Switching Databases

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Switching Databases

You can maintain multiple databases for multiple charitable organizations on your machine. To do this, use the Database ⇒ Switch Databases option. You can have any number of databases, but the section on Software Licensing below explains that you have to pay at a higher rate if you have more than five.


It is not recommended to use this to create separate databases for separate fundraising efforts or sub-committees etc. within your same charitable organization - just use multiple donation categories for that, all in one database! Contact us if you need a fuller explanation of why this is generally not a good idea.


Note: This option of multiple databases is not available with the free Lite version of DONATION, or with the Standard version if you are using it for free for up to 50 donors with donations. These versions can only maintain one database on each computer on which it is installed.


Also, users with the Local Network Client version installed on their computer cannot use the New button in the window below to create additional databases - only users on the computer with the Local Network Server Version can do that. See a section below for further details.


This option brings up the following window that lists all of your organizations:




There are three editable columns of information. The first is the Extension, which is the ending of the filename for the database. All database filenames start with "DONATION4.", and live in the Data subdirectory of the program's Data Directory. Your standard database is called DONATION4.DB, so you will see "DB" in the Extension field when you use this window for the first time.


The 2nd column of information is the Organization Short Name. This may be the same as the full Organization Name entered in Maintenance ⇒ Organization Info, or may be a shortened version of it. (It holds a maximum of 40 characters). It is only used in this window, to help you remember which database is which when you are switching between them.


The 3rd column is a checkbox labelled "Current". Whichever line has a check mark in this checkbox is the current database. To switch databases (once you have more than one database on the list), just check the Current checkbox on your desired database, then click Close or Switch at the bottom right of this window. (The Close button changes to say Switch as soon as you check the Current database for a database other than the one you are currently in.) The program will ask you to confirm that you wish to switch to that database, and if you answer Yes, DONATION will be restarted with the new database open.


To create an additional new empty database for an additional organization, click the New button, and on the new row that appears, fill in an Extension (which should not contain spaces, and must be different from the extensions for all of the other databases on your list) and an Organization Short Name. You can make up any Extension you want, as long as each database's extension is different! Click Save to save your change. As usual, you can click Cancel to cancel the addition of the new database. After you click Save, it will ask whether you want to create a new database by copying from an empty database. In most cases, you would answer Yes to this question. If you then want to switch to this database, check its Current checkbox, and click Switch.


Alternatively, if you have an existing additional database file, perhaps from another computer, that you have already copied into the Data subdirectory of the program's Data Directory, you can click New, leave the Extension field blank, and then click the Browse button to select that database from the list of databases in that directory. If you have selected a valid database, its extension will then be filled into the Extension field, and you can continue from there. The Browse button is not normally used when you are creating additional databases!


When you switch to a new database for the first time, a version of the Startup Options windows will appear, allowing you to select between initializing the database normally, or restoring a backup of that database. The latter would be appropriate, for instance, if you were moving an installation of DONATION that had additional databases from one computer to another.


You can also change the Extension or Organization Sort Name of an existing database by just editing the data then clicking Save. Be very cautious about changing the Extension of an existing database, however, as it does not rename the file for you. In most cases this will mean that you will lose access to that database, and just have to change the Extension back to its correct value. (Or, you can rename the database file yourself, using Computer, My Computer or Windows Explorer.)


If you wish to remove a database from the list, click anywhere in its row (so that the pointing hand points to it) and click the Delete button. This will confirm that you want to delete the row, then do so. It does not delete the database file. If you wish to actually delete the database file, first be sure you have noted the Extension of the one you wanted to delete. You can then get to the program's Data Directory with the Tools ⇒ Explore Data Directory menu option, then drill down into the Data subdirectory under that, then very carefully delete only the file whose name starts with "DONATION4." and ends with the Extension of the one you don't want anymore.


When you are done in this window, make sure you have the Current checkbox checked for the database you wish to resume working on, and click Close or Switch to close the window. As mentioned, if you have changed which one is Current it will confirm that you want to switch to it, then do so. The Organization Name is now displayed in the title bar of the DONATION program's main window, so you can easily see which organization's database you are using. (Note: what is displayed is the Organization Name from Maintenance ⇒ Organization Info, not the Organization Short Name from this Switch Databases window.)


If you have databases from very early versions of DONATION (mid-2007 or earlier) or from various other programs that DONATION can convert from on your computer, there is one thing to be aware of when creating new databases and switching to them. The first time you switch to a database, if you had a database with that same extension in the earlier version or DONATION, or any database from a program that DONATION can convert from, it will give you the same prompt it gave you when you started DONATION for the first time. That is, it will ask whether you wish to convert the database from your earlier version of DONATION or that other program into this new empty database. You can decide what the appropriate answer to that question is, depending on whether you want to do that conversion, or start with an empty database.


Backups and Switching Databases


It is important to understand that when you backup your database, with Backup/Restore ⇒ Backup Database or Backup/Restore ⇒ Email Backup, only the current database that you are in is backed-up. If you also want to have backups of your other database(s), you must switch to them and back them up as well.


Memorized Reports, Mail Merge Letters and Receipts, and Switching Databases


Starting in version 3.66 of DONATION, both memorized reports and mail merge letters and receipts are stored in the database. Previously they used to be stored in separate files in subdirectories under the data directory of the program. One implication of this change is that whereas all such files used to be shared by all of your databases, they are now specific to each database. In some cases this will be exactly what you want, while in other cases you will want to share them between multiple databases.


If you want the same memorized report to be present in more than one database, you will have to create and memorize it in each of the databases.


If you want a mail merge letter or receipt, which you have already created and edited in one database, to be present in another database, do as follows. After switching to the other database you can go into the Letters One Letter window, click the "Show Advanced Actions" checkbox in that window, then use the Browse and Edit button to select the desired template letter file and load it into that database.


Note on Software Licensing and Switching Databases


The software licensing in DONATION is associated with your Organization Name. When you use Database Switch Databases to create or switch to additional databases for other organizations, you may no longer be licensed, and DONATION will temporarily go back to being an Evaluation version (but only for that new organization). You will have to request another license key for the new organization name. To make this request immediately, you can either exit and restart DONATION, which will bring up the Evaluation and Licensing window, or use Tools Request or Install License Key which will also bring it up.


There is normally no additional charge for maintaining databases for more than one organization on the same computer. So as long as you have paid for DONATION in the last 12 months, license keys for additional databases will be freely granted, at no additional charge. The only exception is if you have more than 5 different databases, in which case we will ask you to pay to upgrade to the Local Network Version. You don't have to actually switch to and use that version - it is just a convenient higher price that we charge to account for our additional administrative time giving multiple license keys, and the additional value you derive from being able to use DONATION for so many organizations.


Users who are still in their initial evaluation period do not have or need license keys, so this is not an issue until you purchase the program, at which point you will need to request license keys for each of your databases.


Use on Multiple Computers and Switching Databases


If you are using the program on multiple computers through one of the options in the Help topic Multiple User Options other than using the Local Network Version (which has a separate explanation below) the users on the other computer will also have to create the same additional database(s) through this window, with the same extension(s). When they then switch to that database, they can restore a backup of that database from the computer it was first created on, sent in one of the ways described in the Help topic Transfer your Data between Computers.


Local Network Versions and Switching Databases


If you are using the Local Network versions of DONATION, only the Local Network Server Version can create new databases. In the Local Network Client Version, the New button and several other buttons are greyed out (disabled) so you cannot use them. Once the Local Network Server Version has created a new database, users of the Local Network Client Version can also access and switch between those new databases.


Until version 3.61 of DONATION, for users of the Local Network Client Version to get access to those databases, you needed to manually copy the file named databases.txt from the program's Data Directory on the computer with the Local Network Server Version to the Data Directory of any computers with the Local Network Client Version, after making any changes in this window. Starting with version 3.61, that is no longer the case - changes made on the Local Network Server Version are now automatically picked up by the Local Network Client Version. (If you are reading this paragraph, you have at least that version!)


Passwords and Multiple Databases


Any passwords that you set up or use in the program are only for your current database. Each database can have its own passwords.


Starting with a Specific Database


For users who feel confident to do so, you can edit the Desktop icon for DONATION to start on a specific database.


To do so, right-click on that icon and pick "Properties" from the popup menu. In the field for Target on the window that comes up, add a space at the end of what is there, and then after that space add "/E ext", where you replace ext with the desired database extension, e.g. "/E DB" for the standard original database.


If you want to have different icons to start DONATION for different databases, you can right click on the same icon and pick Copy from the popup menu, then right-click in any blank space on your desktop and pick Paste from the popup menu. That will create a 2nd DONATION icon. Then edit that 2nd icon to use a different database extension. You will also want to right-click on each of your icons and pick Rename, to rename them to be clear which is going to which database.


When you start DONATION with the "/E ext" command-line option, it will remember that for the next time you run DONATION (e.g. even if you omit that option), as if you had switched to that database with the Database Switch Databases menu option.

This topic was last edited on Mar 1, 2023