From Break fix to Managed Services: What's the Difference?

Submitted by Daniel Gray on Fri, 11/ 16/ 18 - 03: 13 PM

Break-fix vs Managed IT Services


Are you looking for the differences between break/fix to managed services models? You've come to the right place!

Business can be tough, and for decision makers, business can be tougher. Each decision that is made holds the consequences of making a business more efficient and effective, or less.

As each business becomes increasingly more connected and (if we're being honest) dependent on their network functioning correctly, these decision become more and more complex.

In this article, I'm going to break down the differences between break-fix IT service options and managed IT services. Both are paths toward the same goal - keeping your network up and running - but one has more upfront costs and is proactive, and the other has more back end costs and is reactive.

Not a lot of time? Here is what we will cover:

Break/fix IT Support - Pros and Cons
Managed IT Services - Pros and Cons
The Real Difference Between Managed IT Services vs Break/fix

Break/fix IT Support

Break-fix IT Support

Break-fix is a very common form of IT support. It is primarily used by companies who feel they're unable to afford managed IT services or who want to alleviate some of the burden placed on their internal IT staff.

Third-party service providers often include break-fix options as a way to introduce companies to their services, without the commitment of going "all-in." Let's break down the good and the not-so-good of this option:

When is break/fix a good option?

As it alludes to in its name, break/fix models are reactive to problems that occur. This offers the possibility of lower costs in the beginning.


Break/fix can be a great option for an individual business owner or a company of only a small handful of employees (5 or less). Normally, this scenario doesn't afford a company to have an internal IT specialist due to limited resources.

It's likely that many of these companies are less than three years old or are single proprietors operating from a home office.

Familiar services like Best Buy's Geek Squad can be good options for companies who'd like additional protections on their hardware. It offers 24/7/365 support and they can even travel to you to fix a number of hardware issues.

When is break/fix a poor option?

The examples and solutions above only address hardware issues. So, does that mean that if my network goes down, no one will be able to help me?

Of course not!

But it will be expensive, and it may not be very quick. If you are in the unfortunate (and all too common) situation of your network going down, each minute you stay down is more money down the drain.

RELATED: The True Cost of Downtime

Don't believe me? Think about this, then:

What business functions are connected to your computers, services, and more? Think of the employees who almost exclusively use computers throughout the day to accomplish their work.

Each of those functions cost money.

Employees cost salaries or hourly wages.

Programs designed to accept new orders create lost opportunities (how long will customers be willing to wait before they find a substitute for your product?).

Systems that provide support to your customers and the reputation damage that is caused from your network being down.


What if you're a private healthcare provider and your network goes down due to a hacking attack? Depending on the severity, this could lead to millions of dollars in pending lawsuits (and healthcare providers aren't alone in this).

Unfortunately, break/fix doesn't offer any active network monitoring options for threats such as these, so you're dependent on antivirus software (that possibly must updated by you) to keep out the bad guys.

Does this mean if I rely on break/fix I couldn't get my network fixed?

Absolutely not. Help is available in these situations, it just comes at a pretty high cost (literally and figuratively). Hourly rates for onsite support can be extremely expensive.

Remember, break/fix is only cheaper if you're using it for the occasional hardware fix, not for putting out massive "fires" or consistent hardware, software, and user issues.

Managed IT Services

Managed Services Specialist

Managed IT services in Atlanta are provided by companies who handle all the tasks related to managing a business' network. This includes hardware support, network monitoring, disaster recovery and data back-up, help desk support, malware protection, and more.

RELATED: How Does Ransomware Work? Best Practices to Avoid It

When are managed IT services a good option?

Many companies recognize the dangers of the internet and the reality that small business owners are successfully attacked more often than large companies. We often only hear in the news about the big corporations who are breached, but nearly 4,000 businesses are attacked every single day!

Managed IT offers companies a team of experts without the price that comes with it. Furthermore, any serious MSP has 24/7/365 monitoring and support (much of which can be done remotely).

This allows business owners to have an entire team of IT specialists on call who do don't require, sick days, vacation, or healthcare expenses.

When are managed IT services a poor option?

At the end of the day, it almost always comes down to cost. Many quality managed service providers can cost as little as $11-$18 per hour.

Think about that, though.

For less than the cost of one internal IT specialist, you could have an entire team supporting your network.

Still, some companies don't feel like they can justify the cost. In reality, it just means that they don't think they need the type of robust support a service provider can offer.

Managed IT services will always cost more than break/fix when nothing is going wrong. The problem is that if/when something serious happens (like a hacking threat), it's insanely expensive to fix, and sadly, it's the reason many smaller businesses never get back on their feet.

Still skeptical? Read this Denver Post article about small businesses who are attacked.

The Real Difference Between Managed IT and Break/fix

Break/fix vs managed IT services is much like having health insurance. People in their 20's and 30's aren't very likely to need expensive health insurance.

But as they get older, things begin to change and they realize the monthly cost of healthcare insurance is far less than a hospital bill or what they thought was just a minor procedure.

When you're single and young, you feel invincible, but we all know that isn't the case. Tragic things happen every day and business is no different.

Health insurance is a great analogy because, like managed IT services, it costs a steady amount of money when nothing appears to be wrong, but protects you if something does go sideways.

Managed IT services can be provided for companies of nearly any size, but some companies have limits to sizes. For instance, some companies will take on clients that have 1-30 users, where other companies may focus on 50-1,000 users. It really depends on the business model of the managed service provider (MSP).

Most break/fix companies will handle any size job, but depending on the volume, your return times can vary. This is completely dependent on their staffing decisions.

MSPs are able to offer more consistent support because service contracts like service level agreements (SLA) protect you and the provider. In turn, they are able to hire the appropriate number of staff to meet the needs of their customers.

RELATED: Service Level Agreements (SLA): A Simple Guide to Understanding Them

We have been assisting customers with office technology needs for half a century and the needs and the objections are often the same from business to business.

As a result, we have set-up a network security audit to assist businesses in their network security assessment -which is encouraged to be completed annually by a third-party provider (or third-party internal group that is capable).

If you'd like to know more about this offer, feel free to each out to us. We're happy to help you ensure your network is protected!

Network Security Audit Scheduling Link


Want to Keep Learning?

What is a Network Security Audit - and why they're critical
How Much Do Managed IT Services Cost?
What is a Managed Services Provider?
What is Downtime Cost?

Posted by Daniel Gray


Managed IT Services