Networking (Connecting Multiple Computers to a Shared Database)
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For a single office, more than one computer on the same network (LAN) is the only
hardware required. One computer holds the database (the server) and the others
(clients) simply use the server's database. The server machine will need to
switched on whenever the clients are in use. A dedicated server computer is
not needed for smaller networks, any modern workstation with Windows XP of later
that can run Palace Stock Tracker will work fine.
Peformance on a single office LAN running at 100Mbs or above should not be an issue
for small to medium sized networks (say 20 machines).
For more than one office (multiple sites) a single LAN will need to created across
all locations. This is normally by achieved installing a "VPN Router" at each
site which will create a single LAN. These can be supplied, installed and
supported by almost any local IT hardware company. Alternatively, most people
with a little technical knowledge can set up a VPN network, routers generally costing
around £200 each (per location). Palace IT can recommend an Ipswich based
IT company who can provide all of this across most of England.
When connecting across multiple sites using a VPN, performance is very much dependant
on the speed of each location's internet connection.
Each location should have at least 0.5Mbs both up and down per computer as a
minumum (i.e. for 2 clients at one location allow 1Mbs both upload
and download). For the server's internet connection, allow at least 0.5Mbs
up and down for each client that is based on a remote site.
This diagram illustrates an example network across 3 sites.
If remote connection speeds are proving to slow Terminal Services provides
fast access across slower connections to the software from any location (even from
home using VPN) without the need to "share" a folder on the server. This works
by each client connecting to a "terminal session" on the server, in basic terms
the software is actually run on the server itsself and "remote controlled" from
each client even though the remote sessions are not visible on the server's screen
allowing many such sessions can run simultaneously. VPN routers are still
recommended when using Terminal Services and a "full on" Windows Server with Terminal
Services licences is required. You should speak to a software supplier or
IT specialist for more assistance. Even though the hardware and licences are
usually expensive, charities can receive considerable discounts using suppliers such as Pugh Computers.
The server computer is just a normal computer running Palace Stock Tracker as if
it was a single computer. The only difference is that the database folder
has to be made visible (shared) on the network.
These instructions are provided as a guide and are demonstrated using Windows XP. Windows Server, Windows Vista and Windows 7 may vary slightly from the instructions below. The instructions include sharing a folder on a network will full user permissions but It is your responsability to secure your network. If you are in doubt about sharing network folders you should always contact a qualified IT professional for bespoke advise.
Locate the installation folder for the software on the server machine.
Right click on the "server" folder and select "Properties" from the pop-up menu
(the window below should appear).
Select "Share This Folder".
Once the database folder has been shared on the server clients can simply connect by entering the correct network path in the Client Options.
These instructions are provided as a guide and are demonstrated using Windows XP. Windows Vista or Windows 7 may vary slightly from the instructions below.
Open "My Computer" and select "Map Network Drive" from the "Tools" menu.
Select a drive letter to use and enter the \\SERVER NAME\server" in the folder box.
The image below assumes the server's computer name is "somecomputer". Change this to the network name or IP address of your server computer or use the "Browse" button to browse to the share on your network.
Once drive R is mapped to the server (drive R should be visible in "My Computer") simply change the database path using Change Folder the Client Options.
The client computer should now be sharing the same database as the server.