Remote or Wide Area Network (WAN) Connections

Can users access StudioSchool Pro from other locations outside our local area network (LAN)?
Yes, with the proper router configuration and network setup, a user can access the system from home or other remote location. A broadband internet connection is required on both ends of the connection. The following steps must be done to make this work. Your IT coordinator should be able to help with this.

The following is a very detailed explanation about how to configure remote setup. The extra detail is included for educational purposes - the important parts are in bold. It will probably take longer to read it than it does to actually do the setup which can normally be done in 5-10 minutes.

  • You must have a multi-user license for StudioSchool Pro. Remote access connections are not supported for single user licences.
  • The Host computer must have FileMaker Server or FileMaker Pro running StudioSchool Pro. Both FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Server can host a multi-user version of SSP for network connections, but FileMaker Server is strongly recommended due to it’s ability to perform automated backup and because data corruption due to a crash if far less likely. If using FileMaker Pro instead of FileMaker Server, make sure the “Remote Data Access” Companion plug-in is checked in Preferences->Application->Plug-ins.

  • The Host computer must have a fixed internal IP address assigned to it, for example, usually 192.168.1.x, “x” being whatever number you pick between 1 and 254. In most networks, internal IP addresses are allocated automatically by the router using “DHCP” protocol, and addresses may change from day to day depending on the order in which computers are turned on. The simplest way to give the Host computer an unchanging number, is to enter an address in the network settings (note that other settings besides the IP address must also be entered). Alternately, most recent routers have a setup screen which allows the assignment of a specific IP address to a particular computer. Using either method, anyone who can setup a network should be able to do this in a few minutes. Your network administrator/advisor can help determine the best method for your network.

  • The Guest computer must have a copy of FileMaker Pro installed along with the plug-ins required by StudioSchool Pro. The plug-ins for Windows, Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X are available from the Support page on the SSP Support page. Check Preferences->Application->Plug-ins tab to make sure they are all installed – Troi File, Troi Dialog, DialogMagic, SecureFM

  • The broadband router at the office must be configured to forward Port 5003 for TCP to the Host machine. Once the host machine (the server) has a fixed IP address, the router must be configured to "forward" any external requests for access to FileMaker to the Host machine. This is called “Port Forwarding” or "Distributed Server Setup". FileMaker uses TCP port 5003, so the router needs to be set to forward all connections on port 5003 to the Host machine's IP address. This option is built into most routers and takes only a few minutes to setup.

  • The router must be using either a static IP address provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or use a Dynamic DNS address lookup through dyndns.org or other dynamic DNS hosting service. If you are not sure which you have, call your ISP and ask; static IP addresses usually cost $10-40 more per month. To connect to a router that does not have a static IP address is slightly more involved than using a static IP address but easy to use once it’s setup. Any knowledgeable network technician should be able to set this up and some newer routers have a setup screen specifically for using this type of service.

  • Setting up Dynamic DNS: Go to the website http://www.dyndns.com/services/dns/dyndns/ , register a user name and password (it’s free and not a spam generator). Once your user account is setup, create a domain name like “ourschool.dyndns.org”. This is the "Hostname" you will enter from home to connect to the server. The connection goes to dyndns.org and then forwards the connection to your current IP address.

    Since your IP address is constantly changing - it's "dynamic" not static - you need to have a way to update your account at DynDNS.org so that it knows what IP address you are currently using. To do this,download and install on your server one of the Dynamic DNS updaters appropriate to your server or host's operating system (Mac or Win). Enter your dyndns.org username and password along with your hostname (ourschool.dyndns.org). The updater will monitor your dynamic IP address and update the information at DynDNS.org whenever it changes. Some newer routers have this ability built into them as well but the software updaters tend to be more reliable and includ features like notifying you by email whenever the address is updated.

  • Connect to the Hosted database from the Guest computer over the internet. On the Guest computer, start FileMaker. In the “Open File” dialog, click the “Hosts” or “Remote” button (depending on version). If FileMaker is already running, simply choose “Open Remote” from the File menu. In the “Hosts” window, click “Specify Host” and enter either the static IP address as provided by your ISP, or, the "hostname" you created at dyndns.org, such as “ourschool.gotdns.org”. Click “Connect”. If properly configured on both ends, the Hosts windows should display the name of the computer hosting the database along with any available files beneath it. Always open StudioSchool Pro over a network starting with the SSP_Setup.fp5 file.
  • Connection speed issues: the WAN connection works but is very slow and StudioSchool Pro takes several minutes to open. A slow connection speed over a Wide Area Network (WAN) - for example, between one campus and another - is usually a result of insufficient upload speed on the broadband connection, especially at the location where the server is based. Most cable and DSL broadband connections give good download speeds, since this is the bulk of what people do with internet connections, but they have relatively slow upload speeds. For example, a DSL or cable connection may provide download speeds of 1.5Mbs to 8Mbs but the upload is limited to 256kps (or 0.25Mbs). You database server needs to upload information to the remote users and 256kps can result in a very slow data transfer rate. To increase you upload speed, contact your broadband provider and see what options are available. You may need to consider switching providers to get sufficient upload speed. To test your download and upload speeds, try one of these Internet speed tests: SpeedTest.net (it will automatically test your download speed, click the Upload field to test your upload speed) or BroadbandReports.com.

 

 
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