System Requirements

ComTrac System Requirements


ComTrac DOS PC Requirements

We recommend the following computer configuration for ComTrac/DOS users:

* 500 Mhz CPU or better
* 512Mb Ram or better
* 40 Gb hard drive or larger
* Ethernet LAN Adaptor
* 2 Parallel Printer Ports (for Plus/POS)
* CD-ROM drive
* HP inkjet or laser printer
* Windows XP/Home O/S


ComTrac Windows PC Requirements: Single Store Business

* 1 Ghz CPU or better (preferably 2 Ghz+)
* 512Mb Ram or better
* 40 Gb hard drive or larger
* Ethernet LAN Adaptor
* 2 Parallel Printer Ports (for Plus/POS)
* CD-ROM drive
* HP inkjet or laser printer
* Windows XP/Home O/S


ComTrac Windows PC Requirements:  Multi-Store Business

* 3+ Ghz CPU
* 1Gb Ram or better
* 80 Gb hard drive or larger* (See note on hard drives)
* Ethernet LAN Adaptor
* 2 Parallel Printer Ports (for Plus/POS)
* CD-ROM drive
* HP inkjet or laser printer
* Windows XP/Home O/S


Compatible Operating Systems

ComTrac for Windows is compatible with all versions of Windows from XP onward, including Vista.

Some users have run ComTrac for Windows successfully on Apple PCs using "boot camp".


What Makes ComTrac Go Fastest?
A combination of a fast CPU, lots of RAM and a fast hard drive with a fast data bus makes ComTrac Windows go really fast.

Building a count form for 11,000 high value back issues (including calculating stock levels from a ledger file) on a 1 Ghz AMD with 512Mb of RAM and a medium-fast data bus and hard drive takes about 6 minutes.

The same operation on a 3.8Ghz CPU with 1 Gb of RAM and a fast data base and hard drive takes 28 seconds.

If you have a single location with perhaps 10 or 14 thousand stock-keeping units (sku's) you don't need to worry much about hardware performance as long as you are using a reasonably modern PC.  If you are a multi-location company, we recommend having a powerful, fast PC with an ultra-fast hard drive as your main corporate unit.


A Note on Hard Drives for best Performance

The following note comes from Rick Gerlach, our lead programmer/technician:

"Actually, ComTrac is more disk-intensive first, then CPU, then RAM, although RAM may be a factor somewhat in caching. In any database environment, it's all about the drives. RAID Serial ATA setups are becoming surprisingly affordable, and serial ATA (SATA) are within a whisker of SCSI performance for far less money. I'm running a 74GB WD Raptor 10,000RPM SATA drive and it makes a ridiculous difference in performance."

The users who are getting 27 second performance on 11,000+ high-value collectibles are using a RAID drive arrangement.

We upgraded our older, 1 Ghz AMD PC with a Western Digital 36 Gb Raptor SATA hard drive which runs at 10,000 rpm.  Since the AMD doesn't directly support ATA drives, we also bought an ATA controller card which plugs into an open PCIA slot.  Total cost, $139.00 at Fry's for the hard drive and $39.00 for the controller card, which can handle 2 ATA drives.

We used Norton Ghost 9.0 to clone our old boot drive to the new SATA drive, although the Lifeguard utility from Western Digital (free) will do the same thing.  It took a little tweaking to get Windows XP to recognize the SATA drive as the new boot drive, but once we got that done the speed difference was surprising.

Everything ran faster, but ComTrac Windows really took off.  In my opinion, spending $200.00 plus an hour of our time was a tremendously effective upgrade - although eventually we'll succumb to hardware lust and get a much faster CPU with the next PC we buy.  (We have 5 desktops and a laptop in the shop, and all are working efficiently.  Since we're cheap we haven't upgraded to any really modern CPUs.


A Note on Operating Systems
Windows XP/Pro is overkill for the majority of comic and game specialty retailers.  Windows XP/Home is perfectly adequate and is less expensive.  We definitely don't recommend using Windows 2000.  Why?  Because it's the tech consultant's full-employment product.  Either you will have to tinker with it regularly to keep it working well, or you'll have to pay someone to come in and do it for you.  Doesn't make sense to us.  Windows Vista may be inescapable, but if you have the choice, get XP. 

If you want to set up a RAID for your primary PC, give us a call and we'll talk about your best solution.  A note of caution - even with a RAID nothing beats having off-site backups.

We use Norton Ghost 9.0 to make complete hard drive backups to a secondary hard drive, which we then remove from the PC and store off-site.  It's easy and inexpensive to set up slide in/slide out hard drive sleeves, and 80 Gb hard drives are inexpensive enough so you have have 3 or 4 rotating as continual backups.


A Note on Internet Access
Anyone who is planning to take advantage of ComTrac Windows' Internet-specific tools should have access to high-speed Internet services, such as cable or DSL. 

We can also provide much better Remote Support if you have high-speed Internet access.

If you are a multiple-store operation, you should have cable or DSL access at every satellite location to facilitate inter-company data exchange.


A Note on Local Area Networks (LANs)
ComTrac Windows will work on any Windows peer-to-peer LAN.  You will unlock one copy of ComTrac as a Server unit, and any other copies of ComTrac on the network will be unlocked as Remote units.

Future versions of the language ComTrac is written in will offer a Client-Server option, but at this writing we do not know of any specialty comics retailer who needs this level of support.  If a user does need this level of LAN functionality in the future, we will be able to provide it as an extra-cost item.