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The term downtime is used to refer to periods when a system is unavailable. downtime or outage duration refers to a period of time that a system fails to provide or perform its primary function. reliability, availability, recovery, and unavailability are related concepts. the unavailability is the proportion of a timespan that a system is unavailable or offline. this is usually a result of the system failing to function because of an unplanned event, or because of routine maintenance.