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 Standard or legacy Lite versions of DONATION, but not the OnDemand Version or Local Network versions.


There are a number of things that can go wrong when you use this method, and it is only suitable for users who are quite computer literate, and would be comfortable manually navigating to and editing the program's INI file if there was a problem.


This is not a method of making database backups! Please see Making Data Backups for how to do that.


This is also not a method for restoring database backups from another user! Please see Restoring Backups and/or Transfer your Data between Computers if that is what you are doing.


There is no additional charge for multiple users with 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). Other options for multiple users to share a database are listed in the Help topic Multiple User Options.


The Cloud Storage Service or OnDemand Version (two of the options under Multiple User Options) are usually better and safer options than this one, as long as you have consistently reliable high-speed Internet on all computers on which you will be installing DONATION.


Detailed Instructions


If you are going to proceed with this option, you need to carefully perform the following slightly technical steps on each computer running DONATION (once) to make using the database on a USB memory key work:


1.Install the Standard version of DONATION normally, if it is not already installed. (This can also be done with the free Lite version.)

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 Computer, My Computer or Windows Explorer-type window showing the program's Data Directory.

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

5.Back in the window showing the Data Directory, find the file DONATION.INI (it may show up as just DONATION, 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 a file there named DONATION4.DB, and at least one other file named DONATION4.metadata. 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 DONATION 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 DONATION.INI file.


Another Note: You might think you could use the technique above, of changing the DatabaseDirectory setting in your DONATION.INI file, to move the database file(s) to somewhere else. However, unless it is to do what is described in this help topic (running the database from a USB memory key or external hard drive) we would strongly discourage you from doing that, as it just complicates support. Also, you absolutely cannot use this technique to move the database to a network drive, off of your computer - the Firebird database software that DONATION uses just will not open a database file that is on a drive that is not physically connected to your computer!


Potential Problems with this Setup


This should be obvious, but never remove the USB memory key holding your database while you are running DONATION! 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 DONATION set up to access the database on E:, and you then run DONATION, it will not find the database. You will see an error message such as:




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 DONATION 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 DONATION.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. That directory where you will find the DONATION.INI file is C:\Users\Public\Documents\Cooperstock Software\Donation (the “Documents” part may show up as “Public Documents” when you are navigating to it – they are the same place)


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 DONATION.INI file described in this page to move the database to a 3rd-party cloud storage location such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, 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.

This topic was last edited on Mar 15, 2023