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While it may simply seem like a lack of internet access, or a website that’s temporarily unavailable, time is money for small businesses and internet downtime can cost you more than a few hours of productivity. The reach of downtime is widespread and affects everything from end-user productivity to business revenue.


Recent research done by the Ponemon Institute has shown that the cost and consequences of outages has been on the rise over the past three years, the most notable statistic being that lost revenue due to unplanned downtime has increased by 56% since 2010.

Gartner has echoed these statistics, stating that each minute of downtime costs $5 600 (about R78 394) per minute, totalling more than $300 000 (about R4 199 685) per hour. So with these concerning statistics, business owners should be regarding internet downtime as the most dangerous threat to various areas of their business, including revenue, corporate reputation, credit rating, stock prices as well as overtime costs.

The causes of downtime

When a business schedules planned downtime, it usually happens at a time most convenient to the business with minimal effect on productivity. However, when unplanned downtime occurs, it’s usually because of a failure in the system. As there is no way to estimate when a failure will happen, users aren’t notified in advance and preparations can’t be made to work around it. The most common causes of internet downtime are:

  • Component failures of faulty server components, storage subsystem components or network components. This includes system boards, power supplies, disk controllers, routers and network cables.

  • Software defects or failures like a virus, unresponsive drive or operating system.

  • Operator mismanagement that involves unskilled operation and either intentional or accidental damage, like deleted files.

  • System outages or maintenance like scheduled reboots or a system board failure.

  • External factors like local or regional disasters such as fires or floods.

What this means for your business

Whenever internet downtime occurs, your business is affected in various ways. Firstly, there will be a dip in productivity as employees are unable to perform certain tasks and more IT managers are needed to manage the network. Secondly, organisations will also suffer damage to their reputation with customers, suppliers, banks and business partners.

More tangible costs include direct revenue losses, compensatory payments as well as billing and investment losses. In addition to this, businesses will also have additional expenses like temporary employees and overtime costs. “Adding up the costs of downtime isn’t a cut-and-dried endeavour. Suffice to say that it’s difficult – lost revenue and lost productivity are only two parts of the model. What’s more, ordinary tactics that small businesses use to ensure business continuity such as hosting applications off-site and using SaaS applications don’t seem to be any kind of guarantor,” writes Mark Barry in his article Downtime is Money: How Downtime Depresses Small Business Revenue.

Don’t let downtime get you down

While internet downtime is costly and can cause irrevocable damage to your business, the expert advice is to practice proactive management of risks instead of reactive disaster control. The first and foremost way that organisations can do this is by selecting an internet provider that offers a comprehensive network package and sets you up with all the software and hardware necessary to get the service up and running. However, it doesn’t stop there, you should also seek a network provider that gives you the best support option. And, as unplanned downtime can happen at any time, it’s crucial to have support available to you 24/7 to have fast response times and effective disaster recovery.