Fast support professionals – we love the problems you hate
Contact us today on 01767 600604 and see how we can help
Server & PC Install
Even with the advent and continued expansion of cloud computing, there are plenty of reasons why your existing server may need to be replaced.  It may even be the case that your needs have changed and you need to implement an on-site server solution.  We can source, configure and install Windows servers.  We can then supply, configure and monitor your offisite backup solution so that should the worst happen, we can still get you back up and running on a temporary server within a few hours.

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General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) - Coming 25th May 2018


Small businesses: GDPR affects you, too

Don’t think that just because you’re a small business, they won’t see you.
 
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on 25th May, enforcing a strict set of new rules concerning privacy and data security and imposing strict penalties on violators. GDPR affects anyone holding data on EU citizens, including those companies not in Europe. A survey carried out in December 2017 of over 1000 companies found that a lot of them have still have no clue about this yet. You may forgive the overseas businesses for not understanding that they’ll also be affected, but the Brits were the worst. ONLY 39% of UK companies realised that they were subject to the regulation.
The nitty gritty
So what does GDPR mean in practice, and what must small businesses do to get ahead of it? GDPR is a sprawling document, hundreds of pages long, but it changes requirements or creates new ones in several key areas.
Consent
One of the big concepts that GDPR changes is consent. Companies already need consent to process someone’s data, but until now they only had to ask once, and that covered all uses. Not anymore. GDPR’s ‘unbundled’ consent means getting separate permission to use customer data for different things, such as marketing, maintenance, fraud checks and support. Documentation is also stricter: businesses must record when that consent was given. Neither can service providers assume consent by 'pre-ticking' boxes and forcing people to untick them. Instead, they must make consent clear in legal contracts and customers must opt-in rather than out.
Right to erasure
Any consent a customer gives isn’t automatically forever, either. Another key change under GDPR is the right to erasure (sometimes called the ‘right to be forgotten’). It lets individuals withdraw consent, meaning that a company would have to delete any information it held about them.
Data portability
On a related note, customers might just ask for a copy of their data rather than deleting it. Upon request, the ‘data controllers’ must provide a machine-readable copy of the customers data so that they can send it to another provider should they chose. GDPR also asks organisations to provide extensive supporting material as part of this process, including the categories of data that they are handling, along with the reasons for processing it. All of this must happen within a month of the request. Portability and erasure could be tricky issues in a small business for both technical and organisational reasons. Firstly, they may not have the same kind of formalised process for handing data that some larger companies do. If your customer data is scattered across a selection of network folders, databases and individual PCs, you’ll have a tough time retrieving it for one customer. Now imagine if you get ten requests in a week.
The other issue is that GDPR’s third party requirement may be more likely to bite SMBs. A small company without a large, well-funded IT department is likely to rely more on third party data handling services than a larger company that can build things in-house. If services like cloud-based backup, third party order processing, outsourced customer support or SaaS application providers are storing and processing your customers’ data, that makes them ‘data processors’ in GDPR jargon. A request to delete or reproduce customer data affects data processors’ systems, too. Small businesses will need to clarify their contracts with service providers, along with the processes for handling customer requests.
Data governance obligations
Organisations must take technical and organisational measures to show that they have made their data processing compliant with the concept of privacy by design. GDPR specifically mentions encryption and pseudoanoymisation – the process of separating personally-identifiable information from other data attributes to avoid security risks.
If a small business has been winging it without a grown-up IT department, they’ll need to source this technical expertise from somewhere to tackle these GDPR requirements.
Personnel and procedural changes
While these requirements all impose a hefty technology burden on companies, there are other measures that have a greater effect on organisational structure. The GDPR says that organisations must use privacy impact assessments for data processing activities that the regulation defines as high-risk, including monitoring activities. They must introduce audits and policy reviews to continually assess their privacy compliance.
This means that GDPR is not a one-time, fire-and-forget project. Even if GDPR doesn’t mandate an official data protection officer (DPO) at your small business, you still need someone at the steering wheel who can be responsible for pushing all these security policies and procedures through.
Data breach notification
Finally, data breach notification becomes mandatory under the GDPR. Small businesses shouldn’t assume this doesn’t apply to them because they think that they’re unlikely to be hit. Firstly, all companies are fair game. Secondly, regulators will want to see a procedure for notifying local regulators (and, in some cases, customers) of a compromise.
Think that Brexit will rescue UK small businesses from all this hassle? Not so fast. The UK will fall under GDPR long before it leaves the EU, and in any case the UK needs to demonstrate equivalent rules if the EU is to exchange data with it.
Gearing up for GDPR
So, there’s a big burden for small businesses to carry – probably far more than they can cope with using the in-house resources available. Where should they begin?
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has created a helpful guide that lists the various steps that organisations should go through to ensure that they are ready for 25th May. Here are some of the important steps, aggregated and condensed for small business readers:
Assess data holdings
Audit the data you already hold and those held by third parties. This is a crucial step, so bring in a consultant to help you with this if you don’t already have the internal resource for this.
Review privacy communication, legal frameworks, and approach to consent
Assess how you communicate privacy information to data subjects, and document the legal basis what you’re doing with their personal data. You will need to explain this legal justification to individuals whose data you handle. Evaluate what you obtain consent for, and how you get it. Make any changes to systems and processes necessary to follow the new rules.
Review ability to subject access requests
Check existing procedures (and the technology that supports them) to see how you will cover individuals’ new rights under GDPR such as the right to erasure and the ability to port data. Prepare yourself to handle their requests for data access. Consider providing online options to avoid this becoming a manual drain on your time.
Prepare for data breaches
Ensure that you have the procedures in place to detect and investigate a data breach, and also to report it.
Review system privacy and introduce impact assessments
Examine existing systems that process high-risk data, and ensure that their design is based on sound privacy principles. Conduct privacy impact assessments for these systems to ensure that they support the requirements laid out in the GDPR.
Consider a data protection officer
Many organisations will need to appoint a data protection officer to oversee ongoing privacy arrangements.
Small business are generally resource constrained and have less margin for error than large enterprises, who often have a bigger cashflow buffer to tackle wide-reaching challenges like GDPR. Getting external help would be a good idea for a smaller firm wanting to toe the line. With less than 4 months to go, that isn’t a phone call you should put off any more.

We can help your business acheive compliance with one, or a combination of IT solutions.

 
 
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Save Money By Upgrading Your IT
If your business IT systems are out of date, not running effectively or not protected properly, you could well be spending unnecessary time and money.
 
We were recently able to help a new client who was in this very predicament. Their ancient setup (server 2003 and windows XP) was hit by an encryption virus just a week ago which left the company vulnerable, without working computers, and at risk of losing all of their data. Luckily after speaking with them we were able to tailor a solution that was going to work best for them, and get them back up and running as soon as possible. We instantly got to work configuring 10 new computers and a server for them, whilst getting these set up we also managed to recover all of their data (65Gb) from a backup, reinstall their network versions of Sage and a CCTV specific application called Cash4W, which meant that when they next walked in to the office everything was set up and ready to go!
 
Following on from this we're installing a phone system next week and have 17 phones on the bench at present being configured.
 


This setup will save this particular customer about £6k a year over their existing setup and about £3k a year over an equivalent setup from BT.

Safe to say the customer is very happy indeed and thrilled about their new set-up and the money they're saving. Their Financial Director sent over this lovely feedback 'thank you for your wonderful service over the last few weeks and for the hassle free takeover – this weekend and yesterday. It's made my life a lot easier!'

For help and advice on installing and upgrading your PC's and phones, contact us today 


 
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5 reasons your business should have an IT support package
Many companies rely heavily on technology like their computers, phones, tablets and emails, to complete day to day business tasks. So what happens when they don’t work or something goes wrong?

We’ve put together our top 5 reasons on why your business should have an IT support package and what the key benefits are.
 
  1. Save time and money – Although it may be tempting to save costs and manage all of your IT in-house, it could end up costing you a lot more should any problems arise. If you have a support contract we’ll be on hand to get your computer fixed quickly and reduce any downtime. We also cost much less than an onsite IT person but can perform exactly the same role, the only thing different is that we don’t need our own desk!
     
  2. Ensure business runs smoothly – Yes, your IT is working for now, but what would the affect be to your business if it didn’t?  What would be the consequences if you lost all of your data or couldn’t access your files? We can help to ensure that your business stays running effectively and efficiently.
     
  3. On-hand IT professionals – Should you ever have a problem you’ll have instant access to an IT professional who can log -in to your computer to view and identify the issue straight away.  Your employees can also call us directly when they’re experiencing an issue and cut out having to get a designated person to call.
     
  4. Monitored networks – We can monitor your network from our offices to ensure that any issues that are detected are fixed before they cause any down time. We can also provide weekly check-ups to make sure your back-ups are being completed correctly and that all of your data is safe and protected.
     
  5. Help and advice – You’ll have access to years worth of extensive IT knowledge and expertise which means that no matter what the problem, we are ready to help with anything, from simple software installation to full network support.

So, how does it all work? Our support packages are tailored to each individual client. For those needing to keep costs low, we offer support on a ‘Pay As You Go’ basis. However, most of our clients choose to take a support package that includes a timed service level agreement. These cover unlimited telephone and remote support and on-site visits when required – we are your Outsourced IT department.

For more information please contact us to talk through the options.
 
 
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When you buy a new computer it will come with Windows but not normally Office.
Your new laptop or desktop PC will usually have the Windows operating system pre-installed but this will not include Office. Microsoft Office is the suite of productivity tools every business, student or home user needs but which must be purchased separately.

So, how do you get it?

 
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Hosted VoIP Phone Systems
We have migrated a number of old 'fixed line' telphone system to VoIP over the past few weeks and the customers have all been amazed at the ease of moving, the cost savings and the quality of the digital calls.  We offer 3CX hosted phone systems from as little as £10 per month for the phone system, hosting and basic maintenance. We then arrange for a VoIP virtual phone line to be setup with our partner - VoIP Unlimited who bill our customers directly for their line rental and calls. Line rental starts at £10.99 per month which includes up to 10 numbers.  If you are moving offices and have been told you cannot keep your existing phone numbers, we can help you as any number can be transferred to VoIP and can then be taken anywhere.  

Our VoIP phone systems allow users to work away from the office but still make and answer office calls without any additional equipment.  3CX works very well on iPhone and Android and both Apps are free of charge.  They allow the user to maintain an office presence at all times without the caller realising they are speaking to you on a mobile.  3CX also offer a web meeting service that's all included.  This allows for web conferencing using video, desktop sharing, file sharing etc.  It's basically 3CX's take on GoToMeeting but without the associated cost.   

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Locky and other Ransomware - DO NOT IGNORE THE THREAT
Over the past few weeks, there has been a rise in reporting of a new crypto ransomware called LOCKY. This new type of malicious ransomware is as straightforward as they come— gaining access to systems via unsolicited email attachments.

All of the reports have been the same thus far: The user receives an email with a similar title to “ATTN: Invoice J-98223146” and a message such as "Please see the attached invoice (Microsoft Word Document) and remit payment according to the terms listed at the bottom of the invoice":

At first glance, the attachment appears to be a harmless Microsoft Word document; but as we’ve written about previously, this is a highly effective way for hackers to trick you into downloading their ransomware onto your own computer. Teaching your employees to err on the side of caution, especially with suspicious email attachments, is a top preventative measure when it comes to cyber security.

Once the attachment is opened, the document contents will appear as jumbled text. The document will instruct the confused user to “enable macros if the data encoding is incorrect”, prompting many to follow these malicious instructions.
 
Once macros have been enabled, the ransomware instead runs code inside the document that saves a file to your disk, then running the respective file. This file serves as the downloader, which then acquires the final Malware payload from the hackers.  Unfortunately, this is when the ransomware takes hold of your computer. Locky will scan all local drives and unmapped network shares in search of files to encrypt. Locky will then encrypt essentially all of your files:

 .mid, .wma, .flv, .mkv, .mov, .avi, .asf, .mpeg, .vob, .mpg, .wmv, .fla, .swf, .wav, .qcow2, .vdi, .vmdk, .vmx, .gpg, .aes, .ARC, .PAQ, .tar.bz2, .tbk, .bak, .tar, .tgz, .rar, .zip, .djv, .djvu, .svg, .bmp, .png, .gif, .raw, .cgm, .jpeg, .jpg, .tif, .tiff, .NEF, .psd, .cmd, .bat, .class, .jar, .java, .asp, .brd, .sch, .dch, .dip, .vbs, .asm, .pas, .cpp, .php, .ldf, .mdf, .ibd, .MYI, .MYD, .frm, .odb, .dbf, .mdb, .sql, .SQLITEDB, .SQLITE3, .asc, .lay6, .lay, .ms11( Security copy), .sldm, .sldx, .ppsm, .ppsx, .ppam, .docb, .mml, .sxm, .otg, .odg, .uop, .potx, .potm, .pptx, .pptm, .std, .sxd, .pot, .pps, .sti, .sxi, .otp, .odp, .wks, .xltx, .xltm, .xlsx, .xlsm, .xlsb, .slk, .xlw, .xlt, .xlm, .xlc, .dif, .stc, .sxc, .ots, .ods, .hwp, .dotm, .dotx, .docm, .docx, .DOT, .max, .xml, .txt, .CSV, .uot, .RTF, .pdf, .XLS, .PPT, .stw, .sxw, .ott, .odt, .DOC, .pem, .csr, .crt, .key, wallet.dat

After the installation process has completed, you will notice that Locky will rename all of your files in a new format [unique_id][identifier].locky (or something similar to F67091F1D24A922B1A7FC27E19A9D9BC.locky). All of your files are now inaccessible, and any Shadow Volume Copies (backups stored locally) cannot be used to restore the affected files.You will also notice that Locky has downloaded ransom notes called _Locky_recover_instructions.txt within each folder where a file was encrypted, as well as applying the message as your desktop image, 

At this point, unless you have a recent off-site backup, your files are inaccessible— unless you decide to pay the ransom. Ransom amounts have been reported anywhere between 0.5-2 Bitcoins (~$200-800) and require you to pay it within a specified amount of time. If the ransom is not paid before the time expires, all of your files will be permanently encrypted and therefore permanently inaccessible.

If the ransom is paid, Locky will provide the user with a decryption key. This key will allow you to regain access to your files and systems as if nothing happened at all. “Cyber criminals will honor their "code" and release data after the payment, as it sets a precedent for future crimes, Epstein said, noting that some will even offer customer support to ensure the transaction goes smoothly.”
 
How To Avoid Locky

While Locky is certainly a malicious and dangerous form of crypto ransomware, there are ways to avoid it. Businesses need to take virtual threats seriously which must happen in the form of layered security.

First and foremost, educating yourself and your employees on the importance of email security is the very first and one of the most important preventative measures we can suggest. If you can train your employees to “think before they click”, you might avoid this virus all together. Additionally, employees can utilize the following precautionary measures to enhance their email security:

Block mails with DOC, XLS or PDF attachments which contain macros
Configure a setting which prompts the user before Office runs a macro
Block access to Tor nodes
Use browser/email AD blocking

While it is important to take some of these simpler security measures, we recommend getting a complete IT assessment to ensure that you have implemented a secure, layered approach to IT security. It’s never smart to roll the dice when it comes to cyber security, and applying a multi-layered tactic to fighting potential cyber threats is the only way to remain safe in this ever changing threatscape. These viruses can hit and infiltrate many areas of a specific computer and/or a network and have many tactics to do so. Having one approach is not enough. Antivirus alone cannot protect you from these attacks!
 
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Thinking of upgrading your computer to a SSD
Why upgrade to a SSD
With the advent in the last few years of solid state drives (SSDs) as a viable cost effective alternative to the traditional hard drive (HDD), we are now seeing lots of our customer request an upgrade to their existing machine, rather than what is often an expensive replacement. SSDs are built using the same technology that’s used in USB memory sticks are so work much more quickly than a traditional HDD which has moving parts.  The traditional HDD has been around now for over 20 years in its current format and has always been the component that’s most prone to failure.  An upgrade to an SSD is pretty much the best performance upgrade you can buy for your computer.
Yes, it’s true that a faster processor, additional memory, and a faster graphics card may notably better the overall system performance, but compared to what an SSD can do, all those upgrades fall behind.
 
The Advantages of SSDs
There are many advantages solid state drives (SSD) have over traditional mechanical hard disk drives (HDD). The majority of these advantages are resulted from the fact that SSDs don’t employ any moving part in their architecture. In contrast to mechanical hard drives that use motors and moving heads, flash memory chips are the ones responsible for all the storage on a solid state drive. This feature offers faster data access, lower power requirements, and high reliability.
 
The Disadvantages of SSDs
Upgrading from your current hard disk drive to a solid-state drive seems like a natural thing to do. But before you proceed, you should realise that SSDs are not free of downsides/disadvantages, such as their steep price. As an example, a 1 TB SSD costs in the region of £200 (or £0.20 per GB), whereas the cost of a 1TB HDD is no more than £50 (or £0.05 per GB) which is a big difference.
 
There’s also the issue of longevity. The type of storage chips used in SSDs can only be used for a finite number of writes. This ageing process only affects the ablity to write to the SSD so all of the data would still be accessible after many years.  Most SSDs carry a minimum of a 5 years warranty too.
 
In our view, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages and we have found that a 3 year old computer upgraded with a SSD, performs as well or better as a new equivalent spec computer with an HDD.
 
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Restaurant Wireless Installation
We've just completed a WiFi installation for a restaurant chain in Cambridge.  The customer needed secure WiFi for their POS system but also WiFi access for their customers.  We've achieved this with VLAN's and Ubiquiti access points.  The customer is very happy that they can now take orders using their hand held devices at all of their tables!
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Thinking about replacing your server
We have recently completed a server replacement for one of our customers.  The unusual thing is though, they now don't have a server!  We migrated their ageing Exchange 2003 setup to Microsoft Office 365 and we moved all of their data to a Synology NAS drive.  This setup cost about 10% of what the server would have been to replace, it's far easier to administer, takes up for less room and even consumes less power!  All in a weekends work for us.  If you are thinking that your existing setup needs a refresh, why not see if we can help?
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How Office 365 can help your business.....
Transform the Way Your Business Functions

Microsoft is continuing to invest heavily in Office 365. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has made clear with his “mobile first, cloud first” strategy that Office 365 is part of Microsoft’s long-term strategic vision. This is good news for small and medium businesses. As Microsoft continues to add features and robust functionality, it ensures that smaller organisations will have access to advanced enterprise-grade capabilities that can transform their business and empower employees.

Small business leaders who fail to take advantage of Office 365 risk losing their competitive advantage. Office 365 equips your organisation for success with enterprise-calibre capabilities and leading business technologies. Office 365 optimises employee performance, improves productivity, jumpstarts innovation, and improves team effectiveness.

Here are six ways that Office 365 can transform the way your business functions.
 
1. Flexibility to Work How You Want, Where You Want
Office 365 gives you the flexibility to work how you want, where you want, and on what device you want. Microsoft has been continuing to expand partnerships and is showing an unprecedented openness to support the tools customers want to use. This is shown in its recent support for third-party backup services and expanding availability of native apps for Android and iOS.

2. Mobility: Seamless Experience on Any Device
Most Office 365 plans allow the installation of Office, not just on PCs or Macs, but also on up to five tablets and phones. This allows you to work wherever you are, whether you are online or offline. You can even attend meetings and video conferences from your mobile device. Microsoft has been developing native apps for its Office suite for Android and iOS for a seamless experience. Office 365 provides a consistent and optimised experience across PCs, offline or online, mobile devices, and browsers.
 
3. Collaboration
Office 365 facilitates dynamic team collaboration. Teams can improve communication and work together more seamlessly. Team sites keep important files accessible and easy to find. Team sites support automatic policies, rights protection, and archiving to ensure that valuable information is protected. Office 365 also supports project-specific mailboxes to easily find project emails. Office 365 supports version control and tracks comments and updates. This allow team members to work together on the same document.

4. Secure Encrypted File Sharing and Online Storage
Files are always available with secure, encrypted OneDrive for Business. Files are automatically synchronised and saved online ensuring access to the latest version. Files can be edited and shared from any browser or mobile device.OneDrive for Business is a vital tool to discourage users from saving sensitive corporate information in unmanaged and potential unsecure cloud services. Users can easily access files from any device, on-demand.Files can be shared with others who are in or outside of the organization, such as business partners, contractors, and customers. Access control allows you to determine which users can view and which can edit documents.Those outside your organisation do not need Microsoft Office or Office 365 to edit documents. Microsoft is releasing apps that allow those with no Office 365 subscription to edit Office content on iPhones, iPads and Android devices.In addition to OneDrive for Business, Office 365 support of third party backup services such as Box and Dropbox for Business.

5. On-Click Video Conferencing and Screen Sharing
Office 365 supports HD video for up to 250 people. Online meetings and video conferences can be set up in advance or at the spur of the moment, with a few clicks in your familiar Outlook interface. Meeting can be joined quickly and easily through the Outlook calendar invite. Real-time note taking and one-click screen sharing, recording and file uploads provide a robust collaborative experience.

6. Corporate Social Network
Yammer’s corporate social network allows employees to share information and ideas across departments and locations. The free exchange of ideas and information can jump start innovation by spurring creative thinking, and generating fresh ideas to solve problems and improve processes.
Yammer also helps employees easily identify resources and find information, across the business groups allowing them to work better and faster.

Help Your Business Achieve More
Outsourced IT can help your small business function better with Office 365 and our proactive managed IT services. Managed services and Office 365 ensures a reliable, stable IT infrastructure that is always up to date and secure. This allow you to focus on driving your core business goals.
Outsourced IT can help you evaluate Office 365 and determine if it is right for your organisation. Additionally, our managed services offerings can further reduce IT management burdens and further optimise your computing environment. Contact us to set up a free trial customised for your organization.
 
 
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33 User Office 365 migration completed
We've just spent the weekend migrating one of customer Exchange 2007 setup to Office 365.  All email, calendars, contacts etc migrated without a hitch.  Their existing server is now much quicker as it is not having to run Exchange so not only have they benefitted from an increase in speed, they also don't need waste money on upgrading their server.
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Outsourced ITs own spam protection for only 1 pound per user per month! Give us a call and well get you setup within 24 hours
Have a look at http://spamcontrol.outsourced-it.co.uk to get a feel for the new system.  If you're interested in stopping those unwanted emails, give us a call.
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Just renewed a clients Anti Virus protection on 90 computers without touching a single one!
We've just migrated 90 of our customers computers onto AVG CloudCare and all we did was sent each user an email link. This clever software downloads itself, uninstalls any other anti-virus software, then installs itself and registers on our portal so we can monitor the status.  We are now alerted to any infections they may be unfortunate enough to get but we can also clean and update these computers remotely meaing the customer is not inconvenienced.
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We've just migrated our email to The Cloud
Even when you have experience in house IT (like we do ;-) a cloud based email system now even makes sense to us!  The storage available to users and the ease of migration now means that everyone business should look at their email solution. Don't put up with an antiquated system that stops you seeing email across all of your devices when it's so easy to 'Go Cloud'.
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Update to the failed server....
Managed to get image restored within 14 hours which is not bad for a Windows 2008 SBS server with 400Gb of data and 35 Exchange users! Client very grateful that our disaster recovery service is all included in their mainteance contract.
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Just had a clients server fail
Luckily we have been monitoring their backups so we're confident that we'll have them up and running again on one of our loan servers within 8 hours.
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Have you heard about our Server and Workstation monitoring?
We now use monitoring software on all of our maintenance contract clients so we know there's a problem before they do!
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Wow our website is now live. Enjoy!
Take a look at what the amazing guys at Fluid Studios have done 
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