Sharing ACT! – Network or Sync (Part 1)

A lot of users new to ACT!, especially those who don’t get the benefit of a consultant, seem confused between when to share on a network and when to sync… or, in fact, how to do either. So I thought I would attempt to explain the various options and include instructions on how to implement them.
The first misconception some people have is that these functions can only be done with the “Premium” or “Workgroups” editions (depending on the version or country). This is wrong. The Premium version does have some additional options, but even the standard ACT! by Sage product can do both.
As always, I recommend that users speak to a Certified Consultant before commencing your implementation, especially with database design and setting up synchronisation and learning how to get the most out of ACT!

Setting up the database server:

The usual place people need to start is with setting up ACT! on a “server” – that is, the machine that will host the ACT! database. In a small environment (< 5 users), this may be a user’s machine.
Note: ACT! is a client/server product. That means the full application MUST be installed on system hosting the database locally.
Usually, one of the questions a user will as is “What sort of server does ACT! need?” Well, that depends on a number of factors that you should provide to your consultant to determine this:
  • How many ACT! users will there be?
    • How many on the LAN
    • How many via Web (if any)
    • How many remote (if any)
  • Will you have a server?
    • If yes, will the server be dedicated to ACT! or shared with other services?
    • If shared with other services, what services and how busy are they?
Once you have selected the machine to host the database, you need to install ACT!. I recommend doing it this way:
  • Perform a Selective restart with MSCONFIG as per ACT! KB 14499
  • Install ACT! from the CD
  • Update ACT! the latest patch for your version. You can download any patches from here
  • Restore from Selective Start-up Mode with MSCONFIG
  • Reboot
  • Open ACT! - Create, upgrade or Restore_As your database
  • Share the database as per ACT! KB 13878
The most common error you might get is: "The database <Database name> could not be accessed. In order to access this database, check your network connection and verify that your database server is available. It may be necessary to disable any firewall software.” – To fix it, please follow the suggestions in that link.
If you need to set up sync to share your data with remote users (external offices, laptops, smart phones), please see Part 2