Network Versions of DONATION
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The Network versions of DONATION can be installed on multiple computers on a local area network (usually in your organization's office), or optionally on computers in separate locations (e.g. home and office) over the Internet. (See below for details on the Internet option.) With the Network Versions, you have only one copy of the database, on a computer running what is called the Network Server version of DONATION, and all other computers run what is called the Network Client version of DONATION, and access the database that is on the Network Server version's computer.
There are two other ways to run DONATION on multiple computers, detailed in the Multiple User Options page: with separate Standalone or Lite installations, copying the database around via backups, or via remote access software.The option using separate Standalone versions, detailed in the page Transfer your Data between Computers, is the most common option selected by users who want to have DONATION on both home and office computers.
This page is only about the Network Versions, however.
Network Server Version
The Network Server version is installed via the doninstNetServer.exe installation program. This installs, as part of the installation of DONATION, the Firebird Server database software, which runs as a service on your computer, and which can make access to the database available from other computers as well. The database file must also be on a local hard drive of the computer that the Network Server version is installed on. Only one computer on a network should have the Network Server version installed on it.
Network Client Version
The Network Client version is installed via the doninstNetClient.exe installation program. This can be used on a second or further computer on the same network that a Network Server version was installed on, and it accesses the database that is on the computer that the Network Server version was installed on.
N.B. the two Network versions are not available with the free Lite version of DONATION.
If you are running a firewall on the computer running the Network Server version, you may have to make an adjustment, so that the Network Client computers can access the database on it. You will know you might have this problem if you get an error message during the installation of the Network Client version (and/or when trying to run that version) that includes the words "Failed to establish a connection". (Alternatively, you could get that message because either the computer name or the directory and filename of the database file were specified incorrectly, when installing the Network Client version.)
If you have this problem and are using the Windows Firewall on your computer running the Network Server version of DONATION, you can set up an appropriate Exception as follows:
For Windows XP:
For Windows 7 or 8:
For other versions of Windows, it should be something similar to one of the two above sets of steps.
If you are using different firewall software (not Windows Firewall), the important thing is to allow incoming TCP accesses to port number 3050 on the computer running the Network Server version of DONATION.
When you receive license keys for the program, special license keys are needed if you are using the Network versions (Network Server on one computer, Network Client on one or more other computers). The network versions of DONATION always allows up to five simultaneous users for the one price.
The same license key should be installed on all computers on your network on which you install DONATION, whether they are running the Network Server version or the Network Client version. This applies both to your initial install, and if you get an updated license key after any annual renewal payment.
Detecting your Version
If you are not sure which version of DONATION you are running, use Help à About DONATION ..., and it will tell you in the window that comes up.
Simultaneous Users and Limitations
To be clear about simultaneous users, you are allowed to have one Network Server installation, and any number of Network Client installations. Multiple users can be running DONATION at the same time, accessing the same database.
While you can have simultaneous users running DONATION, there are some actions in the program that can only be run when you are the only user running DONATION. There are also some actions that can only be run from the Network Server installation. For instance, Restoring a backup database, Validating your database or creating a new database in the Database à Switch Databases window can only be done from the Network Server installation. And making backups behaves somewhat differently, depending on which version you are using.
Some actions can only be done when you are the only user running DONATION (whether on a Network Server version or a Network Client version) because I have judged that there is too much danger of conflicting or inconsistent data being put into the database if more than one person tries to do the same actions at the same time. For instance, creating receipts with the Receipt menu options, or using One Date Batch Entry of donations. In these cases, you will receive a message from the program informing you of why you cannot do that action at that time. To resolve the problem, ask other simultaneous users of DONATION to exit the program, and then try the action again.
In some other cases, two or more users can do the same thing at the same time (e.g. creating or editing donors or donations on the main window), but in unusual circumstances, you may get an error message. For instance, suppose two users are simultaneously making an address change for the exact same donor. The first one that clicks Save will have their changes saved, but the second one will probably get a slightly technical-looking error message saying "Record changed between retrieve and update", and will not be able to save their changes. They will have to click Cancel to abandon their changes.
When you do have a network version allowing for simultaneous users, a Refresh button appears at the top right of the Donor List on the main window. Clicking that will reload the main window, to pick up changes made by other simultaneous users, for instance added or deleted donors, changes to donor names, changes to the lists of donor or donation categories, etc.
Although the DONATION program almost never crashes, if it does, or if a user running DONATION restarts or turns off their computer without exiting DONATION first or there is a power failure, a minor problem can occur. Any user on another computer that tries to run DONATION may get a message that the maximum number of simultaneous users has been exceeded, when it in fact hasn't. That's because the copy of DONATION that crashed, or wasn't exited properly when its computer was restarted, didn't have a chance to notify the Firebird Server that it had exited, and thus the Firebird Server thinks it is still using up one of your simultaneous users. Fortunately, this problem is easily resolved - wait two minutes and try again, and it will be OK, because indications in the Firebird Server that any given simultaneous user is using DONATION are automatically cleared after two minutes.
Switching Databases and the Network Version
If you are maintaining multiple databases for multiple organizations with the Database à Switch Databases menu option, only the Network Server version can create new databases. Once it has done so, users of the Network Client version can also access those new databases. However, to get access to them, you need to manually copy the file named databases.txt from the program's Data Directory on the computer with the Network Server version to the Data Directory of any computers with the Network Client version.
Mail Merge Letters Files
If you use the Letters menu options to send mail-merge letters or receipts to your donors, you will probably customize the standard letter files distributed with the program. Those files are found in the Letters subdirectory of the Data Directory. The issue with this for network users is that each computer on your network on which you have installed DONATION has its own copy of the letters files.
So, if you customize those files on one computer running DONATION, and want to be able to do mail merges with those same customized files on another of your DONATION computers, you need to transfer the letters files from the first computer to the second one. An easy way to do this is using the instructions in Backing up and Restoring Letters Files.
Memorized Reports Files
If you use memorized reports, they are stored in the Reports subdirectory of the Data Directory on each computer. So as with the letters files, each computer that wants to be able to use those memorized reports will need its own copy of them. To transfer them between the different computers on your network on which you have installed DONATION, follow the instructions for backing up and restoring those reports, to copy them from the one computer (with backup) to another computer (with restore).
Uninstalling the Network Server Version of DONATION
If you are running the network server version of DONATION, and you decide to uninstall DONATION, an extra step may be required.
If you are sure you do not want to use DONATION again, and if in addition you are sure that you are not running any other applications that use the Firebird Server database software, you can uninstall the Firebird Server from Control Panel's Add or Remove Programs tool (called Programs and Features in Windows Vista). It will show as "Firebird 2.0.3" in the list of installed programs.
If you have version 3.11 or higher of DONATION, you may be prompted to uninstall the Firebird Server as part of DONATION's uninstall process. If you do get that prompt, and answer Yes, then you don't have to also separately remove it with Control Panel.
Using Terminal Services Clients
Some users have asked about having the clients access a single Network Client installation via Terminal Services, rather than installing the Network Client version of DONATION on their individual computers. If this would mean that each client would appear to have the same COMPUTERNAME (in its environment variables) that could cause very serious problems. The reason is explained above, where it talks about some features (including issuing receipts) that can only be done when only one user is running DONATION at a time. When each user's COMPUTERNAME is the same, no matter how many users are running simultaneously, the program will always think there is only one user, because that is how they are distinguished. So those actions that I have deemed to be dangerous if more than one user was attempting them at the same time will be able to be done by multiple users simultaneously.
So, the obvious conclusion is to not do that. If you are using Terminal Services, it must be done in a way where each user appears to have a different COMPUTERNAME.
Although the Network Versions are usually run only over a local area network within one location, it is also possible to run them over the Internet, for instance so that users can access the same database installed in your office, from their homes. However, you will almost certainly need assistance from a network support person to get this working. (I cannot talk a person that isn't familiar with networking issues and router configurations through this!)