4 Types of IT Maintenance Systems 

Learn everything you need to know about regular IT maintenance and choose the best maintenance services for your organisation.

In today's fast-paced and digital world, IT is accepted as a vital part of every business. Organizations realize that investing in IT maintenance offers many benefits, including short and long-term savings.

But what exactly is IT maintenance? IT maintenance is the process of modifying, changing, and updating your tech environment to keep up with customer needs. Maintaining your systems ensures they are ready to meet the constantly changing needs of modern businesses.

Besides maintaining their IT systems, companies should also consider maintaining their IT documentation, procedures, and policies. Anyhow, let's take a look at the most common types of maintenance and how to make your computers roar like lions. 

Just like any other electronic device you have (from a dishwasher to a car), in order to function properly, your tech needs regular maintenance.

Just one thing before we start - saying you need better IT maintenance is not enough. If you want a system and network that supports your business, you need to implement an appropriate maintenance strategy. To do so - keep reading.

Why are there different types of IT maintenance systems?

One of the most obvious reasons for this is that there are different types of assets, which means there are different maintenance strategies. In short, components of your system fail for different reasons and in non-identical ways.

But even when it comes to two similar pieces of equipment, they can be different in many ways:

  • Age
  • Manufacturer
  • Model
  • Maintenance and repairs histories
  • Relative criticality

As you can see, even if you have similar units, it doesn't necessarily mean that you won't need different maintenance strategies.

The second reason for having different strategies is that we discover new technologies bringing new possibilities.

4 basic IT maintenance types

Generally speaking, there are 4 main IT maintenance strategies:

1. Run-to-failure maintenance / reactive

This is one of the most simple strategies. You basically wait for something to break down before fixing it. Most people often confuse reactive strategy with having no strategy at all.

The whole thing about run-to-failure maintenance is about choosing the right inventory for the strategy. Here we talk about having things that have a low criticality, are difficult to maintain or inspect, are easy to replace, and are not so expensive to carry in inventory.

This means that when something burns out, you can easily replace it with a new one in no time (for example - a light bulb.) Even if you are thinking about being preventive and want to swap them out before they break, there's no way to check how much longer they can last.

The best part? These pieces of equipment are not usually critical to your business operations. It is hard to imagine a situation where the whole company had to shut down things for a while because of something unimportant as a small burned-out bulb.

Since breakdowns are so rare, keeping moving forward until something breaks is the perfect solution for those companies looking for a "more convenient" total cost of ownership.

Reactive maintenance advantages

Let's get one thing perfectly clear - the overarching goal of maintenance helps your financial stability. In other words, you get the most value out of your equipment and assets. You want to ensure the maximum ROI rate - to get the most value for the least money amount.

And that's what reactive maintenance is all about - squeezing out every drop of value until items burn out.

Reactive maintenance disadvantages

Although there are many situations where run-to failure maintenance makes sense and is the best choice, things could go terribly wrong if you implement this strategy on the wrong equipment and asset - this can result in expensive repairs and a lot of unscheduled downtime.

2. Preventive maintenance

Here, you rely on IT support for small businesses in London and their scheduled inspections that fix small problems before they arise and have a chance to develop into something that can wreak havoc on your business.

The thing that best describes preventive maintenance is the well-known old saying: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

However, how to know when you need to schedule your maintenance? Two factors will determine this: 1. What sorts of problems you see and 2. How old is your equipment?

If you have brand-new items, it's wise to schedule inspections according to your manufacturer's recommendations. Wondering why so? Because they are the ones who did all job - designed and built it - they know it best.

Scheduling your maintenance comes in two forms - based on use or time. So, for example, for something like pressure washers, you can have inspection and maintenance after X number of cycles, whereas for AC units, you should have inspections in early spring to ensure nothing happened to your AC during the winter. These are just illustrative examples.

Preventive maintenance advantages

Just think about all the hassle you avoid this way, and we don't have to talk about the advantages.

Also, since you know the exact date and time of maintenance, you have more time to prepare, find the right parts and materials, and ask the right people to be there and help.

Preventive maintenance disadvantages

Well, it's kinda easy to stray over into over-maintenance. Most people think you can't have too much of a good thing and then start doing more than they need.

The two main problems around preventive maintenance are added risk and extra waste. There's always a risk of accidental damage. Not to mention how expensive it can be if you change a piece of equipment that doesn't have to be changed.

3. Condition-based maintenance

As the name suggests, it is an approach based on the equipment's condition. With condition-based maintenance, you don't have to bother about scheduling your checkups. All you have to do is to monitor your equipment to find any deviations that indicate the beginning of a problem.

For example, let's say you have a supercomputer in charge of all business-vital operations and want to maintain it. To do so, you can have PC temperature or performance checkups every three hours.

Temperature is just one of the conditions you can track. Others may include:

  • Power
  • Speed
  • Vibration
  • Moisture

Condition-based maintenance advantages

The best thing about condition-based maintenance is that you can do it while your equipment is up and running, meaning there's no downtime at all.

Also, you don't need overall maintenance because you do it when you know you need it. As you can see, being able to find imperfections without having to shut down your equipment saves you time and effort.

Condition-based maintenance disadvantages

This maintenance strategy that monitors the current condition of your equipment might be expensive. You need to train and teach your employees. They need to know how to monitor those parameters, and you need to buy equipment when necessary.

4. Predictive maintenance

Basically, there's no significant difference between this one and condition-based maintenance. The only difference is that you analyze data to make accurate forecasts about possible future failures, so you can stop them before they occur.

This type of maintenance is carried out through the monitoring of computer systems. You control all variables you have, such as battery levels, CPU temperatures, and many others.

Predictive maintenance advantages

There's no doubt that we live in a Sci-Fi era where your devices can tell you the future. You get all the perks of previous (condition-based) maintenance, but you see problems faster.

Predictive maintenance disadvantages

Well, you need more money because now you have to pay for expensive sophisticated software demanding serious training for your employees - plus, don't forget about the costs of condition-based maintenance, which is the basis of predictive maintenance.

Which system maintenance strategy should you choose?

This is a tricky question. Here at Sonar IT, we warmly suggest business owners choose the right strategy for each individual piece of their equipment. For some preventive. For others, run to failure - and so on and so forth.

The better question would be: "What's the best maintenance strategies combination for my equipment, assets, and facility?"

Breakdown maintenance vs preventive maintenance

To help you understand these strategies better and stop thinking about them in isolation, you should know when to use each of them.

Once again, it is not that one is better or more useful than the other - some pieces match better with one strategy than the other - that's the whole story.

For breakdown maintenance, a piece of equipment or asset should check some of the following boxes:

  1. Low relative criticality
  2. Easy to replace
  3. Cheap to carry in inventory and buy
  4. Impossible or impractical to maintain

If you have things that don't fit here, you need to consider using preventive maintenance.

What to do to help your business?

Choosing the best maintenance strategy for your asset starts with understanding your options. You need to understand their benefits and drawbacks before opting.

Luckily, our IT support for small businesses in London will help you to get your maintenance strategy off the ground. An appropriate strategy helps you find problems early and prevent them, heading you in the right direction.

All in all, building a perfect maintenance strategy can help you become more efficient and control costs.