What Does Downtime Cost Your Business?

When we tell people about Vigil, we often get the question "Why would I need to monitor my website?" This question is often rooted in the assumption that a little downtime here and there isn't that important. Computing infrastructure is now such an integral component to almost any business, and even a little downtime can cost serious money.

Gartner puts the average cost of downtime for a company at $5600 per minute. This number will vary depending on your industry, and how you use computers in your business, and many factors may raise or lower this estimate for your particular company.

Lost Business

The most obvious cost of an offline website, and the one most people think about when they consider the impact of their website being down is lost business. If a customer is coming to your site ready to buy your product and instead they see a 404 Not Found or 500 Internal Server Error Page that is a sale you may never get back. This is also usually the easiest cost to estimate since you can calculate how many dollars pass through your website on an hourly or daily basis.

Lost Worker Productivity

Besides lost sales, it is also important to consider the amount of time your employees lose when your servers are down. These might include mail servers, internal tools, and websites they might need to use to get their jobs done. All of these can go down and leave your workers stranded. An hour of downtime in even a small company can mean thousands of dollars in payroll for employees waiting to get back to work.

Lost Trust

In addition to the immediate cost of lost sales and worker productivity, it is important to consider the long-term consequences of lost trust when your website is down. As more and more of our lives move online we depend on the services we use to be available 24/7. Every interaction we have with our potential and existing customers helps to build trust. A website that is frequently offline sends the wrong signal. 

This loss is expremely hard to measure. We often assume we'll learn about problems our customers are having, but more often than not we simply never hear from them again as they move on to a competitor's offering. For every customer complaint there are tens or hundreds that simply move on.

How Long Will I Be down?

The other important number that goes into calculating the cost of downtime is of course how long your servers are down. The average downtime for most companies is 87 hours per year, which represents 99% uptime—a number most find sounds perfectly acceptable—until you consider that based on the average per-minute downtime costs, those 87 hours can end up costing a company hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Even if you think your services are up 99.9% of the time, that is still 8.7 hours a year, and 99.999%, which is considered best-in-class, still represents over $3700 in downtime risk. The sooner you know something is wrong, the sooner you can stop losing money.

Causes Of Downtime

While it seems like every week there is a new major attack on computer networks, the reality is that most network downtime is still caused by mundane issues.

  • 40%: Hardware failure
  • 25%: Service provider outages
  • 25%: Human error
  • 10%: System attacks

While it would be nice to be able to focus on one area that most often causes downtime, the reality is that websites are dependent on a plethora of systems and interactions. A failure in any one of those—be it hardware, software, or human error—can bring a website offline.

Does Monitoring Help?

One additional objection we hear when discussing monitoring is "Well, I can't do anything about it anyway." We are seeing more and more customers outsourcing their website hosting to large service providers. We even host the main Vigil website on a third-party service. If your website goes down, it often feels like there is little you can do other than just wait it out. 

However, given the importance a website has in any business today, it is important to know if your service provider and internal infrastucture are doing their jobs right. Even large providers can run into issues, and if those issues keep cropping up it is imporant to know. Without proper monitoring in place, you may never even realize how much downtime you are suffering, and how much money you are losing.