Introducing FileMaker Server - File Maker

At some point you may ask yourself whether upgrading to FileMaker Server to host your databases is the way to go. Perhaps you are seeing performance slowdowns, you need to host more databases or more users than FileMaker Pro alone can handle, or you want to have scheduled backups of your databases. Basically you can serve a total of 50 databases with FileMaker Pro alone, but the number of users depends on how many databases each user has open. For instance, FileMaker Pro will share 10 databases with up to 10 concurrent users or, in some cases, you could share one FileMaker Pro database with up to 25 concurrent users, with the number of users dropping as you share more databases. (There’s a chart in the Connecting Data article listed above that can help you sort this out.)

Your capacity depends on, among other things, how many databases and users you have or, if you plan ahead, will have. If you’re getting toward the upper limit of what FileMaker Pro’s sharing alone can do, you probably need a dedicated server with FileMaker Server installed.

FileMaker Server Technical Overview
FileMaker Server can:

  • Run on many platforms: Mac OS Classic, Mac OS X, Windows NT 4.0 or Windows 2000, or even Red Hat Linux! (You can install FileMaker Server on OSs like Windows XP, Windows NT Workstation, or Windows 2000 Professional, but they’re not optimized for services so overall performance will be lower.)
  • Serve up to 125 databases per server to up to 250 simultaneous guests. Idle guests can be disconnected after a preset time has passed.
  • Automatically update FileMaker Pro plug-ins on all workstations when they log in to your database system.
  • Schedule backups all of your database systems (once or many times); schedule AppleScripts to run; schedule shutting down and starting up FileMaker Server; and so on.
  • Serve databases faster to many concurrent users. Because it is multi-threaded it can process many incoming exchanges with guest computers at one time.
  • Be remotely administered from any computer on your network or from anywhere in the world via TCP/IP (if your network and firewall allow it). The administration windows offer the ability to turn databases on and off, send messages to guests, boot guests, and see usage and performance statistics.
  • Serve databases to users using different networking protocols.
  • Host single-user databases so a developer can work on them safely while blocking users from logging in until you turn Multi User sharing back on.
  • Log all activity (database openings and closings, error messages, and so on) for later inspection and troubleshooting.
  • And FileMaker Server is a breeze to install and set up.

Certainly, the ability to serve 125 databases to 250 users is a big plus, but automatic backups are a great feature too. When I was first starting my consulting firm, I bought FileMaker Server with a credit card (and couldn’t pay it off for quite a while) but never regretted it as I needed to revert to backed-up databases several times. You will also discover that remote administration capability (done right from within any copy of FileMaker Pro!) is also a convenient, killer feature.

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