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I currently have a database running on Filemaker 5 that deals with criminal background checks. The system is really outdated and slow, so it is definitely in need of an update. The workflow is as follows right now:

  1. Client sends request for background check on John Doe
  2. Employee goes to court house and looks up information about John Doe
  3. Employee returns to office and enters information into FM database

If I could cut out the part where employees need to return to the office to enter information, it would save me a lot of time and money.

The most obvious method to accomplish this would be to connect a filemaker 11 server to one of my dedicated IPs and use web publishing to allow users to access the database.

My questions are as follows:

  1. What is the most cost efficient machine I can purchase to act as the server?
    (mac vs pc, brand, model, etc)
    Also, right now, only 4-6 users access it during a given day if it matters.

  2. What is the best way to make it secure?
    I have a lot of very confidential, personal information in this database so I need to make sure only employees can access it.

Thanks for the help, Mike

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1 Answer 1

Filemaker publishes a list of recommended hardware configurations.

I'd stick with a platform you're familiar with: OSX or Windows Server. If you go with PC hardware, get a server grade system from a vendor that provides a good warranty and support (HP, Dell, and many other providers).

Don't be scared away by the term "server grade hardware", this doesn't not automatically mean it's terribly expensive. For instance an HP ML110 server, quad-core, 2GB RAM, 160GB Sofware RAID1, can be had for $900. If you need a tape backup drive, add $800 for a DAT160. Windows Server 2008 R2 Foundation is only $250. That's still under $2,000 for a warrantied, supported, brand new, decent-performance, with tape backup & software* server.

I would not use web publishing to expose a database to the Internet, no matter how important or trivial the data is. If you want people to access the data remotely then implement a VPN.

If your current router is capable of running VPN connections, look into using that. Otherwise a Windows server can do PPTP, L2TP, and SSTP VPNs. PPTP is widely supported and probably sufficient if your users have good passwords (meaning it's required by the system and not up to their discretion).

*Additional hardware/software may be required, I don't read minds, best to talk it out with a sales rep or the computer consulting firm you deal with most regularly.

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+1 - All sound advice. I support some FileMaker-based applications. For such a low number of users an entry-level server computer (SATA disks, rather than SAS, and software RAID, rather than hardware RAID) ought to be sufficient. Don't scrimp on backup or a UPS. I agree re: the VPN rather than directly exposing FileMaker Server to the Internet. –  Evan Anderson Jul 27 '10 at 20:12
    
The only thing I would add, (and I'd +vote if I had votes left) is that you can install an SSL certificate on the IIS server (assuming windows, you can on OSX too, but I have not done it) and use IWP to expose your data securly. Another option, would be to use ODBC and write your own web interface to the data, but at that point, I'd move away from FileMaker if at all possible :) –  Nate Jul 27 '10 at 20:49

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