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Using P to P Win 98, 2 PCs, server/client

Posted on 2001-06-08
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I am getting ready to do what I realize is probably not the smartest thing. But, I do not have much choice at this point.  I have 2 PCs running Win 98 SE (Pentium III-500/256MB memory, with EIDE ULTRA 100 hard drives using EN 10/100 Base T cards).  They are networked through a hub (there is a 3rd PC on the network but it doesn't really access the network any).  I want to use one as a client and server with the other just being a client.  The PC that will be both client and server is not used that much by the user of it, maybe 15% of the day.  Will be running an accounting program written in MS Access 97 (the application is huge but the data file, right now, is about 2.5 MB).  I realize the application will be on both PCs with the data file on the server.  Each PC is in an office next to each other  My questions:
1.) What problems could I encounter (besides the obvious of crashing the server easier)
Main Question:
2.) How can I best improve performance, or what is the best way to do this and still operate as if the data file acted like it was on the same PC as the application.  I'm worried I'm going to take a big hit doing things this way?

Thanks for you help,
Joe Boyd
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Question by:JoeBoyd
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lrmoore earned 75 total points
ID: 6169402
For details start here:
http://www.practicallynetworked.com/networking/lan.htm

As for your questions:
1) You should not have any problems other than the obvious single point of failure with the data on one hard drive. Make sure you have a tape/CD backup capability and use it regularly
2) Get a small switch versus your hub LinkSys makes a 10/100 4-port for around $100. This single investment will dramatically improve network throughput. At 100Mb, duplexed, your network is not the bottleneck, the PC's hard-drive access is the slow point. With buffers, etc, it may actually seem like it is faster access from the server than if it was right on your own hard drive.
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by:dbusher
ID: 6169492
JoeBoyd,
   Irmoore is correct on both accounts.  Let me add to it.  
a) If you are using a database object to do input to your Access data file you should be ok.
b) make sure you are running at 100 full duplex.
c) Not sure with 98 but I know in NT you have the option configure your system as a fileserver, application server or workstation.  I believe 98 has something similar but I don't recall were it is and it might say something different ( look under control panel).  Might say something like  background or forground.
d) If you experience a network slow down then you might want to change your hub in for a cheap switch.  I doubt with having only 1 client you are going to see a slow down.
e) on the client/server system only install the  bare bones !  That means install your operating system and your access software NOTHING ELSE.  No games, no webserver stuff ...nothing.  This will greatly help in preventing system crashes.  
Good luck and let us know how it goes.
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Author Comment

by:JoeBoyd
ID: 6169516
Irmore,
Thanks for the feedback.  This looks like great information.  So if I use the switch versuses the hub, I won't have to change anything else, correct.  I mean the switch will work fine with my existing NICs?  The buffers you are talking about are the buffers on the hard drive?  Thanks again,
Joe
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Author Comment

by:JoeBoyd
ID: 6169529
dbusher,
Thanks for your input; I appreciate it also.  I think I was sending my reply to Irmore when I saw I had a reply from you.  Yes, I do remember what you are talking about in setting Win 98 to "server".
Some maybe dumb follow-up questions if you don't mind :-)
1.) When you say make sure system is set to 100 full duplex, how do you check for that?
2.) What I will be doing with Access is that I have an application .mdb file, the "front end" file if you will, and then I have a separate "back end" data .mdb file.  I will install the application on each PC and just have the data file on the server, and then link the two applications to the same back end data file.  Is this what you are talking about regarding "if you are using a Database Object to do input..."
Once again, I really appreciate everyone's help.
Joe
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by:lrmoore
ID: 6169832
Joe,
Short answer is that it should be an invisible change to your NIC's. What dbusher mentioned about being at 100 Full Duplex--only if you have a 10/100 switch. Your adapter can be set to "auto" or explicit to 10/half, 10/full, 100/half, or 100/full. Auto negotiation often fails to the detrement of the network performance, so just set it manually and forget it. I think it is in Control Panel, Network, highlight the adapter, Properties, Advanced...

The buffers I was talking about are a combination of the drive controller buffers, read/write caches and the network traffic buffers all combined to give you great throughput.

I'm not the database guru so I'll let dbusher answer your questions on the front vs back end data files...

Cheers!
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Author Comment

by:JoeBoyd
ID: 6171152
Irmore:
Thanks so much for your help and quick response.  This is great!  As soon as I get a response back from dbusher I will award the points.  I will give points to both of you.  I like to be fair when people help me like this and sometimes it's really hard just to award points to one person.
Thanks again,
Joe
P.S.
Either one of you do any network/database consulting on the side (for a fee of course).  If yes, please email me at joe@lightstreamcomputing.com
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by:dbusher
ID: 6171544
JoeBoyd,
    In windows you should not have to set the 100full. If you are going with a switch then be sure to read the manual on how to log into the switch and check to make sure each port is configured as 100full ( the pc nics will autonegotiate but you will want to hard set the switch ports).  As far as your question about using the .mdb that sounds good and you should be ok.  I was talking more in terms of writting your own client side package using ODBC. Most 3rd party sw use something similar to do IO to the db on the net.  Take care.
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Author Comment

by:JoeBoyd
ID: 6171741
dbusher:
Thanks very much for your input.  Your responses have been extremely helpful.  I am going to "accept" Inmoore's response here, but I also want to award you points.  So I guess the best thing is then just post another question for you personally and award points on it.  

Both of you have been equally helpful and each provided me with important information.  I really appreciate the detailed responses.

Joe
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by:dbusher
ID: 6172305
Thank you. Always glad to help.
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Author Comment

by:JoeBoyd
ID: 6173522
Irmoore:
Thank you very much for your timely help.  Your responses were excellent and I feel they will be very helpful.  I appreciate the detail and especially the info on the website and using the switch.  I did not know about that website and it has a lot of good information on it - that was a perfect tip!  The main thing I appreciate is pointing me toward use of a switch.  I had not thought about that and had not considered it.  But, now I will get one and try it.  I feel this is going to be a huge help and is probably the answer I was looking for - thanks!
Joe Boyd
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