Manual maintenance is maintenance which must be performed by hand. It can take the form of routine, preventative, or corrective maintenance which is designed to keep a system functional, whether that system is a piece of industrial equipment used in manufacturing, or a server used to host a website. It may be necessary for someone to have specialized training to perform this kind of maintenance properly or the maintenance may be simple enough for someone to perform with basic directions or prompts.
People also sometimes use the term “manual maintenance” to refer to a manual maintenance system, in which maintenance records are maintained by hand in paper records. These records include complete documentation on the system, with notes about when and how maintenance was done. They are used to determine when maintenance is needed, to look up maintenance history, and in forensic examinations to determine whether or not maintenance was performed appropriately before a system failed. Many people use computer systems to keep maintenance logs today, as these systems are easier to use and have a number of advantages.
Some maintenance can be automated. The system may be set up to maintain itself, as on a server which automatically checks for patches and updates and applies them or prompts someone to confirm that they should be applied. Likewise, equipment often has self cleaning and maintenance cycles. Automation of maintenance has streamlined operations at many companies, freeing up resources for tasks which need to be performed by hand.
In manual maintenance, someone must initiate and/or perform the maintenance manually. For example, someone running a website could tell the software to check for updates and load them, if applicable. In this case, the system actually performs the maintenance, but it needs to be manually told to do so. Conversely, someone performing maintenance could actually go in by hand to maintain the software, adjusting code as necessary to meet specific needs.
It is often recommended that people focus on routine and preventative maintenance to keep systems functioning well before breakdown becomes an issue. This approach to maintenance places an emphasis on preventing problems before they start, rather than fixing them after the fact. It tends to be less costly in the long term to do this, even if manual maintenance is required to keep the system operating properly. By contrast, corrective maintenance is used to fix a problem, and it can get very expensive and time consuming.