Campground Master
Reservation Software for RV Parks and Campgrounds
by Cottonwood Software

Campground Master Networking Basics

If you want to use Campground Master on multiple computers so that they are all sharing the same information, or if you want the power of remote access to your system from other locations like a cloud-based system, then you need the Networking option. This is a one-time extra cost of $500, which covers 3 computers (the main computer plus 2 others). Additional computers can be added for $100 each if needed. This does not increase your annual upgrades and support cost of $100/year, which will cover all networked computers.

Better than "server-based" databases:

  • No "server" hardware or O/S is needed -- have 2 laptops on WiFi? Good enough!

  • Automatic Redundancy -- each computer has a full copy of the data at all times. If the 'main" one goes down, you can keep working.

  • No Waiting -- each computer is able to keep working at full speed, even if others are performing a slow operation like year-end reporting.

  • Easy Installation -- No complicated server installation or SQL setup, and no "drive mapping". It's barely more involved than installing the basic program and restoring a backup file.

  • Easy Maintenance -- No special maintenance is needed, just keep backups like you would with a single computer.

Better than "cloud-based":

Using our unique Networking through the Internet (see below), you can have the advantages of cloud-based remote access, with none of the drawbacks:

  • Always Available -- you're not dead-in-the-water if your internet goes down. Even a remote workstation can keep working offline if needed (with some limitations).

  • FAST! -- No delays due to slow internet, browser delays, the kids watching videos, etc.

  • Inexpensive! -- Since there are no monthly fees, overage fees or per-reservation fees, your long-term costs are much lower than most cloud-based systems.

  • No Contracts -- You won't be "locked in" to any lengthy terms. You buy the license once, and you can use it forever or stop any time.

  • Powerful and Flexible! -- No online system has all of the functionality and flexibility of Campground Master, such as electric/gas/water meter billing and history tracking, monthly rent billing, a detailed Audit Trail, work orders, a Point of Sale option with inventory tracking, cash drawer and pole display support, multiple printer support, and so much more -- plus Advanced Customizations to extensively customize your system if needed.

  • You Design It! -- You have full control of the setup. Create your own selection lists, customize fields, configure all of the options, set your rates structure, and tweak reports. And of course you can make changes or expand your park any time without needing to go through support or wait for us to do it.

  • You Own Your Data -- Your critical data is not located "somewhere out there". It's secure on your computers, and only on your computers. You can't lose your data due to some other company mis-handling it or going out of business, and you won't lose access to it even if you decide to change reservation systems.

  • You Control Updates -- Cloud systems are constantly changing their look and operation, so you have to keep getting used to a new system (and you have no choice). With Campground Master, we don't keep changing the way it looks or operates. And even if we do some day, you don't have to install the new version if you don't want to.

More information about our unique networking support:

With most systems, networking means having a "server" computer that has to be high-powered and dedicated to the task, and every other computer shares a single database. If that computer goes down, the whole system is dead. If its database is damaged, you're really in a mess.

Campground Master's networking doesn't require a special server, and it's designed for multiple redundancy. You simply set up your workstation computers, select one to be the "master" and point the others to it through a single IP address setting, and you're up and running. The master runs a tiny server task in the background, but is fully functional as a workstation as well.

If the master computer goes down for any reason, you can simply change a couple settings to designate a new master and keep working. Every computer has a full copy of the database at all times, which also makes it nearly impossible to lose your data.

Of course any changes appear on all of the networked computers, in real-time. The technology used in our networking system is actually based on real-time financial systems used by stock brokers, where the freshness of the data is critical. There's no need to "refresh" the display to see what changed on another workstation -- the display will update by itself almost instantly. The system also prevents conflicts automatically, by locking out appropriate records if they're being used by another station -- for instance to prevent double-booking a site or double-charging a customer.

Also note that since it uses the TCP/IP protocol, no file sharing is required (making it easier to secure your network from viruses, hackers, etc.). Up to 63 workstations can be supported on a single network.

If you want to get into the technical aspects, you can browse the online documentation for the networking setup.

Networking through the Internet -- Remote Access

Our networking functionality can also be used through the internet, so you can access the system from home or while on vacation to check on how things are going back in the office. You don't need to use a program like PC Anywhere to dial in (which would also lock out the office user), and you don't need any high-tech stuff like a VPN, Exchange Server, Remote Access Server, etc. -- everything you need is built into Campground Master.

This can also be done on a continuous basis, for instance to link a park's office with the main headquarters. Again, this is real-time networking and it will seem like you're in the same office -- all changes made in the office will appear on your computer instantly, and vice versa.

All you need is internet connectivity, preferably broadband but dial-up works fine too. A static IP address for the master computer is helpful, since you'll need to know the IP address to connect. (There are ways around this if necessary, e.g. you could call someone at the office to have them check the current IP address). If you're using a router to connect more than one computer to the internet, you may also need to configure your router for the port used, but that's usually a simple procedure.

Is it secure? Yes, Campground Master uses a proprietary protocol on a single port. You can configure a firewall to block everything except that port, making it completely safe from other intrusions. Even if a hacker discovered that the one port is open, it's not likely that he would be able to guess the correct sequence by random trial and error to successfully connect to the server (there are several things that must be correct to even get a response, and it's much more complicated to actually "join"), and even if he could join then he could not likely do anything remotely damaging through it.

For technical details on connecting through the internet, see the online documentation.

If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us.

"Without Campground Master we would have been in a great peril. ... Even our worst critic is amazed at the difference Campground Master has made."
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