NetCIL Installation Guide

Applies to: All NetCIL versions

Updated: 3/24/2020

 

The following instructions are designed to assist qualified IT personnel in the installation of a NetCIL database system.  These instructions assume basic familiarity with Windows operating systems and networking. For more information, please contact us.

Operating System Requirements

NetCIL will run on any of the Windows operating system versions that are currently supported by Microsoft.  The list includes Windows 10, Windows Server 2012, and newer server editions. Older versions are no longer supported by Microsoft. These systems can still be used, but it’s strongly recommended that you upgrade to supported systems, if for no other reason than for the sake of security. Please remember that your NetCIL database will contain a great deal of sensitive information. If you operate a network in your office, it is recommended that you not use “Home” editions of Microsoft Windows.  “Home” editions are only capable of five simultaneous connections to a database, and they have other networking restrictions that limit their utility in a business environment.  Upgrades to professional versions of all Microsoft products are available to non-profits at very reasonable rates from:

http://techsoup.org

Application Software Requirements

At least one licensed copy of the full version of Microsoft Access is recommended in order to facilitate management of a NetCIL database. In order to take full advantage of NetCIL capabilities, all users should have licensed copies of at least Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel. It is now also recommended that you use the 64-bit versions of MS Office, as long as all of your computers are equipped with at least 4Gb of memory, which is usually not an issue.  NetCIL applications can also be run with the 32-bit versions of Office. NetCIL is compatible with the following MS Office versions: 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Office 365. Please note that Microsoft no longer supports Office 2010. The royalty-free versions of Microsoft Access are sufficient to run NetCIL applications; They are available from the Downloads section of the NetCIL website:

https://netcil.com/Downloads.aspx

Installation Environments

NetCIL can run stand-alone on a single computer, on a peer-to-peer network, or on a traditional client-server network.  For multi-user environments, the recommended configuration is to install all NetCIL components on the local drives of a server, and configure users to connect to client applications via Remote Desktop (RDP). The more-traditional configuration, where client applications are installed on workstations, connected to a file server that is stored in a shared folder (usually on a server) is also supported. The RDP configuration offers better performance and is more fault-tolerant, but it requires a somewhat more complex configuration. We have a sample system, using Windows Server 2019 on an Amazon Web Services (AWS) instance that we can show you for reference. In fact, Amazon allows non-profits a very generous credit for AWS through Tech Soup; If you decide to establish your own AWS account, we will gladly furnish you with a complete image of our Windows Server 2019 instance. For more information, please contact us.

There are four components to the NetCIL database system:

 More information about replication is available by viewing this help topic.

 

A traditional client-server installation is shown in the following graphic:

 

In this configuration, the only NetCIL component that is stored in a shared location is the MS Access database that contains all NetCIL data. The applications NetCIL Client, NetCIL Manager, and IRLog are installed on all client workstations, and all data transfer occurs over the local area network. This configuration works well, but it requires a high degree of network efficiency and robustness. Network interruptions that occur during data write operations can cause file server corruption. Such issues are easily correctible as a general rule; However, doing so requires that all connections to the file server be closed before doing so. This configuration is not recommended for remote use, with or without a VPN connection, as network bandwidth limitations will inevitably affect performance. If however you can configure individual workstations with secure, remote access applications, this scheme can work quite well.

The next graphic shows the configuration for thin-client application use via services like Remote Desktop or Citrix:

 

In this instance, all NetCIL components are installed in shared locations that physically reside on a network server. All data traffic occurs within the server, and only graphical information is transmitted between the server and client workstations. This arrangement offers superior performance even on a local area network, and it is highly recommended for off-premises operations that use Remote Desktop Services. NetCIL installations on Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure use this configuration.

All data resides in the NetCIL File Server.  Almost all users will require the NetCIL Client application in order to enter and read data.  Exceptions are “front desk” personnel who normally handle telephone and walk-in referrals.  NetCIL IRLog is designed to handle those tasks.  Supervisory personnel will need NetCIL Manager in order to perform database configuration functions and to run agency reports.

Virtual Private Networking (VPN) connections are not needed in order to use Remote Desktop, but performance will not be affected if VPN is used.  VPN use is in fact encouraged in order to provide an additional layer of security.

 

Installation Procedure

As indicated above, there are some differences in the installation structure depending on the method that you choose for operation. The preliminary steps are however identical. By default, NetCIL applications attempt to connect to a file server named “C:\NetCIL Data\NetCIL File Server.accdb”. You can of course install a file server on any drive and in any directory, as long as the appropriate permissions are granted to users as explained below. If you change any of the default locations, NetCIL applications will display a file open dialog box when first run, asking for the location of the file server. Once identified, the path information will be stored in the system’s registry. The information will be used for subsequent operations, including software updates, so that unless the file server is moved, you won’t need to specify the file server path on a given system more than once. The following steps assume the use of all default path names; Modify them as you see fit.

For proper file management, it’s recommended that you disable the option to hide file extensions for known file types as indicated below (View… Options… Change folder and search options).  When there is an open connection to an Access database, (“.accdb” file extension) an accompanying record-locking file (“.laccdb” extension) is created, and it’s helpful to be able to distinguish between the two. The presence of the record-locking file indicates that there is an open database connection. In order to perform file server maintenance, all connections must be closed.

 

 

  1. Please start by contacting us in order to obtain a NetCIL file server. There is no charge for doing so; We place no restrictions on NetCIL use, and payment of our suggested fees is voluntary.  We’ll configure a baseline file server with information that is specific to your organization and then send you a link so that you can download it onto your systems. If you are already a NetCIL user, and you intend to convert from 32-bit to 64-bit Office systems, we’ll need to convert your file server to 64-bit format for you.
  2. Create a folder called “C:\NetCIL Data” and, if operating in a multiuser environment, ensure that the folder is visible to all NetCIL users. The resulting directory structure should resemble the following graphic:

 

  1. Once created, set permissions on the folder “NetCIL Database” (or its equivalent) to allow network file sharing.  If you run a Windows server using Active Directory, it’s recommended  that you create a group called “NetCIL”, assign those rights to the group, and then add all NetCIL users to the group.  Grant “Modify,” “Read and Execute,” “List Folder Contents,” “Read,” and “Write” privileges to the group, and then assign users to the group.  The following graphic illustrates the proper security configuration for a Windows 10 system:

 

 

The next graphic shows the same settings for a Server 2019 system using Active Directory with a NetCIL group:

 

 

 

  1. Place your file server, normally named “NetCIL File Server.accdb”, in the C:\NetCIL Data folder as shown in Step 2.
  2. On your server, install NetCIL Manager from the downloads section of the NetCIL website: https://netcil.com/Downloads.aspx
  3. If you intend to run 64-bit MS Office applications, install the MS Access Version 12 Database Engine, which is also available from the downloads section of the NetCIL website.
  4. On your server, run NetCIL Manager, and ensure that it is properly connected to your file server.
  5. If you wish to backup an encrypted copy of your data to NetCIL servers on a regular basis, follow these instructions.
  6. If you intend to configure your system to deliver NetCIL applications remotely, skip to Step 16.
  7. Download the zip file https://netcil.com/Downloads/netcilmaintenance.zip from the NetCIL website.
  8. Extract the batch script that is contained in the zip file, edit as required, and configure it to run as a scheduled process. More information can be found in the batch file text.
  9. On each workstation, install NetCIL applications as required from the downloads section of the NetCIL website: https://netcil.com/Downloads.aspx. It’s recommended that you install NetCIL Client first, as all users will need this file.
  10. Run NetCIL Client and, if prompted, specify the location of the file server. Even if you use drive mappings, it’s recommended that you use the fully-qualified UNC when you first connect, for example \\Server\Drive\Folder\FileName.
  11. When first run, NetCIL Client will issue a security warning message. Once run successfully, this message shouldn’t reappear.
  12. The remainder of these instructions are only needed if you intend to deliver NetCIL applications via RDWeb and Remote Desktop.

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  1. These instructions show a Windows Server 2019 instance that is configured to assume all of the requisite RD roles: Web Access, Gateway, Licensing, Connection Broker, and Session Host. The demands of the NetCIL system are such that a single server can easily handle all of these roles with no performance issues. If your organization has other requirements for server use, you can of course configure your servers as you wish. The following instructions assume a single-server configuration as shown in the following graphic:

 

 

  1. Install your own MS Office applications and RDP licenses on your server as described in the Application Software Requirements section of these instructions. Note that you’ll need a suitable set of volume licenses and Remote Desktop licenses for your organization; These can be obtained at reasonable cost from http://techsoup.org It isn’t necessary to install the full version of MS Access; You will however need to install a runtime version of Access 365. Both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions are available in the downloads section of the NetCIL website: https://netcil.com/Downloads.aspx
  2. After server configuration, MS Office installation, and Remote Desktop licensing configuration, download the zip file https://www.netcil.com/downloads/NetCILServerPackage.zip from the NetCIL website.
  3. Follow the instructions in the file ReadMe.txt that is contained in the zip file to extract the package contents to local drives on your server.
  4. On your server, install NetCIL Manager and NetCIL IRLog from the downloads section of the NetCIL website: https://netcil.com/Downloads.aspx
  5. If you intend to run 64-bit MS Office applications on your server, install the MS Access Version 12 Database Engine, which is also available from the downloads section of the NetCIL website.
  6. Run the file C:\NetCIL\NetCIL Client.exe and, if prompted, specify the location of the file server. If your file server isn’t located on a local drive, and even if you use drive mappings, it’s recommended that you use the fully-qualified UNC when you first connect, for example \\Server\Drive\Folder\FileName .
  7. Run NetCIL Manager, and ensure that it is properly connected to your file server.
  8. If you wish to backup an encrypted copy of your data to NetCIL servers on a regular basis, follow these instructions
  9. Create a collection in your RD Session Host called “NetCIL”. Configure the collection with the following applications as shown below:

C:\NetCIL\NetCIL Client.exe

C:\Program Files (x86)\NetCIL\Manager\ NetCIL Manager.exe

C:\Program Files (x86)\NetCIL\IRLog\IRLog.exe

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. It’s highly recommended that you install a security certificate on your server. You can then either deliver NetCIL applications to your users via {Your URL}/RDWeb, or just use RDWeb to generate the requisite RDP files that you can distribute to users for operational use.

 

 

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