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What Happens When Your Server Fails and Where to Find Support

Businesses rely on servers to function. Even businesses that primarily operate in the cloud are not immune from server failures. And server failures are felt through every corner of the organization. Employees can no longer access key files and systems to produce work. Production operations may grind to a halt. While there may be other work employees can perform in the interim, all manner of business workflows have increasingly relied on network access. Businesses may be unable to service and sell to clients and lose money each hour and day the server remains down. When a server malfunctions, the results can be devastating and even threaten a business’s very survival.

On-Prem Server Failures

Consider a small business with roughly a dozen employees operating with a single production server that goes dark. Employees will be unable to access anything from server files to Wi-Fi access. IT staff will quickly try to determine what the problem is and if server access can be restored.

But sometimes, server problems are too difficult to diagnose and easily manage. In-house IT staff may not have the expertise to diagnose and repair the specific issue afflicting the server. As they try to do so, employee downtime increases. The business loses sales opportunities, can’t service existing customers, and work piles up.

The situation’s even worse if the initial diagnosis indicates that hackers have compromised the server. In this scenario, sensitive data may have been stolen or key files encrypted and held for ransom. Not only does the business’ IT department need to resume operations as quickly as possible, but IT staff, along with management, must also deal with the hackers, as well as law enforcement and regulatory authorities. In cases where client data has been stolen, management must also make all necessary disclosures required by the Digital Privacy Act of 2015 and applicable provincial laws.

In either case, hopefully, the business’ data is being backed up somewhere. However, the data must be restored to a new server, which most small businesses will not have on hand. If they do, the expected downtime may be as little as a few hours. If the spare server is not identical to the one that’s died, it will likely take longer. And if a new server on-hand or quickly acquired must be built from scratch, then downtime will be measured in days.

But if, as is common, there is no spare server and the ailing server is under warranty, the business will have to wait for replacement parts or an entirely new server to arrive. Assuming the manufacturer delivers the correct parts/new server, downtime could extend well past a week.

Cloud Server Failures

Many businesses have also moved the vast majority of their operations to the cloud. Utilizing third-party cloud service providers can help mitigate the risk of server failure, but it does not eliminate it entirely. The cloud service provider’s servers could fail or be compromised by a cyberattack, which could impact your data and critical systems. Providers should have redundancies in place that allow them to restore access to client files quickly. But sometimes, the cause of the failure results in such widespread damage that this is not possible.

For example, a third-party provider’s server farm could be hit by lightning strikes or suffer other natural disasters that destroy their hardware and client data with it. Cyberattacks that compromise a cloud provider could leave a business with encrypted data and reliant on the provider to pay a ransom or otherwise manage the response to regain access to their data. Moreover, despite marketing claims, not every provider delivers best-in-class cybersecurity or even basic server maintenance to safeguard client data.

In some cases, a provider’s negligence can result in server and other malfunctions that jeopardize a business client’s operations. A provider’s failure to service and maintain ageing servers, address overheating or peak traffic periods, and investigate pre-crash random reboots and sudden slowness, puts their hardware and client assets at greater risk for failure. No matter what an SLA says, businesses should regularly review or request documentation about a provider’s operations and ensure their access to and integrity of their data.

In these cases, a business’s IT staff may be able to restore functions from backup data stored on an onsite or offsite server. However, management and IT will need to determine whether to attempt to restore services to another cloud services provider while their current one is offline. The vetting process will take time. Alternatively, if now leery of third parties, they may decide to pursue an on-prem strategy, which will also take time to plan, obtain resources for, configure, and deploy.

Backup Data and Recovery

These scenarios assume that the business’ data has been backed up regularly and that backups can restore the system. It’s not uncommon for a business to not have consistently updated backups or to be passing compromised data to their backup solution. Businesses that fail to test their backups regularly may not be able to use them to restore operations when a server fails. IT staff must often scramble to salvage as much data as possible from the failing server, lengthening the time the business remains idle. Of course, if the backups fail, the resulting business fallout may prove catastrophic.

In a small or midsize business, the full weight of resuming operations will fall squarely on (often lean) IT departments, who may need help themselves. When a server fails, in-house IT staff must have the support they need, whether help diagnosing the root cause of the server failure or assistance quickly obtaining the hardware or components they need.

When your server fails, does your IT staff have a trusted provider standing ready to help? If your business is in Kingston, Brockville, Ottawa, or Eastern Ontario, your first call should be to OnServe. With decades of experience providing managed IT services, IT hardware and resources, and both technical and strategic IT support, OnServe is your best bet to get your server restored, and business operations resumed as quickly as possible. We’ve helped some of the region’s top companies recover rapidly from what otherwise may have been devastating server failures and helped them put in place IT resources and protocols to mitigate the risk of future server failures.

We stand ready to help you when disaster strikes. But if your server is already experiencing sluggishness, random reboots, or other performance abnormalities, don’t wait until it fails. Contact us today!