Why Certified Technicians are Important

itcertsIn today’s technology-centered environment, nearly every aspect of our lives relies on a complex network of computer systems to provide information instantly to any device. While this enables us to communicate quickly and efficiently, we often take for granted the devices and systems that serve those devices until they stop working. What should you do when your phone screen is broken, your computer has a virus, your Point of Sale system is not responding, or your network is down? You call a technician to fix the problem. But, what if the current problem spirals out of control because of an inexperienced technician?
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The Dangers of Inexperienced Technicians

At first glance, many inexperienced (or under-experienced) technicians may appear to be just as good as any other technician. The danger comes when an unforeseen or uncommon situation arises during the repair process. Even worse, a mistake by a fast moving technician can cause data loss by irreversibly breaking a storage array, shorting out components in a system, or simply unplugging the wrong cable – potentially causing expensive downtime and countless hours in rebuilding the data that was lost (and paying the employees who are having to rebuild years worth of data).


Typical RAID 10 setup with 4 drives

As an example, we will look at a common setup for a small business server or Point of Sale system. These types of systems typically are set up with what is called RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks), which is a storage system using multiple disks to store information for redundancy, speed, or a combination of both. For the sake of simplicity (and because multiple hot stand-by disks are not typically included in small business servers), we will assume that the server is set up with 4 x 1TB hard drives installed. The setup would combine the speed benefits of a RAID 0 array with the redundancy benefits of a RAID 1 array and would provide usable storage of approximately 2TB.

In this scenario, we will assume disk 1 (as shown in the image to the left) has failed. The array will continue to operate in a degraded status due to the failure of the disk, but no data loss will occur. The potential danger with this scenario is that in this degraded status, if the incorrect disk is swapped during the replacement process, all of the data contained in the array will be lost – causing potentially devastating results for the business. The inexperienced technician wasn’t acting out of malice; rather simply performing a seeming simple task without the proper understanding of how storage arrays work.

Why Certified Technicians are Important

When you contract with a certified technician, you can have some peace of mind that you are working with someone who knows how to perform the task at hand. Certified technicians have put numerous hours into their ongoing training and have invested in themselves and their business by paying an outside organization to test them on industry standards and best practices to ensure their competence. Anyone who has invested in themselves enough to get the appropriate training and pursue industry certifications shows that they respect your business and your well-being enough to take the necessary steps  to ensure the risk of damage or data loss due to their actions has been mitigated.

Another advantage of certified technicians is their experience. While working on your contracted task, the more experienced technician may discover other issues, such as a failing network card, dirty fans or heat syncs causing the system to overheat, or viruses or malware running in the background that could be slowing down your system or causing intermittent issues with software.

You Get What You Pay For

One complaint that many business owners often have about technicians is the rate charged per hour on site. A good rule of thumb is if it sounds too good to be true – it probably is. Certified technicians charge more per hour because they have incurred sometimes significant costs while completing training and certification tests to prove their competency in the industry, and are more likely to sell quality products for a fair price instead of selling extremely cheap products at a great price. Certified technicians also often carry General Liability and Professional Liability insurance, ensuring that any damage caused directly by the technician won’t become an out of pocket expense for you.

Lets look at an example of the cost of having a certified technician replace the drive in the scenario above vs. the cost of data loss. We will assume that the 2TB of storage was 50% full (1TB) and that 70% of the data stored on the drive is not necessary for your business to operate (items such as old photos, documents and invoice from prior years, etc), bringing down the amount to just 300GB.

“Certified” Technician

“Cheap” Technician
Hard Drive Cost $150 $150
Technician Labor $250 $50
Cost to Rebuild Lost Data $0 $4,800*
Total $400 $5,000
*Assumes the rebuild process takes 4 people working 8 hours per day for 2 weeks at $15 per hour. This figure is before the employer’s payroll taxes, overhead costs, and loss of productivity due to resources being tied up are considered.

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