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3 Free Alternatives To LogMeIn

As LogMeIn have today announced the end of a free version of their remote control software, and in the process annoyed a large percentage of their customer base, it's time to look at 3 of the free alternatives that you would be better off using:

1. TeamViewer

TeamViewer lets you access a remote computer system from any internet based devices, with options available for the Windows, iPhone, iPad and Android devices. You have the option to access your content saved on a PC from not only a desktop, but also a mobile device whilst you are on the move.

You can save data onto your local drive and can copy entire folders with simple drag/drop functionality between the local and remote machine. The built in TeamViewer Manager software also keeps track of all your active sessions and saves it in a database which you can share with other users.

2. Google Chrome Remote Desktop

If you have Google Chrome installed on your machine then you can perform remote control of another PC with nothing more than a browser extension.

There is support for both Windows and OS X environment (however there is none for Linux users) and all you need is the Chrome Remote Desktop extension.

You’ll need to install the browser extension on both computers (e.g. the one you want to be able to use remotely and your local machine). Then it's just a case of selecting the remote machine from the list and away you go.

3. ImPCRemote

The free imPcRemote desktop software allows to to make and manage remote desktop connections. You will need to create an online account on their website before using the software, and they then offer support for all Windows, Linux, and Mac computers.

Note: There are local and remote versions for each operating system so you will need to download the relevant version for what you need.

With the local and remote applications installed, you can control which computer to connect to. The remote desktop connection (RDP) is opened up in a new window to allow you to easily control the other machine, and file transfers are also enabled for managing files between computers.

Tags: LogMeInRDPRemote Desktop

Recovering from a hacked website

If you are unfortunate enough to have had your website hacked, you will understand what an upsetting time it can be. Not only do you have to deal with the fallout of what your website ended up containing (spam, malware or the selling of some strange blue pills!), you also have the time consuming task of trying to clean the mess up.

Google Webmaster Tools have now introduced a new tool named Security Issues. This tool gives you an overview of how your site has been hacked, examples of the infected pages and even the different types of issues:

Google Webmaster Tools - Security Issues

It will even give you snippets of the HTML/Javascript code which look suspicious:

Google Webmaster Tools - Security Issues - Snippets

When you think you have found how your website was hacked, cleaned up the mess and fixed the security hole, you can then request that Google review your site with an easy to use "Review" process:

Google Webmaster Tools - Security Issues - Review

MDS Solutions

Tags: Google

How we use Amazon Cloud to host our websites

As we mentioned in our blog post about reliability, we have moved all of our services into the Amazon Cloud and this post is a brief overview of how this helps our customers.

Hosting and delivering your websites

In order to actually deliver a website to a user, we need a robust web server to handle all of the incoming requests. By using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) we can eliminate the need to rely on a single hosting provider with a dedicated server. The issue with that setup, and it is pretty much a standard for all web design companies that we know of, is that it is a single point of failure and if that server goes offline or if they get network issues then then all of their customers websites go offline. The way that we get around this issue with EC2 is that we essentially load balance our servers and distribute them across multiple continents. If one data centre gets issues, or the server goes offline another one takes it's place. This may be from the same region if it is available, or it may even be from anywhere else across the world if ones aren't available locally. Either way, we have plans in place to maintain your website's availability.

Amazon EC2

Creating dynamic websites with your own styles and content

All of our websites are hosted on the same platform to take advantage of our custom built Content Management System (CMS). To do this we use Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) to store and deliver dynamic websites that the customer has complete control over. All of our customers, and our own website, use our CMS to create their own unique website yet retain the core set of common functionality that all websites need. Amazon RDS ensures that not only is the dynamic data retrieved and displayed quickly, but it ensures that it is securely backup up and distributed across various platforms to ensure backups are always available from any location.

Amazon RDS

Monitoring the performance of your sites

As well as our own live uptime reports and monitoring reports, we also utilise Amazon CloudWatch to monitor our servers resources for issues with CPU, memory, transaction volumes etc. This allows us to have a real-time insight to how our websites are performing and ensure that the service is running reliably.

Amazon Cloudwatch

Automatically scaling of systems based on current demand

As part of the outcome of Amazon Cloudwatch metrics, we also implement Auto Scaling which allows us to supply additional resources if we need to. If we get a sudden surge of visitors and our websites start to slow down, we can automatically bring in additional servers to cope with the extra demand.

Creating a robust system for sending emails

All of our websites need some form of emailing facility, whether that is a contact form, blog comments, e-commerce order or even the built-in error reporting from our CMS. To send these emails we have again removed a single point of failure by getting rid of a standard SMTP server and moving our email sending over to Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES). This provides us with a scalable email system with all of the benefits of enterprise level infrastructure.

Amazon SES

MDS Solutions

Tags: Amazon

The importance of a reliable website

Imagine this scenario; you are looking to get a website designed for your new company, you've found a website design company that you like the look of and have decided to go with them. Your new site looks great, it's all paid for and it's officially live. You have started marketing your site and telling potential clients about it and convincing them to use your business. This is a good time for any new startup but what would the impact be if there was a problem with the hosting company's server and your website went down? How would that look to your potential clients and what would it do to your reputation?

Monitoring website reliability and uptime

A website's reliability is measured by what is referred to as "uptime". This is the amount of time that the website is available over a certain period and is measured in a percentage. This is recorded by an external server checking that the website is responding by making a call to it every 5 minutes and recording the response. There are times when "downtime" is needed, for example applying security updates to servers may result in the web server being restarted, but website design companies have a duty to minimise these wherever possible.

Here at MDS Solutions, we like to be completely honest and transparent and even have a live view of our uptime figures so that you can see exactly what our uptime figures are and have proof our how reliable our service will be. Before you go with any other web design company make sure you ask them what their uptime figures are and make sure that you are happy with the levels. If they don't know the answer or aren't even monitoring them, is it really worth the risk to your business? As an example of figures, we aim for a 99% uptime rate which means your website is in good hands and here's an extract of our last 7 days uptime figures (5th October 2013 - 11th October 2013):

As you can see our uptime is at our target of 99% and if your website is hosted with us you can be safe in the knowledge that your business is in good hands.

We believe that by using the latest cloud based technologies, our service is reliable, robust and head and shoulders above most other companies. Next week we'll go into further detail about how we have achieved this by utilising the Amazon Cloud.

MDS Solutions

Tags: reliable

How our new approach can help your business

Around 4 years ago, we started up a blog for MDS Solutions and came up with quite a few posts on website design and SEO. We had a few issues with the installation and for one reason or another it fell to the back of the queue in terms of importance. We also had lots of new client projects and our own website and blog had to sit on the back burner for a while and it didn't really get the attention is deserved.

So, this month we've put a big effort into overhauling pretty much our entire infrastructure, the packages we offer, our own website and last but not least this blog. To give you a quick summary of the changes we have made I've broken it down as follows:


We've moved our entire infrastructure into the Amazon Cloud instead of relying on just dedicated hosted servers, and now provide our websites using the software as a service (SAAS) model. This gives us the advantage of scaling up and down performance when it is needed, provides us with a more robust and reliable solution including backups spread over different continents and gives us the architecture that blows pretty much all of our competitors out of the water! And the best part of all of this (for both us and our customers) is that it is cheaper! Which leads me onto the next section very nicely...

Website Design and SEO Packages

Our New Monthly Subscription Packages

To take advantage of our lower overheads and scalable setup, we've decided to follow the Amazon Cloud model of "you only pay for what you use". This means that we have ditched the traditional approach of a one-time design fee followed by a yearly hosting charge, and replaced it with a simple monthly subscription service. You can now choose from 4 different website design or SEO packages and all you pay is the monthly fee. There are no contracts, no setup fee, you simply subscribe for as long as you need to. We've even dropped the prices of our packages as we only have costs for the length of time that you have the subscription, so it's a win-win all around and hopefully this will help some small start-up businesses afford to make their website as professional and successful as the bigger boys they are up against.

Our Website

Our New Monthly Subscription Packages

We've also revamped our entire website, both in terms of design and actual content. We've stripped out all of the bloated content and gone back to basics with a fresh new design. We've even moved off our old solution that was used to deliver our website and now our site (and this blog!) is built using exactly the same Content Management System (CMS) that we have built and use for our customers. It has been built from the ground up and we feel the automated setup, features and functionality, built-in SEO and overall performance gives us that edge we need over our competitors.

Revamping our Blog

Going back through our old blog, I found that even though the posts were 4 years old, there was still some good content in there. Yes, there's some that's outdated or been superseded, but generally I thought it would be a waste to just put it in the bin never to be seen again. Instead, we've imported it into our database, set the dates to be the original date of when it was written and tagged it as 'Archive' so that you can still read it if you want to!

Hopefully all of these changes will come together nicely and we are looking forward to helping our client's websites become successful on our new infrastructure and venture into the world of software as a service!

MDS Solutions


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