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System Manager FAQs

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[x] C&P Classic
[x] C&P Pro
[x] Job Tracker
[x] Enterprise
[x] My C&P!

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C&P System Manager News

Summary: Answers to the top technical questions from Clients & Profits system managers

Q. Which system is faster for Clients & Profits X: Mac or Windows?

A PC with a Core 2 Duo, running under Windows XP has an edge over a Mac G5 running under Mac OS 10.4. Generally, Windows XP is the fastest platform for Clients & Profits X because it's networking and disk access is faster than the average Mac. Any computer on the market today is so fast, however, that few Clients & Profits X users complain about speed.

Q. What are the benefits of using an ethernet connection over wireless?

Since Clients & Profits X is a multi-user, relational database, its performance is dependent upon how fast data gets from the workstation to the file server, and back again. This "throughput" factor is a function of the speed of the file server, the ability of the network to handle traffic, and the capability of the workstation to process and display the data in Clients & Profits X (i.e., opening windows, performing error-checking, etc.). If you run wireless, there are a couple of factors that affect speed. One is the connection itself. Wireless is only capable of half the bandwidth of most wired networks. The other factor is dependability. Wireless connections drop all the time and they aren't the "throughput" isn't consistent when there is a solid connection. This can cause to speed issues and even worse data damage. 

Q. Will installing more RAM make Clients & Profits X run faster?

Yes, but speed is dependent on more factors than just RAM in the workstation. Adding more RAM to your computer lets you run several programs at the same time, which will make you more productive. But the speed at which Clients & Profits X runs is based on your Mac's processor, hard disk, and network connection -- not RAM alone. Also, more RAM lets you run more programs together with Clients & Profits X. Check out the system recs for more about this.

Q. Can we use ODBC to access the Clients & Profits X database?

Yes, you can have read-only access to your Clients & Profits X database via ODBC in Clients & Profits X Pro and Job Tracker X. This will allow you to access your Clients & Profits X database with programs like Crystal Reports, Excel & Access (which support ODBC access).

Q. Can we use a UNIX server for Clients & Profits X?

No, Clients & Profits is not supported on UNIX servers. We haven't tested UNIX servers in-house, but user reports have included nearly continuous data corruption between their server and Clients & Profits X. Rather than risk damaged data, we recommend using Mac OS X Server or Windows 2003 for your file server.

Q. What does the Clients & Profits X Pics file do?

The Clients & Profits Pics file (called "CPPICS.DF1" in Windows) contains icons for the application's tool bar buttons. It is installed with Clients & Profits, and is required. If you don't have the C&P Pics file in the C&P folder, your tool bar buttons will appear empty (i.e., solid gray).

Q. What's better: a faster server or a faster workstation?

Since Clients & Profits is a disk-based application, both the workstation's speed and the server's speed are critical. Clients & Profits doesn't actually run on the server; instead, the file server only sends and receives data from the workstations. The faster the server can find a record or save a record, the quicker the workstation will feel. A super-fast server won't help a slow workstation--and vice versa. The recommendation is to split the difference, using a server and workstation of equal performance. Of course, you should always buy the fastest computers you can afford. In terms of Clients & Profits, today's new computers are so fast that you really can't buy a slow one.

Q. Are there any limitations to naming the Clients & Profits X database?

Yes, but only if you're using Windows. For Windows to recognize the Clients & Profits database, its name needs to end with the ".DF1" suffix. If you're using a cross-platform version of C&P, the database must end in .DF1 in order to be seen and opened by the different versions of Clients & Profits (i.e., Mac OS X, Windows XP/Vista). A name like "AGENCY03.DF1" works well because it's descriptive yet brief. Each year you should rename next year's copy of the database, indicating the database's fiscal year (e.g., AGENCY04.DF1).

Q. What causes the "main file can't be read only" error at startup?

This error occurs when a user mistakenly opens the "Clients & Profits Pics" file (called "CPPICS.DF1" in Windows), instead of the shop's C&P database. This can happen when a user starts Clients & Profits without first being connected to the file server. Since Clients & Profits always opens the last-used database, it tries to access the database from the file server -- which isn't there. When this happens, Clients & Profits prompts the user to locate the shop's database. It first looks inside the C&P folder, which contains the C&P Pics file (which contains the icons used in toolbars and windows). If the user opens the Pics file, they'll get the "main file can't be read only" and they're forced to quit Clients & Profits. This error should be rare, since Clients & Profits warns the user when they've opened the C&P Pics file. If the user insists on opening the C&P Pics file, the application simply quits. The user will then need to connect to the file server, then start Clients & Profits again.

Q. Our server just crashed -- how do I know if the data is damaged?

The database is automatically verified when a manager-level user starts Clients & Profits X. This "quick check" instantly analyzes the data for bad pointers, indexes, and records. If it finds a problem, the log window opens listing any errors. The log is detailed, so you'll see which files and records need to be fixed. If no one is using the database, clicking the Repair button will instantly fix the data (but make sure there's a backup copy of the data first and you are working locally). Some minor data problems aren't serious enough to trigger the Quick Check, and won't appear on the repair log until they get worse with use. If you think there's a problem with the database, but the Quick Check looks clean, then you can always manually repair the database from Database Utilities.

Q. What's the difference between repairing vs. reorganization?

Repairing rebuilds the database's indexes, pointers, and headers -- the structure of the database that contains the actual records. It makes damaged databases usable again. Reorganization doesn't repair anything; instead, it simply ensures that the database can accurately hold the data that's specified in each new version of Clients & Profits. That's why a reorganization is typically needed each time you install an update. The data has to check the application for any new fields, new files, or changes to any indexes. Reorganizing a database has no affect if the application hasn't changed. That's why reorganizing doesn't fix a damaged database.

Q. I've tried repairing the database, but it still doesn't work right. What's the next step?

When the built-in Database Utilities won't fix data corruption, the last resort is to export the data into a new database. There's a stand-alone plug-in application that does the job, called Export/Import. This utility automatically extracts jobs, clients, costs, etc. from your damaged database into standard ASCII text files, then imports those files into a brand-new database. This new database contains the actual data, but none of the file corruption from the old database. The export/import process is time-consuming, especially if your database is in multiple segments. But it's the only way to recover data that's otherwise unfixable.

Q. Why can't I tell who's using Clients & Profits X?

Old versions of Clients & Profits used to track when users logged in and logged out of the database. This information was updated when a user entered their initials in the Introduce Yourself window, as well as when the user quit Clients & Profits -- but it wasn't foolproof. If the user's computer crashed (or they simply turned it off), the log out time wasn't be updated and the user appeared to be still working. The only reliable way to see who's using Clients & Profits X is to check the file server to see who's logged into the shared C&P folder.

Q. What is Omnis?

Omnis is the relational database program in which Clients & Profits was developed. It is the engine that runs Clients & Profits X, much like Excel is the engine that runs your spreadsheets. Most of the references to Omnis have been changed to Clients & Profits X, but you'll still see the word "Omnis" pop-up from time to time. So whenever you see the word "Omnis" think "Clients & Profits X".

Q. How do I troubleshoot a printing problem?

Troubleshooting printing problems can be difficult because there are so many causes. The solution is to use trial-and-error to eliminate the likely culprits. The basic troubleshooting steps include:

Try printing from another computer: if it works there, then the problem is isolated to the one computer.

Restart the computer, especially if you've been printing a lot of reports: this resets the computer's memory, which may have become fragmented.

Print the report to the screen, not the printer: if the report prints to the window, then the problem lies with the printer and not the database.

Make sure the right printer is selected: sometimes the wrong driver might be selected accidentally, which can confuse the printer.

Try reinstalling the printer software: sometimes the printer drivers become corrupted, especially if your computer crashes or freezes frequently while printing.

On a Mac, disable "background printing" or "desktop printing": this causes the report to be sent directly to the printer, without being spooled to disk. Since the communication from the computer to the printer is direct, you're more likely to get an intelligent error message if the print job fails.

Q. Can I fax estimates, invoices, POs, and other reports directly from Clients & Profits X?

Yes, if your computer has the ability to fax (i.e., a built-in modem or access to a network modem/fax server). Less expensive systems include the 4-Sight Fax single-user systems, like GlobalFax and FaxSTF also work for individual users. You'll simply choose the fax modem, then print your estimate, purchase order, etc. like usual. But instead of using the printer, the report is sent to the fax modem.

Q. Does the shared Clients & Profits X database run on the server? If so, can it run as a "service" on Windows 2003?

Clients & Profits Classic, Clients & Profits Pro, and Job Tracker are not client/server applications -- they run on individual user workstations. All of the data-entry, processing, and printing functions run on user workstations. The file server's function is to passively store the Clients & Profits database. It is responsible for storing and retrieving data requested by users from its hard drives, then storing any changes or newly-added records. The Clients & Profits software only runs on the user's Macs or PCs -- there is nothing about C&P that runs on the server itself. For that reason, C&P can't run as a "service" under Windows 2003. If you need a client/server system, you'll need Clients & Profits X: Enterprise Edition.

Q. Why does the mouse pointer sometimes become a cursor?

The padlock cursor means two things: (1) the record someone is currently trying to update is already being used by another user, so the record is locked, or (2) the server and/or network is so busy that communication has been delayed.

The padlock cursor looks like this:

This is one of the most common causes of data damage, because users misunderstand the meaning of a “padlock” cursor. During data-entry or saving, the “pointer” cursor becomes a “padlock” when the same file is used by some other user -- whoever got it first. This is a natural feature of record-locking multi-user databases, and occurs to ensure that two people don’t edit the same record at the same time. The padlock cursor disappears automatically as soon as the person who’s editing the record saves their changes, usually within seconds. But there’s no way to know how long the user will keep it locked while making their changes. If the user with the padlock cursor thinks their computer has crashed and restarts it, the files being updated can be corrupted. To prevent data damage, every user should know not to restart their computer while saving. Padlocks can be canceled by pressing command-period (on a Mac) or control-break (on a PC).  

Useful links:

System Manager News
C&P Database Guide
Database FAQs
System Recommendations
System Manager User Group (a list server)

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