Give Your IT an Oil Change: Why Your Business Shouldn’t Rely on the Break/Fix Method of Support

Written by Kristina Sink on Wednesday, January 28th 2015

Imagine you walk into work on any normal Monday, sit down at your computer to get the week started and realize that some of your files have been tampered with, moved, or are missing. What just happened? If your company relies on reactive monitoring (break/fix), which is the method of reacting to a problem after an incident has already occurred, then you have to spend a hefty amount of money to have the situation diagnosed, and this doesn’t guarantee that your missing data will ever be recovered. Now, what happens if your company handles sensitive information that has been compromised? The answer: huge fines and possible lawsuits. With proactive monitoring, the continual screening of your data and hardware in order to detect problems early and prevent crises, you could have avoided or at the very least lessen this disaster.

Monitoring of any kind is certainly better than nothing, and reactive monitoring can be useful in some situations. Maybe the company may not require frequent IT support or maybe they are a new client and want to test-drive the support before making any long-term commitments. Evaluating your company’s needs is a must before deciding which method to pursue.

However, if your company is in need of a lot of IT support, proactive monitoring can help you improve efficiency, increase the consistency of your systems, and ultimately save you money. 



Before an emergency situation happens, there are usually warning signs. With reactive monitoring, your systems are not being watched 24/7, which means there could be failed backups or out-of-date equipment and applications going unnoticed. Eventually these seemingly minor issues can develop into a serious situation where unrecoverable losses could ensue.

Proactive vs Reactive monitoring

Proactive monitoring provides 24/7 monitoring to catch these small issues before they become full-blown problems. It helps improve overall performance within a company by examining equipment and applications and determining if (and when) they will become outdated or incompatible with newer devices and software, allowing the company to plan and budget in advance for these such instances. This type of monitoring is performed remotely, which allows for an immediate response and faster solutions by catching problems before they start. Imagine your business IT as a vehicle. Getting a proactive oil change may cost you some money now, but the longer you go without, the more problems will arise and ultimately cost you even more.

Proactive monitoring can also be for security, keeping tabs on network activity, system logs, antivirus / anti-malware, and more to catch breaches before or while they happen instead of after the fact. It may be required for some compliance standards like PCI or HIPAA. Whether monitoring for system health or malicious attackers, being proactive about it ultimately saves you money and effort down the line.



With reactive monitoring, if a crisis situation occurs, the invoice received for that work could potentially cause shock. Proactive monitoring, provided as a managed service, is a lot like an insurance policy where you pay a flat rate fee every month to cover costs if something bad were to happen. In times of crisis, the price doesn’t change; you will always know what the cost will be. Yes, there might be a month or so with no big issues that could lead to the thought “Why am I paying for services I’m not using?” However, if you average out the costs for both monitoring methods over a length of time, you’ll undoubtedly find that in the end, between flat rates and finding issues early, proactive monitoring is the more cost effective solution.

Proactive monitoring costs could look something like this, with single invoices spiking only when serious events require a response:


proactive vs reactive monitoring costs chart



Reactive monitoring is a win/lose situation. The company providing the monitoring is only busy and making money when their clients have problems, and their clients are only happy when everything is running smoothly. This kind of relationship causes clients to associate bad news with their service provider; whenever something goes wrong, a technician is called in to fix it. If every time a client sees a technician, they think to themselves, “Great. What’s this going to cost me?” that’s not a sustainable relationship. Plus, it can cause businesses to ignore warning signs so money doesn’t have to be spent. No one should have to create a tolerance for problems.

With a relationship that is built on a win/win dynamic, companies and their managed service providers (MSPs) can get to know each other better, understanding how to best work together to provide faster solutions to problems.