What’s The Difference Between a Helpdesk vs. IT Support?

A helpdesk primarily handles immediate, user-facing issues. It’s your first point of contact for technical queries and minor problems. On the other hand, IT support goes deeper. It involves specialists who tackle more complex technical challenges. However, that’s just a simplified overview of the differences between a helpdesk vs. IT support.


“Hiring both an IT support team and an IT helpdesk only seems redundant if you’ve never experienced how helpful combining the 2 can be.” – Charles Bender, CEO, Attentus Technologies

Combining both a helpdesk and IT support enhances efficiency. The helpdesk manages simple inquiries, allowing IT support specialists to focus on deeper, more complicated issues. This division ensures quick resolution of everyday problems and efficient handling of complex situations.

With that in mind, let’s dive deeper into all the differences between IT support vs. helpdesk services. We’l define each service involves, they’re biggest key differences, and why your business needs both.


What is an IT Helpdesk?
An IT helpdesk is a resource designed for users to contact when they encounter a technical problem. Typically, it operates as a central hub where users can get assistance with simple IT-related issues. The key function of an IT helpdesk is to provide quick solutions to everyday problems such as password resets.

Helpdesk technicians also guide users through troubleshooting steps when required. For instance, one may help you check an application’s setting. Most helpdesks have an in-depth knowledge management system to allow technicians to find rapid solutions to common issues.

As a result, helpdesk technicians aren’t necessarily required to have the same level of technical expertise as someone who works in IT support. This doesn’t mean that every IT helpdesk is run by novices. You can still find plenty with high-tier experts running the service.

What is IT Support?
IT support refers to the services provided by specialists to manage and solve complex technical issues beyond the scope of basic troubleshooting offered by a helpdesk. The helpdesk may refer a customer to IT support if they feel that the issue is beyond their ability.

IT support technicians usually also work on implementing and maintaining IT systems. For example, if you need someone onsite to come look at or help you set up your network infrastructure, that will more than likely be someone from IT support, not a helpdesk.


The Biggest Key Difference Between IT Support vs. Helpdesk Support

1. Scope of Service

IT support involves a broader scope of services that focuses on your entire IT infrastructure. This includes managing servers, networks, and ensuring the overall health of the IT systems. IT support professionals often also work on preventative measures and long-term solutions to keep your technology in shape.

Comparatively, helpdesk support focuses on customer service and addressing immediate user issues, typically related to daily tech use. Prime examples include software problems or login issues.

Even if the scope of hepldesk service seems mundane, its impact should not be underestimated. For instance, setting up MFA is typically a helpdesk task. Yet, Google research shows that having MFA in place can reduce phishing attacks by 96%.


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2. Problem Complexity

Helpdesk support deals with simpler, quick-to-solve issues and provide near-immediate solutions. This system helps ensure that users can continue their work with minimal disruption. Given that the average employee loses 22 minutes a day to IT issues, having a team who can minimize disruptions can make a huge difference.

On the other hand, IT support tackles complex, technical problems that require in-depth knowledge, system-wide solutions, or strategic planning. Of course, IT support technicians also want to minimize disruptions, but they may need to be more strategic to do so successfully.

3. Role in IT Strategy

IT support often plays a role in the strategic planning of an organization’s IT needs. They may be involved in decision-making processes regarding technology investments, upgrades, and implementation of new systems.

Helpdesk technicians are more customer-centric and rarely play a role in upper management decisions. They also tend to be more reactive as their job is to help address customer issues and not to proactively implement IT strategies.

4. User Interaction

Helpdesk support is characterized by its direct and frequent interaction with users. Generally, the helpdesk handles a high volume of queries. In many organizations, they act as a single point of contact for all tech issues and make the call whether IT support needs to get involved.

IT support, while also user-focused, typically engages more with internal IT teams and management. They will speak to end users if the end user has a complex issue, but the majority of day-to-day end user queries can be handled by a helpdesk.

5. Maintenance & Upgrades

IT support is responsible for the maintenance and upgrades of IT systems, ensuring all components are up-to-date and functioning. Helpdesk support, on the other hand, handles immediate, and sometimes temporary, fixes and guides users through basic troubleshooting.


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What’s The Point of Having Both?

Having both a helpdesk and IT support ensures a balanced approach to managing IT issues. The helpdesk acts as a filter that can catch and resolve basic problems. This arrangement gives the IT support team more time to solve complex technical issues.

Although, not every organization chooses to have 2 separate desks. Reasons for making the two one and the same typically boil down to budget or staffing constraints. However, the benefits of separating them (and using both services) typically outweigh having just one or the other.

Still, you’ll want to make an informed decision before signing any contracts. So, here’s a quick overview of when the best time to choose IT support, a helpdesk, or a combination of both would be.



Use Case IT Support
IT Helpdesk Both
Small Business Start-Up ✔️
Growing Company Expanding IT Needs ✔️
Enterprise With Diverse Tech Requirements ✔️
Remote Workforce Support ✔️ ✔️
Customer-Facing Digital Services ✔️
Data-Intensive Business Operations ✔️
Short-Term Project-Based Needs ✔️
Cost-Effective Tech Management ✔️
Rapidly Changing Tech Environment ✔️


Get All The Benefits of Both Under One Roof

If you need both services, you might be concerned that you’ll need to work with different vendors for each. While that is a possibility, it’ll cause you a lot of headaches and budget issues. You can make things much easier for yourself by working with an excellent partner who provides both.

Attentus Technologies can be that partner. Our IT support team’s goal is to make your tech run so smoothly that you won’t even have to call us! We have both a helpdesk and a support service desk to make that happen. When you choose us, you can turn down your ticket volume to as little as 1 per every 4 devices per month.

If that sounds good to you, reach out to us to get started.