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The Hope Chest Network Setup

We first started working with Anne @ The Hope Chest when they called in on a Saturday, experiencing issues with their consignment software.  One of the most common issues that plagues consignment software, is the computer you attempt to use for your consignment software.

With consignment software, one computer is the ‘main’ computer (or Server) and additional workstation computers (or Clients) can connect to that computer.  This makes it so you can have your consignment software on multiple computers, but all of them enter data into one database on the server PC.

So that main server computer is very important.  Equally important, is the network path the networked clients take to get to the server.  If you try to use WiFi or if your network is not fast enough (i.e. at least 100 Mbps, preferably 1 Gbps) or stable enough, then you can and will experience software lockups and even data loss.

This was the case with Anne @ The Hope Chest.  Their four existing computers were simply not cut-out to run networked database applications.  For example, some of the systems were utilizing Celeron processors, which really cannot handle even the most-basic of system tasks.  A bottleneck will occur during events such as updates, saving changes, etc.  These bottlenecks are not only frustrating, but they can cause real damage to your consignor data.

The Hope Chest utilizes ConsignPro for their consignment software and when Anne called in, their database had crashed and they were unable to use ConsignPro – on a busy Saturday, nonetheless.

Fortunately, we were able to repair her database and get them back up and running in an instant, but the issue of the antequated systems they had was still left to be dealt with.

That is why Anne @ The Hope Chest turned to The Computer Peeps.  The Hope Chest is a high-volume consignment store and they need stable, professional technology to keep their business running.

We utilize business-class Dell Optiplex systems with a standard 3-year on-site next business day hardware warranty.  The Optiplex line of systems are reliable and are extremely easy to upgrade or repair.

Due to the amount of consigned items The Hope Chest enters on a daily basis, as well as three dedicated point of sale stations, we built the 4-user ConsignPro network around an Intel i5 CPU and 8 GB of Kingston DDR Memory/RAM.

The Hope Chest's Server
The Hope Chest’s Server | Click to Enlarge

Each day when Anne closes ConsignPro, their daily backups are stored on an external USB drive attached to the server.  Backups are also automatically encrypted and copied off-site to her secure account @ CrashPlan.

The Hope Chest's Backup Drive
The Hope Chest’s Backup Drive | Click to Enlarge

[info_box style=”notice”]ConsignPro has a great feature we refer to as shadow copies.  Each time ConsignPro closes and detects an unsuccessful shutdown, a separate copy of the database file is made and saved as BACKUPDB.001, BACKUPDB.002, etc.  These should be auto-copied via script to provide even more backup redundancy.[/info_box]

The Hope Chest doesn’t have time to mess with crappy systems bought at a local big-box store, or systems poorly configured by a local tech and without support for the next 3 years.  ConsignPro, as well as ALL of the consignment software applications, require stable, predictable systems in order to run smoothly.

The Computer Peeps delivered a consistent, reliable, plug-and-play network to The Hope Chest which we are able to fully manage remotely.

The Hope Chest Remote Management
The Hope Chest Remote Management | Click to Enlarge

Doesn’t ConsignPro just look happier running on four perfectly configured systems?  Not only does it look happier, it runs better and is no longer causing grief for The Hope Chest.

The Hope Chest's ConsignPro Network
The Hope Chest’s ConsignPro Network | Click to Enlarge

Consignment store owners turn to The Computer Peeps for hardware because they know they can get the exact system they need, without paying through the nose.  If you try to build your own computer, you will spend the same amount of money AND you will have to figure out how to build a PC.  If you buy a system from your consignment software vendor, you’re going to pay nearly double for the same system from The Computer Peeps.  If you buy a Dell on your own, you’re going to have to wipe the system, reinstall Windows, locate and install drivers, upgrade the RAM, configure automated on-site + off-site backups of not only your consignment data, but your entire system; install and configure antivirus and anti-malware as to not interfere with the consignment software, running services, data files, etc.  Don’t forget the installation & configuration of your consignment hardware, as well as networking your consignment software.

Your consignment software vendor simply cannot compete with the level of detail we put into our system configurations.  From antivirus to anti-malware (with full PCI Compliance practices followed), to complete system backups + system restore, to a truly clean installation of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit.  We utilize better Memory in our systems, because data is a critical point of failure for a business who relies on said data to operate.  We provide redundant consignment software database backups, utilizing consignment software vendor-approved methods.

If you need hardware to run your consignment software, you’re going to be making an investment.  There are a few options.  Whatever you do, don’t buy an off-the-shelf system at a local big box store – you will be wasting your time and money.  If you’re an IT professional and wiping a system, fighting viruses, etc. are things you love doing and are good at, then you can build and manage your systems yourself.  This is a full-time job though and to think you can protect your systems, protect your consignor data, protect your customers’ privacy, and maintain 99% up-time, is like me saying I could run your consignment store with my eyes closed.  I just recently had to admit to myself that I simply couldn’t waste our time replacing all of the faucets in our house.  I know when to draw the line and admit that a professional can do a better job than I can and much quicker as well.

I really am all for people wanting to learn and do their own thing.  There are only so many hours in the day though and we simply can’t be all things to all people/situations.  This is how people’s information gets stolen, or how your computer gets used as part of a giant botnet used to hack other systems…

I've been helping consignment & resale store-owners since 2003. I started The Computer Peeps in February of 2010. After 15 years of working with consignment stores, I understand the unique challenges consignment & resale storeo-wners face. From electrical issues in old building or strip malls, to advocating for them when their consignment software keeps crashing. I now manage over 400 computer systems, servers & websites for store-owners all across North America and I am the developer/programmer of Peeps' Software -- the only software written FOR consignment & resale stores specifically.

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