This document covers many of the hardware and software technical components in a more simplified language.  It is still designed for users with some depth of technical knowledge.  Salons with an IT department or an IT professional can provide this site to them.


SalonTouch System Topology

SalonTouch uses a client/server system that has each workstation computer in the salon connect to a central database server.  This database server can be another computer running SalonTouch or a dedicated server.  Without this central database server, the workstations will not be able to access SalonTouch.


For salons with a timer, one computer will be connected to the timer through a serial connection.  Without this serial connection, SalonTouch cannot access the timer from any computer.


When the salon is using our Hosted platform, the salon’s central database server will connect to a SalonTouch publication server.  The SalonTouch publication server controls database replication between salon locations.  Data from one location is sent to the publication server and then sent out to the rest of the salons.  This is more than a simple backup solution, all changes for all data is sent from one salon to the other.  This provides great resilience for the salons.


As the publication is controlled by SalonTouch it is possible to have the salon function even without Internet as a full copy of all salon data is at each location.  The salon must have a local copy of their database to function in the salon.


Multiple Salons 

SalonTouch supports a multiple salon environment where data is sent from one salon to the other.  All data for all salons is stored at all salons.  This means clients can easily move from one location to another without their client profiles being recreated causing the chance of employee error or theft.

Remote access allows the salon owner or management to remotely access the salon’s data.  The remote access will not interrupt the salon, and changes made to the remote database will be transmitted to the salon.

Software Requirements

Operating System 

Windows 10 professional is strongly suggested due to the ability for increased security and business continuity.

The salon has the ability to lock down security using a Domain or the group policy editor.  This includes the ability to keep employees from changing the date and time on the PC.  Since SalonTouch uses the computer's clock for time-keeping functions, this becomes important to help ensure that employees do not try to change the clock to cheat the system.  Either by letting their friends tan for free or get hours they didn’t work. 

Using Windows Update for Business, the salon can turn delay Windows updates much longer than the Home version can.  While the salon can stop Windows updates completely, it is not suggested due to the benefits to security that the updates will bring.

Firewall and Antivirus settings

SalonTouch uses a number of ports depending on the options that your salon is using.  Please have the person in charge of your network security consult our website on firewall and antivirus exceptions: http://help.salontouch.com/a/solutions/articles/14000049615

Internet, LAN, and WAN connection requirements

While SalonTouch 10 requires Internet for support and our Hosted platform, you do not need a blazingly-fast connection speed. Our minimum is a 6+Mbps download speed and a 1.5+Mbps upload speed.  Setting up our Hosted platform requires the local databases to be uploaded to our servers.  A large database using a 1.5 Megabit per second connection can take several hours to upload.  While a 1.5Mbps connection will suffice, for optimal performance we suggest a 10+Mbps upload connection.

LAN connections will need a 100+Mbps switch/router and to be on the same subnet unless a Windows Domain has been setup.

WAN connections are only needed when the salon is using other communication tools than SalonTouch to transmit data from salon to salon.  In these cases a VPN is highly suggested for security purposes as the data is encrypted between locations.  WAN and VPN setup are beyond the scope of SalonTouch software support.  Please consult your IT professionals for assistance with setting up a WAN or VPN.

Hardware requirements

The hardware used at the salon must meet minimum system requirements in our system requirements document and this technical guide.  Hardware that does not meet the minimum system requirements will not perform sufficiently and will cause a poor user experience.

While a workstation can have performance specifications that are lower than the server, they must still meet minimum system requirements for the operating system and the desired user experience.

Some hardware options may require activation fees regardless of where it was purchased. Hardware not purchased from us may not be compatible or compliant with our applications. Please consult with one of our sales professionals prior to purchasing any third party hardware. We do not support hardware that was not purchased directly through us or one of our licensed business partners.

Please see our site for system requirements: https://www.salontouchstudio.com/system-requirements.html

Database Server as dedicated.

SalonTouch uses the Microsoft SQL Server software for its relational database platform.

It will always improve performance to have a dedicated database server that does nothing other than provide data to the salon’s workstations.  It connects to the other computers in the salon through a switch or router.

The database server is one of the most important parts of your salon right next to the timer and the appointment book.  When the database server dies the salon would need to switch to emergency mode.

A dedicated database server allows the salon to keep employees from messing with it both software wise and hardware wise.  It is too often that the main PC at the salon is stuck under the counter where it can overheat.  In the event that a workstation is replaced, the salon can continue to function with a simple replacement PC.

The system requirements for a dedicated SalonTouch database server match closely to have a SalonTouch workstation.  There are additional features that can be added to it to help improve your experience.

SalonTouch recommends that you consult with your IT professional on the best hardware configuration for your server.  There may be other requirements that your salon needs that are not listed here.

The more salons you have, the more memory and storage that you will want to add to your server. 

Server Operating System:

The Windows server operating systems allow for a centrally managed and secure network that the salon computers can talk over.  It allows for a Domain to be joined where user accounts can be controlled remotely and security policy be tightly integrated into the salon operations.  These added benefits normally require your IT professionals to have a larger role in salon operations.

RAID array Hard Drives:

Depending on the type of array, a Redundant Array of Inexpensive Drives (RAID) allows for the computer to operate faster, have redundancy in the event of failure, and quick disaster recovery in the event of a failed hard drive.  A RAID array that has been configured properly by an IT professional will also increase performance of the server.

UPS and battery backups:

These allow for an uninterruptible supply of power going to the server.  They can allow the server and PCs to survive short power outages that would cause a restart of the PC.

Timers

SalonTouch supports the following timers:

  • T-Max

  • Intellitan

  • CCS series

  • Questar

  • FST

  • Tan Time

We strongly suggest the T-Max series timers from Applied Digital.

If the database server is not dedicated, It is strongly suggested that the Timer be connected to database server.

SalonTouch does not support configuration of timers, beds, or other spa equipment.  Our support for timer communication stops at the serial port on the PC.  All cabling, configuration, and setup of the timer must be completed before SalonTouch will communicate with the rooms.

Serial Ports

It is strongly suggested to have a built-in PCI Express Serial Port in the computer.  The USB to Serial adapters can have issues with the communication (COM) port numbers changing after computer restarts, being unplugged, and will not reliably work in USB hubs.  If a built-in PCI Express Serial Port is not able to be installed, we suggest the following USB to Serial adapters based on the connector to the timer.

Plugable USB to RS-232 DB9 Serial Adapter (PL-2303HX Rev D chipset)

http://plugable.com/products/PL2303-DB9

Staples USB to Serial Adapter, Male to Male (29764)

https://www.staples.com/Staples-1-USB-to-Serial-Adapter-Black/product_2093905

Always check the screws and lugs that are used to plug in the serial cables or USB to serial adapters to the computer.

USB Hubs

While USB hubs can be great for adding ports to an all-in-one PC or a laptop, some devices cannot reliably use them.  If the salon has need to use a USB hub, the mouse and keyboard would be the first devices to put in it.  Always use a powered USB hub.

The following devices should never be plugged into a USB hub:

  • Printers

  • Timers

  • Chip Readers

  • Electronic signature pad (ePad)

Always count the number of USB ports that are needed before replacing you computer.  This goes for other port types as well.  It is another trip to the store once you find out the new PC only supports HDMI and your old monitor only supports VGA and DVI connections.

Chip Readers

A tokenized salon eliminates almost all chances for credit card information to be compromised.  They are secure, non-reversible, and can be stored without any danger of compromise.  The tokens can only be used by the salon that issued them, so even in the event of compromise, your client’s account information is still secure.

Salons can use any credit card processor outside of SalonTouch, but must comply with PCI security standards.  SalonTouch 10 uses secure tokens and does not store unsecure client account information.

Optional Hardware

Identification and Biometrics

Fingerprint scanner

The Fingerprint scanner can be used to help ensure that clients and employees are honest and are using the proper packages.

The fingerprint scanners work with roughly 90% of the population on the first scan.  For those that it does not, a different finger can be selected to scan.  For most people the left pinkie finger has little use and can scan better than the index finger even if it is more difficult to place.

Our optional identification module allows SalonTouch to support the Digital Persona U.are.U 4500 scanner.

Web Cameras

Web cameras can be an inexpensive, but less secure way to assist with confirming the identity of your clients.  SalonTouch is compatible with any TWAIN or WIA driver compatible camera system.

We currently suggest the Logitech C300 webcam.


Productivity

Electronic signature pad

These devices can be used to sign Text and PDF copies of the release and consent forms for various services.

SalonTouch only supports the ePadLink ePad-ink Signature Capture Pad VP9805.


The salon can create release forms as needed either in plain text format or using our optional PDF signature module to create signable PDF.


Barcode scanners

Salontouch recommends the .  SalonTouch will be compatible with any 1D barcode scanner that is a supported Windows Human Interface Device (HID) and sends the barcode as a keyboard entry.


We currently suggest the Honeywell Voyager barcode scanner.

Printers

SalonTouch will work with any printer that will print through Windows.  The manufacturer must support the operating system that you are printing from and be on the Windows Compatible Products List for that operating system.

Report Printers

These printers are used to print various reports in SalonTouch.  They are normally larger printers that print 8.5x11 inch sheets of paper.  SalonTouch will work with any standard report printer that works in Windows.

Receipt Printers

SalonTouch strongly encourages the use of Star receipt printers for optimal printing experience with SalonTouch.  Other receipt printers can be used, but SalonTouch does not guarantee successful operation, and the manufacturer or the seller is responsible for all troubleshooting steps.

SalonTouch preferred printers are:

  • Star TSP 100 (USB) thermal printers

  • Star TSP 750 (USB) dot matrix printers

SalonTouch does not support the use of parallel to USB adapters in Windows 10.

Cash Drawers

SalonTouch uses the USB receipt printer or a parallel port (LPT) to send the pop command for the cash drawer.  Direct USB connections for printers are not supported.


SalonTouch preferred Cash Drawers is the APG 4000 Series JB320-BL1816 Cash Drawer.




Proper PC Management 

The salon is solely responsible for all management and maintenance on the salon’s PCs.  The salon will need to ensure that the PC is kept up to date with any required security patches, have a functioning firewall and antivirus program that will allow SalonTouch to function, and maintain hardware functionality.

Any computer that becomes infected by a virus, malware, or ransomware attack must be removed from the salon’s working environment to help ensure the security of the other PCs.  All virus, malware, or ransomware must be removed and the Windows operating system be in fully functional condition before SalonTouch can perform software support on the affected PC.

The SalonTouch software support team will not assist with PC management and maintenance.  Any work on the computer that is deemed beyond the scope of the SalonTouch software support will be explained to the salon and handled by the salon.


Disaster Recovery

SalonTouch helps mitigate disaster by synchronizing data between the salon every 5 minutes for our SalonTouch 10 Hosted platform.  Our server facility has nightly backups, and manages the data off site to help ensure against failure.


The salon can help ensure that disaster does not occur by maintaining their hardware, ensure that the operating system does not become infected, and managing their operating system and software.


SalonTouch has emergency modes that allow the salon to be up and running with only a PC and an Internet connection.  While the emergency mode will be slow, it does allow full access to the software and business continuity.


Local salons that are not on our Hosted platform should perform backups of their SalonTouch data every night at a minimum.  A backup has been setup that makes a backup copy of your SalonTouch data to your c:\SalonTouch\Backup_Databases folder on the local PC.  The salon should make a copy of the contents of this folder to an external drive every night with an additional copy being kept off site.


This helps maintain a 3,2,1 backup strategy with 3 copies of the data, two as a backup, and 1 backup off site.  Salons not using our hosted platform will need to maintain their own backups and need to be able to retrieve them quickly in the event of computer failure.