We’ve Added Better Monitoring, Power Redundancy

MCS has completed maintenance on our automatic standby generator systems to allow for increased monitoring and higher availability. With traditional generator systems, a unit will turn on once a week and run for a short period to both test the system and keep it functioning properly when not in use. If a problem is detected, or the generator is not able to start, data center staff would not know until the next manual inspection for error codes. Our new monitoring system provides a 3rd party, out of band notification via cell service. Not only are our staff notified if there is a problem, we are provided with more health information than was previously available via the generators on-board systems. This monitoring combined with regular preventative maintenance should keep our data systems running even in the event of an emergency.

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Our New Logo

After almost 15 years MCS has an updated logo. As our organization has grown, we have added more full-time professionals, increased our service offerings, and moved forward along with growing technologies. We thought it was time that our logo reflected the growth and change our company has had since 2003. Ownership and management of MCS is the same so rest assured MCS will keep delivering the same high quality of service our customers have always know.

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Habitat Hearts & Hammers Sponsor

MCS will be a board sponsor for the Habitat Hearts & Hammers Game Night Event Friday, November 1st. This event is hosted for Habitat for Humanity of Sangamon county. Details for the event:

You’re part of an interactive, life-size game; a race to complete funny tasks and take on challenges to build a “Habitat Lincoln Log House.” The player to build the house first takes the prize! Admission is $20 / person and includes dinner. Cash bar, heads & tails game, door prize chances, & live auction.

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We are Looking for a Linux Deployment Engineer

We need a talented person to help us out with projects and are looking for a Linux Deployment Engineer to join our team! Do you laugh at the idea of using a GUI on a server? Have the ability to dish out shell scripts like nobody’s business? Do you feel a sense of satisfaction from fully updating a system without a single reboot? We want to hire you! Our Nagios deployment team has opportunities for you to work with a wide range of technologies to fully integrate monitoring solutions from the ground-up. You will be able to work with customers anywhere from a week to a few months depending on the deployment. Most work can be dome remotely but in some cases, travel may be needed. If you are interested in joining our team, please take a look at the full posting in Employment Opportunities.

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Electrical Upgrades

When we moved our data center in 2008, we wanted to pick a location that would allow us to grow to avoid another move. Over the years, our data center has grown, and our infrastructure needs grew too. We have installed a generator, multiple fiber connections, dedicated cooling systems, and alarm/security upgrades. One of the most important needs, power, was also of some concern to us. As we added racks of servers, we know that it was time for an electrical overhaul.

We have completed our work and our data center is now 100% transitioned to a brand new electrical system from the plug to the main feed. All critical data center related services are now isolated from the rest of our building with a dedicated feed from our utility provider (CWLP).

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Web Application Developer Opening

MCS is looking for a Web Application Developer to join our team! We are flexible for full or part time. Our firm offers full benefits and a fun and relaxed work environment. We need someone with at least 2 years of professional programming experience and would prefer PHP experience. If you are interested in applying, contact us today.

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Move to Windows 10 on Your Terms

It’s been almost a year since Windows 10 was released and we are just now starting to see it creep into the business environment. The primary issue with the upgrade has not been compatibility or user experience like most IT professionals would have thought. Rather, the issue is being able to decide when to upgrade. Through Windows updates, Microsoft has made the upgrade to Windows 10 less of a straightforward choice and, on some PCs, the upgrade to 10 is automatic unless the user specifically removes the upgrade from the schedule. This has led IT administrators to push out group policy and other update rules to block these sneaky tricks.

There are still reasons for companies to wait and stick with Windows 7 for a few more years. However, most companies with a vanilla environment can go ahead and plan and execute the upgrade sooner than later. As of this article, the deadline for the free upgrade from Windows 7 is still July 29, 2016. Internally here at MCS we are about 50/50 Windows 7 to Windows 10. The issues we have seen have been pretty minor including putting an ad for candy crush on our Start Menu, having to write a new set of group policy rules to disable Cortana and tracking features, and general compatibility with legacy peripherals like printers. That, and the time wasted waiting for the almost hour long upgrade to finish is not a great process. For most small to medium businesses, MCS now recommends the upgrade to Windows 10. It’s still free for now and Windows 10 will have mainstream support for years to come. Right now, there is no technical reason to rush and upgrade but doing so sooner will save an upgrade fee down the road.

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Professional Data Recovery

As IT consultants, we work with lots of different organizations and have seen it all. We always preach the 3-2-1 backup rule. 3 Copies of anything you want to keep. 2 storage medias. 1 offsite backup location. This is a widely accepted backup practice and protects against almost any type of loss. Sometimes though, good backups are not there when a data loss occurs. Maybe there was critical data on an individual user’s PC when it should have been on the server. Maybe backups were setup a long time ago and have not been running for the last couple weeks or months. Sometime, backups show they are completing, but when they are needed for restoration, the data is incomplete or unusable. There are many reasons why an organization might need to rely on a failed drive for their critical data. Nobody plans to be caught in that situation but it happens.

When disaster strikes there is still hope. MCS has partnered with Kroll Ontrack, a data recovery service company, and we have had very good success getting our customers’ data back. Kroll Ontrack can work with all sorts of damage including, fire, flood, impact, circuit board failure, head crash, data corruption, etc. Even though some data might be damaged, odds are that most of it is still sitting on the disk’s internal platters. That data just needs to be found and pulled off. Kroll Ontrack offers clean room services when needed to pull that data off to a working drive.

There are tips that users can follow to increase their odds of a successful data restoration.

  • Turn the drive off. If there is debris inside the drive it will create a snowball effect, damaging the drive and creating more debris.
  • Don’t take the drive to anyone to look at unless they offer professional restoration services with a good reputation. There may be only one shot to restore your data so it needs to be done right the first time.
  • Do not place a fire-damaged drive in refrigerator to cool and do not try to remove the hard drive. Ship the entire computer for recovery.
  • Never attempt to dry water damaged media by exposing it to heat. Instead, place the media in a container that will keep it damp before shipping.
  • Do not shake, disassemble or attempt to clean any hard drive or server that has been damaged. Improper handling can jeopardize the data recovery process.

The costs for this type of recovery service can range from 100s to 1000s of dollars depending on the type of service needed. It is not cheap but sometimes it is the only option. If you would like the experts at MCS to check your backup plan or recover a failed drive, let us know.

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