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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.

Should I Upgrade My Computer or Replace it?

Clients ask us a lot if they should upgrade their computer to make it faster or boost performance. In the past, we would have answered “yes” almost all of the time. Things have changed though. New computers have become cheaper and quicker, so it doesn’t always make sense to just add some hardware to a current PC.

Before you do any type of upgrade, you may first want to consider having your computer cleaned up. There may be some unwanted services and programs that are running and slowing it down. Also, your computer may have viruses or malware, which are tying up its resources. Once these are removed or disabled, it could perform much better.

There are a couple of things to consider when making an upgrade decision:

1) Are you having any hardware issues? If so, I would suggest skipping the upgrade and getting a new PC.

2) How old is your PC? If it’s more than 3 years old, your manufacturer warranty has most likely expired. Hold off on the upgrade and buy a new PC when you are ready.

If you are not in any of these situations, then continue reading below.

Here are some upgrades that I recommend if you just aren’t getting the speed and performance you want, but don’t want to replace your PC. They are listed in the order of best to worst:

  • Replace the primary hard drive with a Solid State Drive (SSD) – Hands down, replacing your computer’s hard drive with a super-fast SSD is the best upgrade you can do. Faster, cooler and if you have a laptop, it will help the battery to last longer! If you can only afford to make one upgrade to your computer, swapping your existing hard drive with an SSD should be your #1 choice.
  • Add more RAM – If your PC has both a 64-bit CPU and a 64-bit version of Windows, you should definitely consider upgrading your system RAM. This upgrade will be helpful if you normally have several programs open at the same time.
  • Add an additional monitor(s) to your setup. I know this sounds crazy, but with the low cost of LED monitors these days, it’s not a luxury anymore to have multiple ones. All you need is a capable graphics card and enough ports on your computer. Once you have opened your web browser in one monitor and your email in another and you do not have to do the constant switching, you will wonder how you got along with just one monitor! This upgrade can be done with both laptops and desktops.
  • Add USB 3.0 Ports – Moving up from USB 2.0 to USB 3.0 will provide almost as much “WOW” factor as upgrading from a spinning hard drive to an SSD. USB 3.0 is 10 times faster than 2.0, so if you are copying files to an external hard drive you will notice a big difference.
  • Replace an old wireless router with a new, faster one – While this isn’t considered an upgrade to your computer, if you stream video, visit high-bandwidth websites, and/or have several simultaneous Wi-Fi users on your local network, installing a state-of-the-art wireless router will make your devices feel like they were upgraded.
  • Install a second access point or extender – If you are experiencing problems accessing the Wi-Fi signal in different sections of your house, consider installing an extender or second access point. This will enhance your Internet surfing experience on your computer.

With that in mind, here are some computer upgrades that I would not typically recommend:

  • Upgrading to a new motherboard and CPU – when a new PC cost $2000 or more, it made sense to spend $750 on a new “motherboard” and CPU. Now, it just doesn’t. Don’t do it!
  • Making a big jump in Operating Systems like from Windows XP to Windows 7. Usually, it is time for a new computer.
  • Adding a new video card – If you primarily use your computer to visit websites, check your email, chat with friends, interact with Facebook and other social media sites, use Microsoft Office or watch online videos, the video card that’s already inside your PC is almost certainly more than powerful enough to perform those tasks with ease. Upgrading to a new video card is unlikely to make any noticeable difference whatsoever. If you play graphics-intensive games or want to connect an extra monitor or two, adding a faster, more capable video card can be a good deal.
  • Upgrading or replacing an internal Optical Drive – Like the floppy disk drive before it, the optical drive may one day be nonexistent. Thanks to the popularity of streaming audio and video along with the move from disc-based software distribution to instant downloads, optical drives are becoming less necessary. As a result, only a relative handful of new computers are even being shipped with internal optical drives. If you still find yourself needing to use an optical drive, instead of upgrading your computer’s internal optical drive to a newer and faster model, I strongly recommend opting for an external USB 3.0 optical drive instead.

Bottom line: Knowing which computer upgrades make sense and which ones to avoid will help you get the most “bang for the buck” from your upgrade dollars. Hopefully, these suggestions will provide you with a useful framework for deciding when to upgrade.

No matter what, we hope you enjoy your computing experience.