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FMS 5.5 & Windows File Sharing


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The FileMaker Server Best Practices document recommends turning off file sharing and other unused services. In various discussions/forums I've seen different interpretations of this statement. In a windows environment (specifically Win2K Server), how _specifically_ does one 'turn off' file sharing? Does this mean not sharing FileMaker data folders, not sharing any folders (what about admin shares e.g. FMServer01C$), stopping a service, changing a windows setting?

Similarly, one source led me to believe that simply allowing file sharing (no virus software, no backup software, no direct user access to files being hosted) might 'confuse' the OS and fool it into thinking the client is accessing the files directly rather than via FM Host. This, then, could lead to corruption even if users 'Open Remote' and no other process accesses the files.

Can anyone shed any light on this? I'd appreciate any input I can get...

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Brad:

Although all my clients' FMServers are Macs, the concept is the same on either platform: the FMServer box should only be used for FMServer, and at all costs, you should prevent the clients from being able to access the machine directly. If file sharing is on, someone will start using the computer as a file server at some point - that's just the way people are - and it will slow the server. Even worse, if the folder containing the served databases is shared, someone will manage to open a database directly (via File-->Open, and then navigating to the server via file sharing) which will certainly cause that file, if not the whole solution, to be corrupted.

To answer you more directly, I am not familiar enough with W2K Server to tell you *exactly* how to turn off file sharing. At the very least, make sure the data folder (and any backup folder) is not shared. There is always a bit of confusion with FMS & "server" OS software. You don't need a server OS to serve FMS; any version of your OS which is compatible with your version of FMS will do, so long as it can fly on the selected network protocol. I had a client recently purchase an XServe machine, running OSX Server, as his FMS box. An utter waste of money (this is a company with a dozen computers and very little network usage), as any Mac from the last five years would have done the job. This is because FMS is not served by the OS, it is served on its own nickel, via FMS.

As far as the OS getting confused, this sounds confused in itself - if users access the data via Open Remote, everything should run fine.

-Stanley

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Thanks for your input and quick reply...

Some Clarification:

We're running FMS on a dedicated Win2K Server. The only 'sharing' available is through administrative shares on the root drives (FMServer01C$ and FMServer01D$) which, as far as I know, are default Windows shares that are hidden and only accessible by admins. I'm pretty confident nobody navigated to the served files, and we don't have any virus/backup/etc. software on this machine.

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Brad,

You should be fine. You can't turn off the admin shares. Stanley is correct when he says that the folder itself should not be shared. Virus & backup software should not have any affect on FM Server. At least it hasn't on any of our servers.

John

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Brad -

You technically could disable the hidden administrative shares with a registry edit but there is really no point in doing it. As laker 42 and others have pointed out you definately don't want to share the windows folder where your FileMaker databases reside. When the Filemaker Server Best Practice Guide recommends turning off file sharing they are probably recommending turning off "File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks" and possibly "Client for Microsoft Networks" under the properties of your local area connection in Network and Dial-up Connections on the server. At a minimum doing that would make your server more secure if it is dedicated only to hosting FileMaker databases. However, I'd like to know more about why the practice guide makes that recommendation - I run FileMaker Server as well as some Windows file shares on my Windows 2000 Server with no problems. As far as disabling unused services, again it might make the box more secure and might also gain a little performance but without antivirus on your box on a Windows network it sounds like you aren't too concerned about security anyway :

BTW, how are you backing up your databases?

Will

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  • 2 weeks later...

We ran into some issues with SP4 on Win2k a while back, and on contacting FileMaker were told that screensavers and anti-virus software were big no-nos on a FMS box. Our anti-virus software and FMServer had been coexisting peacefully for months, but we uninstalled it anyway. The FMS backup dumps files to a second machine on our internal network each night, which writes the files to tape as part of a normal backup procedure.

Odd thing is, FMS runs like a charm most of the time, but when something odd happens (in this case the Windows FMS Service stopped unexpectedly) there is little/no indication of what specifically went wrong. I suspect file sharing isn't the issue in our case, but that seems to be the conclusion everyone (including FM support) arrives at almost immediately, so I wanted to double check.

Well, thanks for all the help/ideas so far...

-Brad

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Brad -

Do you have any Windows event log entries corresponding the FileMaker service stopages?

As far as anti-virus, you probably don't want to scan open FileMaker databases -any decent anti-virus program should allow you to exclude directories - simply exclude the directories containing the databases and scan everything else. I suppose it's true that if all your box did was serve FileMaker files and was otherwise locked down, the use of antivirus might not be critical. But for FileMaker to say you should not use antivirus products on any computer hosting Fm databases is ridiculous - can anybody name another software vendor that says their product should not be run on any computer running antivirus software?

As for the idea to turn off file sharing, again, I don't understand why this is recommended. If it's because your users might try to connect via file sharing as opposed to filemaker hosts then that is a user education or server configuration issue. If FM suggests your FM service is locking up because you have file sharing enabled, it would be nice if they provided a little more explanation to help clarify this mysterious ghost in the machine relationship between filemaker and file sharing that seems to crop up as the answer to any unexplained filemaker behavior.

As far as backups, the problem is backing up open FileMaker files - again, any decent backup program lets you exclude directories.

Will

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I have never run into a problem running FMS and anti-virus on the same box. Perhaps during install it could be an issue but not during the regular running. Even after good education users can get themselves in trouble, so best practice is to have the FM files and FMS in a non shared partition or directory. Of course best practice is to have FMS on its own dedicated box, but I haven't been able to convince any of my clients to do that yet. So for them, file sharing can be on for other stuff, just not FM.

As Will stated, look at the logs to see if there any clues there.

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