Tips to Recover from a Data Center Failure

By Zac Amos, Features Editor, ReHack

Businesses must leverage various types of information as the world becomes increasingly digital and data-driven. The role of data centers is critical, as these organizations need processing power, storage capacity, and security measures in place to support their work.

However, data centers are still subject to factors outside a company’s control. For example, a natural disaster, widespread power outage or potential cyberattack can all cause failure, resulting in costly downtime for the organization.

Here are the common causes of data center failures and some ways companies can recover and proceed after one occurs.

Common Causes of Data Center Failures

Data centers need to run consistently to support business continuity. However, they can fail to run properly. Here are some of the top causes of data center failures:

  • Human error
  • Cybersecurity attack
  • Network failure
  • Hardware, software or equipment malfunction
  • Power outage

According to ITIC’s 2021 Global Server Hardware Security survey, one hour of server downtime costs upward of $300,000 for 91% of mid- and large-sized businesses. In addition, data center failures can negatively impact brand reputation and customer experiences.

How to Recover from a Data Center Failure

How can an organization without an existing recovery plan in place respond to and proceed from a failure? Here are some helpful tips to guide companies through the recovery process.

  1. Assess Damages

Once companies learn about the data center failure, the first step is determining how much was lost, which systems were impacted and what clients suffered the most. In addition to assessing application infrastructure, other areas to check include:

  • Transit routes
  • Hardware, such as routers, laptops, desktops, switches and wireless devices
  • Data storage devices
  • Building appliances, such as power infrastructure and HVAC systems

It’s also important for a company to be transparent about the failure and communicate ongoing updates to its client base.

  1. Identify the Cause

The next step is to identify the cause of the data center failure. Did a hurricane cause a power outage? Did an employee make a critical error? Did essential hardware malfunction? This is the time to investigate the root cause of the failure, whether obvious or not.

  1. Notify Key Clients and Vendors

Key clients and third-party vendors should be aware of the data center failure because they could be directly affected. Document the details of their issues and work toward figuring out how to solve them. Focus on restoring connectivity for business continuity. Depending on contracts with these entities, companies might need to pay reparations during the recovery period.

  1. Get Systems up and Running

This step is obvious, but after completing the earlier ones, it’s time to get the company’s systems back on track. The faster they start working again, the less downtime and associated costs the company will suffer from, allowing it to resume operations.

  1. Note Lessons Learned

No company wants to suffer from costly downtime — the ultimate goal is to prevent data center failure in the first place. However, that’s not always possible. Instead of focusing only on prevention, it’s important that businesses also have a disaster recovery plan in place.

Companies can take other preventive measures in addition to creating or improving their disaster recovery plan. For example, conducting a simulated cyberattack can bolster and strengthen how a data center handles an incident. Organizations can invest in an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), which provides them with surge-protected power in case of a failure.

Bonus Tips: Prepare for Data Center Failures

Here are some other basic tips about handling a data center failure:

  • Follow the 3-2-1 data backup rule: make three copies of data on two separate storage solutions. One should be off-site, in an alternate location or the cloud.
  • Determine an appropriate data center power redundancy configuration.
  • Invest in 24/7 monitoring for the data center.
  • Perform regular inspections on data center hardware and software.


No company wants to experience a data center failure, but every business should know how to respond in case it happens. Unfortunately, data center failures are more common than one might think. According to the Uptime Institute, the frequency of failures was higher than ever before in 2020. No company is immune or exempt.

Be Prepared for Potential Data Center Failures

Some disasters are unpredictable, but organizations should do what they can to prevent data center failures. Companies should focus on avoiding shutdowns when possible and have an effective response plan in place so they can recover quicker and get back to work. This will provide peace of mind and help businesses remain operational even when things go wrong.

About the Author

Zac Amos is the Features Editor at ReHack, where he covers cybersecurity and the tech industry. For more of his content, follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn.


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