Your business depends on technology. You may not think of your business as having “IT” issues or requirements, but your devices would say otherwise. The desktops, laptops, mobile devices, machines on the line, network modem, router, switch, and more all need to be maintained so your business can operate smoothly.

In the evolving landscape of IT support, two models stand out: Break-Fix and Managed Services. Each has its own approach to managing IT issues, and understanding the difference is crucial for businesses looking to optimize their IT strategy.

In this article, you will learn about the contrasts between managed IT services and break-fix IT services, and we hope it will help you decide which service suits your organization better, as well as give you an idea of the cost variations for each.

Break-Fix vs. Managed Services Providers: What’s the Difference?

Break-fix IT companies only fix things when they break. They make money from IT problems, not from preventing them.

Break-fix companies usually charge by the hour, with little or no monthly fee. They only do the minimum IT service, because they only work when needed. They don’t resolve issues quickly, which affects business productivity.

IT issues can happen anytime and cause trouble. Break-fix companies may seem cheap, but break-fix repairs can be unpredictable and expensive. Without regular check-ups and updates, repair costs can pile up, making businesses pay more in the long run.

How Does a Managed Services Provider Work?

Instead of waiting for something to break, managed services providers take a proactive approach. They not only handle help desk requests, but also provide regular, proactive IT maintenance, such as data backup and recovery, storage and cloud security.

Some examples of services offered in managed IT support plans are:

  • Help desk support & 24/7 monitoring: Handle employee help desk tickets with 24/7 monitoring to safeguard your network.
  • Advanced risk and compliance management: Every industry has certain compliance requirements — MSPs can manage and ensure your IT systems comply.
  • Proactive system and software maintenance to prevent and fix issues before they become expensive problems.
  • Server management and configuration: MSPs can configure and manage your servers for you.

Key differences between Break-fix services and Managed It Services

Reactive vs. Preventive Support

Break-fix: Break-fix services are focused on solving IT issues when they happen. It’s a reactive approach where you look for help when something breaks.

Managed services: Managed services are preventive, offering continuous monitoring, maintenance, and support. They aim to avoid issues before they affect your business operations.

Variable vs. Fixed Costs

Break-fix: Break-fix services usually work on a variable cost basis. You only pay when you have an IT problem that needs fixing.

Managed services: Managed services have a fixed cost structure. You pay a set monthly or annual fee, often based on the size and complexity of your IT infrastructure and receive extensive support.

Duration and Disruption

Break-fix: When using break-fix services, fixing IT issues can take longer as they only work by the hour rather than providing full-time support. This disruption can interfere with your operations, affecting productivity and customer satisfaction.

Managed services: Managed services try to reduce disruption. With 24/7 preventive monitoring and maintenance delivered by fast response times, possible issues are detected and solved before they worsen. This lowers the chance of extended interruptions.

Growth and Innovation

Break-fix: Break-fix services tend to concentrate on immediate fixes rather than long-term growth or innovation of your IT infrastructure.

Managed services: Managed services take a comprehensive approach, considering your business’s expansion and changing IT needs. They offer growth, ensuring your technology can adjust to varying demands and improvements.

Preventive Monitoring and Maintenance

Break-fix: Break-fix models typically step in only when an issue occurs and requires urgent attention. They may not actively monitor your systems for potential problems or perform regular maintenance.  Managed services:

Managed services: Managed Services include active monitoring and regular maintenance as part of their complete approach. This helps find and resolve potential issues before they impact your business operations, lowering the risk of downtime.

IT Planning and Consulting

Break-fix: Break-fix services mainly focus on solving specific IT problems and may not provide strategic advice or guidance on wider technology initiatives.

Managed services: Managed services often offer strategic IT planning and IT consulting services. They work closely with your organization to align technology solutions with your business goals, helping you make smart decisions to drive growth and efficiency.


Choosing the Right Model for Your Business

The decision between Break-Fix and Managed IT Services depends on several factors, including the size of your business, the complexity of your IT environment, and your budget.

A small business with 8 employees may be better off with a break-fix shop, as a monthly agreement may not be worth it for a simple network.

A law practice with 30+ users needs an MSP, as a break-fix shop may not comply with the regulations and requirements that apply to their network.

An enterprise business with 1,000 employees may have an internal IT team that can handle everything but may still use an MSP for some support or overflow. An MSP alone may not be enough for them.

It depends on what you want for your business. If you don’t need a dedicated IT team and have a staff member who can help, that’s fine. If you have 10 employees but a complex network because of your industry or applications, you may need an MSP that knows your industry.



Both options have their advantages and disadvantages. You have to choose what works best for your organization. Contact us if you need any help, and we’ll be glad to offer impartial guidance on what option would suit your business best.



How do costs compare between Break-Fix and Managed Services?

Break-Fix services usually charge an hourly rate per incident, making costs unpredictable. Managed Services typically involve a predictable monthly fee that covers continuous monitoring and maintenance.

What is the relationship like with Break-Fix vs Managed Services providers?

Break-Fix services are transactional and only engage when an issue occurs. Managed Services providers have an ongoing relationship with the client, offering routine maintenance and strategic IT planning.

Can Break-Fix be more expensive in the long run?

Yes, while Break-Fix may seem affordable initially, the lack of proactive support can lead to higher costs due to emergency fixes and potential downtime.

How do I transition from Break-Fix to Managed Services?

Transitioning involves selecting an ideal technology partner, planning a structured onboarding process, and establishing effective support processes. Reviewing and negotiating the Service Level Agreement (SLA) is also crucial.


Written By:


Softlanding is a long-established IT services provider of transformation, professional services and managed IT services that helps organizations boost innovation and drive business value. We are a multi-award-winning Microsoft Gold Partner with 13 Gold Competencies and we use our experience and expertise to be a trusted advisor to our clients. Headquartered in Vancouver, BC, we have staff and offices in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary to serve clients across Canada.

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