Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to commonly asked questions.
General Questions
Do you support customers in other states and countries?

Yes we do! Many of our customers here in the Triangle have offices or remote users in other states that we support. We also support customers who have offices in the EU and other regions of the world. A number of our IT Security & Strategy customers have no North Carolina presence.

I don't need contract support. Can I just call and ask some questions?

Absolutely! We provide support at an hourly rate for most IT needs, including project consultation. New clients may need to sign a retainer agreement and provide a small deposit before work can begin.

Managed IT Services
Is Net Friends an MSP? What is an MSP?

MSP stands for Managed Service Provider. An MSP is a company that provides outsourced IT services to other companies, usually for a fixed amount per month and usually for a fixed term such as one year. Net Friends is both an MSP and an MSSP, which stands for Managed Security Service Provider.

What are the pros and cons of using an MSP for IT services?

There are no cons – using an MSP results in 100% rainbows and unicorns.

We're kidding, but this gets at an important truth: MSP services are not right for everyone. Some business owners just aren't comfortable switching from the "in-house" or "transactional" service models to the contract services model.

The good news is that the last thing we want is an unhappy customer. When you contact our sales department, one of our first tasks will be to ask you some questions about your approach to IT. If you're not going to be satisfied with our services, we'll know right away – and we'll do our best to refer you to a provider we respect who may be a better fit for you.

What does Managed IT Services cover?

We offer two major managed-service programs: NetVisor and NetCore.

NetVisor covers support for Windows and Mac workstations, mobile devices, and Windows servers. It also includes basic support for selected applications and most cloud services, such as Office 365 and G-Suite.

NetCore covers support for network infrastructure devices, such as firewalls, wireless access points, UPSes, and network-attached storage.

Almost all Managed IT Services customers enroll in either NetVisor alone or NetVisor and NetCoretogether. We recommend both services for customers who intend to deploy more than one or two network devices.

Do you offer remote support only, or will someone come out to my office to fix problems?

With our sophisticated Remote Monitoring & Management software, we're able to resolve most customer support requests remotely, sometimes before you even get off the phone! However, some problems, such as equipment that won't power on, must be resolved on-site. In those cases, we're happy to transfer your request to one of our on-site experts without any significant delay.

Do I get blocks of hours?

All of our Managed IT Services offerings include unlimited support hours for valid support requests. If you're looking for blocks of hours, ask about our IT Staffing service, NetForce.

Do I sign up for a certain number of years?

All of our Managed IT Services offerings have a contract term of 1-3 years. Signing up for a longer term allows you to lock in this year's pricing for the entire period, a significant savings.

Are there fees for early termination of Managed Services agreements?

Because we invest so much preparation and setup into serving each customer, we do assess a fee when customers request to terminate the agreement early. The amount due in such a case is different for each service, and depends on factors such as how much time is left in the term and how much notice is given by the customer.

Service Level Agreement (SLA)
Do you provide an SLA?

Yes, all of our contract services include an SLA. You can see a sample SLA for the NetVisor service here.

What recourse do I have if you don't meet your SLA?

We place a very high priority on meeting our SLA standards. If a customer is concerned about our responsiveness, whether in a single incident or as a pattern, we will happily schedule a meeting with the customer to jointly review our internal metrics regarding SLA performance. If a problem is identified, we will create and execute a remediation plan, with the goal of regaining that customer's satisfaction with the service.

Can I upgrade to a higher priority SLA?

All of our customers receive exactly the same scheduling priority and level of service. We never discriminate among customers under any circumstances, whether it be to favor big customers over little, new customers over old, etc. If a request is important to you, then as your IT partner it is important to us as well.

IT Staffing
How is Net Friends IT Staffing different from conventional IT staffing?

Our NetForce IT Staffing service aims to fill the gap between two traditional on-site service models: the "break-fix" model used by many small IT providers, where the customer has to request each support session individually, and the conventional staffing model, where an agency provides an employee who embeds with the customer for 40 hours a week. The flexibility built into NetForce from the beginning makes it the best model for IT staffing that we've seen.

With NetForce, customers can choose one of two solutions:

  1. Purchase on-site services for a specific block of time (Example: 4 hours per day during the week of April 25th)
    This solution is great for customers who need to fill a temporary gap caused by staff going on vacation or focusing on a special project
  2. Purchase recurring on-site services on a contract (Example: 10 half-day blocks per month for 3 years)
    This solution is best for customers who require regular on-site service, but don't have enough tasks to support a full-time employee

In addition, NetForce customers can choose whether to queue up tasks using our ticketing system or their own. This makes it easier to integrate our experts with your existing support tools, if that's a priority for you.

Can I review your available techs and choose the one I want?

When Net Friends was founded over 20 years ago, each one of our handful of employees was solely responsible for all the needs of their portfolio of customers. This made it very important to establish a relationship of mutual trust between the customer and the tech. Our NetForce service preserves the feeling of those early days. We work hard at the outset of an engagement to match each customer with an IT Expert with whom they can establish that sense of trust.

Why would I choose IT Staffing over Managed IT Services, or vice versa?

Actually, many of our customers choose both! We see the two services as complementary.

NetVisor, our Managed Services offering, is what we call a "foundational" service. This means that we recommend customers either enroll in this service or provide similar services to their employees using in-house IT staff. Many customers start off enrolling in NetVisor and then add on NetForce to provide more intensive support on a limited basis to departments or locations that require it. Customers who enroll primarily in NetForce tend to already be providing managed IT services in-house, and are looking to augment their team with our experts.

IT Security & Strategy
Does Net Friends do "white hat hacking"?

Net Friends offers penetration testing, or "pentest" services, for our customers' network resources. Customers can order a pentest for a web application – such as an ordering interface – or for a server, whether on a LAN or exposed to the internet. A pentest is a multi-day effort by a certified security analyst to test the defenses and vulnerabilities of a networked asset. At the end of the test, the analyst will compose a report on findings and deliver it to the customer, along with a set of recommendations to fix any detected problems.

How do I know what I should be spending on IT security?

Customers typically allocate 10-15% of their overall IT budget to security. This includes both 3rd-party reviews, such as our Risk Assessment and Vulnerability Scan services, and security software, such as email filtering and multifactor authentication."

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