How Remote IT Support Works and Services It Offers
The almost year-long global COVID-19 pandemic has brought forth many new trends, remote work being the most prevalent. According to a recent FlexJobs survey, 65% of respondents wanted to be full-time remote employees post-pandemic, while 31% wanted to work in a hybrid remote work environment. In other words, nearly 96% of survey respondents desired some form of remote work in 2020.
While remote work offers several benefits, it is almost impossible to work remotely without the appropriate IT support. With reliable remote IT support, you can troubleshoot both software and hardware problems quickly and efficiently.
In this guide, we will walk you through the types of remote IT support, the process, benefits, and challenges.
A. Types of Remote IT Support
Usually, the remote IT support is of the following two types.
1 – Attended Support
In this type of IT support, the client often calls for the support. The client grants access to Managed Service Provider (MSP) to resolve the issue immediately. In short, the client is on their computer or device when addressing the issue.
2 – Unattended Support
In unattended remote IT support, the client doesn’t have to be on their device. Your MSP can access the device, update it, or provide the support 24/7.
B. Advantages of Remote IT Support
Now that you are familiar with the types of remote IT support, let’s see the benefits it offers.
- With remote IT support, you can ensure on-time troubleshooting and regular maintenance. It usually includes patch management, updates, installations, and anti-virus and firewall updates, among others.
- It is also available 24/7 and on-demand. Even if you need troubleshooting on holidays or weekends, it’s just a phone call away.
- To offer remote IT support, you don’t need someone to show up at your office. The tech experts can start working as soon as they get access to your device.
- Unlike on-site IT support, which attracts additional costs like fuel, service fee, and equipment, remote tech support is cost-effective.
- As there is no need for the technicians to drive around, it also reduces your carbon footprint and boosts sustainable growth.
- It also covers almost all of your regular maintenance and repair needs, including hardware.
- With several advanced tools at their disposal, MSPs don’t need to have someone on the other end to offer remote IT support.
- Remote IT support is available virtually anywhere, anytime.
- As remote IT support uses screen-sharing, each troubleshooting session can be educational to the end-user. It will prevent your employees from repeating a mistake twice.
- It is quick, efficient, and non-intrusive. Your employees can continue working even as the IT provider is troubleshooting, keeping your productivity unaffected.
- Without the added stress of dealing with day-to-day tech troubles, your employees, including your in-house IT team, can focus on their core responsibilities.
- Remote IT support also includes round-the-clock network monitoring, which can help you proactively identify and mitigate potential issues or threats. It leads to better network security, efficiency, and uptime.
- Your managed IT provider can also backup your business-critical data and applications to the cloud remotely. Regular backup and a well-defined recovery process ensure business continuity in the event of a disaster or cyberattack.
- Lastly, you get access to experienced IT professionals who can bring a fresh perspective to your technology planning. They can help you build a secure network that can boost growth by aligning with your business goals.
C. On-Site vs Remote IT Support
|On-Site IT Support||Remote IT Support|
|Faster solution for local hardware-specific problems||Can’t address all local hardware-specific problems, certainly not as fast as on-site support.|
|Ideal for situations that require face-to-face interactions.||Not suitable for situations that require face-to-face interactions.|
|Slow response time, especially for application-related issues.||Quick response time and efficient solutions.|
|Skillset is often limited to on-site technicians or your employees.||Quick and round-the-clock access to a broad range of IT experts.|
|Ability to address issues that modify network connectivity.||Can’t resolve issues that modify network connectivity.|
|It can be intrusive and impact your employee productivity until the issue is resolved.||It leads to minimal intrusion and employee productivity mostly remains unaffected.|
|Your MSP can build a relationship with you and understand your work culture, offering better IT advice.||Remote IT support can be a barrier in this instance.|
1 – Which IT Support Is Best?
Both remote IT support and on-site support offer several advantages. However, the success of either strategy will require the following.
- The service provider needs to have a thorough understanding of your work culture and business needs. Make sure the MSP can do the basic research in this regard.
- You need to create a well-defined Service Level Agreement (SLA), covering all your service needs, fees, uptime guarantees, and penalties.
- Check if the service provider is experienced enough to manage your network. If you need experience in a specific technology or service area, confirm that too.
- Make sure to find a trusted and professional managed IT service provider, preferably with a proven track record of high customer satisfaction.
D. Services Covered Under Remote IT Support
Remote IT support does come with several advantages. The question is, what services can you get remotely? The number and types of services may depend on your MSP, budget, industry, and even location. But, they usually include the following.
1 – Setup and Installations
This includes support services related to installation, configuration, and uninstallations of various computer peripherals, applications, and operating systems. They are:
- Microsoft DNS/DHCP Server and Configuration
- Server Migration and Group Policy Configuration
- Desktop Application Software
- Office 365 Suite
- Desktop and Laptop
- Printer and Peripherals
- Microsoft Windows/Exchange Server, Ad Domain Environment, SBS
2 – Incident-Based Support
This involves offering remote support based on a particular issue or service request. It usually requires help from an IT expert, and may involve multiple personnel at your MSP’s end. A few common examples are:
- Microsoft Exchange Server
- Microsoft Windows Server
- Microsoft Small Business Server
3 – Managed IT Services
You can also outsource various IT operation-related services to your MSP. The IT experts can help you optimize these operations to increase efficiency, cut down costs, and enhance cybersecurity. They usually include but are not limited to the following.
- Help Desk Services
- Server Deployment (Mail and Web)
- Server Support (Mail and Web)
- DBA Support Services
- Disaster Recovery Services
- Remote Backup Management
- IT Asset Management and Software Distribution
- Break Fix Support
- Proactive Management
4 – Managed Monitoring Support
As the name suggests, these IT support services include network, system, performance, log, connectivity, and web monitoring. The continuous monitoring ensures proactive identification and resolution of potential bugs or external threats. They include:
- Server Monitoring
- Network Monitoring
- Event Log Monitoring
- Website Monitoring
- Online Connectivity Issues
- Virus Removal Support
- Slow or Sluggish System
- Boot-up Issues
- Erratic System Behavior
- System Formatting
- Spyware/Adware/Malware Removal
- Browser Connection Issues
- Data Retrieval Issues
- Performance Tuning
5 – Cloud Support
This kind of remote support usually covers various cloud computing services including, analysis, identification, and mitigation of threats. These services include the following.
- Office/Microsoft 365
- Desktop as a Service
- Application Hosting
- Data Centre Migration
- Disaster Recovery – Offsite Backup
- Public Cloud – Azure or AWS
6 – Product Support
It usually involves product-specific support. For example, if you use Office 365, your MSP will provide you with all the tech support related to this product. It may include assistance with any malfunctions, configuration, installation, update, performance, accessibility, and security. These services include:
- Office 365
- Microsoft Azure
E. How Does Remote IT Support Process Work?
As you can see, remote IT support can cover virtually all types of tech support services. Most MSPs have a well-defined service process. Although the process may vary depending on your managed IT provider, it typically involves the following steps.
1 – Report the Incident/Issue
Usually, the remote IT support process begins with reporting the problem. You can request support via email, message, phone, IT provider’s website, or a web portal. Many IT providers will create a particular type of ticket based on your issue.
The four common types of tickets are:
The automated network monitoring system often generates an alert ticket when it detects an irregularity (from a security point-of-view) in your network. For example, failed login attempts due to incorrect authentication or access from an unauthorized device.
Just like an alert, the network monitoring tool will generate this ticket. However, the system generates it whenever an event like a power outage or hardware failure takes place.
In most cases, the client will create these tickets to report an unplanned incidence that requires thorough investigation and resolution. Sometimes, however, the network monitoring tool may also generate these tickets automatically.
Clients can raise these tickets for services like installations, updates, user account generation, and scheduling maintenance, among others.
2 – Assign a Technician for the Task
At this stage, your MSP will assign a technician to handle your ticket. Most MSPs may also prioritize your request based on a careful analysis of your problem. They will inform you of the priority level, who will work on your issue, and the estimated time required for resolution.
The backend team of IT experts will figure out the following things before moving to the next step.
• What is the problem?
• What caused it?
• Who is experiencing it?
• When did the problem start?
• Did the problem occur before? If yes, when and where?
• Did anything change in the system, hardware, or application related to the problem? If yes, what, when, why, and where?
• Are there any previous benchmarks or logs for the problem available?
3 – Resolution
Once your service provider identifies what caused the issue, they will start working on it. If the technician can solve the problem immediately, they will do so. If not, it may take a few hours, days, or weeks to attend to your request, depending on the backlog and the priority level.
4 – Report Back
Your MSP will call you to confirm whether or not the problem is solved. If it is, the technician will close your ticket. The detailed log of your ticket will remain in the system for future reference.
5 – Reopen a Ticket
If you are not happy with the resolution or something comes up later, you can reopen the ticket. The time limit for reopening a ticket can vary depending on your service provider. The MSP will resolve the issue, get your confirmation, and close the ticket again.
F. Tools and Technologies Remote IT Support Needs
Remote IT support requires an advanced tool (Remote Access Software) for accessing your computer or network via the internet. You will need to install and learn to use the remote access software your managed IT provider uses.
Different service providers will use different tools. They may also use specific tools depending on the issue at hand. Here are the three most common and popular remote access tools.
1 – TeamViewer (Client)
TeamViewer is perhaps the best remote access tool out there. It comes with features like secure unattended access, support, and even collaboration. It offers the following benefits.
- Supports file transfer
- Remote installations
- Automated mass deployment
- Works on LAN
- Comes with ServiceCamp ticket management system
- Easy-to-use interface
- Better cross-platform compatibility
However, it can be a little expensive, especially for small and mid-sized businesses. TeamViewer also needs good internet connectivity.
2 – Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (Server)
With Remote Desktop Services (RDS), you can control another Windows computer or virtual machine via the internet. You need to install RDS on a server first. Then, you can use a Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) application like Microsoft Remote Desktop to access other Windows devices remotely.
It offers the following benefits.
- Ability to access almost all local resources of the connected virtual machine or computer
- Provides a cost-effective multi-session environment
However, the remote access control software lacks support for a few client platforms other than Windows.
3 – AnyDesk
AnyDesk is also a reliable option for platform-independent remote access. Available as a monthly subscription, it comes with the following features.
- Works with lower bandwidth internet connections
- Easy to use software
- Ability to control several computers at the same time
- Supports file transfer and screen capture
- Fast and secure
Many users view the ability to control several computers at the same time as a major cybersecurity risk. It can lead to hacking and may require additional security layers like two-factor authentication.
G. Major Challenges
Remote IT support offers an excellent opportunity to keep your productivity high in an increasingly work-from-home environment. Still, it does come with a few challenges of its own. Before you move to a remote work environment, you should be aware of these challenges as well.
1 – Network Bandwidth
The end-user network bandwidth is one of the major remote IT support challenges. In most cases, other members of the household will also use the same network. Furthermore, most home networks use consumer-grade hardware. Thus, with kids playing videos and parents working online, the home network bandwidth will be overloaded.
Most remote access control software can’t function properly if the home network bandwidth is low or erratic. End-users may also have difficulty using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and video conferencing services due to poor network bandwidth.
2 – Network Security Risks
Although you can use enterprise-grade cybersecurity measures, ensuring proper cybersecurity hygiene in a remote work environment is tough. For example, unauthorized physical access to an end user’s device can compromise your network.
According to Cybersecurity in the Remote Work Era: A Global Risk Report, 71% of organizations are concerned that remote workers can cause a data breach. The biggest concerns include the personal devices of remote employees and their physical cybersecurity practices. So, you will need to train your employees to ensure stellar cybersecurity practices.
3 – Unexpected Power Failure (System Down / System Connectivity)
Unexpected power supply failures will interrupt connectivity, which will make it impossible to offer remote IT support. Also, it is unlikely that all your remote workers will have a power backup good enough to handle their workload.
4 – Virtual Private Network (VPN) Headaches
VPNs offer several benefits, including data protection from hackers. However, when your VPN core gets flooded, it will slow down the home network connection. When that happens, it can prove difficult for users to access on-premise applications or servers. Although you can use advanced configuration to address this issue, it often makes your network complicated.
5 – Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Issues
Most remote employees will use Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) technology to access the mainframe or on-premise applications. However, as VDI is not available offline, power failure can hit your productivity hard. Also, many graphics-heavy applications like AutoCAD often work poorly on a VDI as the computing power of the end user’s device is low.
Remote work can cut back-office overheads, commute time, pollution, and increase productivity. As the world moves towards a remote work environment, your business also needs to gear up to adapt to this new normal. Investing in the appropriate remote IT support is critical to creating a productive, secure, and agile remote work setup. Knowing how remote IT support works, what services it offers, and the challenges it faces can help you make an informed decision.