The Biggest Causes Of Business Downtime

When disaster strikes, an unprepared business may have no choice but to shut down until it has recovered. This shut down period is known as ‘downtime’ and it can be very costly – both financially and reputation-wise.

In many cases downtime can be avoided by taking preventative measures. Here are just several of the leading causes of downtime in business and how you can protect your business against them.

Power cuts

Power cuts can sometimes be an internal problem with electrics, but in many cases they’re the result of external issues out of our control such as a broken power line or an issue at a power station. Without electricity supply, most modern businesses can’t function. Most power cuts only result in a temporary loss of power, however they can still have costly consequences – especially if certain machinery needs to be constantly kept running (e.g. security cameras, refrigerators…).

Fortunately, there are ways to safeguard against power cuts. An uninterruptable power supply (UPS) may be able to temporarily provide electricity after an outage – this may be all that’s needed to keep your business running if it’s just a couple hours of no power. Another more expensive but more effective option meanwhile could be to buy a backup generator that you can simply switch to in the event of a power cut.

Internet connection loss

Just like electricity, many modern companies rely on internet connection to stay operational. A shaky internet connection is often the result of router problems, however in some cases certain providers may have temporary shutdowns too.

Getting around this may involve using a second internet provider as a backup as some companies do. Another option is to use a wi-fi hotspot temporarily. Wi-fi hotspots may not be able to handle the demands of some businesses so you may have to prioritise certain important online tasks, however at least your business will still be running.

Machinery failure

The failure of certain machinery could also result in downtime. If you run a coffee bar and your coffee machine breaks for instance, you may not be able to continue serving customers. Similarly, a printing company may not be able to serve its purpose if its printer breaks.

You can reduce the risk of machinery failure by investing in good quality equipment and keeping it serviced. If small faults appear, make sure that these are fixed before they become major faults (for instance if you notice a computer starting a slow down drastically, get this fixed before your computer crashes). Preventative repairs could be done during non-operating hours so that you can keep your business running. Meanwhile, another option could be to have backup machinery – this could include a shop having two tills or a restaurant having two dishwashers.

Natural disaster

Some areas are more prone to natural disasters than others. These include floods, forest fires, hurricanes and earthquakes. Such disasters could destroy your business premises and potentially destroy important equipment and data in the process. This could be enough to not just cause downtime but put your company permanently out of business.

If you live in a high-risk area, taking physical preventative measures could be necessary. For instance, in the case of floods, you may want to look into building barriers using bespoke precast concrete or digging out diversion canals. Ensuring that all important data is backed up on the cloud could also allow your company to continue operating remotely if the worst happens.


A ransomware attack can also temporarily bring down a business. This is when cybercriminals target a business with a virus that locks their computer until a ransom is paid. These cybercriminals may even threaten to delete the information in order to encourage payment.

Small companies are often the biggest target as they tend to have less cybersecurity in place. Often the best defence against ransomware is to back up information on the cloud – this allows you to keep running your business from this backup data. You can also install disaster recovery software that cuts off access to these cloud files as an extra measure. Being careful online is also important – this means not clicking on links in suspicious emails and avoiding suspicious sites that may contain ransomware viruses.


Many companies are victims of burglaries. These too can lead to lengthy downtime if important equipment is stolen - especially computers that may also contain important data.

As with other disasters, backing up files on the cloud can prevent information being lost through physical loss of computers. However, anti-burglary measures may be able to prevent a burglary occurring in the first place. This could include installing a burglar alarm, installing motion sensing lighting outside your premises and installing CCTV. You should also be careful of who you give keys to and at what times you allow access – some companies only allow cleaners in during work hours for this reason.  


If you or key employees are sick, this may also result in your business being unable to operate. This is most common with one-man businesses or companies with only one or two employees. In the case of long-term sickness, it could even cause permanent closure.

In some cases, you and employees may still be able to work from home during sickness. There may also be the option of using temp agencies to fill in temporary staff shortages. Meanwhile, keeping on top of health and safety can help to limit work-related accidents.

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