Avoiding Downtime: Software Solutions to Server Issues
It always happens at the most inopportune times (but is there really an opportune time to lose a connection?). It’s the dreaded downtime, and it plagues every business at some point. While we’ve come a long way in reaching 99.999 percent uptime in recent years, outages due to technical glitches, cyberattacks, accidental data deletion, application failure, natural disasters, or network outages still rear their ugly heads. When you experience this “downtime,” you won’t be able to use your computer system, server or network, and your office will revert to the “dark days” of paperwork with no network connectivity. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it can be devastating.
The Downsides of Downtime
While downtime costs reported can vary based on company size and length of downtime, they are all significant. A 2021 report from Veeam noted that an average hour-long IT outage racks up as much as $85,000 in losses. Statista found that globally, 25 percent of companies reported their average hourly downtime costs due to server issues even higher—between $301,000 and $400,000 per hour—with 63 percent of companies claiming even higher costs. These numbers underscore the importance of maintaining what we call the opposite of downtime—achieving resiliency with uptime.
Fortunately there are a number of proven strategies to ensure more uptime for your healthcare facility. The most important step to take is to create a business continuity plan in the event of downtime, so you are prepared for when it happens. From backing up servers, to creating redundancies, to inspecting your space for risks like rodents, fire hazards, or flooding, actions like these will boost your uptime. There are also a number of ways to leverage software to ensure more uptime too.
Stopping Downtime Before It Happens
It’s important to note that like the witches in “The Wizard of Oz,” there are “good” downtimes and “bad” downtimes. Any planned downtime is good. It should be scheduled and communicated to all that will be affected. It’s a preventative measure that can be implemented during times that least affect staff, like during weekends, evenings, or holidays. Typically this type of downtime is used to upgrade hardware and software, complete routine inspections or infrastructure maintenance, and perform testing and repairs. Good downtime can help prevent bad downtime.
The bad downtime is what trips up an office’s productivity. It is certainly not planned, and is always a disruption to business. Whether it’s a malicious attack, natural disaster, hardware or software failure, or even plain old human mistakes that cause server issues, these challenges can be difficult to anticipate and prevent. However, a good business continuity plan can cut risks and mitigate their disastrous effects.
How Can Software Prevent Downtime?
Software is a powerful tool in increasing uptime. Here are the ways you can wield it to prevent downtime:
- Bolster Your Cloud Security: Network connections are only as strong as their weakest link. While you can rely on your software companies to have their own heightened security, it’s smart to back that up with a web application firewall and other specialized software to protect your network against cyberthreats like ransomware, malware, and DDoS attacks that can bring it down.
- Track Networks: As with any good healthcare, consistent monitoring is key to a server's health. Since servers usually emit warning signs before a system failure, it’s important to track your networks. Network monitoring solutions are software that can watch a server’s “vitals,” and send notifications when they are outside of normal metrics. For instance, monitoring software will alert you to a high CPU or memory usage, or a sudden reboot of a server. IT teams tracking these numbers can address any issues that appear. Additionally, network inventory and network configuration management software can automate other important network monitoring tasks, such as watching workstations, firewalls, and switches to ensure they’re working properly and their settings are correct.
- Update Devices on Schedule: What’s true for your phone is true for your other devices and tools, including computer hardware, operating systems, and applications. They must be consistently updated or patched with the latest updates to maintain optimal cybersecurity. To achieve this with the smallest amount of planned downtime, you can use tools like Windows Servers Update Services (WSUS) to automate patching; this is especially helpful if you’re working with more than one server. And if you are planning an update, you can mute the offline alerts that will overwhelm your network monitoring software to avoid dealing with false alarms.
- Ensure Uptime Functionality: When you use data management software (DMS) to organize your protected health information (PHI), you’ll ensure uptime with security safeguards that are built into the software. Some DMS providers feature downtime capabilities that allows staff to access all electronic health information even when the server is down, the power is out, or the EHR/EMR is not cooperating. It ensures that sensitive patient information stays private to ensure compliance.
- Use Business Continuity Disaster Recovery Capabilities: As part of a larger BCDR plan, BCDR software, also called business continuity software or business continuity management software, can provide a number of automated functions designed to fight downtime, including providing data and system backup as well as remote storage. They also help businesses create an advanced plan that covers items like business impact analysis (BIA) and risk assessment—and even have incident response features. These systems will ensure that your office can bounce back quickly from a downtime event and help you provide uninterrupted healthcare to your patients.
There are a number of software solutions that can help keep your patients data—and their health safe, while maintaining uptime. At DigiDoc, we recognize the critical importance of 99.999 percent uptime. Our DMS solution is designed to provide the files you need when you need them, no matter what the disruption. We’ve built in a number of powerful security measures to ensure that your patients’ data stays private and protected. Talk with us today to learn what you can do to ensure uptime and security.