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Remote Database Version Overview
Some users may wish to install DONATION on two or more computers (for instance, one at work and one at home) and have access to the same database from those computers. This could be for themselves, or for different people. The Remote Database Version is one way to do that, when the computers are separated over the Internet, rather than always being in one location.
Note: This version was previously called the Web Network Version.
There are also several other options for multiple users accessing DONATION, detailed on the Multiple User Options page, with pros and cons for each option, including the Standard version's Cloud Storage Service, or using the Local Network Versions of DONATION, or using a remote-access solution.
This page is only about the Remote Database Version.
Most users who need to share access to the same database over the Internet, but do not need multiple people doing data entry at exactly the same time, will prefer the Standard version with the Cloud Storage Service to the Remote Database Version, because it is much faster.
With this version, the program will still be installed on your Windows computers, 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.
Like the Local Network Version, with the Remote Database Version 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 Cloud Storage Service also eliminates that danger.) The Remote Database Version's database is accessible from any computer on which you have installed that version of the program.
Of course, because you are accessing your data over the Internet, this version will generally be much slower than running any other version. You should only consider this version if you have reliable high-speed Internet.
The Remote Database Version of DONATION has the same price as the Local Network Version, which is higher than the price of the regular Standard version, because both allow you to have multiple users doing data entry simultaneously (at exactly the same time).
Note: For payments received up to December 31, 2019, there is a lower pricing level available for a Remote Database Version that only allows one simultaneous user. After that date, that pricing level will be eliminated because we believe users who only need one simultaneous user of a database will prefer the cheaper and much faster Standard version with the Cloud Storage Service.
Because the Remote Database Version involves a service (hosting your database on our server), there are some significant pricing differences from all other versions:
•Annual renewals are required to keep using it after the first year. If you do not pay your renewal when your current annual support expires, you will lose access to your database until you pay again, after a 30-day grace period.
•If you have multiple databases for multiple organizations, you will have to register independently (with different email addresses) and pay independently for each one, unlike all other versions (except for the free feature-limited Lite version) where you can add additional databases for free.
We will take care of your backups for you with this version, so you don't have to worry about them. Because of this, most of the Backup/Restore menu options are not present in this version.
See Remote Database Version Backups for full details.
Unlike all other versions of DONATION, there is no need for license keys after each payment. The program will communicate with the server each time you run it, to determine its licensing status.
Login and Startup
As mentioned above, each user of a Remote Database Version database will have their own login. Please see Remote Database Version Login and Startup for how your program and its database are initially set up.
That section also explains potential problems connection to the server, particularly about firewalls.
Conversion from Previous Versions of DONATION
If you install the Remote Database Version on top of an existing Lite, Standard, or Local Network Server version of DONATION, the first thing that will happen is that it will ask you to re-register. This is a required special registration step, to inform us that you want to use the Remote Database Version. The email address you use in the registration will become your login username. You will not be able to use the program until we receive your registration, manually create your database, and email back to you to inform you of your initial password. (You can continue to use that password, or change it later.)
Once you can log in with that email address and password, you will be prompted to convert the data from your existing local DONATION database to the new remote database. This conversion is also referred to as an "upload".
Note: The one version you cannot do the initial conversion from is the Local Network Client version of DONATION, if you had that on your computer as part of a Local Network Version installation. If you do have that version on your computer, install the Remote Database Version on the computer running the Local Network Server version first, and do the uploading of your data there. Then you can install the Remote Database Version on top of your Local Network Client version, and log in to the same database.
For users of the Standard version, who were already sharing the database between multiple computers in other ways - using the Cloud Storage Service or Transfer your Data between Computers, just make sure you do the initial install of the Remote Database Version, and conversion, on a computer that has the latest version of your database on it. You can then assign logins to the other users as explained in Remote Database Version User Management, then they can install the Remote Database Version and login to your shared remote database.
If one user is using the Remote Database Version, all users have to, or you will not be accessing the same copy of the database!
See Remote Database Version Login and Initial Setup for further details.
Managing Users and Logins
Each user of the Remote Database Version should have their own login email address and password. See Remote Database Version User Management for details on setting that up and managing it.
Please see the Remote Database Version Security page.
Users with Multiple Databases
Because of the pricing discussed above - the requirement to register independently and pay independently for each remote database - we do not believe that many users who currently have multiple databases in DONATION will choose to upgrade to the Remote Database Version. (For all other versions except for Lite, which doesn't support multiple databases, additional databases are free of charge, unless you exceed 5 databases.)
One situation in which there would still be no additional charge for this with the Remote Database Version is if the multiple databases were already registered separately and being paid for separately, but one or more users use more than one of those databases. That might be a fill-in volunteer or staff person who also works with another organization, or perhaps your accountant.
If you do choose to pay for multiple remote databases yourself, the initial setup for that with the Remote Database Version is a bit different. These instructions assume that you already had both databases in a previous non-Remote Database version of DONATION, on the same computer. (Contact us for instructions if that is not your situation.)
First, use the Database -> Switch Databases menu option to switch the current local database - which doesn't do anything to your current remote database. Next, exit the program, restart it, and use the Register button on the Login window to register a 2nd email address, with the details for that other database that you just switched to locally.
As with your initial setup for your first database, you will then have to wait for Software4Nonprofits to create a 2nd remote database associated with that 2nd email address, and email you your login information using that email address. Once you have that, start DONATION again, and login with the new email address and password we sent you, and follow the prompts to upload the data from that other local database to the new remote database. (While you are waiting for that, of course you can still login to your original database with your original login email address!)
Once that upload is done, you can log in to whichever of the databases you want to by using the appropriate email address for your login, when you start DONATION.
If you need to do this and you don't currently have a 2nd email address, please try to obtain one yourself, whether it is on the domain of the organization you are doing this for (if they have their own email domain), or as a free address from one of the standard free email services, such as Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc. You can then set up that email address to always forward all emails to your main email address, if you wish, so that all emails sent to either address come into the same Inbox.
One trick users who have existing Gmail accounts can do to obtain a 2nd address, without having to actually create an additional email address with Gmail, is to just use a variation of their current address, by adding a plus sign (+) and anything else, just before the @ sign. So for instance if your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, any variation such as email@example.com or johnsmith+otherChurchName@gmail.com will seem different to us, but emails sent to that variation will automatically go into the same Inbox as the ones sent to firstname.lastname@example.org! (Gmail just considers them to be the same address.)
The other case is the one described in the 2nd paragraph of this section, where there are users who have access to two or more existing remote databases that are already paid for independently. Those users do NOT have to register a 2nd email address with us - they can just be granted access by the Administrators of those DONATION remote databases, using the same email address for each one.
Simultaneous Users and Limitations
With the Remote Database Version you are allowed up to 5 users simultaneously accessing the same DONATION database. When you are first evaluating the program (before you pay), only one user can use it at a time.
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, because we 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, uploading or downloading data. 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 addition, only one user at a time can be creating receipts, or doing other Receipt menu options that can affect receipts, although other users can still be logged into DONATION at the same time. If you do have multiple users wanting to create individual receipts at the same time, please be careful to do your printing (or saving to PDF, or emailing) of those receipts, then exit the report viewing window, as quickly as possible. It's only after you exit the window viewing the receipts (or finish any other actions affecting receipts) that another user can do Receipt menu actions.
In some other cases, two or more users can do the same thing at the same time (for example 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 Remote Database 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 includes if only one simultaneous user is allowed!) 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 database server that it had exited, and thus the 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 server that any given simultaneous user is using DONATION are automatically cleared after two minutes.
WARNING: The Program will Exit after Two Hours of Inactivity
Because you are using up server resources, you should exit DONATION when you are not using it. This is also relevant if your license only allows one simultaneous user, because nobody else can use it while you are doing so. If you are using the Remote Database Version and you leave DONATION running for two hours without doing anything in it, it will automatically disconnect from the server and exit the program, so that others can use it and you are no longer using up server resources. The program will of course tell you it has done that.
Please note that this automatic exiting after two hours of inactivity will also abandon any unsaved changes to a donor or a donation on the main window. So you should never leave the program alone for that long when you are in the middle of unsaved data entry! It will not abandon unsaved work in the Batch Entry window.
Switching Back from the Remote Database Version to another Version
Please see the section on Switching to Another Version for information on how you can do this.