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I'm considering getting into computer maintenance. There is a firm which I'm working with who have a few sites for which I have set up the computer infrastructure.

In computer maintenance; I've heard there is a lot of stress involved i.e. working after hours & other difficulties. I'm curious to know what these are and whether or not control methods can be set in place to ensure these are under control?

The tasks I'm looking to do for my clients include backups, updates, fixing email issues, fixing computer issues, fixing viruses & there will be many more which I can't think of at the top of my head.

Currently, I work at set time frames, and I really hope I can achieve the same in computer maintenance.

What areas of computer maintenance can involve stress and how can they be taken control of?

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  • in my experience, stress is a very personal thing. A specific job does not cause stress, the way a person handles the job causes stress. As a freelancer, the whole idea is you control when you have work and when you don't. If you don't stress out from working odd hours, then by all means offer them to your client. If you do stress out and prefer office hours, then only promise office hour support. Apr 18 '17 at 15:48
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Your friend is a guy called SLA.

Service Level Agreement

You set how heavy the lash is for the amount of money the client is willing to pay. Doesn't matter the job.

  • Low pay - SLA of 5 business days
  • High pay - SLA of 4 hours

Some office guy exploded his desktop? You got a week to fix. Some very important server went down because the maid pulled the cord midday? It's still a week, unless they hire premium SLA.

At least with SLAs, if you're getting called at 2a.m. if for someone that's worth it.

It's up to you really. Most of the stress comes from dealing with customers and managers, they are usually technologically ignorant and proportionally arrogant. Dealing with computers is the easy part.

You will only work after hours if you offer very short SLAs, this might be a dealbreaker for some clients, but you're the boss.

Things that will make your life easier:

  • preventive maintenance, fix before it breaks
  • monitoring, fix before they notice
  • alerts, know before they know

As I said, even if you detect a huge problem and have to spend the night solving it, that is 10x less stressful than having to fix a simple email server with the client breathing down your neck. So keep tabs on your resources and monitor stuff. Let the computer tell you when it's going through hard times before it reaches a crisis. On top of that, it's awesome if the client calls you at 2am and you're already up, fixing whatever it is and just saying 'Mail server down? I'm on it already, don't worry'

While you're working, make sure that you're doing whatever you can to prevent having to work other times. Like automating parts of your work or doing general prevention routines.

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This sounds like a combination of System Admin and Desktop Support. I'll answer for both as I have done both...

If you're looking after servers and networks, 99.99% of the job will be in office hours. The 0.01% of the work that happens outside is where the money is. Companies will want someone that they can call at 2am to come and fix their server. In these cases, you charge a stand-by fee (for being available) and a call-out fee (for going out). If they don't want to pay this, then they cannot call you out.

Desktop support is a little different. This should ALL be in office hours. If a machine goes down, chances are that there is another option. Again, though, if a company wants round the clock support, charge them.

If you really don't want to offer Out of Hours support, you don't have to. You can state in the contract that you do not provide support after 18:00 or before 07:00, and you absolutely do not provide support on Sundays. That's the beauty of freelancing, you make your own schedule. However, you will be limiting your client base and your income as a result.

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