The true cost of IT downtime and what you can do about it

Illustration: Ram Prasath


44% of companies say IT downtime can cost up to $1 million per hour. But revenue is not the only cost of downtime.

For a large enterprise, it could be thousands of dollars per minute whereas, for small businesses, it could be a matter of survival. E-commerce companies could suffer sales losses—downtime on its Prime Day cost Amazon up to $99 million in lost sales in 2018. Healthcare facilities could face more adverse effects, from the unavailability of emergency medical equipment to hefty legal penalties.

So, the impact on revenue is not the only casualty of unplanned downtime. What is it, then?

The true cost of IT downtime

Revenue loss

You’re on track with your revenue targets. Your clients are ramping up production for a big sale day. Everything seems to be going well, until one fine day your applications crash. You wait for your emergency on-call team to swoop in and save the day. By the time they dive into the root cause analysis, investigate logs, prep backup and data recovery, and alert the support team about the flood of support tickets underway, you’ve already lost sight of the goal post.

You’re fortunate if the downtime occurs during midweek or on a busy Monday instead of during a Prime Day or a black Friday sale. You lose your last chance to sweep the issue under the rug before your potential customers notice.

Failed conversions

When a potential customer is trying out your product or service or is in the middle of a purchase decision, nothing can drive them out the door fast like an inaccessible portal or a portal that doesn’t let users perform their desired actions. Downtime can cost you your future revenue. It makes your existing and future customers lose trust in your ability to keep their systems up and running—and justifiably so.

Risk of litigation

All the revenue lost in sales, productivity decline, and remediation will pale in comparison to the money you may end up losing on potential lawsuits. Businesses are liable to certain process guidelines and service level agreements. Any failure in meeting them can potentially land them in litigation, civil or criminal penalties. This is also applicable to downtime that leads to stoppage in production, project delivery, or operations of your customers. When SaaS providers don’t deliver the level of services promised, they are also liable to credits or refunds as per the agreement.

Productivity decline

Resolving downtime is a critical issue since there’s a lot at stake. Ask technicians jolted by 1 am emergency calls what their worst nightmare is. Firefighting all the time and zero meaningful work can make them want out sooner or later, leading to a severe loss in productivity. Immeasurable losses are often the most disruptive to business growth.

All these repercussions are beyond the damage to reputation, loss of data, and employee churn caused by downtime.

Downtime - inevitable yet amendable

Unplanned IT downtime can be a real threat to your business—but never unmanageable. Aging software solutions, human errors, and weak security are the most common culprits of downtime, all of which you can curb by training employees diligently, establishing adept security policies, and by choosing a resilient software suite that scales effortlessly. Downtime insurances are also a viable option that covers the monetary losses inflicted by software outages.

But no business can be completely immune to downtime. The realistic goal can be to find problems early, address inefficiencies, and prevent high-level incidents impacting business. As cloud adoption soars, businesses need to invest in solid infrastructure and business continuity strategies. Because when a server fails, data flow stops, operations cease, and productivity declines. offers a reliable software suite that is built for the cloud, prioritizes disaster recovery, and is engineered to heal fast—

Which just might be your best shot, not against the inevitable, but the level of havoc it could wreak on your business.

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