When the Computer Troubleshooters franchise launched ten years ago in East Christchurch, the business was all about the break-fix.
“We worked from our sitting-room at home,” says director Graham Love. “People rang, and we went out and fixed their computers. Many of our customers have come from where we’ve gone into their home computer, fixed it and they said, ‘I’ve got a business in town, can you come look at that.’”
It only took Love and his small team of technicians two years to build a managed services line of business. These days, Computer Troubleshooters uses Kaseya to manage 500 or so systems, with Shadowprortect for the backup and replication. And while he attributes growth to word of mouth and business references, he says it is crucial to keep to have he and his three technicians go out on home service calls, part of which includes using Kroll Ontrack for disaster recovery.
“We’re getting 30 to 40 customers new every month from word of mouth, and we try to convert as many of them to a managed service plan as possible,” Love says. “We get one or two a month interested, so we're growing that base.”
Love says his company watches over 150 small businesses, 30 of them with “larger networks” with a total of 35 servers among them. The rest are what he classifies as ‘peer-to-peer’, meaning one or two workstations with an internet connection.
Computer Troubleshooters started using Kaseya and Shadowprotect within the last four years, but Love says he’s been with Kroll Ontrack longer. The company has seen a handful of cases where systems were destroyed, and the client was desperate to restore a surprisingly particular kind of file.
“One guy had a business and had his home laptop on top of his car and drove off, and it got run over by another car,” says Love. “And it had all the family photos on it and his wife was not a happy chappy. So Kroll Ontrack was able to bring that all back and the customer was happy with the price, happy with getting the files.”
It isn’t a problem that Kroll Ontrack is not a brand name among home users.
“The fact that it’s Kroll isn’t relevant or important to the customers,” he explains. “All we’re saying is we can fix it. You pay an assessment fee, then Kroll gives a report and the customer can make a decision.”
Hopeless cases can be sent to Kroll in Australia. One such customer had 80 percent of their data restored, but Love says it effectively rescued 100 percent the files that mattered to the client.
“That can cost around $1,500,” he says. “They can decide if $1,500 is worth their family photos or their wives’ pleasure.”
Recently the company has seen a spike in hard drive failures among his managed services customers.
“The technicians have replaced a record number of hard drives over the last four or five weeks,” he says. “It’s not any particular brand, and all we can think is that the agitation from two years ago and the thousands and thousands of earthquakes that we’ve had since has had some impact on the electronics.”
With a focus on managing customer data and disaster recovery, Computer Troubleshooters tries to emphasise to its clients the importance of having the right backup solution.
“They don’t listen,” he says.
Love says the company charges $30 a month to install and monitor systems via Kaseya agents, and add a solution in which the systems are backed with built-in redundancy through backing up the hard drive backup.
“Even with monitored managed services, what can happen is something can just stop working, and Shadowprotect does that occasionally where it hangs and nothing tells you it’s hanging,” he says.
But the point is, “People who back up once to tin are asking for trouble.”
A recent survey Kroll Ontrack conducted globally of 600 recent Data Recovery customers showed that 60 percent of them had a backup solution in place at the time of data loss. The backup solutions were either not current, or were operated improperly.
“Prevention is the best thing,” Love says.