IT support companies sell all kinds of products and services. How do you know what they are and if you need them? Here is a list of the 10 most common items with a brief explanation of each one. We hope this helps you understand what you are looking for in an IT support company.

(For more information on what type of IT support your office might need – in-house, consulting, managed IT services, or IT-as-a-service, check out this post and chart.)

1. Tech/IT support (AKA “help desk”)

Back when offices were first getting computers and printers, general information technology (or “IT”) professionals came on the scene to help maintain, fix, and upgrade systems. Today, individual offices can do a lot without extra help. Most people can type, save files, and communicate via email on their own. Online or “cloud” software is easier than ever to use. But software freezes; file servers need regular maintenance; hacker threats are only increasing. This is where your “help desk” comes in. You email or call your IT support team with technology issues, and they come to the rescue.

2. File servers

File servers are computers large enough to hold all the data generated by your office – that could be emails, PCLaw data, Microsoft Word documents, or any other kind of work you do. Traditionally, offices have purchased file servers and kept them in your physical office (usually tucked away in a corner or maybe a closet with the internet equipment!).

With the hefty cost of standard file servers, many offices are now moving to an entirely cloud-based environment. The Cloud Office system we provide our clients (and use ourselves) has many benefits in addition to cost savings: it’s fast, it’s safe, and it allows you to log in to your entire work computer on any device.

3. Email

The foundation of all work communication for many of us, email is of utmost importance. We must keep accounts secure, store email data as needed, make sure the software is working smoothly, add or restrict email access. Our preferred email service for clients is Microsoft 365.

4. Computer repair

Some IT companies specialize in computer repair, where you can either stop by the company’s central office with a computer for them to fix, or have them dispatch a technician on demand to your office. Other companies, such as ours, do computer repair for regular clients only. With the Cloud Office system we use, individual computers have a much longer life. To keep computers running even longer, we do a lot of behind-the-scenes computer maintenance and repair for our clients remotely from our Toronto office, and we visit our client offices for help when needed.

5. Cloud services

The “cloud” is the delivery of services over the internet, and it has changed how many companies do IT support. You may be familiar with software that runs on the cloud rather than in your physical office. Now, entire file servers and work computers can live on on the cloud.

Who owns and operates your work cloud? If your services are run on a “public cloud,” it usually means a third-party provider such as Microsoft Azure rents you the space you need.

A “private cloud” is a system used exclusively by a single company. In our case, we run a private cloud system whose servers live in a highly secure Canadian data centre. From there, our clients have access to their exclusively allocated cloud space.

The advantages of using comprehensive cloud services such as the Cloud Office system include lower costs, high speed, and top security standards. As a practical bonus in the age of flexible work hours and spaces, the Cloud Office makes it easy to log in to your work computer on any device.

6. Virtual desktops

A virtual desktop is a safe and modern way for you to gain remote access to your computer. When travelling or working from home, we often need to access our applications and files quickly and easily. With a virtual desktop, you log on to your entire work computer and see everything as you left it, but on a different physical computer than the one you normally use. This means, for example, that you can move from your office desktop to your home laptop without even having to re-open your documents.

7. Cyber security

Cyber security is important for all offices. One threat to watch out for is ransomware. Professional hackers target offices hoping to hold your data ransom in exchange for cash.

The public messaging that follows a ransomware hit usually includes phrases like “sophisticated” and “targeted attack.” But in fact, these attacks are far from sophisticated. There are many basic protocols your IT support company should have in place to prevent these attacks in the first place, and a plan for what to do if security is breached.

Ask your IT provider about:

If your company has become a victim to ransomware, here’s what has likely happened:

  1. Someone in the office picked up a piece of ransomware coming from an online source, and it locked all your files.
  2. Your data backups weren’t working, so you had to pay to unlock the files.

Think of cyber security as mandatory basic insurance for any business, municipality, or non-profit, big or small. And when you have a cyber security system in place, ask your IT provider: do we have a plan for what to do if and when our hacking safeguards fail?

8. Data backups

An essential component to any IT service is data backups. Tested, working backup copies of all your data. Backups are what we turn to when disaster strikes. Those situations include natural disasters, acts of war, provider outages, hackers, viruses, failed hardware, and even good old lost laptops. We hope to never have to use client data backups. But we know they are there if we ever do.

Office phones

Between old school rotary phones and phones that work entirely on a mobile app, businesses and non-profits can choose from a wide selection of office phones. Most IT companies will help get them working for you. Modern phone options allow you to increase productivity and reduce costs while working from anywhere. We customize, host, and deploy VOIP phone systems for our clients.

10. Network equipment

Some very common IT items that you might hear about are network switches and routers. We use primarily Cisco Meraki and Ubiquiti wireless brands, two of the best available today. Also known as network equipment, this is the hardware that keeps your systems online, communicating with each other and connecting to the internet. It is important to keep network equipment to up to date, reliable, and in line with current security standards. At our IT company, you’ll never even notice we are doing this. With the Cloud Office, we include the best available gear for your office. There is no additional cost for this, so you won’t be caught by surprise by extra hardware costs.