break-fix IT vs manage IT services provider (MSP)

Top 5 Differentiators of Break-fix IT and MSP

Break-fix IT vs. Managed IT – Which is the right one for your business?

With technology firmly entrenched in businesses and offices, many entrepreneurs must decide what is the best way to handle IT planning and challenges. What happens when you come to work, and your server is down, or your technology won’t work? Or if you want to integrate new technology into your business?

Some business owners decide to wait until a challenge arises and then pay someone (Break-fix IT) to come in and fix or install it. Others choose a proactive route and have a Managed Service Provider (MSP) partner already established to help navigate the need. Knowing the differences between the offerings of a break-fix model and a managed IT approach can help set your business up for success.

Managed IT Service Provider (MSP)

An MSP is a third-party partner offering a range of IT services and support for a fixed monthly fee. They typically offer a comprehensive package that includes proactive maintenance, security, and support for a company’s IT with a goal of preventing issues from occurring.

The MSP approach is similar to being seen by your health professional regularly for preventative care and screenings, but they are available when needed for urgent problems. Or taking a proactive approach when signing a legal contract by asking an attorney to review it first, potentially heading off future complications.

Characteristics of an MSP model:

  • Access to a team of IT support experts to help prevent and fix any issues quickly as well as plan for future technology needs
  • Predictable monthly cost makes it easier to budget- no surprises
  • Data protection and enhanced security measures
  • Preventative approach resulting in less downtime as proactive monitoring and comprehensive maintenance can prevent issues

Break-Fix IT

The Break-fix IT model is more reactive and typically has a problem-focused, emergency service call approach. When an urgent issue occurs, you need to call an IT professional and schedule an appointment. By this time, your network could be down for an extended period and a loss of revenue occurring.

Business owners sometimes think their network is too small to have an MSP for their IT needs or they don’t need comprehensive support. With data security being a main priority for most businesses, cybersecurity tools for sensitive data (personal, financial or healthcare information) must be utilized and monitored. The break-fix model may work for someone who is very tech savvy with advanced security knowledge and the time to be the on-site IT expert handling day-to-day issues.

Characteristics of a break-fix model:

  • Service calls/Support are reactive, scheduled as needed and their schedule allows
  • Billing is “fee-for-service”, per service call, making it unpredictable
  • Data protection, network maintenance and strategic planning is the responsibility of the owner
  • Problem-focused approach to IT management versus comprehensive, strategic approach


Top 5 Differentiators of Break-fix IT and MSP IT

1. IT Strategy and consulting

One service an MSP can provide is to support your IT infrastructure in your short- and long-term growth plans. Consultants meet with you and determine a strategic IT plan, ensuring your existing and new technology is secure and working seamlessly as your business grows.

  • More time to focus on your business, not your IT
  • Partner to help navigate the complexities of your digital workflow

Break-fix IT typically does not provide comprehensive consulting services. The business owner will need to assign a team member to anticipate IT needs and keep systems operating smoothly and securely as you grow or implement new technology.

2. Data Backup and Recovery

What can you do to make sure you don’t have to start over from scratch should a natural disaster or cyber-attack hit your network? One way is to make sure your network is secure by using a backup disaster recovery plan (BDR). This can minimize downtime and have your business back up and running in minutes. The MSP model typically builds this into their comprehensive plan.

With a Break-fix model, there is no guarantee of any automated, regular backups or a data recovery plan unless the practice performs the process. This requires time and teaching your staff how to perform IT procedures to monitor and perform these actions.

For more information on what a BDR is and how it works to protect your practice, check out this video from Bryan Currier, President and CEO of Advantage Technologies.

3. Cybersecurity

When a cyber threat occurs, the break-fix model typically does not have monitoring or an early detection system. This means you are in a reactive mode, calling an IT company to try and save/recover data after your network has been victim to a cyberattack. This can be challenging and expensive if your data has been compromised by a ransomware attack.

An MSP proactively helps make sure your network is secure from things such as cybersecurity threats and ransomware attacks. Ongoing, real-time solutions are a must in today’s digital spaces to prevent cyber threats as they occur.

An MSP is a true partner who customizes to make sure you have the unique protections needed. This typically includes:

  • AI and human security team to ensure your security
  • Cloud management, backup and disaster recovery solutions
  • Comprehensive system design for data security and monitoring
4. HIPPA Compliance and Data Privacy

MSPs typically have teams with experience and knowledge of cybersecurity and HIPAA compliance. Also, MSPs prioritize data security and compliance, ensuring that the network’s HIPAA and data privacy standards are consistently met.

Break-fix services may not focus specifically on these aspects as the technicians’ expertise may vary.

5. Infrastructure Maintenance (Security Patches & Operating System (OS) Updates)

When using the break-fix model, practices and business owners are typically responsible for scheduling service when updates or security patches are needed with their network. Unfortunately, sometimes the practice doesn’t realize they are needed until it is too late, and you have an issue.

An MSP typically provides preventative and comprehensive maintenance that offers real-time, 24/7 security updates and management. Should a concern arise, you will have a trusted partner under contract who will help prevent issues and fix them quickly should they arise.


Your path to IT security and management in today’s world can seem overwhelming. With a break-fix model, you can “pay as you go” to resolve issues and be heavily involved in the day-to-day IT operations for your business. With an MSP, you will have a trusted partner to help guide you and be on-call if needed. It is important to evaluate your company’s IT requirements and goals and then decide on which approach to use. If you follow the three S’s – Specialized, Secure and Supported – your company’s IT needs can be safe and secure.

For more information about which solution could be right for your practice, please take a look at this video from Bryan Currier.


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