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Break Fix vs Managed Services

"Break-fix" and "managed services" are two distinct service models in the IT industry, especially in the context of providing support to businesses. Here's a breakdown of each:

1. Break-Fix:

Definition: This model is reactionary in nature. Services or repairs are provided only when a problem or failure occurs.

How it Works:

  • A customer contacts the service provider when there's an issue.

  • The service provider assesses the issue and fixes it.

  • The customer is billed for the time and materials used.


  • No ongoing fees: Businesses are only charged when they require service.

  • Flexibility: Companies can choose not to fix minor issues or to delay repairs based on their budget and priorities.


  • Unpredictable costs: Major issues could result in large, unexpected bills.

  • Downtime: Waiting for a fix after something breaks can lead to increased downtime.

  • Short-term thinking: Can potentially lead to band-aid solutions rather than addressing underlying issues.

2. Managed Services:

Definition: This model is proactive. A Managed Service Provider (MSP) actively manages and monitors a customer's IT infrastructure and systems on an ongoing basis, usually for a flat monthly fee.

How it Works:

  • The MSP typically offers a service level agreement (SLA) detailing what services will be provided.

  • They perform regular maintenance, monitoring, updates, and backups to prevent issues from occurring.

  • When issues do arise, they are often addressed before the client even notices.


  • Predictable costs: Businesses can budget more easily with consistent monthly fees.

  • Proactive approach: Regular monitoring and maintenance can prevent many issues from occurring in the first place.

  • Access to expertise: MSPs often have a range of skills and knowledge that might be too expensive for a business to maintain in-house.

  • Better uptime: Quick issue resolution and proactive maintenance lead to higher system availability.


  • Ongoing fees: Even if no issues arise, businesses still pay the monthly fee.

  • Potential over-reliance: Some companies may become too dependent on their MSP, potentially neglecting in-house IT expertise or knowledge.


The decision to choose between break-fix and managed services largely depends on the business's needs, size, budget, and preference for predictability versus flexibility. Small businesses with limited IT needs might find break-fix more cost-effective. In contrast, larger organizations or those reliant on IT might prefer the proactive approach and predictable budgeting provided by managed services.

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