In a previous movie we have already touched on the fact that you can use FileMaker Pro to host FileMaker files and let other people connect to it. So in this movie we will look deeper into the differences between hosting files on FileMaker Server versus using FileMaker Pro as the host. Hosting with FileMaker Pro instead of FileMaker Server is often referred to as Peer-to-peer Hosting. And there are a number of differences between hosting with FileMaker Server versus hosting with FileMaker Pro. And the first one is User Limits; the number of guests that can connect to a file hosted by regular FileMaker Pro has varied throughout the versions. In the ancient FileMaker versions 3 to 6 there was a complex formula that dictated how many files you could share to how many users. And it depended on those, on the number of clients and the number of files involved. And there was a hard limit of 25 guests with FileMaker Pro as the host. At the same time FileMaker Server could accommodate 250 users. This complex calculation went away with FileMaker Server 7 and FileMaker Pro 7. Using FileMaker Pro 7 or 8 you could only have 5 users connected at any given time if you were hosting with FileMaker Pro. That number went up to 9 with FileMaker 9, 10, 11 and now 12. So if you host files with FileMaker 12 you can have a maximum of 9 concurrent users in your file. So 9 users as oppose to 250 with FileMaker Server or unlimited with FileMaker Server Advanced. But let's stick with the basic version of FileMaker Server so 9 versus 250. That's an obvious and serious limitation to using FileMaker Pro as the host, but there are other challenges. When you host files with FileMaker Pro then these files need to be physically open in a copy of FileMaker Pro somewhere. Meaning that someone needs to log into a machine, launch FileMaker Pro and then open the files that need to be hosted. And more specifically open the files with an account that will allow the files to be hosted. This is very different with FileMaker Server because FileMaker Server is designed to run in the background as a service or daemon. And it does not require that someone is logged into the machine. Actually for security reasons servers usually run best with nobody logged in. A very real risk if you are hosting with FileMaker Pro is that someone will inadvertently close the files on the host and thereby cut off all the users. Or even worse will decide to reboot the machine while guests are still connected. FileMaker Pro does not have a User Interface like FileMaker Server's Admin Console to show you what users have what files open. Using FileMaker Pro you can use your FileMaker Pro to host files to other FileMaker Clients. You can use it to host in a limited way to instant web publishing and you can also use it to host for ODBC and JDBC connections. The limitation here is that FileMaker Pro can only be used as an ODBC or JDBC Source for applications on the same machine. You cannot make an ODBC request to FileMaker Pro from across the network. And XML Publishing is completely not available in FileMaker Pro. Talking about security, having a machine sit there with FileMaker Pro and the files open is an obvious security risk. If the machine is accessible for anyone to walk up to it and take the files. Sometimes people use a password protected screensaver to get around that. But bear in mind that screensaver's can take a healthy chunk of processor cycles. I've seen fancy screensavers take up to 20 percent of the processors time. FileMaker Pro is not optimized in the same manner as FileMaker Server is. FileMaker Server for instance handles hard disk input and output much faster than FileMaker Pro. Another performance aspect is that when the FileMaker Pro host machine is in use, let's say someone is actively working in the FileMaker solution or with any other program for that matter. Then that activity will hurt the performance of every connected guest. And FileMaker Server 12 has a 64-bit version, so it can address a lot more memory than the 32 bit FileMaker Pro application can. Backups are another very important difference. FileMaker Server can backup while there are users actively working in the solution and FileMaker Server has a built-in Scheduler. You can not do that easily when FileMaker Pro is your host. You obviously cannot touch the files while FileMaker Pro has them open. Doing that would mark them as improperly closed and it will very likely lead to data or file corruption in the long run. So when it comes to backups when FileMaker Pro is your host you are left with a Save a Copy As Script and Script Step. And with that comes the challenge of finding a way to run that script on a schedule. You can put the FileMaker Pro host in a Scripted Loop but that will obviously prevent anyone from using that machine. And FileMaker Pro completely lacks the new progressive backup feature that FileMaker Server 12 has. Usually when FileMaker Pro is used as a host you will also find that it is running on a workstation and not a server. Server hardware is more expensive of course but for a good reason, it is built to last longer. Using a workstation as your FileMaker host will put you at risk for more failures than if you were using a real server hardware. So what else is there that FileMaker Server that FileMaker cannot do? Well FileMaker Server can be configured to disconnect idle guests and that frees up more resources. FileMaker Server can take advantage of multiple network cards either by combining the bandwidth of the network cards or making the files available on different segments of the network. FileMaker Server has the ability and utility to check the files consistency. FileMaker Server does extensive Event Logging which is, as we will see the first place to look when things go wrong. FileMaker Server also does extensive Statistics Logging that you can use for monitoring and troubleshooting. These are all topics that we will explore further in this tutorial. So what's the conclusion? Although you can use FileMaker Pro to host files using FileMaker Server is by far the better solution even for small work groups. FileMaker Server is more stable, more secure, has more features and performs a lot better.
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