First – What is Preventive Maintenance (PM)?
Preventive Maintenance is a quarterly or semi-annual planned network checkup. Moreover, it ensures everything on your network is running safely and properly. Subsequently, things like this are what make the difference between a good MSP and a break/fix shop.
The best thing about PMs is that they equip the provider to identify issues that may occur over the next 3-6 months before your next checkup. Then, if work is required, they will alert you with any hardware/software cost and estimated time to resolve the issue. Further, they take this time to perform updates and patches to keep your system safe and running smoothly.
What Are The Benefits of a Good Maintenance Program?
There is one thing for certain when it comes to technology: things go wrong. Strange things too. Setting and configurations change. The backups and monitoring stop working. These things often manifest themselves during the worst possible times. Yet, PMs will definitely decrease your downtime by providing a more secure, efficient, and reliable way to keep your network healthy.
What Does Preventive Maintenance Include?
So, what should be included in your network PM plan? At INSI we check the following:
- Documentation – keep all documentation on the network up to date.
- Backups – make sure your backups are working properly.
- Updates & Patches – performed on both applications and operating systems.
- Cable Checks – check cabling and fiber to ensure it is not degraded.
- Errors – review the logs and check the hardware for potential failure in the near future.
- Network Utilization – Check devices for network utilization or any network communication errors.
- User Accounts – make sure employees who have left the company have been deleted and verify all administrator access on the network.
- Disk Usage – Check drive space and recommend changes.
- Monitoring Tools – make sure daily reporting is working properly.
- System Security – make sure your security setting and configuration are correct and working.
- Expiration – Check and verify expiration on hardware warranties, DNS name registration, and vendor software agreements.
- Password Policy – Verify password complexity and expiration is enabled on accounts.
The IT World Without PM Due Diligence
Alternatively, imagine you had a major ransomware attack your system. In the perfect world, your MSP would simply roll back time to the last backup. As a result, you might miss a few hours, or days, depending on your backup frequency, but you will recover.
On the other hand, what happens if you find out your backups weren’t working at all? Without a doubt, you would have to pay the ransomware. In addition, the virus in this scenario likely came from unpatched Microsoft Windows 7 systems.
This was just one example of how PMs keep your system safe and secure. However, multiple stories can be told.
Why Would My Provider Skip Preventive Maintenance?
Unfortunately, many providers will not include this in their package because it is time-consuming and not billable. Billable is king when it comes to managed services providers. A solid preventive maintenance visit will cost them 25-60 minutes per server and 15-20 minutes per network device. Of course, the length of time on each server depends on the application. In addition, they have to write up their findings which are variable. Therefore, when all is said and done, this can get pretty costly for the provider. Also, keep in mind, this is a non-billable cost every 3-6 months depending on the contract terms.
Engineers have other reasons to skip this step. If they are held to high billable time, this is a very easy target to simply fill out the paperwork without doing the work.
How Do You Know if PMs Are Being Performed?
All server PMs are scheduled onsite. This visit allows the IT Support Company to perform all maintenance that could not be done remotely as well as provide them the opportunity to review their findings face-to-face. Consider it a red flag if you don’t see them.
INSI’s Preventive Maintenance Promise!
INSI believes PMs are absolutely necessary to support our clients. When we prevent problems from happening, we have longer tenure with our clients, established trust, and fewer catastrophes. Further, we do not hold our engineers to a billable time incentive plan. Rather, they are measured by doing what is best for the client. PMs certainly fall into that category!
Do You Want More Information on Preventive Maintenance?
If you would like to know more about Preventive Maintenance and how it affects you, visit Amazon or Barnes & Noble for a copy of the book IT Outsourcing Secrets – A Small Business Guide to Comparing IT Support Companies.