Local Network Versions of ACCOUNTS

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Local Network Versions of ACCOUNTS

Note: These versions used to be called just the "Network Version", but are now called "Local Network Versions" to make it clearer where they can run.

 

The Local Network Versions of ACCOUNTS can be installed on multiple computers on a local area network (usually in your organization's office). With the Local Network Versions, you have only one copy of the database, on a computer running what is called the Local Network Server version of ACCOUNTS, and all other computers run what is called the Local Network Client version of ACCOUNTS, and access the database that is on the Local Network Server version's computer.

 

While there is a way to use the Local Network versions for computers over the Internet (for instance, home and office), it is not recommended for that use. One possible exception would be if your users are almost always within the same local network, but just very occasionally someone needs to use it over the Internet. See below for details on options to do that.

 

There are several better ways to run ACCOUNTS on multiple computers over the Internet, detailed in the Multiple User Options page. Using separate Standard versions with the Cloud Storage Service and the OnDemand Version are both good options.

 

This page is only about the Local Network Versions, however.

 

Local Network Server Version

 

The Local Network Server version is installed via the accinstNetServer.exe installation program, which you get from the DOWNLOAD page on the program's website, at https://www.software4nonprofits.com/accounts/download.htm. As part of the installation of ACCOUNTS, this installs 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 Local Network Server version is installed on. Only one computer on a network should have the Local Network Server version installed on it.
 
The computer on which the Local Network Server version of ACCOUNTS is installed does not have to be what is conventionally called a network server computer, or be running a special Windows server operating system, although that certainly works. Most commonly, it should just be the computer belonging to the main user of ACCOUNTS.
 
If you are upgrading from the Standard version to the Local Network Versions, the easiest thing to do, assuming the Standard version was already on a computer on your network that you want to keep using ACCOUNTS on, is to just upgrade that computer to the Local Network Server version, by running accinstNetServer.exe on it.
 
Note: you do not have to share the drive or directory that contains the database file (normally Data\OrganizationName.S4A, under the program's Data Directory). The Firebird Server database does not require file sharing for it to work - it only uses TCP/IP.
 

Local Network Client Version

 

The Local Network Client version is installed via the accinstNetClient.exe installation program, which you get from the DOWNLOAD page on the program's website, at https://www.software4nonprofits.com/accounts/download.htm. This can be used on a second or further computer on the same network that a Local Network Server version was installed on, and it accesses the database that is on the computer that the Local Network Server version was installed on.
 
When you install this version, it will prompt you to specify the network name of the computer that the Local Network Server Version was installed on.
 
To be sure you have the correct computer name of the computer running the Local Network Server Version of ACCOUNTS, do the following. On the computer with the Local Network Server Version of ACCOUNTS installed on it, run ACCOUNTS, and use the Tools Network Client Information menu option. It will give you the exact information needed by the prompt for the "Computer Running Network Server" in the Local Network Client Version's installation program. If that is not entered correctly, the client version will not be able to connect to the server version. On that Network Client Information window, you can click Print to print the information out, or Open in Word to open the information in a file in Microsoft Word, which you could then take to the client computer and use for cutting and pasting if necessary.
 
Important: The Local Network Client Version will not be able to run, and will give error messages during its installation, unless the computer on which the Local Network Server Version was installed is also running and logged in (though ACCOUNTS doesn't have to be running on it).
 
If you ever run the Local Network Client Version of ACCOUNTS and it can't open the database, the program will give you an option to correct the name of the Local Network Server Version's computer. This is useful if you are moving the Local Network Server version to a new computer.

 

Firewalls

 

If you are running a firewall on the computer running the Local Network Server version, you may have to make an adjustment, so that the Local Network Client computers can access the database on it on port 3050. You will know you might have this problem if you get an error message during the installation of the Local 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 Local Network Client version.)

 

If you have this problem and are using the Windows Firewall or Windows Defender Firewall on your computer running the Local Network Server version of ACCOUNTS, you can set up an appropriate Exception as follows:

 

For Windows 7:

 

1.From the Windows Start Menu, select Control Panel.

2.In Control Panel, select Windows Firewall.

3.Assuming the Windows Firewall State is On (if it is Off, this isn't the problem!), click Advanced Settings on the left.

4.In the window that comes up, click Inbound Rules on the left, then New Rule on the right.

5.In the window that comes up, click Port, then Next.

6.Make sure TCP is selected in the next screen, and Specific Local Ports is selected. To the right of Specific Local Ports, enter "3050", without the quotes, in the entry field. Click Next.

7.Make sure Allow the Connection is selected in the next screen, and click Next.

8.You can leave all of the checkboxes selected in the next screen (though it's probably safer to uncheck "Public"), and then click Next.

9.Enter a Name for this rule on the next screen (for example something like "Firebird Server for ACCOUNTS"), then click Finish.

10.You can then close the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security window

 

For Windows 10 with Windows Defender:

 

1.Right-click on the Windows Start Menu, and pick Settings from the popup menu.

2.Click on Updates and Security

3.In the window that comes up, click on Windows Defender on the left.

4.In the window that comes up, Click on Firewall and Network Protection.

5.In the window that comes up, click on Advanced Settings near the bottom.

6.At this point just follow steps 4 through 9 in the section above for Windows 7 or 8.

7.Close the remaining windows that you have opened.

 

For other versions of Windows, it should be something similar to one of the two sets of steps above.

 

If you are using different firewall software (not Windows Firewall or Windows Defender Firewall), the important thing is to allow incoming TCP accesses to port number 3050 on the computer running the Local Network Server version of ACCOUNTS.

 

We're sorry, we cannot help you with figuring out how to make firewall changes on other security software. Please read the Help of that software to learn how to make this change, or consult your more general Windows or network support people for assistance if necessary.

 

Advanced Diagnosis of Local Network Client Connection Failures

 

If your Local Network Client installation doesn't work, first, be sure you have done all of the following:

 

opened the firewall on the Local Network Server Version computer on port 3050

done the installation on the Local Network Client Version using the information copied and pasted from the Word document you can get from the Local Network Server computer's ACCOUNTS program, using its Tools Network Client Information menu option, and

informed us of any error messages that came up when you ran Tools Network Client Information (it does various checks to help make sure the client installs will work)

 

Once you have done all of them, here are some advanced techniques you can use to diagnose the program.

 

These instructions are for people who are comfortable with Windows, including using Command Prompt windows. (In almost all cases, though, none of this should be necessary!)

 

First, in a Command Prompt window on the Local Network Client computer, run:

 

ping servername

 

where servername is what is shown as "Computer Running Local Network Server" in the Local Network Client Information window referred to above. That should return several rows of reply information, or an error message. If there's an error message, it usually means that the server name is incorrect or somehow not visible on your local network. Consult your network support people to resolve that problem.

 

If that worked, try the following command:

 

telnet servername 3050

 

with the same servername. If that comes back with an error such as "'telnet' is not recognized as an internal or external command ...", you need to make the telnet program available on your computer. To do that, go into Windows Control Panel, then Programs and Features, then click the link for "Turn Windows features on or off". In the window that comes up, scroll down and find "Telnet client", click in the checkbox for it to turn it on, and press OK. Then you can go back to your Command Prompt window and try the above command again.

 

If port 3050 is available on that server computer, and not blocked by a firewall, you should get a blank screen. Press Enter a couple of times and it will come back to a command prompt.

 

If it fails with an error message, most likely that means the port is blocked by a firewall, or of course that Local Network Server computer might not be turned on! (In that case the ping would also have failed.)

 

If none of this allows you to resolve the problem, please contact us by email and inform us what you have tried and exactly what the results were, including the exact complete text of error messages you received, and we will work with you to resolve the problem.

 

License Keys

 

When you receive license keys for the program, special license keys are needed if you are using the Local Network Versions (Local Network Server on one computer, Local Network Client on one or more other computers). The Local Network Versions of ACCOUNTS 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 ACCOUNTS, whether they are running the Local Network Server version or the Local 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 ACCOUNTS you are running, use Help About ACCOUNTS ..., 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 Local Network Server installation, and any number of Local Network Client installations. Multiple users can be running ACCOUNTS at the same time, accessing the same database.

 

While you can have simultaneous users running ACCOUNTS, there are some actions in the program that can only be run when you are the only user running ACCOUNTS. There are also some actions that can only be run from the Local Network Server installation. For instance, Restoring a backup database, Validating your database or creating a new database in the File New Database window can only be done from the Local 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 ACCOUNTS (whether on a Local Network Server version or a Local Network Client version) 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. 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 ACCOUNTS 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 (for example entering transactions in a register 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 vendor. 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 "Row changed between retrieve and update", and will not be able to save their changes. They will have to click Cancel to abandon their changes. (Please report such instances to technical support, however, with as many details as possible, so we can try to figure out whether there is a way for the program to prevent that particular occurrence in the future.)

 

Although the ACCOUNTS program almost never crashes, if it does, or if a user running ACCOUNTS restarts or turns off their computer without exiting ACCOUNTS first or there is a power failure, a minor problem can occur. Any user on another computer that tries to run ACCOUNTS 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 ACCOUNTS 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 ACCOUNTS are automatically cleared after two minutes.

 

Switching Databases and the Local Network Version

 

If you are maintaining multiple databases for multiple organizations with the File New Database and File Open Database menu options, only the Local Network Server version can create new databases. Once it has done so, users of the Local Network Client version can also access those new databases.

 

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 at 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 organizations, 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 organization, and a different primary user using ACCOUNTS for another organization, 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 and, that would not be considered to be a reasonable application of our pricing structure. They should register and pay separately.

 

Uninstalling the Local Network Server Version of ACCOUNTS

 

If you are running the Local Network Server version of ACCOUNTS, and you decide to uninstall ACCOUNTS, an extra step may be required.

 

If you are sure you do not want to use ACCOUNTS again, and if in addition you are sure that you are not running any other applications that use the Firebird Server database software (including Software4Nonprofits DONATION), you can uninstall the Firebird Server from Control Panel's Add or Remove Programs tool (called Programs and Features in Windows Vista or later versions). It will show as "Firebird 2.0.3" in the list of installed programs.

 

You may actually be prompted to uninstall the Firebird Server as part of the ACCOUNTS program'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 the Local Network Versions over the Internet

 

The Local Network Versions are designed to be run only over a local area network within one location. If you very occasionally have a user needing to access the system over the Internet, for instance from home or on the road, the easiest solution would be to use a remote access solution to remotely access one of your computers on your local network, over the Internet.

If that is not an option for you, it is also technically possible to have a computer with the Local Network Client version installed access the Local Network Version over the Internet. However, you will almost certainly need assistance from a network support person to get this working. (We cannot talk a person that isn't familiar with networking issues and router configurations through this!)

If you need to do this regularly, we would strongly recommend instead considering the Cloud Storage Service of the Standard version, or perhaps the OnDemand Version.

The first requirement if you still wish to set up the Local Network Versions over the Internet is that you have a server (or non-server) in your office, which can be accessed via a static IP address and/or an Internet-accessible hostname, on which you can install the Local Network Server version of ACCOUNTS. You will have to leave that computer always running (though ACCOUNTS doesn't have to be running on it) so that the other computers you want to access ACCOUNTS on over the Internet can access it.
 
If the computer you want to run the Local Network Server version of ACCOUNTS on does not have a static IP address or Internet-accessible hostname, you can use free or inexpensive services such as www.dyndns.org or www.no-ip.com to set one up.
 
Next, as usual with the Local Network Version of ACCOUNTS, you need to follow the instructions above under Firewalls, to open up your firewall on the computer running the Local Network Server version, to allow incoming accesses on port 3050.
 
Assuming that computer is behind a router, you need to use the router's user interface (usually web-based) to allow for port forwarding of incoming requests on port 3050 to that computer running the Local Network Server version of ACCOUNTS. Some router software may call that something like enabling application support.
 
Once that is all set up, install the Local Network Client version of ACCOUNTS on whichever other computers you want to install it on, as long as they have high-speed Internet access. Presumably this will be some of your users' home computers. When that installation program prompts for the hostname for the Local Network Server computer, give it the correct hostname, as discussed above. (You can alternatively give it the IP address, but only if that is a true static IP address.) If everything has been set up correctly, those remote instances of ACCOUNTS should then work, accessing the database on the computer in your office that is running the Local Network Server version of ACCOUNTS.
 
Please note that because the data access is over the Internet, even with a high-speed Internet connection this will run significantly slower than the normal Standard version, or even the Local Network Client version installed on another computer in your office. You will have to test this for yourself to determine how acceptable you think those speeds are. If you are not satisfied, you can use one of the other Multiple User Options instead.
 
In our testing, we were not able to also have additional Local Network Client versions of ACCOUNTS within our own local area network work successfully accessing the Local Network Server version's computer via its external hostname (which we established via www.no-ip.org). We had to set it to the internal hostname of the Local Network Server version's computer, and then it worked fine.
 
If you are going to use this Local Network Version setup over the Internet, you absolutely must put a password on your database, via the Database ⇒ Change Password ⇒ Program Entry Password menu option. That is because anybody that knows the hostname of your Local Network Server version's computer could install the Local Network Client version of ACCOUNTS on their computer and access and modify your ACCOUNTS data, as long as they could get past any password prompt it gave them.
 
Also of course if you are going to do this, you need to purchase the Local Network Version of ACCOUNTS. (However, you can test it out during the initial 60-day evaluation period, prior to your purchase.)


This topic was last edited on Aug 16, 2021