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FileMaker Hosting – What Plan is Right for You?

November 22nd, 2017

When it comes to hosting your FileMaker solution, there are a lot of options out there. You can host it yourself onsite, you can host with a service, or you can explore FileMaker Cloud. Let’s assume that you’ve decided the hassle and costs associated with hosting your solution yourself are too prohibitive and you’ve decided to host with a service.

Now you’re looking at plans. There is shared hosting and dedicated hosting and concierge services for FileMaker Cloud (not discussed in this blog, but follow this link for more info).

HostingFMS16-shared
Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is the most economical option available on the market and very appealing to a lot of people looking to host their FileMaker solution.

In order to figure out if shared hosting is the right option for you and to help you choose between our Starter or Professional Plan, let’s start with a few questions:

First: What version of FileMaker Pro is your solution currently running on? What version of FileMaker Server are you currently using and what version of FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Server do you want or need to be on?

Okay, that was technically three questions, but they are all important.

Our shared hosting plans support FileMaker Server 11-14 and FileMaker Pro (client) 7-16. The compatibility chart below details what FileMaker Pro versions are available on the different FileMaker Server versions.

Shared_Hosting_Compatibiity_ 2017

If don’t want to or don’t need to upgrade to FileMaker Server 15 or above, a shared hosting plan could be perfect for your needs.

Second: How many files do you want to host (and how big are your files)?

The Starter plan is ideal for one file and up to 1 GB of data. If you need to host more than one file, the Professional plan supports up to five database files and 5 GBs of storage.

Third: Do you need FileMaker WebDirect or FileMaker Go connections?

If yes, you need to go with the Professional plan. Our Starter plan does not support WebDirect or Go connections.

HostingFMS16-dedicated

Dedicated Hosting
If you want or need to be on FileMaker Server 15 or higher, you need to go with dedicated hosting.
We offer four plans (Micro Team, Small Team, Medium Team, and Large Team – henceforth referred to as Micro, Small, Medium, and Large) designed to cover, accommodate, and service a wide variety of needs and requirements.

Let’s review some of the factors that go into deciding which plan is the best fit for you.

1. File size

Each plan allows you to upload up to 125 database files, but the size of your files is a determining factor in deciding which plan is right for you.

Our dedicated hosting plans offer varying quantities of disk space to accommodate the overall size of your files. Our Micro and Small plans have limited storage. If the files being hosted are too large, it becomes difficult to provide redundant backups without incurring additional costs.

If your files’ total sizes are less than 5 GB, you are probably okay going with the Micro plan. With 60 GB of disk space available, anything larger than 5 GB becomes too big for the standard backup routines that are included with the plan.

What if your FileMaker files are just a little too big for the Micro plan? Then the Small plan should work for you since it can host files up to 10 GB. With either of these plans, you can also purchase additional blocks of 100 GB for $20 a month.

If you have files over 10 GB, then you may want to consider a Medium or Large plan. These servers can hold files up to 150 GB – giving you lots of room for your FileMaker file and even external data too.

2. Performance
What kind of performance do you need and what do you intend to do on your server? If you plan to run continuous routines or regular audit systems, you are going to want to opt for the Medium or Large plan. With more RAM available, these plans are better equipped to handle complex processes that won’t result in lag.

Interested in learning more about FileMaker performance when hosting? Check out this video Marc Larochelle, our CEO, did:

YouTube Preview Image

3. Bandwidth
Depending upon how you use your solution, you may need a lot of bandwidth. Several things can determine if you need unlimited bandwidth:

A. if you work with a lot of interactive containers
B. if you plan to regularly download data to your local machine
C. if you use custom web publishing
D. your backup is going to Dropbox

All of these use a lot of bandwidth, so we’d suggest our Medium or Large plan.

If you use your solution more for regular data entry and as storage for historical documents that you are not downloading daily – you’ll be fine with a Small plan (or maybe even a Micro).

4. Number of FileMaker users / WebDirect access
Here are two more things to consider.

Do you have less than 10 FileMaker Pro users? Look at the Micro Plan. Anything over 10 users, your options are wide open with the Small, Medium or Large plans.

While all plans support FileMaker Go access, only the Small, Medium, and Large Team plans support FileMaker WebDirect access. If you intend to have more than 10 users connecting to your solution via FileMaker Go or you want to use WebDirect, also stay with any plan above the Micro plan. The Small, Medium and Large plans come with 8 GB or 16 GB of RAM, respectively – which is needed if you intend to have a larger number of users connecting remotely.

5. Backups
Each of our dedicated plans have a robust backup schedule. Your ideal plan will depend on your backup needs.

The Micro and Small plans keep a daily backup for 7 days. At any point, your oldest backup will be from one week ago. Additional backups or DropBox storage (for archive purposes) may be requested for an added cost.

If you need more longevity on your backups, you can consider a Medium or Large plan. These plans hold backups for up to one year.

Both plans (Medium and Large) include twice daily backups completed at 12:30 pm and 1:00 am. These daily backups are kept for one (1) week. We then run weekly backups that are kept for one (1) month and monthly backups that are kept for up to one (1) year. For redundancy and disaster recovery, all backups are stored on a 1 TB external drive and a daily backup is uploaded to a dedicated folder on Dropbox (see #6).

If you are considering creating your own backup schedules, we highly recommend the Medium or Large plan. Additional backups can be costly on the Micro or Small plan, due to the fact both are running on AWS. AWS charges per GB of space, as well as bandwidth usage.

6. Dropbox
Do you want your backups available via Dropbox and do you want the ability to access a Dropbox backup up to 365 days later?

Dropbox is automatically included with Medium and Large plans. Dropbox is available with our Micro and Small plans, but it does cost extra. With Dropbox, we can provide you with backups that are up to 365 days old. Dropbox also allows for more redundant storage of your backups.

7. SSL Certificates
We include a wildcard SSL certificate with all of our plans. If you would like a customized SSL cert for a custom domain name or other requirements, this options is available for an additional fee.

One last piece of advice. Before contacting a hosting provider, you should know:
1. How many users you will have using FileMaker Pro, Go, and WebDirect.
2. How many files you want to host, as well as the size of those files.
3. What version of FileMaker Pro and Server you plan to use.

If you’re interested in hosting your solution with us, give us a call today (760-510-1200) and talk to one of our hosting engineers. We’ll discuss your requirements and specifications and get you on track with exactly what you need.

What You Need To Know about PCI’s Dedicated Hosting Plans

May 2nd, 2016

The Dedicated Hosting Plan begins with a personal consultation to review your specific needs and requirements. We will review the basic hardware requirements, determine if any additional hardware is necessary based on your processes and provide you with a written estimate.

In addition to the hardware, we can provide you discounted pricing on FileMaker Server licensing. If you already own a copy of FileMaker Server, we can install your license on the dedicated server (FileMaker Server 13 and above).
 
Dedicated Hosting Specifications and Minimum Requirements
Server Hardware Requirements
• Apple Mac Mini: 3.0GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz)
• 16 GB 1600 MHz LPDDR3 SDRAM
• 512 GB PCIe-based Flash Storage

Additional Hardware Requirements
• 2TB USB3 Hard Drive (required for OS and FileMaker backup procedures)
• HDMI Headless Adapter (required for improved remote connection performance)

Server Software Requirements
• FileMaker Server 13-14 (use your own license or purchase from PCI)
• FileMaker Go or WebDirect Concurrency Connections (if applicable)
• SSL Certificate (an annual SSL certificate is required to maintain secure connections)
 
Dedicated Hosting Features
• 125 Database Files
• 500GB SSD Storage Space
• Unlimited Users
• FileMaker Go or WebDirect Connections
• FileMaker Server Admin Console Access
• Dropbox Backup Access (on demand, daily and weekly routines)
• Personalized Setup
• Automatic Backups
• Multi-Version Support for FileMaker client (FileMaker 7 through 13 Mac or Windows)
• PHP Publishing API
• Secure Uploads, Downloads and Connections
• Non-virtualized (PCI-owned) FileMaker Servers
• Solid State Drives for Ultimate Performance
• Unlimited Bandwidth
• Upload Speeds up to 100 Mb/s
• Customer Service from PCI’s Expert Team
 
Managed Services for Dedicated Hosting
Managed Services
Our dedicated managed server plans offer the highest level of hosting services PCI provides. PCI becomes your hosting expert and maintains your server using the same proprietary systems and standards we use to maintain all our other hosting servers.

Our dedicated managed server plans include ALL labor associated with operating and proactively maintaining your server to include operating system patches and updates, web server installations and updates, FileMaker Server patches and upgrades, plug-in installations, SSL certificates, ODBC configurations, backup schedules, script schedules and anything else the server needs to run your FileMaker solution.

Managed Services Fees
• One-time initial server setup
• Monthly hosting service and support
• Monthly data center service fee billed through PCI
• Tier 2 technical support provided by the data center will be billed through PCI if needed

Turnaround Times for Customer Requests
Often customer requests are handled on the spot when you call in during regular office hours. Occasionally, you may need to leave a message and we’ll get the request done the same business day. On rare occasions, requests will spill over to the next business day. Our office hours are Monday – Friday from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm Pacific Time.

Data Center Locations
We have three (3) data center locations (Las Vegas, Atlanta and Milwaukee) and our proposal would be to put you in whichever data center is closest to the greatest number of your end users. We have done extensive testing and determined that latency, specifically how far the user’s computer is physically from the FileMaker server, has the biggest impact on WAN solution performance for users who are connecting directly to the server with the FileMaker Pro client.

Customer Connection Speed
Connection to your data on the server is also relative to how your FileMaker solution is programmed and the speeds provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). We generally recommend using internet connection speeds at a minimum of 10MB download and 3MB upload. However, we also recommend that customers purchases the fastest speeds they can reasonably afford above those minimums.

Data Center Upload/Download Speeds and Bandwidth Limitations
The data centers provide maximum upload/download speeds up to 100Mb up and down.

Bandwidth usage is determined by how much data is transmitted between you and the server. For most customers, bandwidth limitations are rarely exceeded.  Actual bandwidth limitations vary depending on the data center your server is located at.

Tier 2 Technical Support
Tier 2 support is a rare occurrence but a service that is occasionally necessary from the data center. For example, if an operating system needed to be reinstalled, we would need someone to be hands on at the data center itself so we would have to pay for that service on an hourly basis. In the event this level of support may be needed from the data center, you will be notified prior to work being performed and the billing with be processed through PCI.
 
Backup Information
Our system provides for multiple backups to keep your data safe in case you accidentally remove crucial data, or in the unlikely event of a main hard drive catastrophe.

Tier 1 Backup Schedules
Twice Daily – we do daily backups at 12:30 pm and again 1:00 am. This means that on a given business a day, your data is backed up twice and in a way that is easy for us to get to. These backups are done to a separate drive other than the main hard drive.

Tier 2 Backup Schedules
Weekly and Monthly Schedules – we keep backups daily for one (1) week, weekly for one (1) month, and monthly for up to two (2) years. These backups are also saved on a separate external drive.

Tier 3 Backup Protection
Cloud Protection and easy customer access – every client has what we call their personal daily backup. This backup copies the data from the main hard drive to a backup drive and this happens at 1:00 am every day. Every morning at 3:00 am, the latest backup is compressed and copied to your dedicated Dropbox account.

FileMaker 14 Server Progressive Backups
For FileMaker 14 hosting customers we take advantage of progressive backups, which means that data is never more than an hour out of date in the event of a main hard drive catastrophe. These progressive backups are stored on a different hard drive other than the main hard drive. They are rewritten every hour. This is something akin to an ongoing mirror style backup.

We can also set up a separate Dropbox backup for the purposes of you being able to run a backup on-the-fly at any time and having that backup available to you via Dropbox immediately.
 
Security
Utilizing the latest technologies and the strictest practices ensures that not only is your data safe and secure from prying eyes, but the system itself is run like a fortress and constantly monitored by our experts.

SSL Certificates
Data transfer is encrypted using SSL, direct server access is limited, only the necessary ports to run FileMaker Server (and IWP/PHP) are exposed (unlike other hosting companies), and the machines are Apple/Mac running Linux, which are not prone to the usual hacker environments of traditional Windows servers other hosting companies are plagued with. We also limit third party and other rogue services that add to the complexity and potential vulnerability of the machine.

Passwords and Accessing Data
Each customer’s data files are secured by a username and password authentication. Only Productive Computing, Inc. server administrators have access to where the files are stored, however they do not have the individual customer’s passwords to open the database files unless the hosting customer has provided those passwords to us. We require all hosting clients to maintain a password on the hosted file.
 
Other Hosting Service and Support Frequently Asked Questions
FileMaker Pro and Server Licensing
FileMaker Pro and Server licensing is priced separately from our hosting services.

As Platinum Partners in the FileMaker Business Alliance, we are able to provide our customers with preferred pricing on FileMaker Pro and Server licenses and in most cases can provide a best price guarantee.

Software Updates/Version Upgrades Included
Our dedicated managed server plans include ALL labor associated with software upgrades to include operating system patches and updates, Web Server installations and updates, FileMaker Server patches and upgrades, plug-in installations, SSL certificates, ODBC configurations and anything else the server needs to run your FileMaker solution. The only exception is that we don’t support other non-FileMaker Server related services (i.e. we won’t install a mail server, blog engine, FTP server, etc.).

FMS Admin Console Access
All customers will have access to the FMS Admin Console. Customers will also have access to remotely access the server itself upon request – although our managed server customers generally leave that to us.

Productive Computing Announces FileMaker Server 14 Availability

June 4th, 2015

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Productive Computing, Inc. is proud to announce FileMaker Server 14 availability.

 

PCI has been busy building significant infrastructure to accommodate customers who are interested in hosting solutions with FileMaker Server 14 and take advantage of the latest version of FileMaker’s WebDirect technology. Starting immediately PCI has the availability to host FileMaker 14 Server based solutions on all four of our data centers (Las Vegas, Chicago, New York, and Atlanta).  In addition to the FileMaker Server 14 build out, we have also recently upgraded all our servers to take advantage of the latest secure certificate technologies (SSL) encrypting customer data at the maximum level possible at no extra charge.

 

PCI maintains a healthy stable of compatibility for FileMaker versions 11 through 14 and our customers always get the choice as to which server version they would like to be on and in what part of the country for their maximum benefit.  PCI has long been known for providing the highest level of personalized hosting support for our customers using the latest technologies while tirelessly ensuring that our machines are running the latest versions of server and the OS and with the best in class hardware/software available.

 

“I can’t tell you why, but the Core is working faster than ever on your server versus my previous hosting provider. I just did an import and sort of 200 emails with attachments and it was noticeably faster than ever. I am very happy. Productive Computing offers high caliber customer service, and I feel great knowing you are always there to assist whenever I need it.”

Jeff Geoffray

 

“We use Productive Computing’s FileMaker Hosting services for a customized solution that is used each year by hundreds of attendees at the annual FileMaker DevCon. Their team offers great support and I highly recommend them to anyone seeking dependable FileMaker Hosting with sterling customer service.”

 

Ron Robertson

GTR Global Meetings and Technology

 

 

On a side note, PCI has also been busy certifying our plugins for FileMaker 14 compatibility. Each plug-in will be available in 32 bit compatibility and where applicable updated for 64 bit compatibility. Please see our website for updates.

 

These plug-ins will remain 32 bit until the third party libraries these plug-ins talk to are 64 compatible:

FM Books Connector – www.fmbooksconnector.com

Outlook Manip for Mac – www.outlookmanipulatorformac.com

 

10 Advantages of Hosting FileMaker Solutions

January 9th, 2015

FileMaker Hosting

 

Server Hardware

Server hardware is a big ingredient in the performance and wellbeing of your FileMaker solution. Do you have a handle on exactly what to purchase? How much RAM, processor and hard drive do you need?  Which brand of computer? Which platform? Who will warrantee it? What are the IT costs associated with purchasing, installing and configuring your own server? Do you have expertise on how to virtualize your server if you go that route?  How long will it take to set up?  The hassles and effort to setup hardware is one of the most popular reasons people choose to host with a provider instead of on their own.

 

Installation/Configuration Expertise

When was the last time you configured FileMaker Server software?  Do you the expertise to configure it for the maximum performance and protection? This is often better done by your hosting provider who works with the server software on a daily basis.

 

 

FileMakerServerHostingFileMaker Server Software Licensing

You don’t need to purchase FileMaker Server Software.  If you were to have your own server, you’d be responsible for the yearly purchase and maintenance of the FileMaker server software as well.  If you host your solution, the FileMaker licensing is included as part of the hosting cost and many times less than what you’d pay for the server licensing alone.

 

 

BackupsFileMakerHosting_Backups

You don’t need to worry about being responsible for your own backups.  Will your backups be monitored to perform reliability and religiously?  Do you have off-site backups?  If so, did you figure that into the cost?  With Productive Computing Hosting, your backup is delivered to you nightly with the convenience of a Dropbox link.  We also store 4 years’ worth of backups for you at no additional charge!  Direct access to the FileMaker Server Admin Console and the ability to setup and configure your own server side scripts at no extra charge.

 

Bandwidth

One of the biggest factors in the speed of a FileMaker solution is the upload bandwidth from the server.  The cost to purchase a large upload pipe is extreme for an individual business (many hundreds of dollars per month).  Since a hosting provider hosts your files at a data center, large upload speeds are part of the benefit of hosting and included in the cost.

 

Uptime/Availability

Do you have a proper server room that is protected and monitored 24/7?  FileMaker hosting providers use data centers that typically provide 99.95% uptime/availability and top level security.

 

FileMakerHosting_SecuritySecurity

Firewall configuration and security is a necessary part of the FileMaker setup.  In most cases, this means getting your IT expert involved. None of this is required when you host with a provider.

 

 

Server Maintenance

As with anything in the software world, patches and updates will be required for both the operating system as well as FileMaker Server software itself.  Staying on top of this is extremely important.  At Productive Computing, we monitor and test the latest software patches and proactively update OS and FileMaker patches balancing uptime and security.

 

Protection

With your own server comes the responsibly of dealing with virus protection, hackers, SPAM, and Malware.  Unique to Productive Computing, we host FileMaker files on OS X based Unix servers which are considered by most to be the safest environment to prevent viruses and malware.

 

Encryption

If you plan to use Web Direct, we recommend encrypting the data between the browser and the server.  At Productive Computing we install secure certificates for all our Filemaker 13 (and above) servers for you at no extra charge so you have the peace of mind without the expense and configuration worry of installing and maintaining your own secure certificate.

 

PCI Announces Release of Address Book Manipulator Version 4.0.0.0

November 13th, 2014

 

 

Address Book Manipulator Version 4.0.0.0 for Mac

San Diego, CA – November 13, 2014 – Productive Computing Inc., a Platinum member of the FileMaker Business Alliance, is proud to announce the release of an update to Address Book Manipulator. The plug-in provides a bidirectional data exchange between FileMaker® Pro and Macintosh Address Book or Contacts.

 

Address Book Manipulator 4.0.0.0 for Mac contains improvements and modifications including:
– Compatibility with Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite in addition to 10.7, 10.8 and 10.9
– Added new functionality to provide the ability to handle Social Profiles and Instant Messaging (IM) addresses
– Expanded support for foreign language special characters
– Resolved issues with Subgroup functions, CountryCode data, registration and more (see http://www.productivecomputing.com/address-book-integration/version#_history)

 

The Address Book Manipulator Demo has been updated with new features including:
– We restructured the demo file to include Address Book / Contacts “Group” handling
– You will now have the ability to pull, add or modify Groups and manage Group members
– Added functionality to manage contact social profiles and instant messaging (IM) address information

 

The Address Book Manipulator starts at $74.95 for a single user. Existing Address Book Manipulator customers may purchase an upgrade of this new release at a 35% discount.

 

For more information please visit www.addressbookmanipulator.com to download a product demo, view the tutorial videos or download the updated Developer’s Guide and Functions Guide.

 

FileMaker Pro Support and Plug-in Integration:

Do you have database enhancements you would like to have programmed? Want help getting a plug-in professionally installed into your FileMaker solution? We can help!  The process is easy – complete our online Request For Quote form (RFQ) or call us directly at (760) 510-1200 and one of our certified developers can work with you on improving your solution today.