Setting up multiple check-in stations

With one check-in station, the database and the check-in program are usually running on the same computer, so everything easily stays in sync.

If you want to run an additional check-in station, you must decide how it will sync to the main database (located on another computer).

There are several ways of syncing the additional station.

Automatic over a WIRED network connection

The best solution is using a WIRED network connection between the check-in stations and the main computer with the database.

In this method, there is no “syncing” involved, because the check-in station talks directly to the database over the wired network.  Changes in the database are immediately reflected in the check-in station, and vice versa.

This is really only recommended for wired connections.  Wifi connections can drop and this can damage your database. 

If you have really strong, reliable Wifi, and you don’t move your check-in station while connected, you might be able to use this method over wifi, but make sure you take frequent back ups just in case.

  • Share your Excellerate folder from the main database computer over the network

Typically you should consult your IT person about sharing information across your network, but if you don’t have an IT person, here are the basic steps:

    • Share your c:\Excellerate folder on the main computer that holds the Excellerate database.  Here’s one how-to article:  https://pureinfotech.com/setup-network-file-sharing-windows-10/
    • Write down the address listed in the window, for example:     \\DESKTOP-VMN9GIN\Excellerate

 

  • Set the check-in stations to “online” mode, and connect to the shared database
    • On the check-in computers, see if you can access the shared folder by going to your start button and enter the share path (for example: \\DESKTOP-VMN9GIN\Excellerate )
    • You may have to enter an ID & PW (save password)
    • You should see your Excellerate files
    •  
    • Now set your check-in station to Online mode:
    • Start check-in, go to the Options tab, and choose “Online”
    • Hit “Open Different Database” and choose your database from the \\DESKTOP-VMN9GIN\Excellerate folder
    • Restart check-in

 

Manual sync with a USB stick

If you don’t have any network access, you can sync the check-in stations manually using a USB stick.

In this method, you load up a USB stick with data from the main database, and insert it into the check-in station to operate.  At the end of the day, you bring the USB stick back to the main computer and sync your data.

    • Insert your USB stick in the main database computer
    • Go to Utilities menu, Synchronize Check-In Stations
    • Make sure you set the “Path for attendance files and offline database” to your USB drive letter (example  E:\ )
    • Hit “Import offline attendance” to import any attendance data from the USB
    • Hit “Export latest information for offline use”
    • Insert the USB stick in the check-in computer
    • Start check-in, and go to the Options tab, and make sure  “Station Mode” is Offline
    • Set the “Transfer path” to the drive letter of the USB stick (letter may be different on this computer)
    • Restart the check-in program

Now each week, just make sure the USB stick is in the computer before starting check-in, and after check-in is complete, take the USB stick back to the main computer and sync as described above.

 

Manual sync over WIFI using a network share

If you have wifi available to your computers, you can sync over wifi and not use a USB stick.

When you use the “Synchronize check-in Stations” feature, you’re just reading/writing to a network share instead of USB.

    • Share your Excellerate folder from the main database computer over the network (See instructions above)
    • Create offline database and transfer folder
      • On the main database computer, go to Utilities, Synchronize Check-In Stations
      • Set the “Path for attendance files and offline database” to c:\excellerate\transfer
      • Hit “Export latest information for offline use”
    • Set the check-in stations to “offline” mode, and connect to the shared folder
      • On the check-in computers, see if you can access the shared folder by going to your start button and enter the share path (for example: \\DESKTOP-VMN9GIN\Excellerate )
      • You may have to enter an ID & PW (save password)
      • You should see your Excellerate files
      •  
      • Now set your check-in station to Offline mode:
      • Start check-in, go to the Options tab, and choose “Offline”
      • Enter the share path in “Transfer Path / Cloud”.  Example: \\DESKTOP-VMN9GIN\Excellerate\Transfer
      • Restart check-in

 

Now each week, you simply have to run the “Synchronize Check-In Stations” feature from the main database computer.  Make sure you first hit “Import offline attendance files”, then hit “Export latest information for offline use”

 

Manual sync over WIFI using cloud storage like Dropbox, or Onedrive

If you have wifi, but are unable to create a network share, you can use a cloud storage service as the transfer path.

  • Setup Dropbox, Onedrive, etc on the main database computer, and the check-in stations.  Make sure you use the same account.
  • Create offline database and transfer folder
    • On the main database computer, go to Utilities, Synchronize Check-In Stations
    • Set the “Path for attendance files and offline database” to your dropbox or onedrive path, for example:  C:\Users\Pete\OneDrive\Excellerate
    • Hit “Export latest information for offline use”
  • Set the check-in stations to “offline” mode, and connect to the cloud storage folder
    • On the check-in computers, make sure you can see the Excellerate folder and files in the cloud storage folder 
    • Now set your check-in station to Offline mode:
    • Start check-in, go to the Options tab, and choose “Offline”
    • Enter the share path in “Transfer Path / Cloud”.  Example: c:\Users\Checkin\OneDrive\Excellerate
    • Restart check-in

 

Now each week, you simply have to run the “Synchronize Check-In Stations” feature from the main database computer.  Make sure you first hit “Import offline attendance files”, then hit “Export latest information for offline use”

 

Automatic sync over WIFI using a network share or cloud storage

It’s possible to get the “Synchronize Check-In Stations” process to run automatically, every 10 minutes or so.  This way you don’t have to manually run it yourself.  This involves installing a special service on your main computer.

  • Share your Excellerate folder from the main database computer, or use a cloud storage solution as described above
  • Create offline database and transfer folder as described above
  • Set the check-in stations to “offline” mode and connect to the shared folder or cloud storage folder as described above
  • Install the check-in service (the main computer must have an id & pw)
    • From the main database computer, go to Utilities, Maintenance, Check-In Sync Service
    • Set the “Transfer Path” to your shared folder or cloud storage folder
    • Set the “Real time sync interval” to 10 minutes
    • Hit “Install Scheduled Task” button at the bottom.  You will need to enter the computer password

Now when the check-in stations are done at the end of the day, they will send the attendance info to the main computer.  The main computer will automatically sync the data ever 10 minutes.

 

Please contact support if you have any questions

7 Habits of Highly Effective Churches

These habits come from the best practices we’ve seen in the healthy, growing churches that we’ve worked with over the past 15 years. Not only have we been helping other churches, but I’ve been fortunate to also help start and grow our local church through all of its stages – from 30 people in a temporary facility to now over several thousands of people in multiple campuses! I’ve been both on the outside, helping with the administration of these practices, but also on the inside – working through all of the many details in our local church as well. So it’s a privilege to bring these habits and practices to you and your church. Continue reading

Sending Emails from Excellerate

You can send emails directly from Excellerate by entering your email provider’s settings.  You simply enter the SMTP server settings (non SSL) into Excellerate’s email preferences screen. If your email server requires SSL, see the section below for Gmail/Outlook/Office365.

A couple of things you should be aware of…

Mass Emailing

You can send emails to individuals or mass email to a large group of people.  When you are sending lots of emails to a large number of people, from any system, it can look like you are “spamming”.  When email providers see this type of activity, there is a chance that you could be added to a black-list.  This means more and more of your emails will get caught in junk/spam folders instead of reaching your members.  So you would want to be careful if you are sending these emails from your church’s main email account.

This issue is not specific to Excellerate, it applies to any email sending program.

The best practice for sending large amounts of emails, is to use an email service that specializes in delivering mass emails, and works to protect from blacklisting.  Some of these services include:

Using Gmail / Outlook / Office365 to send emails from Excellerate

If you do decide to use your church’s main email service, and you won’t be sending mass emails,  you will need to perform one additional step if you are using gmail.com, outlook.com, office365.com.

Many of the free/mainstream email services such as gmail.com, etc…  require special authentication (to prove you’re not a spammer).  To use these services with Excellerate, you will need to download a small utility that allows Excellerate to communicate with these services using SSL.

(When installing, accept all the defaults and you can simply press enter for all of the questions)

  • Now, download the stunnel.conf configuration file from: /files/stunnelconf.zip
  • Open that .zip file and copy the stunnel.conf file to C:\Program Files (x86)\stunnel\config (replace the existing file)
  • Go to your Start menu, Apps, Stunnel AllUsers, and click on “stunnel Service Install”, then click on “stunnel Service Start”

Gmail – Note, for gmail, you need to setup an app password. see the following links:

https://support.google.com/mail/answer/185833?hl=en

If you don’t see “Add app password”, try this link:  https://myaccount.google.com/apppasswords

Now, start Excellerate and enter the following under Options, Preferences, Email Options.

  • Outgoing SMTP Server:   localhost
  • SMTP Port: (2525 for gmail, 2626 for outlook, 2727 for office365)
  • SMTP Authentication: Login

Finally, enter your email UserName and App Password

That’s it, you should be able to send emails from Excellerate!

Missing Report Styles

If you try to print a member list report, contribution statement, or other report, and you get a message “You must select a report style first”, then you may have moved your database to another folder and didn’t move your reports with it

The Excellerate report styles (files ending in .QR) must be in the same folder as your database.

So if you moved or saved your database to your Documents folder, you need to copy all of the report style to that same folder.

  1. Open Excellerate, and write down the database path In Excellerate’s title bar.
  2. Open File Explorer, and navigate to C:\excellerate
  3. Sort the folder by TYPE and select all of the files ending in .QR
  4. Right-click and COPY those files
  5. Now navigate to the folder with your database that you noted from Excellerate’s title bar
  6. Right-click in that folder and choose PASTE

Re-start Excellerate, and your report style should appear.

If you still need help, our support team would be glad to help.  If you need a support plan, you can purchase that here

Allow Multiple Computers to Access Excellerate

There several options for allowing multiple computers to access Excellerate.

Desktop solution on the church network – If you have the desktop solution, you can share your database from a server or a “main” computer that always stays powered on.  Each workstation would have the Excellerate program installed, but would open the database from the server or main computer.  For this solution, the computers would need to be connected to your church network with ethernet cables.  Wifi connections are not recommended because they can an drop packets, which can cause problems.  All computers must be running Windows. You would also need the multi-user network option for this.  It’s a one-time cost and allows you to connect all of your church computers to Excellerate.

Desktop solution with remote access – If you need access to Excellerate away from church, and you’re not ready for the cloud solution, you could use a remote access or screen sharing solution such as Remote Desktop, Join.me, or Team viewer.

Cloud solution – The cloud gives you the ability to access your church information from anywhere on almost any device, including Macs, tablets, phones, and more. Excellerate Atom gives you the full Excellerate experience in the cloud with unlimited users!

Moving Excellerate to a New Computer

Here’s how to move you Excellerate from one computer to the other.

  1. The first thing you will want to do is find out where your database is stored. Open Excellerate on the OLD computer. The database location will be located in the header of the program after you log in:
  2. Navigate to that location on your computer using your File Explorer. In the example, I am navigating to C:\excellerate. After the last ‘\’ will be the actual database file you are looking for.  In the example, the database name is  sample(real).mdb – Right click that file and choose Copy.
  3. Next, plug in a USB drive or some sort of external storage. Open that drive in File Explorer.  Right click on the drive and choose Paste. This will copy the database to the external drive. You can then unplug the drive from this machine.
  4. Install Excellerate on the NEW computer.
  5. Plug in the external drive into the NEW computer. Open the external drive in File Explorer and locate the database file.  Right click the file and choose Copy.
  6. In File Explorer, navigate to the C:\Excellerate folder. Right click on some white space in that folder and chose Paste.
  7. Launch Excellerate and you will see a screen saying the database is not found. You will need to click the button that says, ‘Open OTHER database’
  8. You will now see a window asking you to select a file.  Make sure you are looking in C:\Excellerate which is where you stored the database, and select the database you saved in that folder and click open.
  9. You will now be prompted to enter a userID and password to login to Excellerate. This will be the same as what you used to log in on the old computer. Enter the Id and password then click login. You will be prompted to make this your default database and you will want to click yes.

You have successfully moved your database to the new computer!

Remember – Do not use Excellerate on the old computer any more, otherwise you will have two different database with different information, and out of sync.

How to print Church Giving Statements / Church Contribution Letters

Here’s what you need to know about printing year end church giving statements or church contribution letters for your church members.

You can refer to the official IRS publication here for the specific details.

Why do we need to print church giving statements?

People who contribute to your church will want to deduct those contributions when they file their tax return in April.  To do so, they will need to provide proof of those donations to the IRS.  That proof is usually a “contribution statement” or “giving statement” that reports the total tax-deductible contributions for each person or family.

Technically, you really only need to provide statements for people who Continue reading

The High-Capacity Church Worker – Time Blocking

It’s all too common. For some reason, we humans tend to take on more and more tasks and responsibilities until we reach overload.  Especially in the church world – I think we really do want to do more, and make a bigger difference in peoples lives, but we have to be careful.  When we take more on, the quality and effectiveness of our work starts to decline.

It’s definitely a great quality to be a “high-capacity” person, and able to handle a lot of responsibility.  The trick is Continue reading

Still taking class attendance manually? Streamline it with Excellerate Check-In!

Most churches offer classes to help members develop personally, spiritually, etc…  These may be classes for membership, spiritual growth, or just practical topics.  It’s a great way to help develop your members, build relationships, and get people more plugged-in to church.

Instead of manually taking attendance, writing out name badges, trying to keep up with all of the paperwork, streamline it all with Excellerate Check-In!

Excellerate Check-In now allows you to check people into classes with just a few clicks.

  • Instantly print out name badges
  • Record attendance in Excellerate
  • Even take their picture using a tablet or web-cam

Having class attendance data really helps you know where your members are on their development track, and helps you know who’s ready for their next step.

If you don’t have the Excellerate Check-In module, you can add it at any time.

Have questions?  Give us a call 888-371-6878 or email: info@excellerate.com