Business Essentials: Understanding Uptime

With so many people and businesses using cloud hosting these days, it’s important to know what to look for in a provider. Businesses must take into consideration potential risks associated with storing data off site, and know how to make sure their data has high availability.

What is Uptime?

Uptime is the measure of the availability of data. Uptime is usually measured in percentages – for instance, most web hosting providers possess at least 99.99% uptime. This means that your data will be unavailable for less than one hour in a year. High uptime is important for businesses or people who plan to store important data in the cloud or host a website from a rented server. Most web hosts do guarantee 99.99% uptime. 99.9% isn’t considered that good, but if they have 99.999% uptime, they’re a great web host and have very high availability.
Of necessity, most hosting companies have to pull their servers offline at some point to perform routine maintenance of updates. This isn’t a bad thing – the updates keep your data more secure and functional. These companies generally try to schedule maintenance at times that won’t interfere with your work, usually during the middle of the night. This can still be a problem for worldwide companies, but usually the maintenance is performed quickly enough that it’s not a problem.

What if my Data isn’t Available?

On rare occasion, something may happen to a server, and your data could be lost. This possibility necessitates having a disaster recovery plan. Any good IT managed services company will keep multiple back-up copies of your data in several different locations, to ensure security in the event that one data center were to have a computer glitch or be effected by some sort of natural disaster.
Regardless, you’ll probably want to keep a copy of your data. Storing copies of essential files and applications on your own computers will enable you to keep working in the event that your Internet connection goes down or the cloud company loses your data. Most cloud hosting companies will have a disaster recovery plan, but you should have your own as well.

Is my Data at Risk?

Fortunately, the chance of your data stored in the cloud being lost is very slim. Modern technology makes back up safe, secure, and easy, so online data is lost very infrequently. Having a disaster recovery plan in the event that something ever happens to your high availability just adds one additional layer of protection.

Troy Adams is a computer software research analyst providing insight to the future of IT management.