Disaster Recovery

…disaster struck one day having discovered a security dongle was not working. This crucial little piece of technology was vital and without it print production halted. Other suppliers told us that it was ‘Impossible to repair’,… Fourth Generation however… removed, repaired and replaced said dongle in a few hours. Fantastic…

Dianne Thomson – Kall Kwik Printing Romford.

When disaster strikes a computer system, all is not necessarily lost…

We offer advice to our clients regarding the backing up and storage of data, along with on-going monitoring and maintenance.

We are also able to offer servers, workstations, communication equipment, fax machines, printers or whatever else is needed to keep the client’s site operational.

At Fourth Generation, we have storage facilities for a client’s stationing and spare equipment. We are able to supply office space with desks, workstations and servers with compatible backup and recovery devices which can be tested every month such that a client having suffered a disaster to a server, comms room or even complete office, has an office facility immediately available, with 24-hour access and car parking facilities.


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PC & Laptop Repairs.

Our specialist team of technicians has the expertise to quickly resolve problems with all makes and models of PCs and Laptops.

Virus & Malware Removal.

We will clean your computer of those Internet nasties that spy on your personal data and cause havoc with your system.

Data Recovery.

We may be able to recover data from inoperable hardware even where there is no backup.

Case Study Data recovery from a failing server

When a Dell server was brought to us it transpired that the RAID array had been deleted and recreated under the advice of Dell technical support after problems with the Windows operating system ‘blue screening’. Fortunately the owner realised the implications of the next step (of reinstalling Windows using the Dell recovery DVDs) in time and did not complete the actions, although the server was still in an inoperable state with no functioning backup system.

We recovered data from a broken server. We investigated causes and options and made recommendations for systems enhancements which included updating software, improving disk space allocation, remote access, switching email to Microsoft Exchange and backup processes.

It was clear the hard disks were previously RAID 1 configured (i.e. two hard disks with mirrored content) – and so we made sure both disks contained an exact copy before starting work. The hard disks were then scanned, and it was established that bad sectors were the most likely cause of the initial problems. One of the original hard disks was cloned to a new drive, the RAID properties reinstated and the server successfully booted to Windows Safe Mode.

Initial attempts to repair the operating system were unsuccessful and deemed inappropriate due to time constraints and no guarantee of a stable platform thereafter. The decision was therefore taken to reinstall the Windows server operating system and recreate the domain from scratch. The opportunity was taken to update document management software, improve hard disk space allocation and prepare the server for remote access, switch from POP3 email accounts to using Microsoft Exchange, also to implement more reliable backup procedures.

The rebuilt server with data restored from the original hard disks was installed on site and PCs re-added to the domain. This setup remained in operation for the next four and a half years before being successfully migrated to a replacement server.


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Information Security

Fourth Generation Computer Services provides guidance and solutions on all aspects of information security.

Whilst mitigating for the effects of failed software and hardware is essential, some aspects of network security can be strengthened to ensure no disaster recovery requirements are allowed to emerge.

Data protection and retrieval legislation means that the security of all aspects of information systems should be a high priority.


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Case Study Local Authority securely accessing remote database

The database in question had been created in conjunction with the Metropolitan Police Service and resided on a remote server not accessible directly over the internet. As such, a secure site to site VPN link was required that could be closely monitored and used by the database team at the remote site to provide support to the Local Authority users.

We ensured the protection of highly sensitive data using a ‘prevention better than cure’ approach.

A Watchguard firewall was installed and configured with heavily restricted internet access, utilising the WatchGuard WebBlocker, Anti-Virus Gateway and Application Control services alongside pre-defined website whitelists and blacklists.

Although draconian, the strict approach of ‘prevention better than cure’ helped ensure the security of the database and PCs being used to access it.

Case Study Secure remote access for staff working from home or abroad

When we first encountered this particular setup it was clear that the client had been ill-advised with regard to security and general server/network best practices. The ageing software firewall sat on an equally ageing and unstable spare PC and remote access was provided by Remote Desktop directly to the Domain Controller server. This was used by senior partners in the firm to access their email, database and document management system.

We project managed an upgraded internet connection whilst changing hardware and software to bring security and protection to a highly vulnerable network installation. In addition to the obvious benefits we were able to provide the facility for staff to access the server remotely and work from home.

Several of the domain accounts also had very weak, generic passwords which could easily have been used to compromise network security. Using a Windows Domain Controller server as a desktop PC also meant there was wide scope to inadvertently cause irreparable damage to the entire network.

We worked closely with the existing Internet Service Provider to simultaneously upgrade the internet connection and procure a replacement pre-configured router and Sonicwall hardware firewall unit. The benefits were immediate and numerous: Remote Desktop connections onto the server were ceased, reducing the risk of the server being inadvertently rendered inoperable, or even mistakenly switched off remotely; insecure domain passwords were no longer a potential threat; it allowed any staff member remote access to their own PC via a secure VPN link from anywhere and at any time; perimeter anti-virus and anti-spam firewall functions were introduced.

The option to work from home or remotely was particularly beneficial to several members of staff with family commitments and those who were often required to travel abroad on work related matters.

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