Multiple User Options

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There are several ways to allow users on multiple computers to run ACCOUNTS for the same organization (i.e. on the same database). Each section below lists pros and cons of that option after describing the option.

 

These techniques (especially options 1, 4 and 5 below) are also appropriate ways to let your accountant look at and/or work on your accounts in the ACCOUNTS program.

 

1. Multiple Standalone Installs, Copy the Database Around

One common way is for each user to install the normal Standalone version, and to pass around copies of the database, via backup and restore. (Email or Internet backups can be used for this). That way, each user has a local copy of the database, and everything runs at full speed. However, only one user can be modifying the database in any way (data entry etc.) at a time, and you have to have a clear agreement who that is. There is no way to merge changes made by two or more users on their own copies of the database. Full details about this are in the topic Transfer your Data between Computers.

Because of the danger of not coordinating the users correctly and having users make independent changes to different copies of the database, this is the most dangerous of the options to use!

A variation of this setup is to have each computer use the database on a USB memory key, as described below in option 2.

There is no additional charge for installing the Standalone version on multiple computers and using it in either of the above ways.
 

Pros:

No extra cost

Runs quickly.

 

Cons:

Danger of two users making changes on their own copies of the database, which can't be merged.

Some delays when you switch to using the program on one computer (have to restore a backup from somewhere) and when you prepare to switch to another computer (have to make a backup).

 
2. Using the Database on a USB Memory Key

This is quite similar to the first option above, but you have each computer use the database on a USB memory key, and bring your single USB memory key containing the database around to each computer that needs to use it. That way there is only one copy of the database, and there is no danger of modifying different copies of the database on different computers.

This is probably most appropriate for the situation where there is really only one user, who needs to use the program on more than one computer (perhaps at home and at the organization's offices).

There is no additional charge for installing the Standalone version on multiple computers and using it in this way.

Pros:

Fairly simple to set up

No extra cost

Runs quickly

No danger of two users making changes on their own copies of the database, which can't be merged.

No delays starting or exiting ACCOUNTS, except for having to first put in the USB memory key, and safely remove it afterwards.

 

Cons:

You always have to have that USB memory key with you to run ACCOUNTS.

Problems can occur if your computer gets confused and the key shows up with a different drive letter from where it normally shows up.

You need to be sure you have additional backups elsewhere, in case that USB drive dies.

 
3. Local Network Version

The Local Network Version of ACCOUNTS can be used, usually on a local-area network (several computers within your office) but also optionally across the Internet (though the setup is more complex). In this case, there is only one copy of the database, on the computer running the Local Network Server version of ACCOUNTS, and all of the other computers run the Local Network Client version of ACCOUNTS and access the database that is on the Local Network Server version's computer.

The advantage of using the Local Network Versions over multiple Standalone versions is that there is only one copy of the database. Thus there is no chance of having problems with multiple people making changes on multiple copies at once, and being unable to merge those changes.

On a local area network, the program should run very quickly regardless of whether you are on a computer running the Local Network Server version of ACCOUNTS, or the Local Network Client version. It may be just a bit slower with the Local Network Client version, because it is accessing the database on another computer, but this should seldom be very noticeable because local area network connections are generally very fast.

The Local Network Version can also optionally be used across the Internet (though the setup is more complex). However, if you do that, users on the computers running the Local Network Client version will observe noticeably slower response times for all actions that access the database significantly, such as large reports. The Web Network Version described below is another good alternative, if your computers are not on the same local network.
 
Pros:

There is really only one copy of the database file, so there are no real dangers.

Multiple users can use the program simultaneously, all making changes to the data.

Works very quickly when used on a local network, with no delays on startup or exit.

 

Cons:

More expensive

More complex initial setup and maintenance

Much slower if run over the Internet instead of a local network (though we do not recommend that)

Computer running the Local Network Server version has to always be turned on (though not necessarily logged in) for the Local Network Client versions to work.

 
4. Remote Access to One Computer running ACCOUNTS

Another way to do this is with a remote access solution, such as Windows Remote Desktop connections, or a web-based approach such as LogMeIn or TeamViewer. With this setup, there would only be one installation of the Standalone version of ACCOUNTS. With remote access, a user on another computer can view and work on the desktop (screen) of another computer, so if you can set this up, remote users can access the computer running ACCOUNTS and run it remotely. Of course, this would only be one user at a time, and that computer has to be left on at all times during which other users might need to access it remotely. And also, this is exposing everything on that computer running ACCOUNTS to the remote user, not just ACCOUNTS.
 
Setting up Windows Remote Desktop for use over the Internet can be tricky - like the solution for using the Local Network Version of ACCOUNTS over the Internet, it requires that the computer running ACCOUNTS have an Internet-accessible static IP address or hostname. Also, the port it uses (3389) must be opened up on your firewall, and for port forwarding in any router. (See the instructions under Local Network Versions for how to set that up, for its port number, and then you can use the same basic idea for this port number.)
 
However, there are a number of other remote access products out there, such as LogMeIn, that are much easier to set up, and do not require the computer running ACCOUNTS to have an Internet-accessible static IP address or hostname, or for you to open any ports on your router or firewall.
 
What remote access solutions do is transfer your keystrokes and mouse actions to the remote computer, and its screen to your computer. While they are usable over the Internet for limited amounts of work, they are always somewhat slow, so you would have to test this and see whether it really seemed suitable for regular use.

Pros:

There is only one copy of the program and its database file, so there are no real dangers.

Most remote access solutions only allow a single user to be accessing the computer, so there are no dangers related to multiple users.

 

Cons:

Depending on the speed of your Internet connection and the quality of your remote access software, will generally be noticeably slower that running on your own computer.

Requires reliable high-speed Internet.

Somewhat complex to set up initially.

 
WARNING: Do not try to use ACCOUNTS with a remote access solution that allows multiple users to access the program on the same computer at the same time - this could cause serious problems!

5. Web Network Version

This upcoming version is scheduled to be available in late 2017 or early 2018. It is not yet available in this release of ACCOUNTS.

With this version, the program will still be installed on your Windows computer, but your database will be stored on our Internet server ("in the cloud"). The program will securely access that database directly over the Internet. Each user of this version for a given database will have their own login (an email address) and password required to access the database.

There will be options (depending on whether you pay at the Standalone Version rate or Local Network Version rate) of whether only one user can use a given Web Network Version database at a time, or whether you can have multiple simultaneous users.

Pros:

There is only one copy of the database file, so there are no real dangers of users making independent changes to independent copies of it, that cannot then be merged.

The database is accessible from any computer on which you have installed the Web Network Version.

We will take care of regular backups, so you don't have to.

Your existing database from other versions of ACCOUNTS can be converted to a Web Network Version database.

License keys will be not be required, so you don't have to manually request them after each payment as with all other versions.

 

Cons:

Depending on the speed of your Internet connection, this version will generally be noticeably slower than running other versions with the database on your own computer, or even on a local network with the regular Local Network Versions.

Requires reliable high-speed Internet.

If you have multiple databases for multiple organizations, you will have to pay independently for each one, unlike existing versions where you can add additional databases for free.

Because this is a service (not just software installed on your computer), annual renewals will be required to keep using it, unlike existing versions.

 
6. Sharing the Database with Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive etc.

This is just listed here as something you absolutely should not do! Do not try to move the database file itself to a 3rd-party cloud storage location such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Sync.com etc. It is just a recipe for disaster, because there is no way to prevent multiple users from accessing it at the same time, and there is a real potential for damaging your database because of the way those services work.

There is nothing wrong with using a shared cloud storage location as a place to save your database backups, though, and you could use those backups with the techniques in option (1) above, Transfer your Data between Computers.
 
Multiple Users with Multiple Databases

The program allows you to have multiple databases for multiple organizations, through the File ⇒ New Database and File ⇒ Open Database menu options, with no extra charge (except for the Web Network Version). If you have multiple people using the program (which we call "users"), all of whom regularly use the multiple databases, that is fine.

However, if there really is just one main person using each database, who is different from the main person using each other database, and other users never (or only rarely) access that database, that is not the intention of our allowing this to be done with no extra charge. In that case, we would expect that the main user for each organization / database would register and pay for the program separately.

For instance, if one user uses ACCOUNTS for two churches, but occasionally another user needs to look at both of those databases, or take over while the first user is away on vacation, that's fine.

But suppose you have one primary user using ACCOUNTS for one church, and a different primary user using ACCOUNTS for another church, with perhaps occasional switching places while one or the other is on vacation. If they have only one registration and payment, and they are using multiple databases through File ⇒ Open Database and using one of the multiple user options discussed above, that would not be considered to be a reasonable application of our pricing structure. They should register and pay separately.