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What Exactly is “Failover”?

What Exactly is “Failover”?

October 27, 2023

In business, having a continuity strategy is extremely important. One term that you may come across when continuity plans come up is “failover”. Let’s define failover and discuss a few variables that need to be addressed regarding the issue. 

What is Failover?

Failover is a mechanism or process that ensures the availability and reliability of a system, network, or service in the event of a failure or disruption. It is commonly used to minimize downtime and ensure continuous operation, particularly for critical systems and services. As you know, the more downtime your organization takes on, the more money it wastes. 

Here are some variables that you need to address to ensure that your organization has failover systems in place to minimize downtime and get your business back up and running fast. 


Failover relies on redundancy, which means having duplicate or backup components (such as servers, network links, or hardware) that can take over when the primary component fails. Redundancy is a key element in creating a failover system.

Monitoring and Detection

Continuous monitoring and detection mechanisms are in place to spot when a primary component has failed or is experiencing issues. This allows your business to remain proactive about its operational technology.

Automatic Switchover

When a failure is detected, the failover system automatically switches traffic or operations from the failed component to the backup or secondary component. This transition is intended to be seamless and immediate to minimize downtime.

Data and State Synchronization

In many cases, data and system state need to be synchronized between the primary and backup components. This ensures that users or applications experience minimal disruption when the failover occurs.

Load Balancing

Failover systems can also incorporate load balancing to distribute network traffic or workloads evenly across multiple servers or resources. If one server fails, the load balancer can route traffic to the remaining healthy servers.

Testing and Regular Maintenance

Failover systems are typically tested and maintained regularly to ensure that they function as intended. This includes running simulated failover events to verify the system's performance.

Failover is essential for ensuring high availability of critical IT services, such as websites, databases, email servers, and cloud-based applications. It helps organizations reduce the impact of hardware failures, network issues, software bugs, and other unexpected events that could disrupt operations.

If you would like more information about how to streamline your business continuity plans, and especially your disaster recovery and data redundancy, give the IT professionals at First Column IT a call today at (571) 470-5594.

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