Common causes for data corruptions
Here is a typical batch corruption
- Your open batch threw out an error while you were updating, and shut down Sage 50C Pastel.
- You log back in and you notice your work still remains in the batch input screen.
- Yet, each time you tried to update the file it throws you out of Sage Pastel again?
- And you know you did check that the reports were not affected in any way.
- Then you deleted the batch file via DOS or Windows, i.e. outside of Sage 50C Pastel.
- Which meant that you had to re-capture the batch.
- If the batch was very large, you possibly tried to export the batch to a place on your computer.
- You then deleted that open batch in your journal or cash book.
- Then you imported it again via the journal processing screen.
- This corrected the error and allowed you to update your batch correctly.
- And you held thumbs that the export didn’t stop when it reached the first corrupt record.
Time consuming and so stressful?
So how does this happen?
In the computer world, you have heard of binary? Most people have.
The modern binary number system was invented by Leibniz (of calculus fame) in 1679. He explained the Binary Arithmetic, which uses only the characters 1 and 0, and its similarity to the ancient Chinese figures of Fu Xi.
At its very simplest explanation binary is a whole lot of 1’s and 0’s in a string. In computers they are really electrical impulses. It's like when you switch your lights on and off, the 0 is off, and 1 is on.
And long strings of binary makes up each single alphabetical and numerical character.
Here 123 is a numeric field
"Hello" and "24" are text fields.
Then we have something called machine code, which converts this binary into something that is readable to us on screen and printouts.
How does this work in our Sage 50C Pastel program
When you have an open batch in Sage Pastel, your computer only recognises the binary, (don’t forget it’s just 0’ and 1’s).
When you update this batch, this batch needs to be sent to the computer that holds the Pastel database.
If this is a large batch, then the machine code, the Sage 50C Pastel programme’s code and the network code from the router decide if this should be broken up into smaller chunks.
It uses your network cabling or your WIFI signal to send the electrical impulses, in smaller pieces, one after each other.
This is called packets.
When it reaches its destination all these packets get put back together, to make your batch whole again on the server computer.
But what if, along the way, one or two of these packets get lost? This is when we get corruptions.
The packets that were put back together don’t look correct on screen, and we know something went wrong.
Again, after all, it is only electrical impulses. And if a packet of 1’s and 0’s get lost, how would a computer know this?
Some points to look at for a smooth electrical current
Cabling that is bent and twisted around the room, or is lying on the floor, and being stepped on.
A router that damages the packets, because it was not set up correctly and your packet got delivered to “cyber space”.
Old fashioned cabling and hardware can give us hardware failures.
When we have a power outage, and these electrical impulses die out immediately.
If the server computer is waiting on a packet, but it does not arrive, and the server computer is programmed to only wait a specified time, and then to move on.
Or more than one packet is moving along the cables, and these collide into each other. This is the typical overloaded network.
Yes, all of these scenarios and a million others have been considered by big IT, and a lot of them have been solved.
Yet they can’t have worked out all the kinks, as we still get these errors all the time?
Never mind that, to frustrate us, these anomalies will usually occur on one machine, and never on another making it harder to figure out where the issue lies.
Some points to check on the Windows and network setup
Consider if you are working in an area that has a lot of power dips, like the factory next door that turns on big machines all day long.
Again, consider if you are in an area that has power surges. There are so many areas in South Africa that still have outdated electricity infrastructures. The Sage Pastel 50C programme hates this.
You will need to attach some decent UPS’s on the computers to allow for a smooth constant electrical current. And do not forget to test these every six months or so, as the batteries could have run down.
Are you sure that all the computers using Sage 50C Pastel do not suffer from any MS Windows system errors?
Perhaps there are incompatible drivers for the graphics cards or the printers?
It doesn’t take long for a user to notice that a computer has a tendency to hang or freeze up, or it works so slow you could get a cup of coffee while waiting for the machine to finish its task.
All computers running Sage 50C Pastel must have a high enough software and hardware specifications, with large amounts of RAM from reputable brands.
Most computers come with a two or three-year warranty. This is generally the expected life span of a computer, so you should only keep the computers for as long as it is under warranty.
This means that should anything go wrong with the pc you will easily be able to get it repaired immediately (which you should do) and it will not cost you anything.
Do not map the server computer to itself !! It’s crazy how many times I see this.
While you do need to map a drive to the Sage 50C Pastel Folder from the workstation to the Sage 50C Pastel server (This is where Sage 50C Pastel Accounting is registered as the server computer) you should never create a mapped drive on the server itself to the Sage 50C Pastel folder.
This creates a loop when trying to access Sage 50C Pastel as the server computer knows to look on the local drive but is then told to access the system using the mapped drive.
To explain simpler, while it thinks it is searching your computer for an open batch, it's actually looking at itself.
Ensure when mapping your Pastel drive that you use the Server Name (DNS) and not the IP address.
This means using the actual name of the computer.
On your mapped drive you should something like this:
Z://(Pastel…) or something similar.
192.168.2.120://(Pastel…) is wrong.
Ensure that Network Discovery is turned “ON” on all the machines that need to access the shared Sage Pastel folder.
Ensure that Password protected sharing is turned off. If this is left on the mapped drive will not reconnect at logon and you will need to enter an Administrator password every day to access the Pastel drive.
Ensure the Sage 50C Pastel folder is shared on the server computer with full access rights to read and write and is shared with “Everyone”.
If the write access is not set up correctly, you will try to update your batches and the Sage 50C Pastel programme will hit a brick wall as the server computer is told not to allow you to write anything into the company database.
Some points to check on the Sage 50C Pastel and Pervasive
Sage 50C Pastel Accounting uses a database called Pervasive.
Pervasive identifies using server name and not IP address, therefore, you should always map to the Server Name, as mentioned above.
Run data integrities from within Sage 50C Pastel daily and also immediately whenever a computer bombs, freezes or has any other problem while Sage 50C Pastel is open.
If the data integrity does not find any problems then make a backup immediately after. You should have backups going back at least a week.
Doing an extra backup at month end is also useful. Writable DVD’s, USB sticks and external hard drives are the best backup media.
If Sage 50C Pastel's data integrity does pick up any problems then either restore from your previous days backup and recapture the day's work or contact your local Sage 50C Pastel support consultants immediately. Do not continue working until the problem has been resolved as this may compound the problem.
Do not run Sage Pastel on Windows XP, as Sage 50C Pastel is no longer compatible with this operating system. It will give you a real headache.
Ensure that you are always running the latest version of Sage 50C Pastel on all your computers.
Honestly, I do remember the time when we could say that everything was working fine, so why upgrade.
Everyone knows how fast computers and programmes are adapting, and to use an outdated programme is not an excuse to save some money. You are losing money through time.
By not accessing faster speeds and features specifically developed to keep you on that super highway, and less on downtime.
Sage 50C Pastel Accounting uses a real-time or live database. This means that the database is constantly being accessed and changed.
Some causes of Interference on a WiFi network
I recommend that a wired connection is used and not a WiFi connection. Not yet at the time of this writing.
For the network do not use co-axial cables as these are unreliable. Use UTP Cat 5 cabling, wireless or better.
Wired connections use Ethernet cables while WiFi uses radio waves.
While WiFi has come a long way it is not recommended when running a live database.
Due to the fact that Wi-Fi is subject to more interference than a wired connection on a live dataset, this can result in packets of data being dropped, the database not being updated correctly, and resulting in data corruptions.
The distance of the device from the WiFi router, the further away you are the weaker the signal strength
Glass, Concrete, Metal, etc, radio waves travel around solid structures not through them
Household appliances that use radio waves like Microwaves
Other WiFi networks in the vicinity
Other devices that use WiFi
If you can think of anything else to add to this, let me know.