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Support Plan
: :  PCS Support Plan

Disaster Recovery Procedures:

Definition: When PCS refers to a Disaster we are referring to any situation which effectively halts your normal business operations.
Causes: There can be various causes for Disasters.
  • Fire
  • Theft or Vandalism
  • Electrical Problems
  • Hardware Failure
  • Unix Operating System Failure
  • Foxbase Failure
  • P.A.C.S. Error
  • User error
Obviously any problems you experience could be caused by more than one of the above, however we will examine prevention and recovery procedures in the above format.
  1. Fire: In the result of a fire, or any similar kind of disaster your business is effectively shut down. You will have lost both your equipment and the actual information which constitutes your business. This is why it is vital to keep backups of your Collection System offsite. As a minimum we recommend at least two backups kept offsite. The equipment could, in most cases, be physically replaced within 24 to 72 hours and by restoring the backup you are back in business. Those offices which are on Goldcare could have equipment shipped from PCS immediately, non Goldcare offices would have new equipment sourced from our suppliers and forwarded to you. We also advise that those offices which have Unix and Foxbase in their possession, keep these disks offsite. In the event that these disks are destroyed they can be replaced by the suppliers, but that can take up to 2 weeks. If the disks are offsite then they can be installed on any new equipment brought in to replace the destroyed items. Please record what disks you have in your possession including the Serial numbers and activation keys and version numbers and forward this information to PCS. In the event that these disks do become damaged or destroyed we will have an easier time replacing them.
  2. Theft and Vandalism: In the event of your equipment being stolen or damaged the recovery procedures would be similar to the above Fire recovery procedures. It is conceivable that there would be only a partial loss of equipment in which your office could still function. For example, the most visible extension of your Collection System are the terminals. If an irate debtor were to break into your office and smash each of the terminals you could still carry on business by printing Collector Autopilot lists while replacement terminals were being forwarded to you. It is important to note that again backups kept offsite could save your business in the event of a thoroughly destructive vandal. Do not rely on keeping backups in your office safe only, since from experience we have learned that the safe can be removed as well.
  3. Electrical Problems: Over the years it has become apparent that our biggest single cause for System downtime has been Electrical problems. Voltage drops too small to flicker the lights are noticed by the computer and have damaged both Hardware and corrupted the Operating System. In order to protect your System from an unsteady power supply we strongly recommend the purchase and installation of an UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply). All offices whicch have Line Conditioners will protect against surges but will not protect against voltage drops which can be equally as damaging. The UPS maintains a steady flow of current to the computer, even in the event of a complete power failure. After a predetermined amount of time (usually 30 - 60 minutes), if the power has not been restored a controlled shutdown of your system is performed automatically. The UPS is the ultimate protection against data loss from power fluctuations.
  4. Hardware Failure: Hardware refers to any of the physical devices which constitutes your Collection System. Periodically, like any man made equipment, hardware will fail. If the particular device that fails to work properly is a peripheral device like a terminal or printer the Collection System continues to operate as normal while the affected unit is shipped away for repairs. However, in some cases the hardware which fails is key component of the System, such as your Hard Disk, disabling your Collection System. In this case the unit will still have to be repaired or replaced but PCS can forward a replacement unit to allow the operation of your business to continue. In some cases we have temporarily replaced entire computer systems. Some offices employ RAID architecture and Hard Drive Striping to ensure a continued operation even when drives fail. When a serious hardware failure occurs your office must rely on its backups to restore the information onto the replacement unit. Obviously the importance of backups cannot be understated. We maintain a extremely good relationship with our supplier who will make a special effort on our behalf both to ship and service equipment as quickly as possible.
  5. Unix Operating System Failure: The operating system is a set of instructions which controls the operation of your equipment. Various occurrences can corrupt portions of this operating system. Uncontrolled shutdowns for example, when power to the computer is interrupted. In the majority of cases the operating system can recover using a cleaning procedure which reestablishes itself, however occasionally corruption can occur which requires partial or complete reinstallation. One safeguard we recommend to assist in recovering from Unix Operating System failure is the Emergency boot floppy. Please find enclosed instructions for the creation of this floppy. We have access to Calera/SCO trained personel and we have access to a large support knowledge-base. In most cases we can resolve issues the same day. On occasion when we have a problem which mystifies the front line support staff it gets marked for higher priority and referred to a system engineer.
  6. Foxbase Failure: Foxbase is the data base language which the PACS software is written in. If the Foxbase language fails to consistently maintain the database, (for example an index gets corrupted), then the index is reestablished through a reindexing procedure now built into the Collection System. As in the case of the year 2000, an update was installed to ensure the correct handling of dates. As with the Operating System, we have access to a large technical database maintained by Caldera/SCO, but we have become so proficient at the language that we normally resolve any problems in-house.
  7. PACS Error: Collection System errors, otherwise known as bugs occur when coding mistakes are made by the program writers. Although great care is taken in writing the code and extensive testing is done in-house to ensure that the programs work as expected, mistakes happen. These errors are most noticeable after an upgrade for two reasons. The upgrade introduces new software routines and secondly has to mesh with previously existing software and data structures. If corrections to software are necessary these changes can occur immediately over the modem or internet or new programs will be forwarded via diskettes or cds. Before an upgrade is sent out the following procedure is followed. New routines are created in a subdirectory of the PCS. After these routines are tested they are transferred to the Sudbury Collection Office. If any errors missed during the original testing are located they are immediately addressed. After the new software has been online in Sudbury for a period of time, upgrades are sent out in series with certain offices going online with the new software first.
  8. User error: The most common form of problem that PCS staff deals with is user error. The types of errors which occur range a great deal in substance and complexity. Support offered by this office is by phone, fax, email and icq. We tend to prefer the visual method of communication since there is often output of some kind to make it easier to explain what the concern is. Additionally we have found that when the affected office has to write down the problem, more details are usually included. Occasionally users will request assistance in resolving a problem which doesn't exist. Please be sure there is a problem before asking for help. If there is a problem please don't fax something like: I was entering a transaction the amount was different. Since we will have no idea what you are talking about we will fax back a request for clarification (eg. What amount, on what account). If your system is down then certainly phoning is the quickest way to get a response.
Additional Notes: Occasionally we get questioned on the vunerability of the PCS to viruses. Because you use a Unix Operating System as opposed to a Windows/DOS System the viruses which commonly affect other users cannot normally interface with your system. Offices which have internet access are advised to purchase a product like a Dlink 704/707 with built in firewall capabilities as the router/gateway connecting your LAN to the internet. Anti-virus software should be installed and regularly upgraded on your network. It cannot be stated often enough the single most important thing that you can do is ensure that you are creating reliable backups. When this office attempts to solve problems your office is experiencing it is very important that you tell us everything that happened prior to the problems occurrence to the best of your knowledge. There are cases where we have to rely on your ability to describe what you have done and what the result was in order to duplicate or trace the problem.

Services (After Jan. 1, 2000):

PCS Basic Customer Services provide:
  • Problem Reporting: Can be by Fax, Email or ICQ. Responses will be within 4 business hours or less.
  • Website FAQs: Often as we resolve common issues we will place the applicable Frequently Asked Question along with the answer on our website. You will have a login and password to access this information using a built in search engine to locate the potential problem resolution.
  • Recovery Assistance: Let's face it, we all make mistakes. It's just that when it comes to computers and their applications those mistakes can be stubborn to fix. Not to worry, we're here to help.
  • Bug Fixes: As good as our software is, and it is good, there can still be non-conformances in the program. Basic Customer Service provides an ongoing, no hassle, extended warranty for the application software.
  • Upgrade Revenue Protection: The Collection Industry is constantly evolving and changing. We are continuously upgrading our software and as these new product features become available, they are yours to implement.
  • Product Input: Our customers often call with change requests, and often they are excellent additions to our product line. Your organization will have direct access to our product enhancement team to help plot the course of enhancements that meet your needs.
  • Minor Enhancements: Sometimes you need a minor change to your final integration to accommodate a process change or a third party system change. At the discretion of the Customer Services Team, minor enhancements can be done at no charge with no hassle.
  • Catastrophic Failures: Many vendors charge hundreds or thousands of dollars for restoring or recovering a system that has experience a catastrophic failure, (theft, fire, flood, etc.). With our Basic Customer Services, we will restore your system from your backups onto your new equipment at no charge. This is like a "piece of mind" insurance policy.
  • Training Discounts: Turnover is a fact of life in the collection business. With Basic Customer Services, 10% of your annual fees can be applied towards the training or new administrators or retraining of your existing staff.
  • User Meetings: Ability to attended and contribute to the PCS user's meetings. This gives you the opportunity to guide the future direction and development of the software to the benefit of your own operation.
Basic Customer Services are 18% of the software license and custom integration costs annually, and are available business days from 8AM to 6 PM EST. Extended hours can be made available for emergency assistance at an extra cost.

PCS Advanced Customer Services provide:
  • All of the components of Basic Customer Services.
  • Problem Reporting: Can be by Phone, Fax Email or ICQ. Responses will be within 2 business hours or less.
  • Priority Service: You've got a problem, and you need it fixed fast. Advanced Customer Service will give you top priority within the PCS organization to get your problems fixed.
  • Technical Consulting: How could I implement this new feature? I'm changing my office layout, my location, my network - how will it affect my computerized collection business? Your staff can pick up the phone and call us for advice.
  • Expert knowledge: PCS has had the experiences of working with dozens of Collection Offices. This has led to our having a broad base of knowledge and experience to share with our clients. Often questions that might take days to research can be answered with one call to the right people - our Advanced Customer Service team.
  • Test Systems: Want to set up a test system for internal testing or training? Advanced Customer Services gives you a free access to a 2nd Branch for up to 30 days at a time. This 2nd branch can be used at your discretion for these non-production purposes.
  • Unix Support: With Advanced Customer Service our staff is prepared to support your Unix Operating System needs. This can include such things as system configurations, user entries, security issues etc.
  • Operating System Updates: Often in the interest of performance or for security concerns, patches or updates become available for Operating Systems. We monitor this and will update your system automatically.
  • Foxbase Support: We are available to resolve any issues with your Foxbase programming language.
Advanced Customer Services are 24% of the software license and custom integration costs annually, and are available business days from 8AM to 6 PM EST. Extended hours can be made available for emergency assistance at an extra cost.

PCS Software Customization:
  • We can accommodate your office's specific needs by offering customization of our software. For example, if your office requires a unique report or modifications one of our existing reports. We can also modify our software to convert electronic files sent to you from your clients (via floppy disk, modem, Tape, Direct Modem communication, Ftp, Internet (Email) transfer or a Third Party Mailbox site).
  • Cost: Custom Programming Service (support Contract): $100.00 / hour (minimum 1 hour)

Services (Prior Jan. 1, 2000):

PCS Hotline Support:

We are equipped to provide consultation, advice and instruction as to the use of the system, procedural information, additional training and management services to all users in the best method of utilizing the P.A.C.S. and other related services.

  • Support available on a priority basis.
  • Hours: Monday - Friday 8:00 to 18:00 EST.
  • Free in house training and retraining.

  • Hotline Support Contract:
  • $100.00 / month
  • Long Distance:
  • At Cost

    PCS Hardware Backup Service:

    We are equipped to maintain a backup computer in case of hardware failure requiring the End User to return any hardware to us or to the manufacturer for service or warranty claims. PCS shall be responsible for maintenance and upgrades on the server and the associated software designated as P.A.C.S. Software for the period of the applicable support contract. Peripheral devices are covered by the associated manufacture's warrantees.

    • PCS will ship within 24 hours notice.
    • Priority is given to support contracts.
    • Telephone support is free during installation.
    • Hard drives will be preformatted with Unix/FoxBase.
    • After hours shipping and support is available at an additional cost.
    • On-site support is available.

  • Monthly Backup Fee:
  • $175.00 / month
  • Travel (if necessary):
  • At Cost
  • Long Distance:
  • At Cost
  • Cost:
  • At Cost

    Daily rentals are available if no service contract is in place.

    PCS Unix/FoxBase Service:

    We are equipped to provide support for your SCO Unix operating systems and your SCO FoxBase program language.

    • Support available on a priority basis.
    • Access to SCO softcare technical support.
    • Hours: Monday - Friday 8:00 to 18:00 EST.
    • After hours support is available at an additional cost.
    • Free SCO Technical Bulletins.

  • Monthly Contract:
  • $50.00 / month
  • Long Distance:
  • At Cost

    If no contract please see below for support costs.

    PCS Enhancement Service:

    PCS is equipped to provide new products, new reports, enhanced ergonomics, new technologies, interconnectivity, and other enhancements on an outgoing and periodic basis.

    • Support available on a priority basis.
    • Maintenance and debugging of current version.
    • Free shipping of periodic enhancements.
    • Free telephone support for software bugs.
    • Free telephone support during installation.
    • End-user input through fax requests and user meetings.
    • Lower cost of customization through standardization.

  • Enhancement Contract: :
  • $225.00 / month


    PCS Silvercare Service:

    The Silvercare Service Contract is a combination service contract which includes all the features and benefits of the following PCS service contracts:

  • Hardware Backup Service:
  • $175.00 / month
  • Unix/FoxBase/Service:
  • $50.00 / month
  • Enhancement Service:
  • $225.00 / month
    Total Value: $450.00 / month

    Package Cost:

  • Silvercare Service Contract:
  • $295.00 / month

    PCS Goldcare Service:

    The Goldcare Service Contract is a combination service contract which includes all the features and benefits of the following PCS service contracts:

  • Hardware Backup Service:
  • $175.00 / month
  • Unix/FoxBase/Service:
  • $50.00 / month
  • Enhancement Service:
  • $225.00 / month
  • Hotline Support:
  • $100.00 / month
    Total Value: $550.00 / month

    Package Cost:

  • Goldcare Service Contract:
  • $350.00 / month

    Non-Contract Support:

    Clients without support contracts will be charged $275.00 per hour/per call plus expenses. 1 hour minimum charge.

    Additionally, the client will have to forward a retainer of a 1 hour minimum charge before assistance will be provided.

    Response will be within 48 hours after receiving the retainer.

    Custom programming for clients without support contracts will incur a charge $275.00 per hour. One half of the estimated cost will have to be paid before any custom programming is done.

    Problems can be reported by fax or email only.

    Support will be maintained for the current version of the software or one version number below at the above rates. Support for any older versions will be billed at $400.00 / hour. 2 hour minimum charge.
      © Porcupine Computer Systems, 1999-2008