Hello again DONATION beta testers. As you know, we have been talking about adding a Cloud Storage Service to DONATION for quite a while. It is finally available for beta testing, and we would really appreciate as much testing as possible before we release it to everyone!
The Cloud Storage Service is an optional feature. It is an extension of using Internet Backups to “Transfer your Data between Computers” (as explained in the Help topic with that title). The extension is that when you have it turned on, the program “takes control” of the database when you start DONATION, and then downloads the latest Internet backup. When you exit DONATION, the program uploads your database to become the new latest Internet backup, and releases the control.
You turn on the Cloud Storage Service through a new option at the bottom of the Backup/Restore -> Backup Frequency and Options window.
Under normal circumstances when using Cloud Storage, only one user is able to use the program at a time, because you can only take control if nobody else currently has it. That prevents the current potential problem of multiple people making changes on different copies of the database which cannot be merged. (If someone else has control, you do get an option to use the program “read only”, to just look at data and reports, without making changes.)
The Cloud Storage Service is meant for users who use DONATION on multiple computers, have fast and very reliable Internet access, and do not need simultaneous access. It is a safer alternative to the current “Transfer your Data between Computers” methods, and also an alternative to using the Network version over the Internet, which is complex to set up and something that we don’t strongly recommend!
For many more details, check the following earlier blogs: https://donationusers.wordpress.com/2014/09/26/web-proposal/, https://donationusers.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/cloud-storage-details/ and https://donationusers.wordpress.com/2015/10/29/cloud-storage-question/.
And of course it is described in detail in the Help in the new version! The main topic is titled “Cloud Storage Service” – look that up in the Index of the Help. The topic “Multiple User Options” has also been greatly enhanced to give pros and cons of all of the options.
The new version 3.75 Beta version with the Cloud Storage Service in it is available from our usual beta testing page, http://www.software4nonprofits.com/pretest.htm. Please try it if you can, use the feature, read the Help, and let us know your reactions. If there is any unusual behaviour please let us know in as much detail as possible, and also please give us a general sense of how the service works for you. Corrections or comments on what think might be missing in the Help will also be extremely useful!
There are a lot of features in the Cloud Storage Service. For example, we would like to know your reaction to the way in which we deal with encryption passwords of the Internet backups, especially when you have forgotten your password. A table at the bottom of the “Cloud Storage Service” help page lists various issues that can come up and how the service, or you, deal with them.
You may want to backup your data on to an external location (like a USB memory key) before starting this test. That way, you would be able to go back to the earlier version of your data if something happens during the testing. Another option, if you have extra computers, is to try it on those other computers instead!
Thank you so much in advance for whatever testing you can do. While this feature is conceptually fairly simple, the programming for it was rather complex, so the more different people that test it, the more likely it is to be bug-free when we release it for everyone to use.