Multiple User Options



Multiple User Options

There are several ways to allow users on multiple computers to run ACCOUNTS for the same organization (i.e. on the same database).


The techniques (especially options 1 and 3 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

The most 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.

A variation of this setup is to 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 copy of the one database, and there is no danger of modifying different copies of the database on different computers.

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

2. Network Version

The 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 Network Server version of ACCOUNTS, and all of the other computers run the Network Client version of ACCOUNTS and access the database that is on the Network Server version's computer.

The advantage of using the 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. The disadvantages are that it is somewhat more expensive, and the initial setup is a bit more complex.

On a local area network, the program should run very quickly regardless of whether you are on a computer running the Network Server version of ACCOUNTS, or the Network Client version. It may be just a bit slower with the 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.

However, if you do setup the Network versions over the Internet, users on the computers running the Network Client version may observe noticeably slower response times for all actions that access the database significantly, like large reports, especially if you have a lot of data.

3. 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 (which has a free version). 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 that 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 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 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 the LogMeIn free edition, 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.

4. 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, 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 this with the techniques in option (1) above, Transfer your Data between Computers.