Declare your freedom from slow computers, downtime, and more!

American flagIt’s July 4th. Are you free from tech worries? A new trend in network support services is intended to do just that – free you from the stress and concern of computer problems, breakdowns, viruses, and security threats.

It’s a concept known as managed services. Companies like ours fully manage your network using sophisticated tools that watch over your systems 24/7 and alert us to any looming issues, usually before they become serious.

This approach has many advantages, but the biggest by far is limited downtime combined with no-surprise fixed price billing. If you think about it, traditional tech companies are rewarded when your systems break. That’s when they get to bill you a ton of money.

With managed services, we’re rewarded for preventing your systems from going down in the first place. In fact, the more proactive and efficient we are, the more money we make. That means we go out of our way to keep things running smoothly, and isn’t that exactly what you want?

There are many flavors of managed services, which makes it difficult to do an “apples to apples” comparison. Some companies manage your server onsite; others host it in a data center. Some companies bundle a broad array of options to provide a complete subscription package. These include items such as anti-virus, intrusion detection, and high-end backup services. And of course the tools different companies use vary widely in capabilities.

If you go this route, you may see less of your tech. This is another efficiency of managed services – with the right tools, up to 90% of your maintenance can be done remotely. Not only does it make scheduling more efficient, it saves us drive time and gas, and we can pass that savings on to you. We have to come onsite for hardware changes but not much else. We like to plan in monthly reviews and quarterly strategy meetings to ensure we’ve covering all your needs, but not everyone does that.

Some people shy away from managed services because costs are perceived as higher. When we sit down with most business owners, we find that averaging their costs over the course of a year or two illustrate that the difference is not that great. Combine that with the value of quick response, limited downtime, and predictable costs, and most find it to be a bargain they can’t afford to pass up.

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Who’s your techie?

Chuck, the computer geekNearly every business has at least a few computers, and anyone who has computers has computer problems from time to time. Computers love to break down, and Murphy’s Law dictates that those breakdowns will happen at the very worst possible time. When the time comes, who do you call?

Trunk-Slammers, Fast-Food Support, and Worse

Sometimes it seems that everyone’s a techie, from the teenager next door to the marketing consultant turned web guru. Computer stores have long been a source of low-cost tech support; now the big electronics stores have decided that installing a wireless network is just as easy—and profitable—as setting up your home theater. Even the office supply stores are jumping on the bandwagon with various offerings of onsite and phone support. If you like fast food-style support and a la carte pricing, these can be quick fix options at low to moderate prices. But just as fast food shouldn’t be your only source of nutrition, these consumer-oriented choices won’t give you a well-balanced technology diet.

Local tech companies range from solo independents to large scale operations. Solo folks can be a great value since they often charge lower prices, but if they get too busy or take vacation, you’ll have to wait. Larger companies may provide quicker response, but often at a higher price and without the personal service. A mid-size company can be a good compromise; many still offer the personal touch while providing a large enough staff to respond promptly to emergencies.

Online subscription support services can provide phone support along with remote login capabilities, where they take control of your computer to check settings while you watch and wait. Many times, these can be inexpensive options to handle routine questions, but they can’t handle everything—some issues still require a live human being onsite.

If you’re a tech-savvy do-it-yourselfer, Google can answer any question you care to ask—just use caution. Make sure the information is legit, that it’s truly a fix for your issue, and that you know exactly how to implement the suggested advice. Be careful and backup everything before attempting something risky. Registry edits, for example, can break your computer as easily as fix it. And if your hard drive is making strange clicks, whirrs or chirps, your computer is in its death throes—turn it off and take it to a professional right away, before your hard drive crashes for good.

As for the teenager next door, he may be great with computers, but he’s a geeky gamer, not a business exec. You wouldn’t let that same kid keep your books or execute a marketing strategy, except possibly in a well-supervised intern role. Technology is no different; what makes sense from a gamer perspective may be a poor fit for your business.

A little shameless self-promotion

If you’re in the St. Louis areas, feel free to give us a call. We try to balance the best of all worlds with a talented and friendly staff who possess a wide range of skills.