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Break-fix IT vs managed IT: Which is right for you?

2022-06-15Highway 99 Technology Solutions Inc.

When looking to outsource IT support, you'll probably have to choose between break-fix support and managed IT at some point. These are generally the two main approaches to IT maintenance. Each method is distinct and suited to particular businesses, IT infrastructures, and technical needs.

Highway 99 offers primarily managed IT services. However, since we've worked under both models in the past, we've prepared this guide to help you decide which IT support model fits your business.

What is break-fix IT?

As the name suggests, a break-fix service provider resolves issues when they arise. The client contacts the service provider when something goes wrong, and technicians either show up on-site or work remotely to solve the problem. However, most break-fix support providers offer much more than random fixes. They may also provide on-demand IT services for one-off tasks such as systems deployment, data backup, web/software development, cloud migration, and special projects.

Break-fix IT providers charge an hourly fee for the services rendered, plus the cost of any hardware or software used in the process. Once they're done, that's the end of the engagement.

What is managed IT?

Managed IT means outsourcing your IT to a contractor through who fully manages your infrastructure and processes. Managed IT providers work closely with their clients in a relationship defined by the service agreement and charge a flat monthly or annual subscription fee based on the service scope. Most providers offer a wide range of services (usually in tiered or bundled packages), including:

  • 24/7 monitoring
  • IT servicing and maintenance
  • Helpdesk support
  • IT consultancy
  • Managed security
  • Data backup
  • Systems updating and patching

Break-fix pros and cons

Break-fix arrangements are a series of one-offs: you don't make any upfront IT service investments or payments. Break-fix IT leaves total control in your hands—letting you decide when to call for outside assistance.

The biggest downside to break-fix IT is the lack of proactive maintenance that prevents systems from failing in the first place. The saying "don't fix unless broken" doesn't exactly hold true in IT. If you wait until something breaks, you'll likely suffer unwanted downtime. Consequently, the cost of frequent downtime and repairs can really add up in the long run.

Managed IT pros and cons

One of the main benefits of managed IT is proactive maintenance, which prevents costly downtime and preserves your IT's general health and performance. The managed IT subscription model is consistent, easy to budget, and costs much less than an in-house IT department. But the close partnership is by far managed IT's biggest selling point. Having an IT expert as a business partner comes in handy when making IT plans and investments.

The only problem with managed IT is finding the right managed IT service provider for your business. Service packages, customer services, and expertise vary widely between providers. Plus, you want an managed IT provider you can trust. One that brings tangible value to your company by fostering growth through digital innovation, performance, security, and efficiency. Conversely, partnering with the wrong provider can do more harm than good.

Break-fix vs. managed IT: Which is better?

The answer to this question depends on your IT infrastructure and its needs. For instance, break-fix IT might suffice for businesses with a small IT footprint or an adequately staffed internal IT team. Break-fix IT also works where an IT outage is not a big issue.

But for businesses with mission-critical and complex IT systems, managed IT is the more practical option. In fact, many entrepreneurs understandably prefer the more holistic, consistent, and proactive managed IT to break-fix support. In short, managed IT does more for your business than break-fix support.

At Highway 99, we partner with our clients to ensure their IT infrastructure and processes are fully managed. Let's talk about your IT needs and the best solutions we have for you.

Featured image credit: Development team photo created by senivpetro -

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Located in downtown Vancouver, Highway 99 Technology Solutions Inc. delivers right-sized IT solutions and support to professionals, non-profits and small and medium-sized businesses throughout Metro Vancouver.
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