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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

Cisco ASA Buffer Overflow Vulnerability

On February 10th, Cisco published a security advisory about a major flaw in their ASA line of firewalls. The nature of the vulnerability is such that most of these devices out in production are affected and can be completely taken over by a remote attacker. Furthermore, there is no simple mitigation of this issue. The firmware on these devices must be flashed with an updated version with the fix built in. This means downtime for customers without a fail-over setup.

Due to the severity of this bug, Cisco has been releasing patched firmware to customers that call in even if they do not have a valid support contract with Cisco. Customers in the US can call 800-553-2447 with the serial and model number of their affected device and open a case to get the right software. In many cases, patched firmware for a customer’s specific release will not be available and these devices will have to be upgraded to a later version. This can cause functionality to break and the ASA will have to be reconfigured for the new version. MCS is working with Cisco for our affected customers with active RightTrack agreements now. If you are not covered, please contact MCS if you would like our engineers to take a look at your ASA.

More information about this vulnerability can be found here:…

Continue Reading

Fiber Internet is Within Reach

Not that long ago, installing a fiber Internet connection was so costly that it was only reserved for large corporations and data centers. Often times, these super fast connections came at the price of expensive build-outs and high monthly fees. Fiber optic lines can support much higher bandwidth and travel a lot farther than copper. Copper lines were originally intended only to transmit analog voice communications and were later adapted for digital data. Fiber optic cable has served as the backbone for telecommunication companies for a long time and getting it the “last mile” to end users was far too expensive in years past.

Now, faced with growing bandwidth needs and an aging copper infrastructure, Internet and phone providers are investing heavily in building out their fiber networks to customer facilities. MCS has seen Comcast, AT&T, and Windstream offer free fiber build-out in exchange for just a 3 year term to most areas we serve. That, combined with cost savings of bundling phone and Internet service over the same line can mean that a brand new optical line can actually save even a small business money right from the start. Not to mention that once you have fiber, it can be upgraded to faster speeds with no additional construction.

Eventually, everyone will have fiber run to their business because it just makes more sense. It is faster, more reliable, and will last for the next few decades. MCS has partnered with all of the major providers and can engineer a fiber line solution that meets the needs of businesses from 10 to 1000s of employees. Our engineers know the needs of businesses will create estimates from multiple providers to get you the best deal and ease the transition. There is no cost from MCS for this service and you won’t pay any more per month. Contact a rep today to see the difference of Internet at the speed of light.

Continue Reading

Thanksgiving Holiday Schedule

MCS offices will be closed Thursday November 26th and Friday the 27th for the Thanksgiving holiday. We will have technicians on call for any client with an active RightTrack agreement who needs emergency service.

Continue Reading

Windows 10 Officially Released

Now that Windows 10 is out in the world, should your organization pull the trigger on an upgrade? We recommend not yet. Windows 10 really is a great OS but it is still new and we are seeing issues with some in place upgrades. Microsoft is giving users a whole year to upgrade and given that Windows 10 does not offer any compelling “must have” features over Windows 7, the safe bet for now will be to stick with the good old workhorse that is Windows 7. Although it is looking like Windows 10 will eventually take over as the new standard in Windows computing, that shift will take some time in the business realm.

Windows 10 presents, along with new features, new problems for corporate environments. Group Policy, a tool used to centrally managed options of client PCs, only just last month issued support for new Windows 10 features. Sysadmins need time to get fully familiar with how to appropriately administer this new OS while taking into consideration different security, privacy, and reliability settings. MCS recommends that users wanting to upgrade wait at least until Q1 2016 to make the switch.

Continue Reading

Windows Server 2003 Support is Ending July 14, 2015

What does “End of Life” mean for an OS? Well, as is pertains to Windows Server 2003 it mainly means that Microsoft will no longer push out security updates. Right now, if a new exploit in Windows Server 2003 becomes known, the engineers at Microsoft will create a patch and release it through Windows Update. After July 14th 2015, there will be no more security updates released to all Windows 2003 servers.

In reality though Server 2003 has been an old OS with limited support for several years. The only updates released now are critical security patches and most 3rd party software available now recommends at least Server 2008 R2 or newer.

It is critically important that all of our customers migrate to a supported Server OS very soon. Our engineers have been very busy with migrations the last several months but there is still time to act to ensure your organization is secure, reliable, and complaint.

If you would like to request service to migrate your IT environment, let us know.

Continue Reading

MCS becomes Veeam Cloud Partner

We have partnered with the backup software maker, Veeam, to offer cloud disaster recovery services powered by Veeam. This partnership allows MCS to utilize Veeam’s most advanced software and features to backup our customer’s data. These features include, near real time VM replication, WAN Acceleration, virtual labs, point in time recovery, and more.

Of all of the backup software we evaluated, Veeam was a clear winner both in performance and features. What this means for our customers is that they can have peace of mind knowing that their data is safe and secure at our data center. We know a backup is only good when you can actually restore from it in a timely manner. Veeam allows us to bring up your operations at our business continuity center within minutes of an outage.

Continue Reading