State of the Sanctuary 2021

A year ago when I was writing the last State of the Sanctuary blog post, I had no idea what laid ahead in the months that followed. Like something out of a disaster movie’s early scenes, the news reports of the situation in China were almost just background noise, not garnering much attention. At that point I don’t think any of us truly expected the year that lay ahead of us.

So much changed in such a short space of time. Both business and life as we knew it was up-ended, seemingly overnight. Everyone suddenly switched from commuting, working in offices, enjoying socialising with friends and family — to staying at home, working from home, and lots and LOTS of video calls — often with family members and pets becoming unintentional guests of important meetings!

It was an enormous change, and it was important for us to help you and your teams on that journey, every step of the way.

We spent the majority of 2020 helping our customers adapt by: helping you deploy large numbers of laptops in very short order, reconfiguring your IT systems and VPNs so your staff could work from home safely and securely, ensuring your staff had good broadband connections, helping you collaborate with your staff using Office 365 and Microsoft Teams, building your own video calling servers with Jitsi Meet, and so much more. All while continuing to run our hosting and cloud platforms to keep your business connected and safe.

So… how did we get on?

Platform Uptime

As always we try really hard to ensure that uptime for our Cloud platforms remains as high as possible. High uptime means high reliability, and I’m pleased to report that throughout 2020 our platform uptime was a very respectable 99.979%!

As always, our externally hosted status page is always available, even in the rare occasions that we’re experiencing a problem, at Uptime reports have recently been added to our status page so you can view monthly uptime metrics as well as averages for the last 30, 60, and 90 days at a glance. You can also sign up for email notifications if you would like to be kept in the loop — we strongly recommend this!

Broadband Relaunch

In January 2021 (just a couple of weeks ago, in fact!) we completely relaunched our Broadband service, and we’re really excited to now be able to offer these services to both home and business customers.

Our new lines come with unlimited downloads and uploads (with no fair use policies!), and installation is free of charge if you’re taking our phone service as well. We can currently provide ADSL (up to 24Mbps) and superfast FTTC (up to 80Mbps) broadband connections, and in February we’ll start offering ultrafast FTTP connections (up to 1Gbps) in select locations.

Not only that, but we’ve significantly reduced our pricing too. It’s a significant step forward in our offering, and in just two weeks we’ve been really pleased with our signup rates. All support for our broadband service is provided by the same team you already know and trust, based in Middlesbrough, here in the UK, so you know you’ll always be able to reach us should you ever need to. Make the switch today!

Landlines with Low Cost Calling

As part of our broadband relaunch, we’re now offering landline phone service with low monthly line rental costs, and very low call prices (as low as 1p/min to landlines, and 5p/min to the big 4 mobile networks). Lines are suitable for both home and business use, and you can select your Openreach care level if you need super-fast fault resolution times. Want even cheaper line-rental and free installation? Take our broadband service too and get our best deals!

Leased Lines

Expanding on our leased line offerings, we’re now pleased to be able to offer speeds of up to 10Gbps. Leased line costs do vary quite significantly depending on your location so please contact us today for a no-obligation quote.

Cloud Servers

Building on our work to expand Cloud Server capability into Maidenhead in 2019, in 2020 we almost doubled capacity in our Coventry datacentre, with powerful Intel Xeon Silver processors, fast DDR4 RAM, and RAIDed SSD storage — which all adds up to blazing fast Cloud Servers for you.

With our increased capacity you can scale your business in the way that’s best for you — either growing a single server, or having multiple servers, possibly even in multiple datacenters! We can even accommodate load balancing setups with failover, create a support ticket today to see how we can help!

Dynamic Cloud

For very dynamic workloads, we launched our new Cloud Hosting platform in summer 2020, with API-controllable spawning of servers, hourly billing, and automated deployments with cloud-init. This is great for autoscaling your project, or even if you just want to try something out for an hour or two. Find out more on our Cloud Hosting page.

Ubuntu 16.04 EOL imminent

In April 2021 the Ubuntu 16.04 operating system will reach its end-of-life. We’ve already moved almost all Cloud Server customers to newer Ubuntu releases, however we still need to migrate some web hosting customers to newer servers. For those of you on server06 and host01, we’ll be in touch soon to provide more information relating to this migration work.

Web Hosting

Our Plesk-powered Web Hosting and WordPress Hosting platforms have become incredibly popular throughout 2020, and it’s hard not to see why, with their huge array of features, including generous disk space allocations, unlimited mailboxes, AI-powered Smart WordPress Updates, premium SpamExperts incoming filtering included as standard, and much more.

We’re maintaining our commitment to continue to support customers on our Virtualmin platform for the foreseeable future, however if you’d like to upgrade to our new platform to take advantage of the new features, create a support ticket and we’ll do all the work to get you migrated across to the new platform.

Office 365

Take up of our Office 365 service was already strong, but the sudden switch to working from home and the popularity of Microsoft Teams caused demand to surge dramatically. We’ve helped loads of you work effectively from home with Microsoft Teams, as well as 1TB of OneDrive storage per user, 50GB mailbox storage per user, and of course the ever-popular desktop app suite, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook — always kept up to date with the latest versions.

To find out how Office 365 can help your team work from home, visit our Office 365 page, or talk to us to learn more.

F-Secure Protection Service

Working from home has changed the IT landscape dramatically. People aren’t behind the traditional office firewall any more. But you still need to keep their devices safe. That’s where our managed antivirus and endpoint security solution, F-Secure Protection Service, can help. It keeps your Macs and PCs safe from online threats with antivirus, firewall, enforced software patching, and filters to prevent you from visiting sites that contain malware. Not only this, it can also be installed on your servers and Android mobile devices, to protect those too.

What’s especially important with F-Secure Protection Service is that you don’t need to worry about making sure all your staff know how to deal with the alerts normally shown by antivirus software. Instead, similar to how a monitored burglar alarm system is watched over and controlled by a monitoring team, our F-Secure Protection Service software sends all your computer’s anti-virus, firewall and software update alerts to the team here at File Sanctuary, allowing you to transfer these often complicated tasks to us so that you don’t have to worry about them.

Backblaze Computer Backup

In 2020 we launched our new desktop backup solution: Backblaze. We believe it’s the best way to backup your Macs and Windows PCs to the cloud. With a fast, efficient client app that doesn’t slow your computers down, you can ensure that your entire team is securely backing up their computers — even from home, without needing to be on the office network!

Always here, always helping

Pandemic or no pandemic, we’re always on hand to help you succeed. I’m extremely proud of what our team has accomplished in the last year, and I’m honoured that so many of you have chosen us to help you through the challenges of the last year — thank you!

We’re excited to continue keeping you connected and safe into 2021 and beyond, and I wish all of you a happier 2021.

Aaron B. Russell
Managing Director & CTO