Hot standby is a means to ensure a company’s critical business systems continue to work uninterrupted even if one or more of their hardware components fail. Also known as “hot spare” or “warm spare,” the method lets your hot standby-equipped server push on with tasks even if its hard drive ceased to work. There would be no system downtime and thus no business operation interruption.

Hot standby, therefore, is a failsafe. It ensures business continuity despite hardware-related problems. Think of it as your car’s handbrake. If your brake pedal fails, you can still make it stop with your handbrake.

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Any company that relies on uninterrupted system uptime can benefit from hot standby. Examples include a factory, especially one that is trying to meet a strict deadline for a product release. When you’ve prepared for a huge launch party, your production can’t fail. Otherwise, you won’t have products to feature and sell to customers who have been surely waiting for them.

Just imagine how frustrated all of the people waiting in line for the release of the latest iPhone model would be if they don’t get what they’ve been promised. Some of them even camp out outside Apple stores the night before just to be first in line. If the product isn’t made available on the date they’re supposed to purchase it, some may decide not to buy it after all.

How Hot Standby Works

To make hot standby work, you need to keep two identical systems running at the same time. Companies that use a primary server with hot standby can thus easily switch to the second server (with all the same parts, data, and functionality) instantly if anything goes wrong with the former. Your IT team does not need to back up and restore data before the secondary server can be used. Most of the servers sold to companies that rely on 100% uptime have hot standby features.

Advantages of Using Hot Standby

Servers are not the only corporate systems that come equipped with hot standby. Examples of commonly used hot standby devices include A/V switches, computers, network printers, and hard disks. These are always powered on so they can take over when their duplicates stop running. Any asset that needs to run without fail should have hot standby enabled so companies can enjoy the benefits below.

Enhanced Service Reliability

Hot standby lets a system work with zero or minimal downtime. If your business can’t operate without that device, it’s best to use hot standby so you can depend on it.

Improved System Performance

Having a redundant system in place enables your IT team to perform regular maintenance on the unused one without disrupting business operations. Not only does this enhance both devices’ performance but also keeps your employees productive despite ongoing repairs and such.

Fewer Risks

Since hot standby ensures business as usual, even unexpected hardware failures that could significantly affect your bottom line won’t be a problem.

Difference between Hot and Cold Standby

In cold standby, you still have identical systems, each of which can take the other’s place if a problem occurs. But unlike hot standby, the secondary system needs to be booted up first and updated to be at the same state as the primary one. That takes some time and doesn’t ensure 100% uptime as hot standby does.

Hot standby does not only work for hardware. It also benefits software users. An example would be a database with a copy on hot standby. In case the primary database stops working, the secondary one runs so users can continue data processing and analysis tasks without downtime.

In today’s IT-driven environment, companies would surely benefit from using hot standby for business-critical systems so they won’t suffer from productivity loss, website unavailability, or any other disruption that can negatively affect their bottom line.