Occasionally, we hear about a major website disaster. High profile incidents like the Sony hacking cases at the end of 2014 or the crash of Healthcare.gov in 2013 show just how bad server errors and computer hacking can become. These episodes of network failures should inspire companies and IT professionals to pause and evaluate their own networks.  

Just how strong is your data network? Do your servers have what it takes to meet the demands of the today’s business climate? How would you know?

Luckily, the network disasters of the past warn you of the dangers that lie ahead. Here, we will overview the causes for the major network outages in the last few years. We will explain how they work and what you can do to mitigate your company’s risk. You can use our guide to avoid future server outages.

Heat Spike Shuts Down Hotmail

On March 12 of 2013, Microsoft lost its Hotmail and Outlook.com email services for 16 hours. One of its data centers experienced a heat spike due to a faulty program update. When the software update controlling the temperature failed, the server rooms’ temperature rose immediately.

Due to the software problems, Microsoft couldn’t activate its fail-safe cooling programing as well. As a result, the center shut down to prevent damage. The rapid rise in temperature resulted from the already relatively high temperatures Microsoft uses for its server rooms. While this saves money and energy, it means there is less of a threshold for temperature increases.

What You Can Learn

You can prevent heat spikes by keeping your server room between 68 and 71 degrees. If it rises above 82 degrees, you will experience problems. Also, ensure you have adequate fail safes for your server rooms. Professionals should monitor the temperature and be ready to intervene if necessary.

Cyber-Attacks Shutdown PlayStation Online and Xbox Live

Over Christmas of 2014, the hacking group Lizard Squad launched a denial of service cyber-attack on the online gaming networks of Xbox and PlayStation. While both Microsoft and Sony restored their service by the 26th, 160 million gamers lost access to online gaming and key downloads on one of the busiest gaming days of the year.

What You Can Learn

Denial of service attacks generate false access requests for your server. Enough requests overwhelm the server and shut it down. Hackers use this technique for fun, for practice, or as a diversion to steal data.

Unfortunately, you can’t stop denial of service attacks. But you can absorb them. Get a professional monitoring service to search your network for signs of intrusions. They can provide ways to dilute the attack before it shuts down your servers.

Human Error Turns Off Hosting.com

Sometimes small mistakes can cause large problems. On July 28, 2012, an employee accidentally took down security and cloud services website Hosting.com. The service vendor input the incorrect breaker sequence and shut off power to Hosting’s data center. Over 1,100 customers lost their services for the day.

What You Can Learn

Ensure your employees know all the proper safety protocols for your server room. Small problems, from turning the wrong breaker switch to tripping over a power plug, can cause widespread effects. Correct IT protocols protect your business and customers.

Ripple Effect Takes Down Amazon Client Services

When Amazon experienced software issues in September of 2013, several clients of Amazon Web services experienced server downtime. Many companies, such as software developers Heroku and Github, had downtime related to the Amazon outages.  

What You Can Learn

If you need to rely on other software services, make sure you have redundant systems to reduce the impact of downtime. Communicate with software providers to find out what systems affect you. Also, help customers or clients understand the nature of your downtime so you don’t lose their business.

Traffic Overload Plagues Healthcare.gov

Of all the major server crashes in recent history, few gained as much infamy as the Healthcare.gov fiasco. As a product of the already hotly debated Affordable Care Act, the Healthcare.gov problems became instant news as soon as they started.

Healthcare.gov crashed quickly due to the influx of traffic from consumers. As weeks passed, the website continued to malfunction. The government scrambled to find a solution by increasing site-infrastructure and supporting servers. Finally, the problems ended as IT professionals discovered and fixed software and data coding problems that caused the site’s failure.

What You Can Learn

Healthcare.gov showed how a problem that all sites face, incoming traffic, can cause multiple other problems within a complex network. Early attempts to add more site support simply created a more complicated process.

Always look for solutions that simplifies the process rather than complicating it. With thorough diagnostics, you can find ways smooth out glitches and get rid of unnecessary complications in your network.

Downtime can affect anyone, from small companies to corporate giants. You can avoid major incidents with proper IT protocols and support. You can look our examples or other companies to plan your own response to server problems. Make time today to create the strategies you need to avoid network downtime.