We looked in the last post at how EssentialPIM Pro Business Edition (EPIMBE) is not just for businesses, but for families, too. What distinguishes the Business Edition is the availability of a single database to a group. If you need to see and update the same information at the same time as others in your family or work, then EPIMBE is for you.

In this post, we'll look at setting up and running Business Edition and at some tips along the way.

EPIM Pro with built-in traffic manager

Business Edition is EssentialPIM Pro with the addition of Firebird server software. EPIM Pro by itself is a single-user version of the Business Edition. It doesn't include Firebird server because there is no traffic to manage, just yours.

Introduce other users, and EPIM now must control access to records in the database. What happens when two want the same contact? Do both have permission to change the record? The Business Edition handles the complexity that multiple users introduce.

Accordingly, EPIMBE has three components:

1. Firebird server (controls traffic into and from the database).
2. EssentialPIM Pro (manages the database).
3. A license for each client who will connect to the server (allows multiple, concurrent access).

To start,

  • Decide which device will act as the server for your group.
  • Determine whether you are using an existing database, or starting new. If you have a database already, be sure it is on the same device as your server.
  • Install Business Edition on the server. You'll have two options:
    • Firebird server. This is required.
    • EssentialPIM Pro. This is optional. Select this if you intend to use EPIM on the device.
  • Install EssentialPIM Pro on each PC that will connect to the server as a client (mobile devices cannot be clients). This time, deselect Firebird server; install only EPIM Pro.
  • Configure the ports in your firewall, both on the server and clients, per instructions in Help > Business version.
  • Set up users by opening EPIM and connecting to the database via File > Connect to server. Complete instructions how to do this are in Help > Connecting to a server.

My experience with Business Edition

As a first-time user of EPIMBE—I don't use it regularly because I am the sole user in my household—I offer some observations from my experience (I set up a 3-client network with EPIMBE on my desktop (both Firebird server and EPIM Pro) and EPIM Pro on my laptop and notebook):

  • As with reading instructions before you assemble furniture, I read Help beforehand to understand concepts and technical issues I might encounter. Check Networking and its associated articles. This helped considerably.
  • Configuring the firewall proved most challenging. I was not familiar with incoming/outgoing rules and that TCP and UDP each need their own setup (another user encountered this and has asked that this be included in the documentation).
  • I cannot connect my clients without disabling the firewall on my desktop/server. I need to do more troubleshooting, but for now this is acceptable because I am only an occasional user on my private network.
  • EPIMBE behaved as I expected, and as documented, once I had my three devices connected to the database.

A few tips

The following tips are compiled from posts in the support forum.

Try before buy: When you test the Business Edition, the trial license will allow up to five clients at a time to connect, giving you a good chance to experience multi-user access.

Upgrading: If you use EssentialPIM Pro as a client on your server, deselect Fiirebird server when you install the upgrade; you can stay with the Firebird software you initially installed. If you select Firebird server when upgrading, you should get a message that it is already running.

Working with EPIMBE:

  • If what you can do is limited—for example, you cannot manage categories—you probably don't have enough rights. Contact your administrator or, if you have access to the admin account, login as SYSDBA and adjust the rights under Tools > Users.
  • The status field can be used to assign records to specific users. For example, when you create a task and make it private, only you will see it across the network. In a family, this may be comparable to parental controls for certain information in your database.

Sync vs. Business: If concurrent access isn't necessary and you want only to share information with a group, then a cloud service (Google, OwnCloud, Apple, EPIM, etc.) where you can synchronize devices should suffice.

Many devices, single user: You may think you need EPIMBE to have one database available to multiple devices. Not necessarily. EPIMBE does provide this functionality, but remember, its purpose is to allow several people access to the same database simultaneously.

With EPIM Portable, you can move a USB key / SD card among devices and have the same setup wherever. Or, you can also use synchronization like Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive to make your database available to multiple computers.

What has been your experience with EPIM Business Edition? Tell us about it in the comments.