How To Find and Mitigate Single Points of Failure

How To Find and Mitigate Single Points of Failure


Hopefully when you think of your IT you don’t visualise the image above.

So what do we mean when we say single point of failure? Well our good friends over at Wikipedia would define it as the following

“A single point of failure (SPOF) is a part of a system that, if it fails, will stop the entire system from working. SPOFs are undesirable in any system with a goal of high availability or reliability, be it a business practice, software application, or other industrial system.”

How to find SPOFs?


…but seriously take some time to look and think about the system or process you are analysing. Break it down into smaller components that make up the system. If the failure of one of those components would shut down the entire system or destroy it, then you have identified a single point of failure.

Sometimes you may find a few, we find using a simple spreadsheet to list them all down adding in a column for Risk and another column for Impact. Some additional columns which can help you and the team focus on what needs fixing is an Effort column, this helps you find those quick wins.

I have one…now what?

To address any risks found, add another redundant option to that component. For example, you offer store your data on a local server, just move to a cloud storage system and back that up. If adding a redundant component isn’t an option, contain the specific failure of the component so the effects don’t cascade through the system/business causing other failures or worse case a system-wide failure.

This process is best completed as you create a new process or system in a business, as at this point you can mitigate the risk before it gets out in the wild. However its not always as simple as this so its good to create a quarterly internal review…to keep you honest.

Here is short video we created about single points of failure a few months ago

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Date: July 20, 2020

Author: Magnetar IT

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