Marketing will often extol the virtues of the IT we buy and use, suggesting that the software and hardware will ‘just work’. Sadly, most people know all too well that the reality of life rarely matches the aspirational marketing, fortunately, IT maintenance will get the two as close as possible.
With anything you buy there is some element of ongoing maintenance required, and that frequently varies depending on the complexity and demands placed on that item. IT is an area that is both complex and demanding so this more true than ever.
The challenge of maintaining your IT
The difficulties of IT come from the vast range of devices and services that are in use. In a simple home, for example, the personal computer might be reliable, until you start adding extras. You tinker to get the Wi-Fi working. But then why won’t the wireless printer talk to everything? Your smart speaker might play music, but then loses the ability to control the smart lights? And why is your streaming box suddenly buffering? The potential for problems increases exponentially with each device that you add, leaving you with the frustration of troubleshooting.
Now imagine that in a work environment. Even in a small company, computers must be networked. The central file server has to talk to everything, while remaining secure, and not just on-site, remote workers can create weak points in your IT network. Plus larger companies will have to manage enterprise applications, mobile devices, and connections to any number of cloud services.
After all that, you’ll need to update to the latest version of your software or firmware at regular intervals, and each time risk breaking compatibility of your finely balanced system. And when software problems bring your system down, it can take all your business operations with it.
What IT maintenance is, and isn’t
IT maintenance has moved on from its traditional role of keeping the physical IT systems going. Although it’s still important to ensure that the hardware is in good condition and fit for purpose, IT is increasingly about managing software, protecting you from data loss, running security scans, and ensuring that computer systems allow for maximum productivity.
Most modern IT equipment will have effective self-monitoring, allowing predictive maintenance before things start to go wrong. Therefore, although you might still see someone stripping down a box for basic preventive maintenance tasks, most of the work is no longer hardware maintenance but in fact software maintenance.
At its core, IT maintenance is about ensuring that your systems work at their best to support your business. IT services will use three different approaches to achieve that.
Preventive IT maintenance
Perhaps the most critical part of IT maintenance is ensuring that things don’t go wrong in the first place. Some of this might include traditional, hands-on IT such as physical checks. However, it will also include areas such as ensuring that software updates and the latest security patches are installed, the anti-virus software is working, and diagnostic tools are used to identify vulnerabilities.
But preventive IT is not just about keeping things working with regular maintenance tasks. Ensuring that your IT is up to date is the single best thing you can do to protect against cyber-attack.
Corrective IT maintenance
Even with the best preventive maintenance in the world, things can and will still go wrong. Whether it’s human error or just a simple accident — many an office have learnt that hot drinks and computers don’t mix — or just a device failure, sometimes you need to get something repaired, and usually in a hurry.
Corrective, or reactive, IT maintenance, is there to solve the problems that occur. Sometimes, it might be as simple as restoring data from a backup which we do as part of our Outsourced IT Support Services. But it will often require systematic troubleshooting to identify problems before deploying a solution.
Corrective maintenance is something you hope to never need but will be incredibly glad of it when, inevitably, you do.
Proactive IT maintenance
Software and hardware systems age, and they can age rapidly. Computing and IT develops rapidly and requires a business to keep its IT infrastructure, both equipment and software, current and up to date.
Sometimes called evolutionary maintenance, proactive IT maintenance seeks to maintain that balance. Rather than upgrading whenever possible, good proactive maintenance works with the existing system to upgrade when optimal, balancing performance with cost and minimising disruption.
Why do you need IT Maintenance?
IT is essential for businesses to function properly. Of course, it might be possible to try to manage basic IT maintenance tasks in-house, but when, for example, it’s estimated that 60% of small businesses lose data each year is it worth the risk?
Using specialists keeps your IT system under control
IT is becoming more and more complicated. Once a case of simply installing an app, we now operate with cloud computing, remote working, and software-as-a-service. Balancing and configuring the IT to work with these requires a significant level of knowledge and understanding.
Using experts to provide maintenance means they have the essential skills, and can keep them up to date. That means businesses can be confident their IT is in safe hands, so they can focus on their company.
Using IT maintenance service keeps you secure
No one is safe from cybercrime. Easy to commit at scale, and with low rates of detection, cybercrime is often automated. Criminals hope for a hefty sum from ransomware, the demand for an average data breach is now reckoned to be around £200,000, but the price paid in lost customer confidence after data loss can be much higher.
The single best defence is routine maintenance that ensures your networks and systems are secure, whether that’s from external attacks or something being inadvertently brought into your system by staff.
IT maintenance keeps your business productive
It’s not just when systems go down that you lose money. A poorly performing system can cost you money every day. If you have a slow system, just think about how the delays it causes add up for each staff member, every day they are there. And that’s before you consider the frustrations caused by slow systems.
Regular maintenance for your IT system doesn’t just keep it working, it keeps it working well. And then you and your team can focus on doing business, rather than wrestling with IT.
In short, IT maintenance supports your business’s daily tasks, keeps your and your customers’ data safe, and ensures your business is as productive as possible, every single day.
Microbyte can handle all of your relevant IT Maintenance tasks as part of our Managed Services.