Putting your Recollector data in the cloud

Most Recollector users store their collection data on their computer's hard disk. This keeps their data local and private, which is often just what a user wants. But there are situations in which it makes more sense to store your collection data out there on the internet; in other words, in the "cloud". Here are the most common reasons you might want to store your Recollector data in the cloud:

If one or more of these reasons applies in your case, then you may decide that you want to set up your Recollector data to reside in the cloud. Doing this is pretty straightforward.

The first step, of course, is to have some place in the cloud to use as the home for your Recollector data. It is not unlikely that you already have that. Here are some of the common cloud services that you may already be using or, if not, that you can sign up to use:

Most of these services provide free versions. Those versions provide less disk space than the paid versions, but it may be more than enough for your collection data. The iCloud Drive service currently has some limitations, compared to the other services mentioned. These limitations apply to sharing between different people. So if you want to use the cloud to share access to your collection data with someone else, you should probably set up an account with one of the other service providers.

Once you have an account set up with a cloud service, make sure that you also download, if available, the associated app for your Windows or Mac computer. This allows your files in the cloud to be accessed as if they resided on your local computer, and they will be easily seen in the File Explorer (Windows) or the Finder (Mac). If you are using a cloud service provided by your computer's vendor (OneDrive for Windows) or (iCloud Drive for Mac), then that integration with your local files and the system's file-browsing application will probably happen automatically. But for Google Drive and Dropbox, for example, you need to take that extra step. (This is the installation of "Drive File Stream" in the case of Google Drive, and the Dropbox App in the case of Dropbox.)

Now you are ready to start using Recollector with collection data stored in the cloud. If you haven't yet created your collection, simply create your collection (New Collection on the File menu), and, when Recollector asks you where to store your collection, navigate to and choose a location that is in the cloud storage area. Here is an example of saving a new collection file to a folder named "Collections" that has been created within a Dropbox account:

Once the new collection is created, you can see it in the File Explorer (or the Finder on a Mac):

Notice that in addition to the new collection file (Inkwells.xml in this example), there is a backup file for the collection (Inkwells.xml.bak), and an Image Directory folder (Inkwells_Images). When you add records to your collection, and add images to those records, the program will give you the opportunity to copy the images to the Image Directory. You should do this, since it guarantees that your images, as well as your textual data, are stored in the cloud, safe from disk/computer failures and available for sharing, if you want to share.

In the case that you already have a collection created, and it is on your computer's hard disk, how can you move it to the cloud? In the common case, this is just a matter of moving your collection file and its Image Directory to a location in the cloud. So, for example, if I had had my Inkwells.xml file and its associated Inkwells_Images folder on my hard disk, I could use File Explorer (on Windows) or Finder (on the Mac) to move these two items to the Dropbox/Collections folder. (No need to move the backup file; a new one will get created when you open up the collection from its new home.) Once you have made the move, start Recollector, choose File Open from the File menu, and then navigate to the cloud folder where your moved collection file resides, and choose it. You're all done! You will now be running from the cloud-storage version of your collection, and Recollector will remember this, so that the next time you start up Recollector, it will automatically open your collection from the cloud.

If you didn't use an Image Directory for your collection, and your images are defined by the full pathnames where they live on your disk, then read this section! With no Image Directory, you will only have moved your collection file to the cloud. Your new cloud-based collection file will still work, but your images will not be accessed from the cloud; they will be accessed from your hard disk. This means that your images are not protected from disk/computer failure, and you cannot fully share the collection from a different computer, since the other computer will not have access to the disk drive where the images reside. The best approach to fixing this is to back up your collecton from its original location (using Backup Collection from the File menu), and choose, when prompted, to back up the collection and all its images. Save the backup to any convenient place on your hard disk. Then choose Restore or Copy a Collection from Backup from the File menu. Choose to Copy (not Restore) the collection from the backup you just created, and specify a folder in your cloud storage area as the destination of the copy. This will result in Recollector creating a copy of your collection, with all the images moved to a new Image Directory folder in the same cloud-based location. (Your previous hard-disk based copies of the collection file and images will not be affected by this process. But presumably, going forward, you will only want to use your new cloud-based copy of your collection.)

The rest of this page discusses sharing (between computers and between users). If you don't plan on sharing, and you just want to move your collection data to the cloud for security against loss, then you don't need to read any further.

If you are the only user of your collection, but you want to be able to access the collection from two different computers, then there is very little additional work that you need to do. Obviously you need to have Recollector installed on both computers. (Since Recollector licensing is per-user, not per-computer, you can use the same license key on both computers.) You also need to be sure that you have set up access to the same cloud-based account on both computers, including installing whatever required app might be needed to access the cloud from the computer. Then, you should be able to open your collection from whichever computer you are at.

There is one warning to note for this case: You should exit Recollector when you are leaving one computer and expect to then be accessing your collection from the other computer. If you leave your collection open on the first computer, and then make changes to the collection from the other computer, you risk losing those changes when you return to the first computer and continue to use the program there (even if you didn't knowingly make any changes). To be safe, be sure to be running Recollector on only one computer at a time. If you are concerned about this, then consider using Managed Access.

Managed Access

If you are collaborating with one or more other people on using and managing a collection, with each user accessing the cloud-based collection from their own computer, then you should use Recollector's Managed Access capability. Managed Access lets two or more people access the same collection, but guarantees that only one person at a time is making changes to the collection database. This prevents two users from making conflicting changes, and avoids the risk of one user's changes overwriting the changes of a different user.

When a collection is put under Managed Access, the collection is put into read-only mode each time it is opened. In read-only mode, no permanent changes can be made to the database, but most aspects of the program function normally (browsing, searching, sorting, reporting, etc.). When you want to make a change to the collection, you need to request access (via the Managed Access choice on the File menu), and you need to provide the password chosen when Managed Access was set up. So there is a little bit of additional overhead when you are using Managed Access, but, in exchange, you get the peace of mind that goes with using a secure way to collaborate on a collection.

A full description of how to set up and use Managed Access is provided in the Recollector User's Guide. The User's Guide is accessible directly from the program, or, alternatively, you can access it online. The online sections describing Managed Access can be found at:

For the Windows version: http://www.maprecord.com/CM_help/CM_managedaccess.html

For the Macintosh version: http://www.maprecord.com/MacRecollector_help/pgs/ManagedAccess.html


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