Synchronisation is done when users need remote access to the database. This means they will operate on a local copy and have the ability to send/receive any changes made with their copy to a master copy. They may have access to all the data, or maybe just a subset of the data that they need.
Typically, the the times when you need to implement sync will be for uses like these:
- Users who operate from remote offices or from home
- Laptop users who need to work on the road
- Hosting the main database with an external provider (possibly use Premium for Web) and syncing to a copy for better control of imports/exports and mail merges.
- PDA or smart phone users with devices such as Blackberry, Pocket PC or iPhone
It is important to note that these instructions will try to explain the different options to make it easier for you to make your selection. But while it is certainly possible for a user with enough time to set this up, you’ll nearly always get a better implementation set up in less time if you involve an ACT! Certified Consultant. See How to pick the right CRM consultant?
For the other uses, ACT! has a built in sync. For this to be successful, you must make sure that every user is on the same exact build of ACT! (check the full build in Help | About) and, if using a sync server, that this is also of the same build. When a new update, patch or hot fix is released, you need to be sure to apply to all systems and sync server
To set up sync, first you need to have set up the shared database on the LAN as per the previous Sharing ACT! – Network or Sync (Part 1)
Then you determine what data is to be in each Subscriber (remote) database. You do this by creating sync sets as per ACT! KB 14072. You could use the same sync set for each remote user, or have different ones so each remote site only has the data it needs.
Note all users’ My Records will always be sent to all the remote databases – and all their extended data (notes, histories, embedded or attached emails, sales ops, etc). If you need the extended data in My Records to be hidden from other users, please contact GL Computing for a security plug-in we developed to secure this data
Next, you create the Remote databases (you need a separate database for each remote). This is done as per ACT! KB 14116
Then you need to determine the way the remotes will connect to the master. There are three options:
- This is the only option available if you do not have a Premium version of ACT!
- Synchronisation this way requires that ACT! on the system hosting the Publisher database is open and logged into the database in order to sync.
- Set up is fairly easy as per: ACT! KB 15192
- For remote database that don’t come in and connect on a LAN, have a look at the VPN link below
- To sync without having the Publisher open and logged in, you will need to use ACT! Premium and one of the options below
- Uses a Network Sync server that runs as a service
- Sync service means that you don’t need ACT! open and running on the Publisher database in order for Subscriber databases to sync with it.
- Basic set up is the same as for Application Sync, but you use the Network Sync service, which you setup as per ACT! KB 22977
- Normally, this is used for users who come into the office to sync, or who connect to the office LAN via VPN
- It can also be configured to connect over the internet as per ACT! KB 17536 – if security is a major issue, this Sync server can be in a DMZ if your firewall has that ability.
- Uses a sync services that provides access via an IIS web server
- This option has similar advantages to using the Network Sync service, but can be a bit more complex to set up. To do this, the instructions are as per ACT! KB 22978
- Sometimes, with Application or Network sync, you may want to set up a VPN for added security or to make it easier to get past a firewall. If you don’t have a VPN system, you can use Hamachi® VPN as per ACT! KB 23333
There is much more to sync when it comes to troubleshooting, understanding the sync panel and the sync logs. But the information in this post should hopefully give you the basics. Please add a comment if you think there’s anything extra that you’d like added.