What to Look for in Remote IT Support

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Small businesses have discovered the value of remote IT support. Networks and computing have grown more complicated. Mobile devices, remote connections, and cloud computing are as big a part of the picture asonsiteservers and desktops, if not bigger. Security threats make mistakes costly. Hiring a full-time staff that can deal with all the issues isn’t a cost-effective choice for smaller businesses. Hiring remote services is very often smarter. They can either supplement the in-house staff’s skills or do the whole job.

A business’s data systems are among its most important assets, and it should entrust them only to a support provider that will do the job well. Three factors are important in choosing a provider.

1. Responsiveness.

When something goes wrong, you want it addressed as soon as possible. You want to talk to a person who understands the technical issue and will open a ticket, rather than waiting for hours for someone to call back. You want action to continue with the least delay possible, especially if it’s an emergency that gets in the way of normal operations.

Your service level agreement (SLA) specifies how prompt a response you can expect. A bargain-priced provider may promise only to respond in a day or two, or not promise anything at all. You have to look for a level of responsiveness that satisfies your business’s needs.

Once you have a support ticket, you want the problem fixed promptly. You need not just a good response time but a good resolution time. The provider should start diagnosing the problem shortly after it’s got the report. It should stay in communication withyou and fix the problem in a reasonable length of time.

Not every situation is an emergency, of course. If you want to upgrade your server or install a new Wi-Fi access point, you can do that on a schedule. The failure of a desktop machine usually isn’t as urgent as the failure of a server. The SLA will specify different levels of response for different situations. Your agreement should specify which systems are critical, so that you’ll get the best response time when they go wrong.

2. Proactive support.

The best way to deal with a problem is to prevent it from happening in the first place. An IT support company shouldn’t just respond to calls but identify issues that will lead to trouble. Are your systems being backed up? Is the software up to date, so that old versions don’t expose security holes? Do you have a firewall that will reduce your systems’ vulnerability?

A good support company will take an inventory of your hardware and software and point out areas for improvement. The fixes are often simple, once you know they’re needed.

When security updatesare issuedfor your software, they’re addressing problems which the bad guys know about. You want the software fixed before they can take advantage of the flaws. The services in your support package should include installation of security updates within a reasonable time of their issue.

3. Hardware support.

Many remote IT support companies deal only with software issues and leave you to manage your hardware. While this approach costs less up front, it leaves you to handle fixing and upgrading your machines. If you have a network and server on your premises, you should strongly consider a support package that covers hardware. It should includeonsitesupport when it’s needed.

Maintaining your own hardware can take up valuable time and result in slower recovery from failures. Youmight not beaware of economical upgrades which a support provider can get for you. Adding memory or a faster drive can give you a significant performance boost at alow cost.

Remote diagnostics can detect many issues before anonsitevisit, speeding up the resolution. In a complex network, it isn’t always obvious where the problem is happening. Locating it and having the parts on hand to fix it minimizes downtime.

Netsafe’sremote support services include application and hardware support, purchasing andlifecycleanagement, and desktop support. Our monitoring service automates many service tasks, such as backups and upgrades, so they always happen on schedule. It covers all the machines in your network.Onsitesupport is available where necessary. Talk with us to find out what support plan will best suit your business’s needs.

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