Friday, 21 December 2012

Our Christmas Party

Ok, so this post is not informative and it's certainly not attempting to sell anything to any of you who may be reading it......

No, this post is for us - as a reminder of what we did as a company to celebrate Christmas 2012. In years to come we can look back at this Blog and smile at what a great night it was.

This year we decided to do something a bit different and as such, booked ourselves a table at a 'Rio Carnival' night being held in the grounds of Temple Newsam, a nearby stately home.

The evening started with drinks in the bar area. Exotic music was playing and there were random girls climbing ropes and then performing gymnastics in the air, in metal rings of all things.

We were then asked to be seated at our tables, which surrounded a large circular stage area, and throughout the 4 course meal we were treated to a variety of different acts, performing on the stage. However, none of it was intrusive or too loud so as to stop people from being heard when they were talking.

After the meal they opened up the back doors so that we could have a go on the dodgems. This has to be the only time where it is legal to drink and drive and it has to be said that it was great fun.

So after the food, wine and dodgem rides, it was time to hit the dancefloor and we all had a great time boogying away for the remainder of the evening. We even managed to get a group photo taken by a professional photographer.

We'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

See you in 2013

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Leeds Colocation News

As we approach the end of 2012, we are pleased to announce that due to a recent upsurge in new colocation business, we have now begun work on phase 3 of our Data Centre build.

Our current Data Centre has plenty of space and when we moved in it was basically an empty shell. We decided to build the Data Centre suites in a modular way, so that we didn't end up with large, empty air conditioned rooms using up unnecessary power. Therefore, initially we created suite 1 as the main power room which houses some rather large UPS batteries, intelligent power distribution and routing to the diesel generator which is housed at the rear of the building. Suite 2 is the first room to house our 20 full height racks, which are a variety of 42U units, some of which contain quarter lockable sections.

Since suite 2 is now almost full, and considering that we have people wanting to move their servers into our Data Centre in early 2013, we have no option but to complete works on suite 3 which can cater for another 30 full racks.

In reality this is not a massive undertaking as we're not starting from scratch again. It is merely an extension of what is already there. The racks are already in position, as are the cooling systems, so all we have to do is run network and power into each of the racks, as well as configure a network switch for each.

These days many applications and IT systems are increasingly going into the 'cloud', and as such the need for high quality Data Centers is on the up and up. Our facilities are based in north Leeds, just off the ring road so we're very accessible and we love to show people around our Data Centre as we're very proud of what we have achieved.

If you have any colocation requirements, and even if you're not from Leeds, why not give us a call to arrange a site tour?

For more updates and news, please feel free to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Friday, 30 November 2012

How to spot SPAM Email

SPAM email can be extremely annoying, and whilst there are many pieces of software which will catch it before it reaches your inbox, the odd one still gets through. Whilst some of it can be fairly harmless, there are many examples of when a SPAM email can contain a virus, malicious software or a security risk. Here are some examples of what to look out for and AVOID;

Account updates - These are clever scams which have links directing you to a website which mimics a genuine organizations site. The emails suggest that you need to follow the link in order to ‘update’ your account details. Once there you are asked to login with your username and password, and often you are also asked for your bank details.

Requests for your password – Often, spammers put very little effort into their emails and simple make a copy of a company logo, embed it into their email template and then blatantly ask you for your password. These usually come from companies claiming to be your bank, building society or Credit Card Company.

Too good to be true – How would you like a new iPad mini for only £10, or perhaps a trip to Disney World for only £50 per person? It sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? Well that’s because it is.

Cries for help – This is another common scam which takes advantage of people’s good nature. The con artists pretend to be someone vulnerable, often a young girl who is supposed to be trapped abroad because she doesn’t have enough money for the air fair home. Be very wary.

Congratulations – You’ve won – The only way you can win a competition is if you enter it in the first place. The golden rule here is that if you didn’t, then you’ve not won anything and it’s a good bet that they are trying to trick you into something that will win themselves a prize – i.e. your hard earned cash.

Attachments – If you get a message with an attachment, and the message simply tells you to open the attachment as the rest of the message is contained within, and you do this then you’re a silly-billy. It will almost certainly be a virus or malicious software.

‘Help me’ messages - These often come from family, or people on your contact list, usually asking you for money because they are stranded. While you may have relatives traveling, it's a good idea to reach out to them using other means of communication when you get an email like this. Be wary, especially if they don't want to give a phone number or exact location.

Bad English – Sadly, many of these types of scams come from abroad, and as such you can tell that they are not legitimate by the bad choice of words and grammar being used.

There are ways to automatically avoid receiving SPAM email in the first place, by using an anti-SPAM filter. There are many to choose from and we can provide a great level of protection from as little as 30 pence per email address per month.

To find out more, please visit our website at this link. We hope to hear from you soon.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Client Testimonial

Another satisfied new customer decided to write a testimonial about his recent experience with us;

"We took a web hosting package with CCS Leeds to develop a website that has formed part of our corporate rebranding. We had a number of issues with the website code that was supplied by our web developers, and the support staff at CCS were always very helpful despite the problems being with our code, not the web space. Throughout the process, CCS have always supplied excellent, friendly service, up to the release of our rebranded website and beyond. The package was also at a good price, and has been highly reliable, so I would happily recommend them to other firms looking for web space, or other services."

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Top 5 Free email services

Believe it or not, e-mail has been around a lot longer than you may think. Early incarnations such as morse code is said to date back to the mid 1800's, with the more traditional form of email appearing in the early 1970's.

As such, email has become an important too for communications and has in turn, made the world a much smaller place.

These days it is a very simple process to set up a free personal email account, without having to register and pay for your own domain name. Here, we have compiled a list of the top 5 email services, which are all popular and widely used my many;

5 - Outlook.Com

This service provides an email address account with almost unlimited storage, and is accessible from any web browser with a rich and helpful interface, or using other standards such as POP, Exchange ActiveSync via standard email programs or mobile phone applications.

4 - iCoud Mail 

iCoud is another free web based 'cloud' solution which is simple, elegant and integrates with other Apple hardware device, synchronising not only email, but contacts, notes, reminders and iWork documents.

You do need to register with an Apple ID prior to logging into the iCloud service though, and it does not POP access, although it can work with IMAP quite happily.

- AIM Mail -

AIM Mail is AOL's free web-based email service, and has unlimited online storage, some excellent spam protection and a rich, easy to use web front end.

Unfortunately, it lacks a bit in productivity (no labels, smart folders and message threading), but makes up for some of that with very functional POP and IMAP access and there are of course plenty of mobile smart phone applications.

2 - Zoho Mail

Zoho is a clean, fast web based email service with powerful features. It is designed for a more corporate environment but is still free for up to 3 users accounts, with 5GB storage and smart phone integration.

You can even use your own domain name rather than, assuming that you already own one.

1 - Gmail

SPAM filtering, Virus protection, integration with real time chat, cross platform / hardware compatibility, Gmail really has it all and is one of the most reliable free email solutions out there. Google have clearly given a lot of love to this product and it shows. How can something so good and easy to use, also be free?

Thursday, 15 November 2012

More customer feedback

Every now and then we do like to post when we get nice feedback from our clients. We don't do it all of the time as we wouldn't want to appear as being 'smug', but occasionally it backs up our reputation for good customer support.

Anyway, here is what they had to say;

"Many thanks for this info.  I’d just like to re-iterate what I’ve previously said before about CCS - It’s very refreshing to have a provider that keeps on top of the carrier until you get the answer, and let us know what really happened.  I do keep re-iterating to the guys here about if had gone direct to [well known telco] as a provider that we would have been just “another number in the crowd” and would never get the information you get.

So, my thanks to you and the entire CCS staff for this and other recent support."

Oh well, smug every now and then doesn't do any harm.......

Beware - How safe are your servers?

Cyber criminals are selling the login information to some of the worlds largest companies servers, illegally.

Spammers and such like are buying this information so that they can access these servers for various reasons, including fraud, data theft and using them as mail relays so that they can send out millions of SPAM emails.

This information can be either purchased outright, or on an hourly 'pay as you go' basis, which could cost as little as £2 per hour.

We feel it is important to make companies aware of these potential dangers and security threats as it could cause serious disruption to your network,which in turn will cost you money.

All of this can be avoided of course with the right security measures in place, password policies and firewall set up. These are things that we at CCS Leeds can assist with.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Charity Work

We are pleased to announce that we are currently working with a local charity called the LS14 Trust, who are based just around the corner from us in Seacroft, Leeds.

The trust is passionate about the local community and was set up by a group of local residents to make a difference to the neighbourhood. They are based in the Digital lounge and offer a range of services to the local residents including;

  • Free internet and IT resources
  • Help with writing CV's
  • Meeting space
  • Drop in and general advice
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Free legal advice clinics
CCS Leeds felt that this local charity was worthy of some free help from us, so we contacted them back in August. We will be providing them with free internet access on our network, website hosting and going forward we will be there in the background, supporting them in any way we can.

We're not just about leased lines and co-location here at CCS and we do like to support other worthwhile causes whenever we can.

More information on the LS14 Trust can be found on their website here, and as ever feel free to look at our own site here.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

UK Leased Lines News

It's been a while since out last Blog article on here, and it's not because we have been lazy - oh no, it is because we have been busy in all other area's of our business.

At the start of September we ran a special promotion on UK Leased Lines, which meant that we could supply a full 100Mbp/s fully managed leased line for only £500 per month.

Many of the people who enquired about this were also pleasantly surprised to learn that we were not charging for installation or hardware, and that it was a fully managed service.

As you can imagine, this offer was a runaway success which led to us extending it beyond the end of September and instead, until the end of October.

I have to admit that we were slightly fearful that the new change in pricing would make us less competitive than our rivals, but thankfully this is not the case and we still have some of the best leased line deal in the marketplace,which are all backed up by our excellent service and support reputation.

How does £600 per month for a full 100Mbp/s service sound?

More updates to follow and on a more regular basis on the run up to Christmas. In the meantime why not get in touch in the usual way, or have a look around this Blog and our company website?

Thursday, 30 August 2012

New Recruits

Silas and Matthew

We’re pleased to announce that due to a busy and successful year to date, we found ourselves needing to recruit two new members of staff for our technical support department.

Therefore we are delighted to introduce Silas Nyoni and Matthew Burnley. Both are IT professionals and have Cisco qualifications coming out of their ears, which means that they have been able to ‘hit the ground running’ so to speak.

Now that our technical support team is beefed up, it means that we can get on with the development of various new and exciting projects which will be added to our portfolio of services later in the year, so make sure you watch this space for more information on those.

In other news we have also implemented a digital receptionist to our telephone system. This new systems presents a range of options which means that if you’re calling in, you can reach the right department directly and quickly. 

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Happy Birthday WWW

On August 7th 1991 (thats 21 years ago folks) the internet was made publicly available for the first time.

Back in the day a man called Tim Berners-Lee posted the very first pages which was a summary of the new World Wide Web project which would result in a number of hypertext documents made available to the masses via the alt.hypertext newsgroup.

But the WWW journey began as far back as 1980 with the 'Enquire' project - something that Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau were working on at their time with CERN.

Needless to say, the WWW has come a long way since then......

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Happy Birthday PowerPoint

On 31st July 1987, Microsoft made the brave and somewhat unusual decision to buy the software rights for a program called PowerPoint, a software application which had been in development since as early as 1984.

PowerPoint was originally intended for Apple Computer’s new Macintosh hardware and indeed, Apple contributed financially to the products initial development. However, Microsoft got wind of this exciting new software and proceeded to negotiate for the rights to it. After lengthy discussions and a number of rejected bids, a deal was finally struck for £14m.

Once the rights had been acquired, it took a further 3 years before the Windows operating system was good enough, or capable of actually running the software, but in 1990, Microsoft launched Windows 3.0. and PowerPoint was one of the key applications which demonstrated the capabilities and thus was used as a selling point for Windows 3.0.

By 1993, Microsoft bundled PowerPoint in with Word and Excel to form the Microsoft ‘Office’ bundle, an attractively priced trio of common applications.

To this day, PowerPoint is one of the most popular software applications and is installed on an estimated one billion computers worldwide.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Gold Partner Status

We're pleased to announce that as of today, we are now Virgin Media Gold partners.

Gold Partner Status means that we have achieved an excellent level of customer service whilst consistently reaching sales targets. Virgin Media inform us that this is the highest level a partner can reach and as such we are proud of our achievement as it just goes to show that we are doing something right in providing our clients with the right technical advice and after care.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Virgin Media and all of our customers, old and new.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Free Services With Leased Line Orders

We're feeling generous at the moment. Maybe it's the change in weather and the fact that summer is finally here (or so it seems).

Anyway, for anyone ordering a leased line before the end of August 2012, they can have the choice of the *following at no extra charge;

  • 5 x SIP Trunks (free for the first 12 months)
  • 10 x Anti SPAM accounts  (free for the first 12 months)
  • Backup MX for 1 domain for a whole year
This offer is ideal for those clients who want to try out the above services but are not sure yet if they want to take the plunge 100%.

Please get in touch if you would like to know more.

Terms and conditions do apply and are available on request.

Telephone lease line connectivity benefits Rainford Hall tenants

News just in… we have delivered a dedicated internet leased line with a managed network to Rainford Hall.

Based near St Helens, Rainford Hall provides high-quality serviced office space for businesses - a corporate home without incurring high costs. CCS was commissioned to install the leased lines and network to support tenants IT and telephone lines.

The leased lines form part of Rainford Hall’s communications network and are configured to accommodate tenants as they move in and out of offices. The centre also benefits from CCS’s remote management via the internet to ensure 24/7 support.

Richard Baker of management company Fisher German said: “We have invested in the best IT infrastructure so that our tenants benefit from the IT support normally expected of a major corporate. CCS has installed and continues to manage our leased lines which mean new tenants can simply plug and play.”

Rainford Hall provides its clients with access to a state of the art digital telephone system which delivers traditional analogue and high quality VOIP lines; inbound call routing, ring groups and round robin routing; internally and externally accessible voicemail and voicemail to email service.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Will you be up and running during the Olympics?

Many businesses could face disruption to their internet connections during the Olympics as online traffic rockets. Demand for streaming media and services, like the BBC’s iPlayer, is expected to exert huge pressure on networks when the Games begin in a week’s time.

Here at CCS we can guarantee no interruptions to our customers' connectivity during the Olympic frenzy.

However, a lot of businesses have still not prepared for the enormous risks presented by the Olympics. Some internet service providers (ISPs) are imposing caps and restrictions on customers’ internet use in an effort to reduce pressure and even encouraging them to buy more bandwidth.

Our data centre in Leeds will be immune to any problems but companies need to check that their ISPs have sufficient capacity to deal with the upsurge and take action now to ensure they stay connected throughout the weeks that the Games are on.

The Cabinet Office has issued concerns in its official advice Preparing your Business For The Games. It says: "It is possible that internet services may be slower during the Games or, in very severe cases, there may be dropouts due to an increased number of people accessing the internet."

Since we opened our new data centre in Seacroft following a £150,000 investment in 2011 we can house 4,800 servers which are cooled by an eco-friendly air conditioning system, significantly reducing the company’s energy costs and carbon emissions.

Meanwhile, we are planning to open a second data centre on the Headrow in Leeds, bringing cheaper connectivity to thousands of businesses in the city centre.

If you need any help with connectivity be sure to get in touch...

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

CCS delivers leased line for Leeds design agency

We’ve just completed the delivery of a dedicated leased line with a managed network to design agency Rivendell Europe.

Based near Horsforth, Rivendell is one of the UK’s largest independent multi-channel media solutions providers, delivering solutions from concept to creation, in the packaging and home shopping markets. CCS was commissioned to install the leased line and network to support the company’s connectivity to the internet and telephones.

The leased line provides Rivendell with a robust platform through which they can route all their internet and telephone needs. The company also benefits from CCS’s remote management via the internet to ensure 24/7 support.

Rivendell’s Louis Murray said: "As a design agency we deal with a lot of large files which we have to shift around the internet as well as transferring a lot of data. We have invested in the best IT infrastructure so that we can deliver a seamless service to our clients across Europe and the UK.”

In other news we recently announced plans to open a data centre in Leeds bringing cheaper connectivity to companies based in the city centre by cutting the cost of leased lines by up to 30 per cent.

The new data centre on The Headrow, follows on from the successful launch of our primary data centre on Leeds Ring Road earlier this year which can house 4,800 servers and is backed up by an emergency power supply.

We plan to do a big marketing push on our new 100Mbp/s lease line offering which is only £500 per month, so keep an eye out for our advertising campaign. Or get in touch now to discuss your requirements now.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

CCS offers an education on investing in broadband solutions

School budgets have hit hard times. With government funding through the Harnessing Technology Grant being cut and BECTA no longer around to help schools make their technology procurement decisions, many schools are struggling when it comes to investing in IT.

BECTA, the government agency leading the national drive to ensure the effective and innovative use of technology throughout learning, was wound up last year. BECTA’s function was replaced by the Department for Education (DfE) and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to continue key areas of work.

However, with the demise of BECTA, many schools have been left out on a limb as non-technical staff struggle to understand existing and new IT challenges, varying from something as simple as the deployment of iPads and other tablet computing in the classroom to a schools’ broadband connectivity.

Indeed, broadband access and the advent of so-called “Cloud Computing” is now becoming part of the essential debate on how schools and higher education establishments can save costs.

Up until the recent introduction of the austerity measures and the abolition of BECTA, many schools were benefiting from Government grants subsidising local authority supplied broadband but that is now drying up and from April of this year the cost of renewing a broadband contract is likely to rise significantly.

CCS is urging schools to review their broadband requirements now and compare suppliers carefully as the potential savings could run into thousands of pounds a year. More importantly, schools could also secure a more robust and secure performance from their leased lines and broadband.

One educational establishment to benefit from such as service is the Thorpe Underwood Estate which runs Queen Ethelburga’s College and the Chapter House Preparatory School in York. CCS runs the schools’ connectivity throughout all their buildings.

David Millington, IT Manager, said: “Our old broadband solution was becoming too slow, yet we had to work to a budget that was quite tight which meant that we couldn’t go to some of the big name broadband suppliers.

“In that respect CCS offered us the most sensible option and their track record in education meant that they understood all our requirements. As a result, the connectivity that CCS has put in place at Queen Ethelburga’s and Chapter House means that we enjoy excellent download speeds.”

He added: “Under Government guidelines we need to block 100 per cent of illegal materials identified by the Internet Watch Foundation as well as having adequate protection against external malicious attacks, viruses and Trojans, denial of service, email bombs and spam. Our CCS leased line ticks all those boxes.”

Schools should ask five key questions when considering their broadband options. The most obvious one is how much should you be paying? Well for a typical primary you should expect to pay up to £3,000 a year for a business grade ADSL service although if a school is looking for a 10Mb synchronous service they should be putting aside a larger budget. At CCS we provide a two pair EFM line with up to 8Mb for £225 a month and a four EFM line with 20Mb for £335 a month – both with free installation - which is very competitive.

Other key questions schools should ask their ISP are:

  • Do they offer one-stop help? Make sure you can get straight through to the support desk whenever you need them – and at times to suit you and not them.
  • Is the service tailored? Make sure the service is tailored to your particular needs – for instance do you need full bandwidth in the evening or at the weekends? If you don’t, your chosen supplier should be able to re-use this spare capacity and pass on the savings back to you.
  • Is the price all inclusive? Look out for those hidden extras that you will end up paying for and ensure that any price includes all the essential services you need. These will include connectivity, a support helpdesk, a firewall solution and filtering.
  • How secure is the service? Find out what security measures are included in your connection. This is very important to protect students and staff from accessing any inappropriate material as well as protect the school servers from spam and malicious attacks.
Schools should understand that switching supplier often takes an amount of time regardless of who they switch to, so they need to make sure they’re prepared well in advance of their contract renewal date.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

100Mbp/s Leased Lines for £600 per month

Our PR Company Green have just issued the following to the press on our behalf;

A leased lines price war is set to break out in Leeds as CCS Leeds, the leading independent premier leased line, web hosting and broadband internet provider, announced plans to offer 100Mb high speed internet connections in the city for just £600.00 per month.

The announcement follows the opening of a second city centre data centre bringing cheaper connectivity to companies based in Leeds – this means that CCS will offer cost savings of more than 50 per cent against rivals such as Virgin Media Business and BT.

The new data centre on The Headrow, follows on from the successful launch of the company’s primary data centre on Leeds Ring Road earlier this year which can house 4,800 servers and is backed up by an emergency uninterruptible power supplies and generators.

Managing director Peter Knapp said: “Many companies in Leeds city center complain about the high costs of 100Mb leased lines and the fact that there are so few suppliers competing for their business. We have crunched the numbers and have come up with a viable business model that will allow us to offer leased lines for as little as £600.00 per month.

“Broadband connectivity is now a vital utility for all businesses and they expect to get similar deals that they would expect from the more competitive gas and electricity markets – that’s where CCS steps in”

The new city centre data centre will ensure that CCS can deliver quality leased lines for a secure and reliable internet and telephony service to companies 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Leased lines offer a symmetrical speed which means that the download and upload speed is significantly better than traditional ADSL lines and a lot more reliable as they come with a service level agreement and guaranteed up time.

Mr Knapp said: “The new data centre will be backed up by our main hub at Seacroft which gives us the space, power, carrier availability and most importantly gives our staff instant access to server equipment to ensure it runs uninterrupted 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.”

CCS Leeds is an independent Internet Service Provider (ISP) which has been delivering services to business and residential users in the UK since 1998.

Why not give us a call on 0113 294669 to discuss further?

Monday, 4 June 2012

EU cookie law 'not consistent'

Implementation of the law relating to the use of cookies within the European Union has not been consistent, due partially to changing advice from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

This is according to technology editor at the Guardian Charles Arthur, who noted not all websites have successfully adapted to the law, which came into force on May 26 after the end of a year-long grace period designed to allow firms to change their websites.

"Some sites have implemented it, some sites have not. Some sites have been sort of implementing it," he says, explaining the aim of the EU change is to ensure cookies do not track a user's information without explicit consent.

The ICO updated its guidance on the issue on May 25 to state that implied consent can be assumed in some instances - a change from its previous advice from December 2011.

Arthur said there is a need for an 'anomalised version of cookies which don't collect personal information', adding the setting to not allow third-party cookies that is featured in many browsers is a 'pretty good compromise'.

In the article he quotes Stephen Groom, head of marketing and privacy law at the law firm Osborne Clarke "This is a striking shift. Previously the ICO said that implied consent would be unlikely to work. Now it says that implied consent is a valid form of consent.

"Just six months ago the ICO said general awareness of the functions and use of cookies was simply not high enough for websites to look to rely entirely in the first instance on implied consent.

"Now it tells us that 'implied consent has always been a reasonable proposition in the context of data protection law' and that it remains so in the context of storage of information or access to information using cookies and similar devices."

AT CCS we like the fact that "implied consent" shifts responsibility to the user rather than the website operator, and we know many of our clients will welcome the fact that their websites will comply with the new EU directives which came into law a year ago.

However, we also believe the cookie law is a bad one. Why? Because cookies have come to be a crucial part of e-commerce - on which many of our clients depend - and trading online without using cookies for analytics or various marketing is a bit like asking a bricks and mortar retailer not to have a shop on the high street.

What do you think?

Friday, 1 June 2012

Leeds to get 80-plus Mbp broadband

Leeds is to get extra cash to ensure it has the best broadband infrastructure in the country under the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme.

BDUK’s main goals are to give all users in the UK satisfactory broadband connections of at least 2Mbps and to bring next-generation broadband technology to at least 90 per cent of users by 2015.

The BDUK project comes with allocated funding that is to be distributed to local councils and county governing bodies so that they can implement their own respective broadband plans.

Successful cities will get funding to provide users with fibre broadband connections that provide speeds in the range of 80-100Mbps. In Yorkshire they include Bradford, Leeds and Sheffield.

The government has also named 27 cities that have been shortlisted to receive funding for their projects which includes York.

In a statement, culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "These ultra-fast speeds will allow more cities in the UK to compete with the fastest in the world, bringing new opportunities for growth, the development of high-tech industries and the transformation of public services."

Elsewhere, a new project between BT and Leeds City Council aims to help more residents access the internet.

BT and Leeds City Council (LCC) are partnering on a three-year project to bring the benefits of broadband to people who have never been online.

The Get IT Together initiative, which is part-funded by the two organisations and delivered by the charity Citizens Online, aims to make participants more confident about using computers and accessing the internet.

As a Race Online 2012 (RO2012) member, BT has pledged to help get another 100,000 adults to use the web for the first time by the end of the year.

According to the RO2012 campaign, 1.9 million UK citizens have gained the ability to access the internet since 2009, but 8.1 million people have still never used the technology.

LCC chief executive Tom Riordan added: "In the fast-moving digital world it is important that people are not left behind and that all have the opportunity to reap the benefits of being online."

Windows 8 - Free Trial

Microsoft are offering Window's users the opportunity to download a pre-release version of their new Windows 8 operating system.

This new version of Windows is said to be the most revolutionary since Microsoft released Windows 95, some 17 years ago (is it really that long?), and they are keen to encourage people to buy into the new operating system.

This trial version is officially called the ‘Release Preview’ and can be downloaded from this link. As expected there are 64 and 32 bit versions as well as the option to download an ISO version to write to either a DVD or USB stick.

However, Microsoft are keen to stress that this is not the finished version and that there are some bugs which have yet to be ironed out. Users downloading the trial should make sure that they do not use it as their primary operating system and should always backup all of their important data before performing the upgrade to the Release Preview.

Microsoft goes on to say “Windows 8 Release Preview is stable and has been thoroughly tested, but it's not the finished product. Your PC could crash and you could lose important files. You should back up your data and you shouldn't test Windows 8 Release Preview on your primary home or business PC."

Users should also be aware that this trial version will expire before the finished version is made publically available so the only way to continue using the operating system is to purchase it. That said, no prices or an official release date have been announced as yet.

Here is a video which shows you what to expect from Windows 8

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Are you happy with your mobile operator on VoIP?

Mobile operators blocking Skype and other internet voice calling (VoIP) apps could cause more than 18 million British mobile phone users to switch networks.

In a survey by Rebtel up to 60 per cent of mobile phone users said they were prepared to switch networks if so-called 'over the top' applications, such as those which make VoIP calls, are interrupted. The poll said only 8 per cent believed operators had the right to stop users from accessing VoIP on their phones.

Several mobile networks in the UK currently take steps to prevent access to VoIP services. Now, you make take a jaundiced view about Rebtel’s findings given their business model. However, a report from BEREC, the European telecoms regulators' body, claims that at least 20 per cent of mobile Internet users in Europe experience some form of restriction on their ability to access VoIP services.

The BEREC report was compiled in a joint investigation with the European Commission, and was largely based on data submitted by 32 regulators, 266 fixed and 115 mobile operators. A questionnaire asked operators and regulators what traffic management techniques and practices are being applied currently.

The most frequently reported restrictions are the blocking and/or throttling of peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic, on both fixed and mobile networks, and the blocking of Voice over IP (VoIP) traffic, mostly on mobile networks.

As regards P2P, some level of restriction is reported by 49 operators (out of 266) on fixed networks and by 41 operators (out of 115) on mobile networks. As regards VoIP, some level of restriction is reported by 28 operators (out of 115) on mobile networks. Each of these types of restrictions affects at least 20 per cent of subscribers.

A number of cases of operators giving preferential treatment to specific types of over-the-top traffic were also found (e.g. prioritising streaming and other real-time applications, HTTP, etc.)

Some examples of special treatment for over-the-top traffic reported by fixed operators are prioritisation of certain kind of traffic or applications at peak times (such as HTTP, DNS, VoIP, gaming, instant messaging, etc.), and assigning lower priority to applications such as file downloading, P2P, etc.

What’s been your experience? Have you ever been denied service when using VoIP?

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Performance Statistics

Believe it or not, as an ISP with a reputation to maintain, we are constantly monitored by external companies so as to asses our performance and act as a comparison against other IPS’s, which in turn gives potential clients a good guide as to who they should be placing their business with.

These external companies monitor our uptime. What this means is the availability, on the internet, of one of our resources. For example, our own website is held on a server in our data centre. This website is monitored for its availability by a site called Web Host Chat, a premier internet forum for internet service providers. Their availability report as of today, states that we have 100% ‘uptime’ for all of 2012 to date. Here is a screen shot;

Additionally, WebHostingStuff reports that we have 99.99% uptime with a slight blip in March 2012 (actually do to a network upgrade and only for a very short time).

What all of this proves is not only that our website hosting servers are up and available, but that also the external connectivity into our Data Centre is also very resilient, which in turn means that any of our clients who have colocation services can be rest assured that their servers are always available.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Internet fraud Warning

Internet con men have been fraudulently taking money from unsuspecting internet users by posing as the local police.

The scam itself involves popup messages appearing on peoples home computers, claiming to be from West Yorkshire police, saying that they have detected illegal activity on the computer, and that they need to make contact quoting a voucher code in order to pay a standard fine.

The scam is said to be so convincing that many have fallen for it already.

West Yorkshire Police's Detective Inspector Frank Naughton says;

“We are continuing investigations into this scam and want to remind residents to be wary of it and not to pay if they receive this message. This fraud is very deceiving as not only does it use convincing legal jargon, it also misuses the Force crest and logo.

“If you see this message on your screen report it to us straight away and do not reply or attempt to pay.

“Work continues with other forces to locate those responsible for this fraud and I would again remind residents that no Police Force would ever contact residents demanding a cash fine for computer misuse.”

The scam is thought to be UK wide but has been very active in the West Yorkshire region.

People are being advised to contact West Yorkshire Police on 101 is such a message appears on their computer screen.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Customer Feedback

It's always great when a customer has nice things to say about the service that we provide.

Yesterday we sent out an email to all of our clients who could potentially be affected by our planned network upgrades which are taking place on 1st and 2nd June. The email basically informed our customers about what the work entailed and how it would affect their service. A full copy of the document was reproduced here in our Blog post of yesterday.

We did receive lots of feedback, including this email from Claire Stevenson from Relay Software Ltd in Belfast. Claire says;

"Hi Peter

I’ll be frank, I work in accounts and I have absolutely no idea what this might or might not mean for us – I do like the word resilience though - so I’ve passed it on to our IT Support people as you suggest.

But I just have to say how impressed I am with your customer service and I know our IT dept are pleased with the actual service you provide.  This and your 28th Feb 11 email is a shining beacon of how to keep your customers informed in a muddy mire of the apathy and disinterest so frequently encountered.


Claire Stevenson
HR & Accounts Administrator"

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Planned Maintenance and Network Upgrades

As part of our continued forward thinking and the desire to improve our already excellent service to our clients, we will be performing some major network upgrades on 1st and 2nd June 2012.

Details of maintenance

As part of CCS’s ongoing commitment to provide a quality service to our customers, we are implementing these upgrades to add capacity and resilience to our core network locations.

This will involve the removal of existing core routing hardware and its replacement with new hardware to provide a thirty fold increase in core routing capacity and a twenty fold increase in core switching capacity, adding additional diversity between the locations as a benefit.

Customer Impact

On the night of the 1st June, we will be working in the location housing the largest percentage of our leased line customers, our SharedBand core servers, many of our Helm based web servers, and much of our Voice over IP Platform.

While each service will only be hard down for a short period – a few minutes per platform is anticipated – the sheer number of services makes for a lengthy downtime window during which one or more services will be unavailable at any one time.

Traffic re-routing is anticipated at the beginning of the maintenance as we re-route as many customer services as we possibly can to maintain connectivity while the core routers are swapped. Following this, core switching and customer routing will be re-connected, then VoIP platforms, leased lines, servers and firewalls.

We anticipate to be complete considerably earlier than 4am, however this is a very extensive piece of work, and it is quite possible we may require the full six hour window.

On the night of the 2nd June, we will be working in the location primarily housing routing equipment, DNS servers and the larger percentage of our external connectivity plus a smaller number of leased line customers.

At the start of the maintenance window we will be changing routing to force all traffic to another part of the network, which may result in a brief loss of connectivity. Following this, the core routers will be removed and replaced and customer services terminating at this site brought back into service.

We anticipate the works on the 2nd June to be completed considerably earlier with perhaps only a total window of disruption in the order of two hours. However we are once again advising a six hour maintenance window to cover the unexpected.

Impact Scope:

1st June: Customers with none resilient Leased Line, IP Transit Services, Voice over IP services, SharedBand users and Helm based web hosting WILL be affected by service outages on at least one occasion. ADSL users may notice brief interruptions in service too.

2nd June: Customers with resilient Leased Line services may notice a loss of resilience. IP Transit Services single homed on Telehouse East WILL notice a loss of service. ADSL users may notice brief interruptions in service.

Customers with fully resilient services, delivered from either London, Manchester or Leeds will notice only a loss of resilience.

Customers based at either of the Leeds Datacentres will not be affected, although a lowering of resilience will take place during the change and on the evening of the 2nd June placing the site “at risk”. We have more than adequate resilient capacity in both the Leeds sites to handle the traffic throughout without interruption.

Maintenance Justification:

To protect the network in advance of major events over the coming months and to increase capacity and resilience ongoing as we add further customers and services.

Rollback Plan and Precautions:

In case a problem is discovered during or immediately post implementation, we benefit from having all existing hardware in an un-touched state to return to service. Our NOC will monitor the process throughout and provide early advice of any apparent issues.

The new hardware is presently on a bench in complete testing in Leeds to burn in before being pressed into live service.

Once complete, or indeed aborted for any reason, customers will be advised via their registered email addresses.


Although this is planned maintenance, CCS will continue to monitor customer services throughout and will take every precaution to return services to an operational state in a speedy manner. Never the less, if you do feel there is an issue that is unattended to post the maintenance window, please do not hesitate to get in contact via the normal methods.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Our top ten tips on managing your privacy on Facebook

Along with Facebook's re-design and the introduction of the much-maligned timeline, comes new privacy settings (often overlooked by users) that can protect information you'd rather keep private, and prevent third parties from accessing your information.

Very few people actually explore this area and opt to just use Facebook’s default privacy setting. However, if you want to get into the tool box to ensure your information is safe and secure on Facebook here is CCS Leeds’ top ten tips on managing you Facebook profile.

1. Editing Your Privacy Settings
There are two ways to get to your privacy settings. In the upper right-hand corner of your Facebook page there’s the Settings drop-down menu that allows you to edit your Account Settings, Privacy Settings and Application Settings.
How you set your Privacy Settings depends largely on what information you want to display. For instance, if you’re using Facebook as a means of showing off to potential employers or clients you may not wish to show information that you would not like you family to see.
For most people though, Facebook is a means of either meeting people or getting your name out to as many people as possible. Decide which one you are.

2. What’s Not Private
It’s important to understand what information Facebook considers public. They say: "Certain categories of information such as your name, profile photo and pages you are a fan of, gender, geographic region, and networks you belong to are considered publicly available to everyone, including Facebook-enhanced applications, and therefore do not have privacy settings."

3. Your Profile Information
To protect your Profile Information, select Privacy Settings from the Settings drop-down menu on your homepage and then click to the Profile Information section.
Your choices for privacy settings are: Everyone (literally everyone, including Google and other search engines), Friends and Networks, Friends of Friends, Only Friends and Customize. The Customize option allows you to include or exclude particular networks, or people - useful if you’re in a situation where you share Facebook with co-workers or family.

4. Your Contact Information
The Contact Information section gives you the option to limit who can contact you outside of Facebook, via email, phone or post. Depending on your needs, select whether you want to share with everyone or just friends.

5. Who Can See You?
The Settings tab includes all your basic information and you can control who sees your name on a Facebook search by clicking on Name, where you can decide to enter an alternate name, show only part of your name, or display your name in your profile and search results. If you don’t want your name shown, uncheck the box.

6. Your Email and Linked Accounts
Which email you use is another option on this page, depending on your privacy needs, it might be best to use an email you don’t mind sharing with the world to, or one that you want everyone to have. You may also sync your Facebook account with your other accounts in the Linked Accounts section here.

7. Your Wall
Allowing friends to post to your Wall is another personal choice, easily made by checking or unchecking the indicated box.

8. Hiding Your Friends
There’s an option to hide your friends so they won’t appear on your profile regardless of whether people are viewing it while logged into Facebook or logged out.
To hide your friends, click on the pencil icon in the top right corner of the Friends box on your profile, uncheck the 'Show my friends on my profile' box to prevent your list from appearing on your profile.

9. Blocking People From Your Profile
From the Settings drop-down menu and click on Block List. Note, though, that while friendships/relationships on Facebook will be removed when you block someone, they may still use some apps that you do and so you may still have some communication with them that way.

10. Your Apps Privacy
Editing the privacy settings of the apps on your Facebook profile is another way to protect your privacy, given that most apps access the information on your profile as a condition of use. Select Application Settings from the Settings dropdown menu or go to the Applications and Websites section of Privacy Settings in the same dropdown menu to edit these settings. The page prompts you to edit your privacy settings after reading.

The main point is you have to dig deep into the Facebook website to access your privacy settings and edit them - but it’s well worth it.
If in doubt go to the Facebook/Privacy/Help page or check out this useful video.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Disaster Recovery / Large Backups

In recent months we have received a lot of enquiries from companies who have a requirement to back up large amounts of data and are looking for an off-site solution, as their traditional tape based systems are either too slow, unreliable or simply can’t handle so much data.

As we all know, it is vitally important to have a reliable data backup so that in the event of a disaster, the data is easily retrievable, and the business can then continue operating as soon as possible.

One new concept that we are keen on is the idea of data mirroring. This can be achieved by having a local backup device, such as a network hard drive array, mirroring it’s data to a similar device which is co-located in a purpose built Data Centre.

The advantage of this is that local data can be accessed quickly from the on-site hardware which is then mirrored periodically to the off-site device using the internet. In the event of a disaster, the data from the external hardware would be an exact replica of the local data and therefore can be restored over the internet, or in some cases the mirrored device would be physically shipped out to the client on a next business day delivery.

We have provided this very same service to a number of our clients already, and it does work extremely well on the right type of hardware so long as it is configured properly. In the past we have used hardware which has been manufactured by a company called Synology. They provide a wide variety of network storage solutions and the software includes the mirroring service along with many other useful features.

For more information, please do not hesitate to give us a call on 0113 294 6699.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

How Can a Leased Line Save me Money?

Simple – run your telephony over it.

Yes, it’s a simple answer to a simple question but I guess if you’re reading this article, you want to know a little more, rather than just taking my word for it?

The key components of this discussion are reliability, speed and what we call the service level agreement. Until recent times, internet connections have not always been fast or reliable enough to support a stable voice platform.

A service level agreement is a contractual obligation on the supplier of a service, to fix the service in a guaranteed time frame, in the event of an outage. If the service level agreement is not met, then there is often a financial penalty on the supplier, so it really is in their best interests to get on with fixing the broken service.

So, where I am leading with this is simple - traditional digital telephone lines have a service level agreement. ADSL and standard broadband connections do not.   Therefore it may not make sense to run large voice network over standard ADSL services as it would not in theory be reliable enough. However, an internet leased line or EFM do have a service level agreement which is the same, or at least very similar to that of a digital phone line service, so therefore it makes perfect sense to get rid of any traditional phone line services and run them over the internet connection instead.

As an example, let’s make up a scenario…… ABC Widgets Ltd runs a call centre selling their products over the telephone and they have 30 channels of ISDN30 (that means 30 traditional voice channels). Each channel costs them £12 per month which means that in a year they pay £4,320 for the line rental alone. They also have a bonded ADSL internet service which costs them £125 per month (this includes the analogue phone line rental, ADSL service and the bonding package).  So in total they currently pay £5,820 per annum for their phone lines and internet connectivity combined. They also pay an annual maintenance charge for their onsite telephony hardware which costs them £800 per annum which now takes the cost up to £6,620 per annum, and this is before they have even made one phone call.

Now, as ABC Widgets Ltd is very near to their local telephone exchange which is enabled for EFM, they can achieve uncontended download and upload speeds of 14Mbp/s. The amount of data used for 30 channels of voice equates to 2Mb. This means that if they ran their voice over the new EFM line, then they would still have a whopping 12Mbp/s for internet and email traffic. The cost for this EFM service would cost them £3,800 per annum and on top of that they would need to rent the internet voice channels at £2 per channel per month, which means that their overall cost of telephony and internet would be £4,520.

This means that by migrating to a faster internet connection, ABC Widgets Ltd would save themselves £2,100 per annum.

It is also worth bearing in mind that call rates over the internet are far cheaper than on traditional ISDN lines as there are far less overheads and running costs.

In conclusion I think it is fair to say that the above example illustrates how a company can save money on their communication costs by moving to a faster and more reliable internet connection with the same service level agreement as what they are used to with their old, traditional telephony services.

CCS (Leeds) Ltd prides itself on giving honest, accurate and thorough advice so please get in touch if you would like to know more about any of the services that we have to offer.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Grand Open Day

Just some of the attendee's.

On Friday 27th April 2012, we held an event to mark the official opening of our new Data Centre.

The event was well attended by over 30 guests who consisted of clients, potential clients and local Member of Parliament Mr George Mudie.

Attendees were treated to a guided tour of the Centre’s facilities and refreshments were on hand throughout.

Nick demonstrates a power cut.
Nick Ryder, Technical Manager at CCS (Leeds) Ltd gave a short but entertaining speech, during which he demonstrated, with the help of colleague and MD Peter Knapp, what would happen if the power supply to the Data Centre was disconnected. There was a nervous hush as Peter turned off the main power supply, and then relief as the graphs showed that the generator had sprung into life, thus maintaining continuous power to the Data Centre.

What made this little demonstration more poignant was that there were a number of CCS’s co-location clients at the actual event, and to say that they appeared slightly apprehensive would be an understatement.

All in all it was a great afternoon and we would like to say a big ‘Thank You’ to all of those who attended.

Monday, 23 April 2012

30 Years ago today, The ZX Spectrum gave us games to play

Its hard to believe as I sit here typing that is was 30 years ago, to this very day that that Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k was released to the general public. I suppose that in retrospect, it could be seen as the iPad of its day as most people had one, of if they didn't, wanted one.

The previous year had seen the release of the Spectrums popular forerunner, the ZX81 which had sold a quarter of a million units by the end of 1981. But competition from rival companies such as Commodore were pushing what could be achieved with home computing, and the release of the VIC20 meant that computers with full colour capability were indeed the future, whereas the ZX81 was simply monochrome.

As such, Sinclair set about working on the follow up machine. What would eventually become the Spectrum, actually went through a number of design and name changes before the final model was that we all know and love was decided upon. Two models were released initial - the 16KB, at £125 or the much more powerful 48K version which cost £175.

Needless to say, it was a hit in schools and homes around the world, even if the keyboard was rubbish. And, for the next 2 years, the Sinclair Spectrum would dominate the home computing market, bringing along with it the delights of games such as Manic Miner, Elite and Hungry Horace. Retro gamers still love the old games and there are many Spectrum emulators around, as well as websites where you can actually play them online.

So happy birthday to the ZX Spectrum!

Personally I prefer the Commodore 64, but that's a different article.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Internet Password Security Advice

The internet has come on leaps and bounds in the past few years and as such, more and more people are using it as a way to run their daily lives. Social networking is now a prominent way of communication with friends, colleagues and family whilst online shopping in now more popular than ever along with banking and other such services.

The average person may have around 30 user accounts set up on various websites and each of these accounts would require a username and password. Additionally more and more people are working from home or accessing their email and corporate data whilst on the move on devices such as smart phones and tablets. Therefore it is more important than ever to employ a strict and robust password policy, wherever possible as the internet becomes ever more popular, so does the threat of cybercrime.

Here are some tips for improving your password policies;

Don't use the same password for every account

Whilst it would be impossible to have a different password for every online account, and remember all of them, it is also important to note that if you do use only one and then someone gets hold of it, they would have access to everything you do online, be it banking, social network sites or email. There are systems out there which help manage passwords such as LastPass, an online password manager which encrypts all your passwords for you, so all you have to remember is your LastPass account password.

Change your password regulary

For the same reasons as above, it is also important to change your password on a regular basis. Most corporate IT networks enforce password changes on average about every 90 days or so. This can be done using server group policies however domestic users would need to rely on either their own memory or set themselves reminders.

Don't use standard letters

A common mistake when setting a password is choosing something and then making it all lower case letters of the alphabet. It is important to make the password as random and complex as possible. Therefore using a mixture of capital letters, lower case letters, numbers and special characters is always advisable. A good tip is to use a word, but then substitute some of the letters for numbers which look like letters. A number ‘1’ for example could be used for the letter ‘L’ or ‘I’. The number ‘4’ could also be used in place of the letter ‘A’, and so on.

Use a line from a song

Many people prefer to use short, memorable passwords with a mixture of capital letters, numbers and characters that don’t take long to enter, whereas some prefer longer passwords which are often simpler to type. One school of thought is that a really good password would be to take an entire line from a song and then just make one of the letters into a number, usually the last or first, thus making it easy to enter and quite memorable. Here is an example taken from The Beatles classic ‘Hey Jude’ - 5oletitoutandletitinheyjudebegin – You will see that the first character is a ‘5’ instead of an ‘S’ and, that the rest of the password is simply the rest of the line from the song. These type of passwords are very hard to hack.

Don't use the obvious

A common mistake many people make is using things like their pets name, date of birth, children’s names, house address etc. as their password. Having a password like this should be avoided at all costs, as should standard words from the English dictionary.

In summary, we would advise that everyone has a good think about what the implications would be if a criminal got hold of your passwords. In some cases it may not be that serious, but in others it could be devastating.

If you found this article useful then please feel free to share it with others, or if you have any password tips yourself, then why not let us know and we will include them in a follow up article.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

On the spot with Nick Ryder from CCS (Leeds) Ltd

The Yorkshire Evening Post recently interviewed our very own Nick Ryder for their regular ‘On The Spot’ feature. Here is what he had to say;

What was your first job?

I worked on my parent’s milk round which was good, honest, hard work and gave me a sprightly start to the day before school. It was also a good way of staying fit.

If not in your present job, what would you like to be?

I think that without question I would be a psychiatrist. The human mind and the way people behave has always fascinated me, we are such complex creatures and infinitely interesting.

What was your worst mistake and why?

Probably misguided trust in someone but then I learnt a lot from that incident so I did take away a positive from it too.

What would be your ideal day out of the office?

A day in a spa. It’s one of the best places to relax and I have always loved being in or around water.

Name one person you would like to have dinner with and why?

If he was still alive then it would be George Harrison. From what I have heard he was a fiercely intelligent and spiritual person who also had a great sense of humour.

What was your best subject at school? 

Very predictably it was maths and music, which is odd because music is considered to be an art form and my career in the IT industry, is very much about numbers and figures as well as a lot of problem solving.

What’s your top time-saving tip?

Invest in a hands-free car kit for you mobile phone.

What would you do if you won the Lotto?

I would carry on as usual but own a bigger TV.

What is your favourite time of day and why?

Getting home after a long day at work and seeing my family. Why? Because they are my world.

What would you like your epitaph be?

Oh, I don’t want to think about that just yet, thank you very much. 

This article appeared in the 17th April edition of the Yorkshire Evening Post and the original article can be seen here.