ultimately more costly to the organization than a proactive model. Break-fix is more costly, because it results in an under-performing, unsecure IT infrastructure and therefore MORE DOWNTIME! A key element to the proactive approach is “Remote Monitoring and Management” or “RMM.”


RMM services watch over computers and networks 24/7 and identify conditions requiring attention. This allows for identifying issues before users are affected to minimize downtime. Additionally, if systems do need to be taken offline for repair, the work can be done non-intrusively, off hours to minimize business disruption.  Here are some of the things that can be monitored …

  1. Computer hard drive space (did you know that when a hard drive reaches 80% capacity, it starts to slow down)
  2. Computer hard drive performance
  3. Computer hard drive health (is the hard drive badly fragmented, developing bad sectors or about to fail?)
  4. Computer processor performance
  5. Computer memory performance
  6. Operating system stability – are all the latest patches applied?
  7. Power usage and battery backup charge
  8. Temperature monitoring – are hardware components ready to fail or does the cooling fan need to be replaced?
  9. Network speed
  10. Anti-virus status – are file definitions up to date and is the anti-virus software running?
  11. Security – do operating systems have the most current security updates and is the firewall preventing un-authorized access?
  12. Backup status – is the backup software running?

Remote maint & security

When left un-monitored, all these things can result in significant downtime. Poor security for example can cause systems or data to become unavailable when a cyberattack occurs. Significant downtime can be incurred waiting for systems to be restored or cleaned of a virus.


Sometimes poor security can result in more than just downtime costs. For example, if internal or customer information is stolen or compromised, there’s potential law suites, increased insurance premiums and more lost goodwill with customers, prospects and possibly employees. You don’t have to look outside the Philadelphia area to see an example of this. In March 2016, Main Line Health Systems had personal information of more than 10,000 employees and 2,000 physicians stolen in a data breach. This not only affected the public image of the health system, …

Reputation Management

… but also resulted in costs associated with having to provide support services for employees, including credit monitoring and a call center.


Another way Remote Monitoring and Management reduces downtime, is by allowing for instant, secure, remote control.


This instant control and access to equipment, its configuration and history allows for rapidly analyzing systems and resolving problems, for example, it allows for quickly servicing password reset requests and common lockout issues. RMM in general reduces on-site visits and ultimately save times and money.

With RMM, businesses can avoid the burden of IT management and focus on their core business activities, while professionals make sure systems are working properly. RMM results in lower overall IT cost and costs are incurred at a predictable monthly or other periodic rate.

There are many reasons systems can go down or access can be slow or lost, but if someone isn’t watching over them, these interruptions to business productivity can’t be stopped before they happen. Remote Monitoring and Management is a critical component to reducing downtime and saves big money in the areas of customer service/retention, employee productivity/morale/turnover, third party liability and business reputation.

How to Prevent Your Computers from Crashing

imagesHelp Me!!!

Have you ever had a computer crash and spend hours trying to fix it? If you own a business, has one of your employees been unable to work and your business been affected during this time? This can be very disconcerting and frustrating.

You may not realize it, but there are simple things that can be done to avoid these disruptions.

9 Tips to Prevent Computer Crashes
Update Windows, Adobe and Java

One of the most important you can do is to make sure that Window updates are happening regularly on your computers and servers. We recommend that these systems are not set to update automatically. This can cause issues. You may start up your computer in the morning and say “What happened here?” as you see an error message after an update.

We recommend that you set up a schedule to do Windows and other updates. It may be best to do them on the weekend, so that if any issues come up, you will have time to resolve them.

You also want to make sure that Adobe Reader and Flash and Java are being updated routinely. By doing these and Windows updates, you will be making it more likely that your server(s) and computer(s) will run more smoothly. This will also protect you against viruses and malware. This year, a number of viruses have exploited vulnerabilities in Java and subsequent updates have eliminated these holes.

Update Your Anti-virus Software and Scan Regularly

It is amazing how many business and personal users have expired anti-virus software or ones that aren’t updating properly. You should have someone checking weekly to make sure that these programs are running. Also, you should scan with these at least once weekly. They can be easily set up to automatically scan at a convenient time.

If you have a business, we recommend that you use commercial anti-virus programs. There are some free ones out there, but normally the ones you have to pay for offer greater options and protection. Also, they won’t bother you with annoying popups about upgrading. To make things easier and quicker, you can install and manage anti-virus software on workstations from a central point like a server.

Optimize Your Computers and Servers

There are a lot of things that you can do regularly for computer and server maintenance. For instance, you can schedule a defrag to run monthly on all of your computers. We don’t want to bore you with the technical details, but you could always consult a trusted technician about what specifically to do.

Install a Firewall

Besides the software firewall on your anti-virus program, you should have a physical firewall on your network. This is an important thing that you can do to control the traffic entering or leaving your network. This will help protect your important business, client and personal information. A firewall can also come with a antivirus protection to prevent viruses from entering your local network before they get to a specific server or computer.

A firewall is a great tool for reducing the chance of a virus or malware infecting your network.

Upgrade Your Hardware and Software Frequently

As common sense dictates, the longer you have a computer the more likely you will run into hardware or software issues and your computers may crash. For businesses, the expected life of any computer or server should be about three to four years. After this point, you are running the risk of a computer crash or some software being incompatible. It may be expensive to do this, but it can be even more costly when your business is down, your employees cannot work and you cannot service your clients.

You should renew all systems at the same time, so that things are consistent. If you do not do this, then you may run into incompatibility issues. If you have a Vista computer with Windows 8 workstations in an office, you may experience issues on the older computer when you try to run new software.

Make sure to Plans Things Out

This seems very obvious, but many business and personal users do not start to plan until they have a crisis, like a serious virus infection. We had one client who was using software, which was six versions old. When going to upgrade to newer software, we were unable to do it directly, but had to upgrade by one or two software versions at a time. This meant more time and expense for the business, when it would have been better to have a plan to upgrade more frequently.

Run Network Scans Monthly or Quarterly

You can run network/vulnerability scans to see if there are any holes in your network and policies. Then, you can implement plans to eliminate them. This will decrease the possibility of a virus or malware infection or being hacked. There are many affordable software programs which will do this.

Consider Managed Services

A lot of business owners may not have heard of or may not completely understand what are Managed Services. Basically, they are maintenance and monitoring services which include many of the suggestions we provided above, but can involve much more. With Managed Services, you are taking a proactive approach to prevent issues like computer crashes or blue screens from happening in the first place.

Many times, Managed Services has a monitoring component, so if a potential problem is detected on a server someone would receive an alert and remote into the server. They would look into the issue, before it causes a business serious interference and downtime.

Also, Managed Services may include a help desk component where a business could submit a “ticket” about a issue and then someone would remote in to work on it. It may be a minor problem like not being able to print to a certain network printer or an emergency like an important software program is not working on any workstation.

Consult a Pro

As always, consult a professional technician or reputable computer services company, if you have any question about these suggestions or implementing them. They can save you a lot of hassle, time and money compared to trying to do it on your own.

We like this final tip the most.

Useful Links to Reference:

Microsoft Article: Crash Protect Your PC Now!

PCWorld Article: Anatomy of a PC Crash

PCWorld Article: Clean Up Windows and Your Hard Drive