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FreeYourNet ConstantCare Service

About the FreeYourNet ConstantCare Service

Experience from working with our customers over the years has highlighted major monitoring and maintenance issues that, if neglected, can lead to increased probability of infection by malicious software ('malware'), and can cause serious disruption and/or data loss:

  • the frequent and timely installation of vendor-supplied software updates ('patches'), and
  • the monitoring of hard disk drive health, with a view to anticipating and avoiding catastrophic hardware failure.

Our ConstantCare service takes over these routine computer maintenance and monitoring tasks, saving you from the burdensome task of patch installation and enabling you to head off impending disk failures and consequent data loss. ConstantCare works by the installation of a monitoring agent on each computer, which communicates with our remote management service enabling us to monitor specific performance attributes and push out relevant patches.

You can use the tabs at the top of this page to learn more about the patch management and D-FEWS components of our ConstantCare service, and what they can do for you. You can also test whether your computer meets the minimum requirements for ConstantCare.

Pricing

Our ConstantCare service is suitable for computers running Microsoft Windows® and is priced per computer at just £3.00* per month - payable yearly in advance - with a one-off setup fee of £25.00*. Discounts are available for multiple computers.

If you are not already a customer of ours we strongly recommend an initial health check for each computer you wish to be covered before starting the service. Please contact us for further details.

*NB: All prices quoted here are subject to VAT at the standard UK rate, and are subject to change without notice.

Patch Management

As Microsoft Windows® has become more and more secure, the 'bad guys' have started to turn their attention to other, easier targets. More than ever, they are now exploiting vulnerabilities which exist in internet-facing application software as a way to plant malicious software on your computer, or even to take remote control of it.

As a result, application software vendors are releasing frequent updates (often known as 'patches'), which you need to install on all your computers with growing regularity. This places a significant, seemingly almost daily, burden on you to ensure relevant patches are installed in a timely fashion. It also presents you with decisions on which patches to install and, indeed, even to identify which patches are genuine and which aren't. As a result of this, many users delay or simply forego installing patches altogether. Unfortunately, this reduces security and leads to a higher probability of infection, as users fall pray to malicious software which exploits un-patched vulnerabilities in Adobe Reader®, Flash® Player, and Oracle®'s Java, for instance.

While large corporations often have the funds and infrastructure to deal with the management of patches small companies, home office and residential users can't afford to put in place the expensive systems needed to deal with the problem. As a solution to this, we offer patch management to our customers as an integral part of our low-cost ConstantCare service. We take care of managing the important patches for you, so you don't have to. This works through the installation of a single monitoring agent on your computers which we configure and manage remotely via a highly respected, central management service (GFI Max Remote Management). Given access to a wealth of vendors' patches, we ensure all the important patches are installed on your computer in a timely fashion, with little or no burden on you as a user.

At the time of writing, we offer management of patches for the following products:

  • 7-Zip.
  • ActiveState ActivePython.
  • Adobe Acrobat, AIR, Flash Player, Illustrator, InDesign, PhotoShop, Reader, Shockwave Player.
  • Adobe .
  • Apple iTunes and QuickTime, Safari.
  • Audacity.
  • Bandizip.
  • Box BoxSync.
  • Bullzip PDF Printer.
  • CCleaner.
  • CDBurner XP.
  • Citrix GoToMeeting.
  • Core FTP.
  • Evernote.
  • Filezilla Client.
  • Foxit PhantomPDF, Reader.
  • FreeFileSync.
  • GIMP.
  • Google Chrome, Drive, Earth, Picasa.
  • HandBrake.
  • ideaMK STP Viewer.
  • ImgBurn.
  • IrfanView.
  • LibreOffice.
  • Malwarebytes AntiMalware.
  • Microsoft Windows (workstations and server editions), Internet Explorer, Office, Exchange, developer tools and runtimes, and many other products.
  • Mozilla Firefox, Firefox ESR, SeaMonkey, Thunderbird, Thunderbird ESR.
  • MozyHome Remote Backup.
  • Nmap.
  • Notepad++
  • OpenOffice.org.
  • Open Source Pidgin, Greenshot, Inkspace.
  • Opera Browser.
  • Oracle Java Runtime Environment (JRE).
  • Paint.NET.
  • PDF-XChange Editor, PDF-XChange Viewer.
  • PDFCreator.
  • PeaZip.
  • Putty.
  • Python.
  • RealPlayer.
  • RealVNC.
  • Skype.
  • SnagIT.
  • Spybot Search & Destroy.
  • TeamViewer, TeamViewer Host.
  • TightVNC.
  • TortoiseGit, TortoiseHG.
  • TortoiseSVN.
  • TreeSize Free.
  • UltraVNC.
  • VLC Player.
  • VMWare Player, Workstation, Zimbra Desktop.
  • Winamp.
  • WinMerge.
  • WinRAR.
  • WinSCP.
  • Wireshark.
  • Yahoo! Messenger.
  • XnView.

Patches for further products may also be added in the future.

D-FEWS - Disk Failure Early Warning System

Fact: Hard disks in computers sometimes fail. When a disk fails, it can be difficult, and sometimes impractical or excessively expensive, to recover programs and data stored on the disk. To get your computer up and running again you need recover all the data you can, buy a replacement hard disk, fit the new disk in place of the old one, re-install Windows (assuming you have the installation media to do this), configure Windows, set up your networking/broadband and security, re-install and configure all of your application software (again assuming you have all the necessary installation media and licences), then restore all of your recovered data. This is a long and often complex and expensive process, for which you may need expert assistance, and one which you have to go through at a time of considerable stress (especially if you operate a business which requires you getting your computer and data back up and running quickly).

If you have proper backup procedures in place this process can be eased, especially if you have the ‘drive-image’ based solution that we recommend and have implemented for many of our clients. Even then, being able to restore your computer with little or no data loss depends on you having performed at least one very recent backup.

Now, the majority of hard disk drives in modern computers have built-in Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology (SMART, for short) which is designed to detect and report on various indicators of reliability, in the hope of anticipating failures. While some drives do fail suddenly (which is why you should always have adequate backup measures in place), many failures are due to mechanical wear and gradual deterioration of disk recording surfaces over time, and if the failure can be predicted in advance you are able to perform the necessary backups and replace the failing disk at your convenience.

While current SMART technology monitors a number of mechanical and performance attributes of a hard disk, its predictive nature is of questionable value. Our experience with our clients is that visible predictions usually only occur when catastrophic failure is imminent, and it is often too late or very time consuming (read: expensive) to recover all of the disk’s data. Recent studies by Google, for instance, support this experience: a long-term assessment of over 100,000 hard disks has shown the overall predictive nature of SMART is of little value as a whole, but that some attributes measured by most SMART implementations do strongly correlate with higher probabilities of failure.

Given these observations, we offer a unique service whereby we can remotely monitor SMART measurements of the hard disk(s) in your computer(s) and offer you early warning of disk deteriorations long before the SMART implementations themselves give you predictive alerts. Named Disk-Failure Early Warning System (D-FEWS), offered as part of our ConstantCare service, this involves the installation of a single monitoring agent on each of your computers which we configure and monitor remotely via a highly respected, central management service (GFI Max Remote Management). On a daily basis, D-FEWS will monitor the most common SMART attributes, together with a set of other measurements that typically indicate impending problems. We can then advise you of practical protective measures to take, and decide together with you if and when to replace your failing hard disk as a planned, and therefore cheaper and less stressful, exercise.

While this is not an exact science, and we cannot guarantee catching all catastrophic disk failures before they happen, we strongly believe D-FEWS is a valuable and cost-effective preventative maintenance resource for all of our clients. For it to be effective, monitoring has to be in place for the long term, as there is no way of knowing when first signs of disk failure will appear.

Test Whether Your Computer Supports ConstantCare

Each component of the FreeYourNet ConstantCare service has a set of minimum requirements which your computer must meet for the service to be useful to you.

For Patch Management your computer must be running Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2003 or Windows Server 2008.

For D-FEWS, your computer’s hard disk(s) will additionally need to have integrated SMART technology. Mirrored disks in a RAID configuration are not supported.

We have provided the following small test utility you can use to verify whether ConstantCare will work for you:

ConstantCare Tester

Description: FreeYourNet ConstantCare Tester
File name: Test-ConstantCare.exe
Format: Executable program file (285KB in size)
Last updated: 8th June, 2011
System Requirements: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2003 or Windows Server 2008.

When you click the link above to download the file, your browser may warn you about the risks of downloading program files. Be sure then to verify that the file is digitally signed by us, using our registered company name CoCo Systems Ltd. and that the digital signature is valid. This will ensure that the file you download and run is the one we have provided for download, and that it has not been tampered with in any way.

If your browser gives you the option when you start the download, the easiest way to run the tester is to choose Run. Alternatively, you can opt to download (save) the file to a folder on your computer and then run the downloaded file from that location.

If you have any doubts about the procedure, please contact us first.


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Last updated: 13 March, 2017
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