Server downtime: what is it and what are its causes?

8 January 2020

Server downtime: what is it and what are its causes?

Downtime is a period of time in which a computer system does not work. The system is then offline because the server is switched off. Your network cannot then be reached. Tasks such as the storing and processing of data do not take place either. As a result of downtime, you therefore lose a lot of data and many people have to be put to work to get the servers going again. That costs time and money. It is therefore very important to prevent downtime.

What are the causes?

Downtime is very annoying and costs your company a lot of data, time and money. But what causes a downtime? Below we have set out the most important causes for you:

Cyber attacks

If one or more hackers bypass your security system and cause damage to your network, we call that a cyber attack. For example, they can install a program to steal your data. Solving this will require your entire data centre to be shut down. During this downtime period, specialists hunt for the harmful virus in order to then eliminate it. Usually, a new security system needs to be implemented.

Defective cooling systems

You have probably experienced it at some point: your laptop suddenly radiates heat. This is attributable to the new generation of laptops that no longer contain cooling systems. Because they are running heavy programs, these laptops can become very hot. Now imagine how much heat is generated in a room with thousands of computers that are not cooled. That is what happens if the cooling system in your data centre fails. Because of the heat, the computers often switch off automatically to prevent damage. Then you are faced with downtime. In order to be able to go online again, the cooling systems must first be prepared and the servers cooled.


Various particles such as dust, pollen and zinc particles can cause servers to overheat. Ventilation systems can also become clogged and voltage disturbances can occur in electrical components in the data centre. As soon as this happens, the systems must all be shut down to facilitate cleaning. But preventive measures can be taken for this. If you want to know more about the various types of particles that can cause damage to your data centre, click here.

What solutions are there?

For the first two causes, a solution is relatively simple:

  • You can prevent a cyber attack with a multi-layered security system. This allows you to build multiple defensive walls within your security system, making it harder for viruses to reach your network. making it harder for viruses to reach your network.
  • Defects in cooling systems can be prevented by planning regular maintenance and performance checks. This ensures that the temperature of the servers does not rise too high.

For the third cause, it may be harder to find a solution. The particles that cause damage to your servers are difficult to see with the naked eye. The quantities gradually build up until suddenly problems arise. In addition, cleaning the servers is not easy. This must be carried out professionally because even a tiny amount of damage can already have major consequences.

What can you do?

If you are wondering how to look after the digital heart of your organisation, use our Risk Management Audit which has been especially developed for this purpose.

Request a Risk Management Audit