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Downtime: Definition, Causes, Formula & How to Prevent It

Last updated: Dec 20, 2023

Downtime: Definition, Causes, Formula & How to Prevent It
Cover image: Illustration of a downtime on a website.

What is Downtime?

Downtime is the period during which operations cease, a constraint that can diminish user experience and domain authority, as well as increase the bounce rate percentage. So, what exactly is downtime?

As the name suggests, this condition is marked by a decline in server performance (down), which prevents users from accessing a particular page on a website.

To define it simply, it is a halt indicating that a service, system, or hosting server is temporarily inaccessible online.

In the scope of search engine algorithms, downtime is considered fatal as it can lead to a decrease in a website's traffic since users cannot access it.

However, it's important to note that this condition is essentially divided into two types: planned and unplanned.

Planned downtime is usually utilized during maintenance or specific empowerment stages to enhance server performance. As this type is scheduled, users generally receive prior warnings regarding the upcoming web maintenance.

On the other hand, the unplanned one purely occurs due to server disturbances, making it unpredictable and happening without any prior notice.

Characteristics of Downtime Server

After understanding the definition of what is downtime, it's also essential for you to learn about the characteristics indicating that a server, service, or website is currently experiencing such a condition. Some of the characteristics are:

  • The site cannot be accessed through a web browser. Users attempting to visit the site will encounter an error message or a blank page when trying to access it.
  • Response times become slow, or users may not receive any response at all.
  • There is a message indicating an error or maintenance, notifying users that site repairs are in progress.
  • HTTP status codes appear, indicating problems on the server.

Downtime Causes

This condition can occur because of several reasons. In order to understand it better, let's explore the following causes most likely to happen:

1. Cyber Crime oleh Hacker

A weak cybersecurity can be a major cause of downtime. Hackers can launch various attacks, such as Denial of Service (DDoS), aiming to make services inaccessible by flooding the site with fake traffic. This overwhelms the server, resulting in downtime.

Similarly, attacks such as SQL injection or cross-site scripting (XSS) can potentially result in the unauthorized opening of access to databases or infecting web pages with malicious scripts, causing the site to become non-functional.

Additionally, hackers can attempt to access systems using techniques like brute force to gain unauthorized access, damage or delete data, or even cause damage to server infrastructure.

2. Network Disturbances

Another cause is the instability or disruption of the network infrastructure connecting the server to users.

When network disturbances occur, servers find it challenging to communicate efficiently with users or other devices, leading to a decrease in performance or even total failure in the process.

3. Sudden Power Outages

One of the most common downtime causes that you may frequently experience is when the power network suddenly goes out.

Servers, being the core of information technology infrastructure, are typically located in data centers that rely on a continuous power supply to keep servers operating optimally.

Therefore, when an unexpected power outage occurs without adequate backups, such as generators and Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), it can lead to detrimental downtime.

Additionally, power outages can result in the loss of data that has not been saved or synchronized. Thus, if the server lacks backup resources, data being processed or transmitted has the potential to be lost or incomplete.

4. Hardware Failure

Essentially, certain hardware devices like Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and Solid-State Drive (SSD) play a crucial role in supporting server performance.

Therefore, when one of these components experiences damage, the impact felt is significant, and one of the consequences is down server.

5. Malware Attacks

Malware is a digital threat that can also trigger this condition. Common types of malware include trojans, ransomware, and spyware designed to damage or access computer systems without authorization.

When a website is infiltrated by malware, it can render services inaccessible. Malware attacks have the potential to damage various critical components of a website, including servers, databases, and other essential files.

6. Excessive Server Workload

Have you ever tried accessing a popular site, and suddenly it became inaccessible?

This is because every infrastructure, including IT systems, software, and hardware, has capacity limits that must be maintained.

Therefore, if the load on a system exceeds its capacity, infrastructure disruptions or damage are more likely to occur.

For example, if too many users try to access a site simultaneously, downtime may occur because the server cannot respond to each access request from individual users.

7. Software Damage

In addition to hardware, software damage can also be a primary cause of this condition.

Software on servers, applications, or content management systems can experience damage that can impact overall performance failure.

Software damage typically occurs due to various reasons, such as bugs, coding errors, incompatible updates, or even operating system failures.

When software damage occurs, a site may malfunction or not operate as intended, contributing to downtime.

How to Calculate Downtime Formula 

Calculating the percentage of downtime formula can help you monitor the quality of the server used. Therefore, learn how to calculate it below.

Downtime Percentage Formula

To calculate the percentage, you can use the following formula:

Downtime Rate (%) = Period (hours) / Total Hours in a Year x 100%

Study Case: If your site experiences such server down condition for 20 hours, then the percentage is

20 / 8760 x 100% = 0.0023%

However, if what you know is the server's uptime percentage, then the calculation is as follows:

Downtime Rate (%) = 100% - Uptime 

Downtime Period Formula

Meanwhile, if you want to calculate the duration of the period, the appropriate formula is:

Downtime Period = Downtime Percentage / 100% x Total Hours in a Year

Study Case: If the downtime percentage for your site is 0.3%, then the downtime period is:

0,2% / 100% x 8760 = 26,28 hours.

How to Prevent Downtime

There are several ways to prevent downtime including proactive and reactive efforts. Proactive prevention can be done by activating firewalls and antivirus programs, as well as security updates. Other ways to prevent downtime include:

  • Using the best and most secure data center or data warehouse options, free from any disturbances such as power outages and others.
  • Maximizing server architecture with advanced hardware.
  • Choosing the right hosting service provider, secure, and not prone to downtime.
  • Regularly checking and testing your systems.
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