I recently wrote an article about the change in ‘networking’ associated with QuickBooks 2015 which involved the elimination of the ‘Alternate Hosting mode’. Most QuickBooks forums, especially the actual QuickBooks Community (forum) are always full of questions regarding network configuration. While I anticipate that most readers of Intuitive Accountant are familiar with proper network set-up for QuickBooks, it is probably still a good idea that we review the network configuration types in this three part series. Part 1 – Local Windows Networks, Part 2 – Remote Desktop (Terminal Server) access, and Part 3 – Linux and Citrix Networks
Local Windows Networks
To permit multiple users to work on QuickBooks at the same time, QuickBooks a dedicated computer must run the QuickBooks Database Server and store ‘host’ the Company file. QuickBooks is designed for either Client-Server (Dedicated Server hosting QuickBooks) network configurations or Peer-to-peer network configurations in which one workstation hosts QuickBooks.
Client-Server (Dedicated Server) QuickBooks Configuration
The Server - In larger installations this computer will be a domain or file server upon which either the QuickBooks Application and/or just the QuickBooks Database Server has been installed. During installation users installing QuickBooks are presented with 3 installation options. For server installations either the 2nd(I’ll be using QuickBooks on this computer, AND I’ll be storing the Company file here so it can be shared over our network), or the 3rd option (I will NOT be using QuickBooks on this computer, but I will be storing our Company file here so it can be shared over our network). Note: When you select this 3rd option, you are not required to have an additional license for the QuickBooks Database Server only installation.
Best Practice is to install the full QuickBooks Application and Hosting on a dedicated server, this permits essential file functions like back-up, verify, and rebuild to be performed directly on the server. These file functions should never be performed ‘across a network’, as such, it is necessary to copy the Company file to a workstation to perform these functions unless the full application has been installed on the dedicated ‘hosting’ server.
Client Workstations – these computers will install QuickBooks using the 1st installation option (I’ll be using QuickBooks on this Computer.) These computers make use of the QuickBooks application, but the Company file is located on the dedicated server. At no time should any of these Client Workstations have ‘hosting’ turned on.
Peer-to-Peer (1 Workstation Hosting QuickBooks) Network
Many smaller networks don’t have Domain or File Servers, they simply have several workstations all connected together over their network. In these cases one of the workstations will act as the ‘host’ for QuickBooks; this means that it will store the Company file and also run the QuickBooks Database Server application. As a general rule the workstation with the greatest computing capabilities (most RAM, biggest hard drive, and best processor) should act as the host.
Hosting Workstation – the peer to peer server is a workstation computer in the network that acts as the QuickBooks host. In other words, physically stores the QuickBooks company files. This single workstation selected to ‘host’ QuickBooks should be installed using installation option 2 (I’ll be using QuickBooks on this computer AND I’ll also be storing our Company file here so it can be shared over our network.)
QB Peer Network
Intuit Technical Support
Other Workstations – all other workstations should have QuickBooks installed using installation option 1 (I’ll be using QuickBooks on this Computer.) These computers make use of the QuickBooks application, but the Company file is located on the hosting workstation. At no time should any of these other workstations have ‘hosting’ turned on.
Configuring Multi-user Hosting
The Computer that stores the Company file must be configured to ‘host’ QuickBooks for multi-user access. Only one computer can host QuickBooks multi-user access (whether a dedicated server or on a peer-to-peer network). All other computers should have multi-user hosting turned-off. If you installed the Database Server only option on your dedicated server, you do not need to enable multi-user hosting on the server, it was configured automatically.
The QuickBooks Database Server is also installed with a companion QuickBooks Database Server Manager Utility that helps to ensure that users can access the Company files stored on the server. If the QuickBooks Database Server Manager utility doesn’t open automatically after installation, go to the Start button, click Program, then QuickBooks, then QuickBooks Database Server Manager.
All Company files stored on the server must be scanned initially in order to permit other QuickBooks users to access the files. Run the Scan function from the QuickBooks Database Server Manager by first ‘Adding’ the folder(s) where the Company files are located on the server. Once you have added all folders containing Company files, click the Scan button to start the scanning process.
As part of this process, QuickBooks 2015 will perform an automatic set of network diagnostics to determine if QuickBooks can function properly over your network. Typically the necessary Windows firewall ports will be opened, folder sharing and security checks will be performed, and a verification that the necessary ‘Windows services’ have been started to enable QuickBooks to operate in multi-user mode. If these procedures do not properly configure your Network for multi-user mode, you may need to manually open Windows firewall ports, or ports in your proprietary 3rd party Antivirus/firewall software, and/or make adjustments in either Windows file and/or user permissions.
In the next part of this series we will look at networking QuickBooks using a Windows Remote Desktop (Terminal Server) configuration.
Graphics Source: Intuit, QuickBooks Technical Support.