These network installation instructions are for RTG Bills Version 2.17 and above.
RTG Bills and RTG Timer are compatible with any local area network (LAN) that supports Windows PCs.
You can use the built-in networking of Windows, which is an example of a peer-to-peer network. On such a network, each PC can read and write to the hard disks on the other PCs, if you give them permission to do so.
You can also use RTG Bills and RTG Timer on a network consisting of a file server and workstations. The file server can run Windows Server, Linux, or any other network operating system that supports Windows PCs as workstations. On such a network, each PC can read and write to the hard disks on the file server, if you give them permission to do so.
The distinction between a file server and a workstation has to do with the role it plays. The hardware itself could be the same - an ordinary PC - although typical file servers are a heavy-duty version of the standard PC, designed for greater speed and higher reliability.
The RTG Bills program files and the RTG Bills data files do not have to be in the same directory (or folder). The installation program lets you choose separate locations for the programs and the data.
On a peer-to-peer network, choose one PC on which to install RTG Bills and its data files. RTG Bills may work a little faster on the PC where the data files are located, so if it will be used on one PC more than the others, choose that PC. The other PCs must be able to read and write to the directory where the RTG Bills data files will be installed. This PC is, in effect, your file server.
If you have an actual file server, you should install the RTG Bills program files on the PCs and the RTG Bills data files on the file server. Set the permissions on the network so that any user who will use RTG Bills can read and write to the directory on the file server where the RTG Bills data files will be installed.
Normally, the installation program puts the program files in this location (the Program Location):
or C:\Program Files (x86)\Rtgbills
Some files are also installed in the Windows system directory.
Where to put the data files depends on the type of network, so we will discuss the two possibilities separately below.
Note: Do not install RTG Timer at this time. The data files for RTG Timer must be in a different location for each user, as explained in the section Where to install RTG Timer below.
The installation program will ask you where you want to store the RTG Bills data files (the Data Location). The "standard" location is this (for Windows 10, 8, 7, and Vista):
Do not use this directory, which is not shared over the network. Instead, choose a shared location, perhaps in the "public" directory. For example:
If other PCs on the network will also need RTG Bills, make sure that this PC is "sharing" the Data Location. In other words, other PCs must have permission to read and change the files in that directory. In effect, this PC will be the server for other PCs on the network.
Learn more: How to Specify the Network Data Location
If you have a file server, create a data directory on the server for RTG Bills. Name the directory Rtgbills. However, do not start the installation program on the file server. Instead, you will start the installation program on a workstation.
Set the permissions on the data directory so that other PCs can read and change the files.
Let's suppose that you created the directory Rtgbills somewhere on the server's hard disk, and you set that directory to be shared over the network. The workstations can refer to this directory as \\MyServer\Rtgbills, where you must replace MyServer with the actual name of your file server.
Now start the installation program on a workstation. When you are asked for the Program Location, you should use the standard directory,
or C:\Program Files (x86)\Rtgbills
However, when you are asked for the Data Location, enter the path to the shared directory on the file server,
When the installation is complete, the program files will be on the PC and the data files will be on the server. However, some files are also installed in the local Windows system directory of the PC.
Learn more: How to Specify the Network Data Location
At this point you should be able to start RTG Bills on this PC. Try it to be sure it works.
If you are upgrading RTG Bills and you do not see your clients and matters, it means that you specified the wrong Data Location.
RTG Bills never overwrites existing data, but it will install an empty database if there is no data in the Data Location. Find your data, uninstall RTG Bills, and install it again with the correct Data Location.
Some installations of RTG Bills use it on one PC. If there are other users, they use RTG Timer instead.
However, RTG Bills is a fully multi-user program. That means it can be used by several people at the same time. Why would you want to do that? Here are a few reasons:
If you don't need to use RTG Bills on another PC, skip the rest of this section.
At this point we assume you want to use RTG Bills on another PC in addition to the one you just set up.
Go to the second PC and open File Explorer. Click Network in the left-hand column. Double-click the computer acting as the file server. Verify that you can see the directory where you installed the RTG Bills data files on the file server. We'll assume it is named \\MyServer\Rtgbills. Even if you have a peer-to-peer network, that first PC is, in effect, your file server.
Now start the installation program on this PC. When you are asked for the Program Location, use the standard location for the programs:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Rtgbills
Use \\MyServer\Rtgbills for the Data Location.
Test the installation by starting RTG Bills from the second PC.
Do more people need RTG Bills? Just repeat this process.
RTG provides additional features and bug fixes as updates. Updates are downloaded and installed over the Internet.
Because updates can change program files, you need administrator privileges to install them. This means that you must right-click the RTG Bills icon and choose Run as administrator to start RTG Bills whenever you want to install an update.
In RTG Bills, choose File > Update > Yes to start RTG Update. Click Check The Internet For Updates to see a list of available updates.
Because the RTG Bills programs are installed separately on each PC, you must install the updates separately on each PC as well.
You may occasionally see multi-user conflicts. For example, when one user edits a matter, a portion of the database is locked. That prevents another user from editing the same matter. The program will detect this situation and display a message saying that the matter may be in use.
Certain operations cannot be performed by two people at the same moment, such as printing bills. Here again, the program will detect the conflict and tell you about it. Once the bills have been sent to Windows for printing, even though they may not have finished printing yet, the program is free to print again.
RTG Timer is used to enter fees and expenses. That's all it does, so it is simpler to use than RTG Bills. Also, RTG Timer has a stopwatch so each timekeeper can time their work as they do it.
In a typical small firm, an assistant or bookkeeper uses RTG Bills to enter new clients and matters, enter payments received from clients, and print bills and reports. That person does not need RTG Timer.
If that person enters all the fees and expenses for the firm, then RTG Timer is not required. Fees and expenses can be entered directly into RTG Bills.
However, any timekeeper who wants to time work as it is performed needs RTG Timer. We also recommend that anyone who will enter fees and expenses, and nothing more, should use RTG Timer instead of RTG Bills.
You are not limited in the number of users who can install RTG Bills or RTG Timer, assuming they all share the same RTG Bills database. However, you need a separate timekeeper license for each timekeeper you want to see in RTG Timer. Each timekeeper license comes with a unique timekeeper key, which you enter into RTG Bills (Edit > Timekeepers). Each timekeeper who has a timekeeper key entered into RTG Bills will appear in the list of timekeepers when you start RTG Timer.
When you buy RTG Bills and RTG Timer, you get one timekeeper key. This key is always the same.
RTG Timer can get shared information (clients, matters, timekeepers, and codes) from the RTG Bills database. You just have to tell Timer the directory (on the network) that contains Bills (which was \\MyServer\Rtgbills in our previous examples). We'll see how to do this later.
The fees and expenses you enter into RTG Timer are stored in its private database. When you decide those transactions are complete, you release them, which copies them into the RTG Bills database. Now they are visible in RTG Bills, where they can be modified, billed, etc.
We have found this arrangement faster and more reliable than having each timekeeper enter fees and expenses directly into a shared database.
It is also possible to copy the clients, matters, timekeepers, and codes from RTG Bills into the private RTG Timer database. Then RTG Timer will work when it is not connected to RTG Bills over a network. Examples would be a notebook PC when you are out of the office, a home PC, or an office PC that is not connected to a network. This situation is called standalone or remote operation.
For standalone operation, you can use a USB flash drive to transfer data between RTG Bills and RTG Timer. RTG Bills will write the clients, matters, timekeepers, and codes onto the flash drive. RTG Timer will read that information from the flash drive into its private database.
Fees and expenses entered into RTG Timer can be written to a flash drive when they are released. RTG Bills can read the transactions from the flash drive into the RTG Bills database.
Of course, if you use RTG Bills and RTG Timer on networked computers, you should not use a flash drive to transfer data between the two programs. A network connection is faster and more reliable.
See RTG Timer: Standalone Operation for setup instructions.
You should install RTG Timer program files in the standard location on each PC:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Rtgbills
You must install RTG Timer data files in a separate directory for each RTG Timer user. We suggest you accomplish this in one of two ways:
The advantage of Method 1 is that you can use RTG Timer even if the server is not working. However, to do that, you must copy the clients, matters, timekeepers, and codes from RTG Bills to RTG Timer before the problem arises. That's what File > Import RTG Bills Data > Copy From RTG Bills does in RTG Timer. Then, if the network is not available, RTG Timer can switch automatically from using the RTG Bills database to using the local RTG Timer database.
The advantage of Method 2 is that all the databases are on the server, so if you back up the server, you are assured of having a backup of the RTG Timer data that has not yet been released to RTG Bills. If you use Method 1, you can set up File > Backup to back up the RTG Timer data to the server, but then each Timer user has to remember to do the backup regularly.
Recommendation: Use Method 1 on a peer-to-peer network and Method 2 if you have a file server.
It is possible to have two people share a PC. Perhaps Joan uses the PC on Monday and Wednesday, while John uses it on Tuesday and Thursday. Each user should have a separate Windows login name.
If you use Method 1, then you will have to specify two different data directories on the local PC, one for each user. You might use subdirectories of the standard data location. For example, you might use:
If you use Method 2, you must also have separate directories for each user, but they are on the file server instead of the local hard disk.
Perhaps the easiest way to set this up properly is to temporarily make the user an Administrator for the PC. Then install RTG Timer, using the standard program location and the user's unique data location. Finally, change the user back to an ordinary user if they should not be an Administrator.
There are two settings in RTG Timer that tell it where to find the data it needs. The first setting is the location of the RTG Timer data files, which is set during installation.
The other setting is the location of the RTG Bills database, which you can set as follows:
By design, RTG Timer stores fees and expenses in a private database. It does not write these transactions into the RTG Bills database. This is always true, even on a network.
When a person using RTG Timer has entered transactions and would like to bill them, it is necessary to release the transactions. RTG Timer has a button labeled Release for this purpose, or you can use the menu choice
File > Release Items
When RTG Timer releases fee and expense transactions, they are written directly into the RTG Bills database.
However, RTG Timer also allows remote or standalone operation when RTG Timer does not have access to the RTG Bills database. In this situation, RTG Timer writes the transactions into a file when you release them. You need to copy that file, timer.xfr, into a directory where RTG Bills can read it.
For example, you can set RTG Timer to release the transactions to a flash drive. The transactions are written to the file timer.xfr on the flash drive. Take the flash drive to the RTG Bills computer and plug it in. Then either copy the file timer.xfr to the Desktop, or set RTG Bills to read the transactions directly from the flash drive. The setting that determines where RTG Bills looks for the file is here:
Setup > Timer
Click the Desktop button to enter the full path to the user's Desktop.
After RTG Timer releases fee and expense transactions, they can be read by RTG Bills. When you start RTG Bills, it will see the RTG Timer transactions and offer to read them. If RTG Bills is already started, read the transactions by choosing File > Read Items from the menu.
If you release transactions from RTG Timer but RTG Bills cannot find them, then either RTG Timer wrote them in the wrong place or RTG Bills is looking for them in the wrong place.
First start RTG Timer and choose Setup > Other. Click the Release tab. Here you will see the folder where RTG Timer wrote the transactions. If the transactions were written to the hard disk on this computer and RTG Bills is installed on a different computer, with no network connection, copy the file timer.xfr to a flash drive and take it to the RTG Bills computer. Copy the file to the Desktop.
Start RTG Bills. If it does not offer to read the transactions as it starts, choose Setup > Timer. Here you will see the folder where RTG Bills is looking for the transactions. Click the Desktop button, then click Close. Choose File > Read Items to read the transactions.
After you successfully transfer the file timer.xfr from the RTG Timer computer to the RTG Bills computer, you must delete it on the RTG Timer computer. Otherwise, the next time RTG Timer releases transactions, they are added to that file, and you will get duplicates when you send the file to RTG Bills.