While you're spending money, why not get a better computer too? If you have lots of users or lots of data (or both), your database server needs all the power you can give it. After all, FileMaker Server performs finds, edits records, sorts, imports, exports, and otherwise constantly busies itself with the work of every user.
The most important thing you can do to make FileMaker Server faster is give it faster access to the data on the disk. At the very least, this increased speed means you should never store the files on a file server. Instead, they should always be on a hard drive in the host computer. If you still find things aren't as fast as you'd like them, your best upgrade is often a faster disk systemsomething called a RAID, or Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks. You can ignore the "Redundant" part and the "Inexpensive" part, though. A RAID is an array of hard disks. By putting several disks together, you can get faster access to your data than you would with just one disk. As important, you can get more reliable access as well, since the same data can be stored in more than one place in case a disk drive fails, as outlined in the box on Section 18.4.
In addition to a fast disk system, you should consider adding plenty of RAM to the host computer. The least important component is the CPU speed itself (but that's not to say it doesn't matter; don't expect a fast server with a 75 MHz Pentium processor).
If you find all this terribly confusing, be comforted by the fact that most major computer companies sell specially configured server computers. Let them know you're setting up a database server, and you can probably buy a fantastic host computer with RAID, lots of RAM, and a fast CPU all in one box.
|POWER USERS' CLINIC
RAID is just a generic term for any assemblage of several disks that look, to the computer, like just one disk. But the devil is in the details. It turns out there are several different kinds of RAID out there, and each serves a different purpose.
If speed is all you care about, there's something called striping. With striping, the data's spread across all disks so that when FileMaker Server reads or writes, it can usually do it to every disk at once. In general, a four-disk array with striping can shuffle data four times faster than just one disk. The trouble with striping is that every doubling of performance also produces a halving of reliability. In other words, if you expect one drive to fail sometime in the next four years, then one of the drives in your array will fail in the next year, on average.
On the other end of the spectrum is mirroring. This model gives you maximum reliability, but with very little speed benefit. In a mirrored array, every piece of data is written to every drive at the same time. If one drive fails, the system can simply switch to another drive without losing any data. But you often need more performance than a mirrored array can give.
Generally the best bet is a combination of mirroring and striping. Ideally, you'd create a few mirrored sets of disks, and then connect these sets into a striped super-set. If you use RAID, you should look for a system that lets you set up this kind of striping over mirroring configuration for the maximum in reliability and performance. You get to decide how much reliability you want (by picking the number of disks in each mirrored set) and how much speed you want (by choosing the number of mirrored sets to create).
Part I: Introduction to FileMaker Pro
Your First Database
Organizing and Editing Records
Building a New Database
Part II: Layout Basics
Advanced Layouts and Reports
Part III: Multiple Tables and Relationships
Multiple Tables and Relationships
Advanced Relationship Techniques
Part IV: Calculations
Introduction to Calculations
Calculations and Data Types
Part V: Scripting
Part VI: Security and Integration
Exporting and Importing
Sharing Your Database
Part VII: Appendixes
Appendix A. Getting Help