When it comes to IT services there are basically two types of service plans that most IT companies offer. The first is “Time and Materials” (known throughout the IT industry as “Break-Fix”). The second is “Managed IT Services.”

Time and Materials

Under this pricing model, you pay an agreed-upon hourly rate for a technician to fix your problem when something breaks. To keep costs down, many IT companies will allow you to negotiate a discount on the standard hourly rate when you purchase a block of hours in advance. The scope of work under this pricing model can be to resolve a specific problem (like removing a virus) or involve a large project like performing a computer network upgrade or move that has a specific result identified.

Managed IT Services

Under this pricing model, your IT services company becomes your IT department, supporting all the devices and PCs connected to your server. Managed IT service plans also typically offer phone and on-site support, antivirus, security, backup and a host of other services to monitor and maintain the health, speed, performance and security for your computer network. You’ll pay a monthly fee based on the number of computers and devices that need support.

So which pricing model is best for your business?

For most small businesses that have a server and at least five computers, the managed IT services approach is by far the most cost-effective option. In fact, the only time you’ll really want to consider the time and materials pricing structure is when you already have a competent IT person or team proactively managing your computer network and simply have a specific IT project to complete that your current provider doesn’t have the time or expertise to implement. Outside of that, most businesses will come out ahead with the managed IT approach. It’s not hard to understand why when you consider that regular monitoring and maintenance (the basis for managed IT service plans) is critical for today’s computer networks.

The fact is, our ever-increasing dependency on IT systems and the data they hold – not to mention the type of data we are now saving digitally – has given rise to very sophisticated cyber crime organizations who work around the clock to do one thing: compromise your network. Staying one step ahead of the cyber criminals is a full-time job that requires the full-time monitoring that managed IT service plans provide.

The prevalence of cyber crime doesn’t even take into consideration other common network disasters your network faces including employee mistakes, lost devices, hardware failures, fire or natural disasters that can interrupt or even destroy your IT infrastructure and the data it holds. Preventing these problems and keeping your systems up and running is a lot less expensive than waiting until something bad happens and then paying for emergency IT services to restore your systems. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention really does equal a pound of cure.

So if constant monitoring is a necessity, shouldn’t you just hire a full-time IT person? In most cases, companies with fewer than 100 employees will find it far less expensive to outsource their IT needs to a dedicated managed services provider than to take on the expense of additional employees.

 The Final Word

As computer networks become more complex, it has never been more important to ensure your network is being monitored and protected. Getting the best value for your IT dollars is easy when you choose the right IT support service and pricing structure. After all, the right managed IT service plan will help you manage your IT costs each month while providing consistent monitoring and peace of mind.

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6 Surprising Places Hackers Hide                                                                                                                                         04/22/2015

   The internet of things has made everything from refrigerators to thermostats smarter. But as with connected technologies grow in popularity, malicious hackers can d ways to take advantage of these innovations, increasing the need for awareness and vigilance. While strengthening your passwords and utilizing other security applications can help, blocking access can be a great first step.

  1. Off-brand apps. If you use certain third-party apps, be careful. This fall, Snapchat users were the victim of a major breach, with more than 90,000 photos and 9,000 videos stolen. Those users downloaded third-party apps to get around the fact that Snapchat wasn’t offered on their operating system. According to Snapchat, some third party developers would build services to trick users and steal their login information.
  2. Your refrigerator. Last year, a security firm called Proofpoint, Inc. discovered a hack that occurred between December ’13 to Jan. ’14 used 100,000 interconnected household items (like smart fridges) as entry points to send virus-ridden e-mails.
  3. The car. A report was released this winter by the office of Senator Edward Market (D-Mass) that found that nearly 100 percent of cars have wireless weaknesses that hackers can use – everything from keyless entries, navigation systems and remote starts. Not only that, but personal information collected by car manufacturers are often stored with third parties that could be breached.
  4. Your social media accounts. Time and again, big-name news organizations and well-known companies are the victims of hacking via their social media accounts, especially Twitter. Chipotle, Newsweek are only the latest brands to have their social presence compromised.
  5. At the cash register. Some of the most recent retail breaches – Target, Neiman Marcus, Michaels, P.F. Chang’s and Home Depot, to name a few – have called into question the safety of point-of-sale systems and payment terminals that lead hackers to credit card information. If you use a mobile payment system, ensure that you are doing everything you can do cut down on the possibility of fraud.
  6. Your baby monitor. If your baby monitor can run wirelessly, there’s a chance that what you use to keep track of your little one can be used by hackers to keep track of you, especially if there if is a camera attached.