Use the Database on a USB Memory Key

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Use the Database on a USB Memory Key

It is possible to change the program's setup to use the database on a USB memory key. This would be most advantageous if you have the program installed on multiple computers, perhaps one at your home and one in your organization's office, and you want to bring the database with you as you move between those different computers. This is for users of the Standalone versions of ACCOUNTS, but not the network versions.

 

This is not a method of making database backups! Please see Making Data Backups for how to do that. And this technique is only for users who are quite confident about their computer skills.

 

There is no additional charge for this setup.

 

You do need to be aware that the program may run somewhat slower with the database on a USB memory key than when the database is on your hard drive, in the normal setup.

 

This could also be done with an external hard drive, but for simplicity the rest of this help topic will just refer to it as a USB memory key. USB memory keys are also known as jump drives or memory sticks. Please note that the only places you can move the database to are ones that are physically attached to your computer, so a network drive is not an option - it just will not work at all.

 

Doing this is similar to the options described in the Help topic Transfer your Data between Computers, but in this case, there is only one copy of the database. As such, there is no danger of different copies of the database being modified independently. (That would be bad, because changes made to multiple copies of a database cannot be merged).

 

You need to carefully perform several slightly technical steps on each computer (once) to make this work:

 

1.Install the Standalone version of ACCOUNTS normally, if it is not already installed.
 

2.If you already have data on this computer, make a backup of it before continuing, for safety.

 

3.Use the Tools Explore Data Directory menu option to open a My Computer / Windows Explorer-type window showing the program's Data Directory.
 

4.Without closing that window, switch back to ACCOUNTS, and exit ACCOUNTS.
 

5.Back in the window showing the Data Directory, find the file ACCOUNTS.INI (it may show up as just ACCOUNTS, saying that it is an INI file). Right-click on that file, and pick Open or Edit from the popup menu. That will open the file in the simple text editing program Notepad.
 

6.Find the line that starts "DatabaseDirectory=", and change it to read "DatabaseDirectory=E:", without the quotes. (This assumes that when you plug in a USB memory key on this computer, it comes up as the drive E:. If it comes up as some other drive, change that line accordingly.)
 

7.Save that change with the File ⇒ Save menu option in Notepad, then exit Notepad.
 

8.Only on the computer that has the most current version of the database, plug in your USB memory key. From the window showing the Data Directory, drill down into its subdirectory named Data. You should see files there named ACCOUNTS.DB and ACCOUNTS.metadata, and one or more files named YourOrganization.S4A. Copy all files in that directory to the USB memory key, in its main directory, for example E:\.
 

9.Exit the Window showing the Data Directory.

 

Now when you run ACCOUNTS on any computer, being sure to have the USB memory key containing the database plugged in, it will be accessing the database from the USB memory key.

 

Note: If you prefer to put the database files in a subdirectory of your USB memory key, that is fine too. If for instance you wanted them to be on E:\Data, then you would  set "DatabaseDirectory=E:\Data" in the ACCOUNTS.INI file.

 

Potential Problems with this Setup

 

This should be obvious, but never remove the USB memory key holding your database while you are running ACCOUNTS! There is a real chance of your database being corrupted if you do that.

 

Sometimes on a computer, if you do not eject a USB memory key before removing it, and then plug in a different USB memory key (or the same one again), it comes up with the next available drive letter. So for instance if your USB memory key on a given computer usually comes up as E:, then you remove it, and re-insert it, it may come up as F:.

 

If that happens and you have ACCOUNTS set up to access the database on E:, and you then run ACCOUNTS, it will not find the database. You will see an error message such as:

 

UnavailableDB

 

You can click OK after plugging in the correct drive, and the program will try to connect to it again, or click Cancel if that is not possible (because the drive came up on the wrong drive letter) and the program will exit.

 

If you did have to cancel because the drive came up on the wrong drive letter, find the control in your Windows System Tray, which is at the bottom right of your Taskbar, or in the popup list of other tools, accessed from the System Tray, for "Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media", or words to that effect. Click on it, which will bring up a list of drives that can be ejected. Click on the one (or ones) that need to be ejected. After that, it should say that the drive can be safely removed, so remove it. Once you have ejected whatever USB drives it says are there, you should be able to put the USB memory key back in, and have it show up as the normal expected drive letter, for example E:, and you should then be able to run ACCOUNTS successfully.

 

In some cases if you can't get the drive to come up as the expected letter, you may have to give up and re-edit the ACCOUNTS.INI file to change the DatabaseDirectory setting you set above. You find it in the Data Directory of the program, which you can navigate to directly in Computer, My Computer, or Windows Explorer.

 

Another issue with this setup is that if you contact us for support, and there is any chance a problem you are discussing with us might be related to the location of the database, you must mention that you are using this setup with the database living on a USB memory key.

 

Backups with this Setup

 

Normally a USB memory key is one of the most recommended places to backup your database to. However, when the database already lives on a USB memory key, you need to back it up somewhere else, either to the hard drive(s) of your computer(s), or to a different USB memory key, and/or use the options for Email Backups or Internet Backups.

 

If you just backup to the same USB memory key, then if that key dies (which can happen) or is lost, you have nothing. (That's the same issue as if your database lives on your hard drive, in the normal setup, and you backup only to that hard drive. If that hard drive dies, you have nothing.) The program will actually warn you if you are trying to make backups to the same drive (whether the local hard drive or a removable drive like a USB memory key) on which the database file itself is located.

 

What Not to Do

 

Do not use the techniques for editing the ACCOUNTS.INI file described in this page to move the database 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 this with the techniques described in Transfer your Data between Computers.