9 Replies Latest reply on May 5, 2014 11:11 AM by philmodjunk

    What are the risks of a FM database on a shared drive?

    mmccarty

      Title

      What are the risks of a FM database on a shared drive?

      Post

           Hello,

           I'm trying to convince my manager at my new job to purchase FM Pro.  The concerns are cost and file sharing.  He wants to know why we can't just put my database in a shared drive?  That way he only has to buy a few licenses and everyone has access.  We need about 5 people to have access to the database but not at the same time.

           I know that is not best practice.  But the best practices have some major cons.  Option 1: I can keep database on my computer and then share it peer-to-peer but then my colleagues only have access when I'm logged into my machine. That creates a single point of failure and no one can access DB when I'm sick or on vacation.  Option 2:  We get FM Server, then my colleagues can access the database anytime and we have added benefit of security and backups.  The con here is the cost.  Now  on top of FM pro licenses (colleagues will need export ability so no IWP), we have to buy FM Server license and an additional computer.

           At my previous company we had a dedicated server so I've never really explored the other options.  What are the risks of storing my database on a shared drive? 

           Please HELP!!!  I really really want FM.  If I don't get FM then I have to build in Microsoft Access.  I hate Access!!!

           Thanks

        • 1. Re: What are the risks of a FM database on a shared drive?
          philmodjunk

               Storing the files on a shared drive and opening them directly can corrupt the files and in a worst case scenario, render them completely unusable.

               But you seem to have missed a less expensive, but more flexible alternative to hosting the files:

               Install FileMaker Pro on the computer where your boss wanted to share the file. Use FileMaker to open the file on that computer with sharing enabled.

               Then, the small number of users can use open remote to access the database, but you do not have to be present to open the file first on your computer. The file can be left open 24/7 on that computer just as though you had hosted it with Server--but with the limitations that also come from hosting from server--no built in ability to schedule back ups and support for a much smaller number of simultaneous users--to name the most obvious reductions in capability.

          • 2. Re: What are the risks of a FM database on a shared drive?
            mmccarty

                 That option is not less expensive as it will require us to purchase a dedicated computer just to host FM Pro. 

                 I'm going to have to explain to him why the cheapest option isn't the best:  Why does storing files on a shared drive corrupt them?  How is it different then me storing a file on my local computer and opening it?  If only one user access it at a time then do we reduce probabilty of corruption?

            • 3. Re: What are the risks of a FM database on a shared drive?
              philmodjunk

                   It's less expensive than acquiring FileMaker Server and then also a dedicated server.

                   But you said that he wanted to set this up on a shared drive. Why can't you just host the database from that computer?

                   Even if that shared drive is part of your computer, if you can persuade the powers that be to leave your computer on 24/7, it can still host the files for others even when you are not actually present in the office.

              • 4. Re: What are the risks of a FM database on a shared drive?
                mmccarty

                     I'm not sure I understand your question: "But you said that he wanted to set this up on a shared drive. Why can't you just host the database from that computer?"  Maybe I was imprecise. We would have IT created a dedicated folder on the network just for my group and house the database there.  The pro in our mind is one, the file sharing and two, backups (our network has extensive backups).  It is how I save all my files now.  I don't save anything on my local hard drive as it would be lost if my system crashed.  I save all my files to my designated folder on the network.

                      

                     Good point about a dedicated computer being less expensive that buying FileMaker Server.  I will make sure to highlight that in my business case. 

                      

                     I know I'm going to get the question:  Why does storing the database in a network folder cause corruption?

                • 5. Re: What are the risks of a FM database on a shared drive?
                  philmodjunk
                       

                            I'm not sure I understand your question:

                       Somewhere on your network is a shared directory where the boss wanted to share the file. That directory is probably on a hard drive installed in a computer--though there are exceptions possible. If you install FileMaker Pro on that computer and use it to open the files, then you and the other users can use Open Remote from FileMaker to safely access the database.

                       Backups from that computer will be a problem, if IT uses backup software to do so. If a database file is open at the time that the software backs it up, the backup file thus produced will require a consistency check when opened and could be corrupted if the backup software copies it at just the wrong moment. And if you must host from your computer using FIleMaker Pro, keep the file on your computer, but use this method to save a copy of the file to the IT backed up directory on a regular basis.

                       But FileMaker Pro, on the server can use a script with Save a copy as to save a back up copy of the file that the back up software can then safely back up. There are ways to set this up so that the copy open on the host machine is automatically saved on regular intervals such as once each night.

                       But using Server is a much better option if you have the funds to use to set that up.

                       The why question is not one that I can fully answer. This has been the standard response I've gotten for years from different FileMaker Tech Support personnel. What they've indicated is that if two users try to open the database directly at the same time, it can corrupt the file.

                  • 6. Re: What are the risks of a FM database on a shared drive?
                    mmccarty

                         Here is where I'm going to show my ignorance.  Yes, somewhere on the network is a shared directory where we want to share the file.  Where that computer is and how it work, NO CLUE.  My company is thousands of people, in multiple states and countries.  I wouldn't even know who to talk to about doing what you suggest. 

                         Good point about network backups not being reliable.  Could the IT backup software also cause corruption?  I could use that as a selling point as well.

                         Yeah, I've only ever gotten the FileMaker party line regarding deployment on a shared dive also.   I totally get that if two people open the file directly at the same time from a shared folder then it could corrupt it.  (The same can be said for a word document).  I'm not sure if that is a high risk with my group.  We will be using the database sporadically for specific tasks that are usually assigned to just one person at a time.  But as I mentioned above we are not a mom & pop company, the cost of a dedicated machine is low compared to wasted man hours on a corrupted database.

                    • 7. Re: What are the risks of a FM database on a shared drive?
                      philmodjunk
                           

                                I wouldn't even know who to talk to about doing what you suggest.

                           It sounds like you have an urgent need to get to know your IT staff. They can be your biggest ally or sworn enemies to what you want to accomplish here--no matter which option you select for setting this up. I've seen IT staffs where any attempts to set up a Filemaker database system on the network produce a vigorous, negative response to the point where it was impossible to use FileMaker on anything but a local machine at that company. (And even then it was a major fight just to get permission to install it...)

                           

                                Could the IT backup software also cause corruption?

                           It can corrupt the copy being made. It won't affect the file that is being copied.

                           

                                I'm not sure if that is a high risk with my group.

                           Yes, but a Word document is a relatively simple file where the damage is easy to detect and replacing it with a back up copy is a simple task. Damage to a database file could remain hidden literally for days, weeks or even years until it produces major issues with your database. Even the slightest chance of database corruption is a very bad thing and should be avoided at all costs.

                           

                                But as I mentioned above we are not a mom & pop company, the cost of a dedicated machine is low compared to wasted man hours on a corrupted database.

                           Very true, but because issues due to file corruption are not immediately detectable, the true cost of the corruption can be lost data that cannot be restored even from back up copies (in a worst case scenario.)

                           Also, have you considered that there may be a reason other than cost behind your boss asking if a shared directory can be used? The reason may be political rather than economic as your boss may already fear that attempting to set up a dedicated server may encounter major resistance from the IT department.

                      • 8. Re: What are the risks of a FM database on a shared drive?
                        mmccarty

                             All good points.  Definitely going to highlight risk of corruption going undetected

                             Software installations and dedicated computer are going to be a hassle no matter what just because a special account is require to install ANYTHING on our computers.  Luckily my manager has already requested that account for me (I'm a new hire) and my colleagues already have it.

                             Shared drives and software share center are just the standard operating procedures in my group.  Don't think my boss is worried about IT, he just doesn't have any experience with databases.  No one in my group has database experience (they call a flat excel file full of copy/paste information that is unsearchable a databases).  Cost is going to be my problem.  In their mind FileMaker cost money and can't be deployed easily while Access is free and we can house it on a shared drive. 

                             Thanks so much for all your help.  You gave me some great insights that I will use in my business case.  I think my boss is open to the idea of FileMaker, I just need to make a solid argument.  I used a trail version of FM to solve one of their problems and it blew my colleague away (never underestimate the power of a pretty interface).  I'm taking it to my boss later this week to show FM value added along with my business case.

                             Thanks again!!!

                        • 9. Re: What are the risks of a FM database on a shared drive?
                          philmodjunk

                               In their mind FileMaker cost money and can't be deployed easily while Access is free and we can house it on a shared drive.

                               Been there and worn that T-shirt. In fact, it's why I am also able to use MS Access to design databases. I taught myself MS Access as I had two jobs in a row where FileMaker was simply not permitted as an option on those sites.