- How it Works
- Locating the Database
- How to Share the Database Across Your Network
- How to Connect Clients to Network Data
- Important Information for Working with Networked Tradebox
Tradebox is designed and tested to work with any of the following operating systems:
- Windows 10
- Windows 8
- Windows 7
Click here for full system requirements and details on recommended/supported operating systems and environments. If you're planning to use a file server or virtual environment as part of your setup for Tradebox, it's important you familiarise yourself with the multi-instance section of that article first.
The Tradebox database can be shared and accessed across a local network. The machine that holds the data will be referred to as the host or the server (though it's fine to use a standard PC for this; any computer that hosts network data for others becomes de facto 'server' for that process). The Tradebox One UI (user interface) can be installed on more than one PC and point to this shared data across a local network; these machines are referred to as clients. Your standard Tradebox licence includes as many client installs as you need so long as they're all pointing to a single set of data.
Tradebox has no facility for sharing data outside of a single local network and we currently have no plans to offer this. We don't test or support connecting to a database via VPN or other methods.
In a network environment, you'll designate one single computer or server as the service machine. The Tradebox Data Service will run on this machine, and controls many of the moving parts of Tradebox such as downloading orders from the marketplace. This means that no matter whether any PCs have the main Tradebox user interface open, the program can still be active and completing routines. We generally recommend that the service machine is the same machine where the Tradebox data is held; it's possible to have these be on different machines but this would likely result in poorer performance as it means all processes would be subject to network lag.
The data service and the UI run from the same installer; essentially every part of the Tradebox package will be installed on every machine and as part of the setup process you'll designate your service machine.
If any client machine is a laptop that will be moved around, the Tradebox UI will run as normal when in the office and connected to the local network. The UI won't open on that laptop when it's anywhere else and it won't be able to access any data.
If you're setting up Tradebox as new and know you'll be networking later, it's easiest to perform the initial setup on the machine that will be acting as server. When you set Tradebox up, by default the database will be located in C:\programdata\Tradebox One on the machine you're setting up on. Regardless where the database itself resides, the default directory contains files that will be used by Tradebox, so it's important to keep that directory intact on any machine where you'll be using Tradebox. For this reason, it's easier to share the database from that directory than to move it elsewhere.
At any point, you can check which database location is being used by any install of Tradebox going to Support in the upper right of Tradebox One.
The Data Folder on the left of the Support page shows the location of the database that's currently being used by this PC. Be sure to check this on every computer whenever you move the database or try to connect to network data.
Before undertaking to move the Tradebox database, you must ensure that you have a current backup.
If you've already got a Tradebox database set up in one location and need to move it before networking, there are two ways of doing this: Backup/Restore, or Relocate Database.
|Changing the service PC:
If you're moving the data to a different machine, you'll likely want to designate that as the service machine going forward too. Before you backup/relocate the data, you'll need to un-designate the existing service PC. Do this by opening Tradebox on whichever machine the service currently runs on and going to Configuration > Data Service. Untick the 'Run on this machine' box > Save.
Whenever you open Tradebox on any machine, you'll get a prompt that the service machine isn't set, asking if you want to run the service on this machine. After you've relocated, open Tradebox on the new host machine and say Yes to the prompt.
To use Backup/Restore:
1. On the existing install of Tradebox, go to Configuration > Backup Database. Take an All Files backup. You'll need a way to move this backup file over to the PC that will be holding the data going forward, e.g. a memory stick.
2. On the PC that will be holding the data, download and install Tradebox.
3. Restore your backup. This can be done through the initial setup wizard following a clean install (choose the fourth option, Restore from an Existing Backup). Or if a partial setup has already been done on this machine, you can restore via Configuration > Restore Database.
4. You'll then need to disable the existing install of Tradebox from the first PC, otherwise you risk running two sets of duplicate data in tandem and causing issues.
If this machine will no longer be used for Tradebox, uninstall the program through control panel.
If this machine will be used as a client going forward, see the steps below for using the Relocate Database routine to connect a client PC to network data.
To use Relocate Database:
1. This option requires you to already have created a network location for the database to have moved to, and it needs to be shared such that the existing PC already has full read/write access to it.
2. From the PC Tradebox is installed upon, navigate across the network to the location you wish to move the data to and create a new folder called Tradebox Data.
3. Go to Configuration in the top right, and choose Relocate Database from the options under the Database Maintenance heading.
4. The Relocate Database screen shows the Current Location of the Tradebox data and provides an option to move the data to a New Location.
5. To move the Tradebox data from the PC to the new Tradebox Data folder on the network click on the […] button at the end of the New Location field, navigate to the Tradebox Data folder and select OK. Alternatively, if you've already browsed the network path through File Explorer, copy/paste it into the New Location field. Use the UNC path; if this fails for any reason then use the IP path. Either method will be more reliable than using a mapped network drive.
Upon completion, Tradebox will close down and need to be restarted. Once it's opened back up, go to Support and check that the data path displays the correct location.
These instructions are written for Windows 10; the same options will be available in other Windows versions but may use slightly different terms. You will need to be logged in as an administrator to set up the sharing of data.
Network setup will vary drastically from one user to another. If you're in any doubt about the user groups on your network, check with your system administrator. The machines in question should already be able to discover each other across your network before you start.
1. On the machine you're sharing from browse to the Tradebox data folder using the local path. Check this in the Support page within Tradebox if you're unsure. You want the parent directory in which the database sits, so if you're working with the default directory, you should head to C:\programdata and be looking at the Tradebox One folder.
2. Make sure no Tradebox processes are running. Make sure the main UI is closed, and close the Data Service too (right-click the system tray icon and choose Close Tradebox Data Service). You'll also need to use Task Manager to end Tradebox_Application_Service.exe
3. Right-click on the data folder and choose Properties. First, go to the Security tab to check the appropriate file permissions are set for local processes; the Administrators group and the Users group will need to be set to Full Control. Make sure they are, and click Apply to apply any changes made.
If you have a complex setup with lots of user groups in the list, you can use Add to add a new group and type the word Everyone, then click Check Names > OK, then give the Everyone group Full Control too.
Click OK once you're done with the Security tab and you'll be back in the main folder Properties window.
4. Now to Share the data and set permissions across the network, click on the Sharing tab, then click the Share button towards the top of the screen.
In the top dropdown box, type the word Everyone then click Add. That should move the network 'user' Everyone into the bottom half of the screen. Click on their permission level and set it to 'Read/Write' (if that doesn't appear as an option, use 'Full Control' or similar) then click Share.
5. Windows will confirm that the folder is now shared, and show you the UNC path to the data folder. Make a note of this.
6. From any PC you're going to use as a client PC check you've got access to the share. The easiest way to do this is to use the Windows Key + R to bring up a run dialog and type or paste in the UNC path from step 5. When you click OK, Windows will try and browse across the network to the shared folder, so you should see the data folder pop up in a new File Explorer window.
If it connects okay, check you've got read and write permissions by creating a blank text document within the data folder.
If you get a box like the one below, the client PC needs the Network Password to access the host machine. Use the Windows admin logon you use to log onto the host machine and tick to remember your credentials.
If there's an error message or nothing happens after you click OK, from the Run dialog, you don't have access to the shared folder from this client PC. This is nothing specific to Tradebox, so contact your system administrator who should know the specifics of your network and be able to help.
|A note on mapped drives:
There are three methods of getting one PC to browse to data on another. A UNC path uses the Computer Name of the server preceded by a double backslash e.g. \\Servername. An IP path uses the local IPv4 address of the server preceded by a double backslash e.g. \\192.168.10.4. A mapped network drive is a kind of shortcut straight to a specific location, in the back end it's connecting using either the UNC or the IP path, but you'll see it as a specific 'drive' in Windows with a letter, e.g. S: or X:
Mapped drives can be a handy shortcut for everyday use of file management, but they're bad for connecting software: they're Windows-User-specific and have a nasty habit of becoming disconnected even when there's no actual problem with the network path. As Tradebox runs as Administrator and relies on a connection that's not going to need to be refreshed, we recommend you don't use a mapped drive as the path to connect Tradebox.
New install: You can connect a new install of Tradebox to an existing database on the network through the setup wizard that runs when you first open the program. Choose the second option 'Install Tradebox and connect to an existing database' and click Next.
Click the icon to browse for your network data. Browsing using the Network option in Windows will use the UNC path to connect. Browsing using the Network option in Windows will use the UNC path to connect. Browse as far as the database itself which is the file Tradebox1.accdb (if you don't have file extensions enabled on your PC it will be a Microsoft Access Database file simply called Tradebox1) and click Open.
Alternatively, if you've already got the UNC or IP path to the data, copy/paste it into the Existing Database File field.
Click Finish to connect. Tradebox will then close and reopen.
Re-point existing install: If you're connecting a PC that's already pointing to a database in a different location go to Configuration > Relocate Database.
Use the bottom option 'Connect to existing database'.
Paste in the path to your network data, or click to browse. Browsing using the Network option in Windows will use the UNC path to connect. Browse as far as the database itself which is the file Tradebox1.accdb (if you don't have file extensions enabled on your PC it will be a Microsoft Access Database file simply called Tradebox1) and click Open.
Click OK to connect. Tradebox will then close and reopen.
So, you're all networked up. Most of how you use Tradebox will be the same as a standalone user would, but there's a few things you should be aware of.
- Updates: it's really important that if you install an updated version of Tradebox on one PC, you install the same update on the others. Backup and then install updates on the server/service machine first while keeping the UI closed on the client PCs. Open the UI from the server in case there are any database upgrades to be applied. Then once the program's opened okay on there, install the update on the client PCs.
As part of setting up your network environment, you may have set up new installs. Check the version number from the Support page on every machine, and if any are older than the others, uninstall and reinstall to get the most up to date version.
- Check your Data Folder paths match: If you've been moving data around your network, it's possible there's more than one instance of your database in different locations. After making any changes in your network environment, check the path to the Data Folder from the Support page to make sure everyone's looking at the same dataset.
- Reconnect Accounts Links: if you use Tradebox to post into Sage, this will use some local program files on each machine even if the accounts data is on your network or hosted online. After networking open the Accounts tab in each sales channel to make sure it's connected. With a Sage connection, if any paths to data folders are wrong, change the Company dropdown to Demo Data then change it back to your live company and try to reconnect.
- Backups: Any client machine can send a request to backup the database. This requires other users to close the UI and the data service to close; if you're a heavy user or have a slow network, the prompts to stop and restart the data service can take a long time to be actioned. In the event of any problems, run backups directly from the machine that hosts the data.
Networking does add more moving parts to your setup, or to put it another way, more potential points of failure. Backup your data regularly and you'll always have a safety net in case something does go wrong.
- Locked records: Multiple client PCs can have the UI open at the same time as each other and be in and working with data pulled from the same database. If two users try to access the same record (e.g. an order, or a product) at the same time, the second one will receive a message that it's in use by another user. Once the first user closes the record, it will become available for the second. Bear in mind there are multiple screens within the UI that can have a record open; if a record doesn't unlock then close and reopen the Tradebox UI from the first machine.