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How to gather some files from several computers

Posted on 2005-03-10
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Last Modified: 2010-03-17
Environment: There is a set of 10-20 computers distributed over the country running Windows OS. Each of them generates some data files, about 1Mb per day. Currently there is no internet/dial-up connection between the computers.
Problem: There is a need for solution, which would gather these generated data files from all the computers to one central location every couple of hours.

My idea is to write a custom software in Java, which would connect to each of the computers and retrieve the necessary files. Since currently computers are not connected together I have a choice of what kind of communication to use. There are two options I see at the moment:
1) Connect all of them to Internet
2) Use phone lines with modems

The first solution would be more expensive, since all of the computers should be connected to internet and would require to pay a monthly fee. Phone lines are already available in the locations.
However I suspect that it would be easier to develop an application which works over the Internet than over the modem?

Before I start writing my software I would like to find out whether there is an existing solution which might solve my problem without writing a custom software?

Any suggestions on how to implement this? Some of my ideas:
1) An open source webserver to serve the files and a simple Java application which retrieves them using HTTP or HTTPS (Probably the best for Internet connection).
2) Custom server application which would only know how to transfer the files (Probably the best for Modem connection).
3) Poll from a central location, or push the data from each of the stations?
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Question by:Sektor
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3 Comments
 
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by:salvagbf
ID: 13517312
Your best bet would probably be to set up an FTP server.  Then you can just write a simple script to ftp the files over as often as needed by setting the script as a scheduled task.  If you're using a modem connection to the Internet, have it dial the connection automatically on access attempt, which most Internet providers set up the computer to do automatically when their service is installed.  If you're thinking of having modems dial your server directly, then you're getting much more complicated.  You'd need a dial in server with enough modems (and therefor phone lines) connected to it to handle the max # of comps that could be calling in at any given time.  Dial-in server boxes exist, but are expensive, $2000+.

-Bernie
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Author Comment

by:Sektor
ID: 13517535
Thanks, this seems quite good idea. How is the connection dropped after the file is uploaded? Can I do that from a script or will the process wait for some timeout?

I was thinking that the sever software on central location would dial out to each of the computers and gather the data in the case of using modems. Thus I would not need a dialup server. However then the phone lines probably would not be useful for incoming voice calls, since the computer would pick up the handle when the phone is ringing.
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salvagbf earned 500 total points
ID: 13518680
True, you'd need a seperate line at each location specifically for the computer if you wanted to dial out from a central location and have each comp pick up automatically.  But that gets complicated... If your server is dialing each computer, how do the individual computers then know to run all the ftp commands to transfer the files? I don't think you can set the computers to run a script upon receiving a call... I don't know.

If you decide to go the dial out (from each seperate computer, calling the server) most ISP software includes an auto disconnect after x period of inactivity.  If not, I'm pretty sure you can check the properties of the connection and set it manually.  Worse case scenario, you can try including the following line at the end of the script that executes to ftp the files:

type HANGUP > COM?

Where the ? in COM? is the com port the modem is on, which you'd have to figure out when setting it up on each computer.
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