Break-Fix vs. Managed Services: Key Differences Explained


Businesses today often find themselves at a crossroads when it comes to handling their IT needs. Choosing between the break-fix model and managed IT services is a critical decision that impacts operational efficiency, budget, and the overall functionality of the IT infrastructure.

The question of whether to pay for repairs only when needed or to invest in ongoing management and proactive monitoring is more than just a financial decision; it’s about aligning IT strategies with business objectives.

Research shows that 59% of IT services have transitioned from the traditional break-fix model to a managed service contract model.

As George Terrone, Co-Founder of ITSco says: “The growing popularity of managed services reflects a sea-change in IT support models. The difficulty of maintaining an in-house IT department and the limited usefulness of break-fix only outsourcing models, continue to lead a growing number of businesses to consider long-term managed services contracts.”

In this blog, we’ll review the differences between break-fix vs. managed services to understand which model aligns best with different types of businesses and their specific needs, helping you make an informed decision for your business.


Break-Fix vs. Managed Services: What You Should Know

Break-Fix vs Managed Services


What is the Break-Fix Model?

The break-fix model is a traditional service model where businesses seek assistance only when there’s a problem. In this fee-for-service arrangement, companies only pay for IT services when something breaks or malfunctions.

This approach can initially seem cost-effective, especially for small businesses with limited budgets. The allure of not paying a monthly fee for IT services can be strong, but this model has significant drawbacks.

Tired of Juggling Multiple IT Vendors?

Tired of Juggling Multiple IT Vendors?

Explore One-Stop IT Solutions


Services Offered in the Break-Fix Model

The break-fix model, while straightforward, encompasses a range of services tailored to address specific issues as they arise. The key services under this model include:

  • Hardware Repairs and Replacement: This includes fixing or replacing faulty hardware components like hard drives, motherboards, power supplies, etc.
  • Software Troubleshooting: Resolving issues related to software malfunctions, including operating system errors, application crashes, and compatibility issues.
  • Data Recovery and Backup: Services to recover lost data due to hardware failure or other issues and assist in setting up backup systems.
  • Network Troubleshooting: Addressing problems related to network connectivity, including router, switch, and firewall issues.
  • Security Breach Remediation: Assistance in recovering from viruses, malware attacks, or other security breaches, including cleaning infected systems.


Pros & Cons of the Break-Fix Model

Pros of the break-fix model:

  • Cost Control: Businesses only pay when they need services, which can be more budget-friendly for companies that are less dependent on their IT infrastructure.
  • Simplicity: This model is simple and straightforward: you encounter a problem, you get it fixed. There’s no need for long-term service agreements or monthly fees.


Cons of the break-fix model:

  • Unpredictability: Costs and response times can fluctuate significantly if major issues arise, making budgeting and planning difficult.
  • Reactive Nature / Slow Response: Waiting for problems to occur before addressing them can lead to prolonged downtime and potential data loss. The lack of a long-term contract with a specific SLA means that the response time to problems or outages – no matter how serious – cannot be guaranteed.
  • No Proactive Monitoring: Without regular maintenance, small issues can escalate into more significant problems.


What is the Managed Services Model?

Managed services represent a more holistic approach to IT management. In this model, businesses pay a monthly fee to have their IT infrastructure continuously monitored and maintained by an MSP (Managed Service Provider).

The benefits of managed IT services are numerous. In fact, research shows that out of 451 large businesses surveyed, 45% plan to partner with a managed security services provider.

This approach is proactive, as it aims to identify and address issues before they become significant problems. Managed services often include regular updates, security measures, and performance optimization, along with service level agreements that outline the standards and response times you can expect.


Services Included in Managed Services Models

Managed services models offer a more comprehensive package, focusing on continuous monitoring and maintenance. The typical services in this model include:

  • 24/7 Monitoring and Maintenance: Continuous monitoring of IT infrastructure to detect and resolve issues promptly.
  • Proactive Security Measures: Regular updates, patch management, and proactive measures to prevent security breaches.
  • IT Strategy and Consulting: Guidance in planning and implementing IT strategies that align with business goals.
  • Cloud Services Management: Management and support for cloud-based services, including data storage, software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, and more.
  • Network Management: Ongoing management of the network infrastructure to ensure optimal performance and reliability.
  • Help Desk Support: Providing employees with ongoing support for IT-related queries and minor issues.
  • Data Backup and Disaster Recovery Planning: Ensuring data is regularly backed up and creating disaster recovery plans to minimize data loss in emergencies.
More resources you might like:


Pros & Cons of the Managed Services Model

Pros of managed services:

  • Proactive Monitoring: This approach can prevent issues from occurring, reducing downtime and improving overall efficiency.
  • Predictable Costs: A fixed monthly fee makes budgeting easier and helps avoid the financial surprises common with the break-fix model.
  • Comprehensive, Strategic Support: Managed services often cover a broader range of IT needs, providing more value than just fixing what’s broken.



  • Higher Initial Cost: The monthly fee might seem high, especially for businesses with infrequent IT issues.
  • Less Control: Some companies might feel they have less control over their IT infrastructure when it’s entirely managed by an external provider.


Comparative Overview: Break-Fix Model vs. Managed Services

Here’s a succinct comparison between these two IT support strategies, highlighting the core differences and unique benefits of each. This table is essential for businesses weighing their options in the managed IT services vs break fix debate, providing clear insights to guide their decision-making process.

Aspect Break-Fix Model Managed Services Model
Billing Structure Pay-per-service; unpredictable costs Fixed monthly fee; predictable budgeting
Service Approach Reactive; service initiated after problems occur Proactive; ongoing monitoring and prevention
Client Relationship Transactional; based on immediate needs Strategic partnership; long-term relationship
Focus of Services Solving specific, immediate technical issues Comprehensive IT management and strategic planning
Response Time Variable; based on provider availability and demand Defined in Service Level Agreement (SLA); customized to meet specific business needs
Business Suitability Businesses with simple environments and low dependence on IT infrastructure Businesses of all sizes, especially those with heavy dependence on IT infrastructure
Long-Term IT Health Not a focus; more about immediate fixes Emphasis on maintaining and improving IT health and functionality
Customization of Services Limited; services are often standardized High; services tailored to specific business needs


When Should You Break Away from the Break-Fix Model?

Switching from the break-fix to managed services is a decision that should be based on several factors:

  • Business Growth and Dependence on IT Infrastructure: As your company grows, the complexity and demands on your IT infrastructure will increase accordingly, making proactive, comprehensive IT management more vital.
  • Need for Efficiency: Managed services can reduce downtime and improve overall operational efficiency.
  • Need for Predictability: If your spending on break-fix services is uncomfortably unpredictable, a managed service model might offer a better fit.
  • Need for Security: If your business handles sensitive data, the enhanced security measures offered by managed IT services can be a significant advantage.

Break-Fix vs Managed Services


Move from the Break-Fix Model to Managed Services With ITSco

The decision between break-fix vs managed services is not just about choosing a service model; it’s about choosing a path for your business’s technological growth and stability. The choice depends on your business’s unique needs, budget, and long-term IT strategy.

ITSco stands ready to guide and support your business through this transition.

ITSco’s managed services are scalable and customizable, providing the flexibility to adapt as your business grows and evolves.

Learn More About Our Managed IT Services Near You:

Transitioning to managed services with ITSco means more than just having an IT support team; it means having a strategic partner dedicated to your business’s technological growth and stability. Are you prepared to take the next step in optimizing your IT solutions?

Reach out to us today to schedule a free consultation.

Sign-up for our e-Newsletter

Get our latest content delivered to your inbox.

Does your IT infrastructure support your business goals?

Book a FREE, professional assessment to find out how to make IT a driver of business innovation and productivity.