Once your new IT system is up and running, it is important to maintain it regularly to ensure optimum performance.
You will usually be able to undertake most of the basic IT maintenance tasks in-house, such as archiving or deleting old files and freeing up space on your hard drive. Tasks that are more complex may be better managed through an IT system contract.
System maintenance contracts
There are many different types of system maintenance contracts. Two main types are:
- on-site contracts - where an engineer comes to your premises to fix the problem
- return-to-depot contracts - where you need to return the equipment for repair
Maintenance contract costs vary considerably depending on the minimum response time and working hours you need. They may seem expensive, particularly for standard PCs and peripherals with extended on-site warranties.
After assessing the risks, you may decide not to get a maintenance contract and simply hold spares or purchase new parts when necessary. Keep in mind that some suppliers may be reluctant to offer helpdesk, software support and other services unless they're also maintaining the hardware.
Hardware maintenance contracts
Your IT supplier can offer you a range of hardware maintenance contracts - perhaps as part of an overall support contract. This can include tasks such as:
- annual servicing
- technical troubleshooting
- warranty upgrades
Hardware failure, theft or damage are major risks to any business. System maintenance is an essential part of managing these risks. Many IT suppliers can monitor problems remotely and take action to prevent a system failure. See computer hardware for business.
Software maintenance contracts
Many IT suppliers offer software maintenance contracts when you purchase their software products. These can include:
- recurring licensing fees
- product upgrades
- new versions
- patches and bug fixes
Some suppliers charge for these, while others will include them free with your purchase. You should also look for a supplier who gives you the original disks and licences if your software comes pre-installed. Read about computer software for business.
If you don't have in-house experience, then look for a supplier that offers maintenance. Costs will vary depending on the type of software you're using, but the general rule of thumb is to have costs below 15 per cent of the purchase price.
If using cloud computing, maintenance and other upgrades will be managed 'off-site' by the service provider.