Not a week goes by where we don’t get a “911 crisis call” from a business owner with a major technical disaster that could have been easily prevented. Why are business owners paying for this substandard computer support? Because often, they simply don’t know how to truly verify that their network is secure and end up having to take someone at their word.

That’s why I decided to write this checklist for all the business owners in our area to educate them on what to look for in an IT consultant. Personally, I am shocked at the oversights and sloppiness of most self-proclaimed “experts” and want to see the standards raised. Below, you will find a short test you can use to determine whether or not your network really is being supported properly.

If your current technician does not score a “yes” on every point below, you could be paying for inadequate support AND be vulnerable to a very expensive and frustrating computer disaster:

  • Do they answer their phones “live” and respond to support issues in 1 hour or less?
  • Do they remotely monitor your network 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to keep critical security settings, virus definitions, and security patches up to date?
  • Do they insist on monitoring an offsite as well as an onsite backup? Or do they let you rely on outdated tape backups?
  • Do they insist on doing periodic test restores of your backups to make sure data is not corrupt and is able to be restored in the event of a disaster?
  • Have they provided you with written, network documentation detailing what software licenses you have, critical network passwords, and hardware information? Or are they the only person with access to this information?
  • Do they consistently and proactively offer new ways to improve your network’s performance? Or do they wait until you have a problem to make recommendations?
  • Do they provide detailed invoices that clearly explain what you are paying for?
  • Do they explain what they are doing and answer your questions in a way that you can understand (not “geek-speak”)?
  • Do they complete projects on time and on a budget? Or does every project end up taking longer and cost more than you expected?
  • Do they offer any guarantees on their services?
  • Do they arrive on time and dress professionally?
  • Do they have other technicians on staff who are familiar with your network in case your regular technician goes on vacation or gets sick?
  • Do their technicians maintain current vendor certifications and participate in ongoing training? Or do you feel as though they are learning on your dime?
  • Do they give you their full attention when working on projects? Or do they take calls from other clients while working on your network and on your dime?
  • Do they provide frequent updates, status reports, and follow-up calls and e-mails? Or do you have to manage their progress on projects?
  • Do they offer flat-rate or fixed-fee project quotes? Or do they give themselves a wide-open range of expenses with time and materials?
  • Do they provide regular security audits of your network?
  • Do they test your employees for security awareness and susceptibility to phishing attacks?

Why should you care?

What else is more valuable than the data on your network? This is about how devastating it would be to lose it! That’s why this check-up is so important. We’ll conduct a comprehensive review of your network’s security settings to make sure your data is safe and secure. There are literally dozens of ways hackers and viruses can access your network, undetected, control your network, corrupt your data, and use your network to spread spam, viruses, or illegal software. There are numerous system checks and updates that should be done on a regular basis to ensure maximum speed, performance, and security. If you ignore them, your system will get progressively slower, unstable, and susceptible to viruses, spyware, and hackers. Tape backups have a failure rate of 100%, meaning all tape drives will fail at some point, often without warning. You don’t want to find out that your backup was not working the day after your hard drive failed.