Running the Network version of DONATION over the Internet

I have just proved to myself what I suspected for some time, which is that it’s possible to run the Network Version of DONATION over the Internet, so that you can access it from multiple locations. I’ve written a Support Forum article on it, and I’d be very much interested in any comments you have on this idea. To some extent, I feel that it addresses part of why some users would prefer web-based software, namely the fact that you can access it from multiple places.

Here is the entire post from the Support Forum:


Hello DONATION users. This is Dan Cooperstock, the author of DONATION, with what I hope will be some helpful information.

Under limited circumstances, it is possible to run a Network Version of DONATION over the Internet, rather than in the usual setup of having it installed only on several computers on a local area network within your office. (I.e. users can access the same database installed in your office, from their homes.) However, you will almost certainly need assistance from a network support person to get this working. (I cannot talk a person that isn’t familiar with networking issues and router configurations through this!)

The first requirement to do this 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 Network Server version of DONATION. You will have to leave that computer always running (though DONATION doesn’t have to be running on it) so that the other computers you want to access DONATION on over the Internet can access it.

Technically, the computer running the Network Server version of DONATION could even be a home computer, but then you would have to leave it on at all reasonable hours when someone else might want to access the database. And also, Internet speeds on home computers are often slower than those in your office.

If the computer you want to run the Network Server version of DONATION 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 Network version of DONATION, you need to follow the instructions in the Help topic on “Network Versions” to open up your firewall on that computer 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 Network Server version of DONATION. Some router software may call that something like enabling application support.

Once that is all set up, install the Network Client version of DONATION 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 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 DONATION should then work, accessing the database on the computer in your office that is running the Network Server version of DONATION.

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 Standalone version, or even the Network Client version installed on another computer in your office.

In my testing, I was not able to also have additional Network Client versions of DONATION within my own local area network work successfully accessing the Network Server version’s computer via its external hostname (which I established via www.no-ip.org). I had to set it to the internal hostname of the Network Server version’s computer, and then it worked fine.

If you are going to do this, you absolutely must put a password on your database, via the Database -> Change Password -> Program Entry Password menu option, and optionally also set the other passwords there if you use them. That is because anybody that knows the hostname of your Network Server version’s computer could install the Network Client version of DONATION on their computer and access and modify your DONATION 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 a license for the Network Version of DONATION.

4 thoughts on “Running the Network version of DONATION over the Internet

  1. I have added a reply to the original Support Forum article, listing two other ways to use DONATION on multiple computers at multiple locations.

    The first is the old standard way – install the Standalone version on each computer, and pass the database around via backups, with only one person allowed to make any database changes (e.g. data entry or receipting) at a time. Of course, you have to be very careful about this!

    The second is to use remote control software to access a single computer running the Standalone version of DONATION remotely from other computers. Examples of remote control software are Windows Remote Desktop, and LogMeIn free edition (www.logmein.com).

  2. I use the network version across a LAN but I don’t think I would use it across the Internet without some encryption capabilities.
    Remote control software ( I use Tightvnc ) seems to be an easier method as the network setup you suggest is quite complicated especially if you do not have a static IP address at the server end.
    So I doubt that I would use the network version in the manner you describe.

    • Yes, I did mention remote control software in the 2nd post in the Support Forum. I agree, that’s a perfectly valid alternative, though it does limit you to one simultaneous user (probably not a problem for most organizations).

      I see your point about encryption software, but I guess that’s a risk that people would have to decide whether to take or not. I don’t think very many people have an interest in snooping on charities’ and churches’ donation information! (And it’s not that easy to snoop on Internet transmissions.)

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