Salon Transcripts (STX) – Using Remotely – Opening Ports, Port Forwarding

A little background: Salon Transcripts (STX) is a Salon Management program for Mac’s. It is used by salon’s all over the country, small and large shops. The site they have is basically for sales. Tech support is 18 dollars per call/email, etc. They don’t have much for documentation, much less connecting remotely. I was tasked with getting it working remotely.

My first step was get remote access to a machine inside the network. For this I did 4 things.

1) Install DynDNS client for Mac

DynDNS (Dynamic DNS) allows you to create a faux domain name for an IP behind a NAT, and the little client will update DynDNS service so it is always up to date. Basically make a dynamic IP static. I installed this on a computer at the salon that is always on.

2) Install Vine VNC Server for Mac

Vine is a VNC server, I installed this on the same computer as the DynDNS client on the internal network

3) Install Chicken of the VNC for Mac

On the client computer (laptop) I installed Chicken of the VNC (love the name). Read somewhere this was the best VNC client for Mac, so I went with it.

4) Port Forward Port 5900 on the AirPort Express to the Machine Internally

Using the app in the Utilities folder on the Mac internally, AirPort Utility, I forwarded port 5900 (vnc port) to the computer with Vine and DynDNS

So far so good. I could then connect to the server on the internal network, change any settings, open more ports, etc. I could just use STX on the server machine, but it was really slow over VNC. Initially I was going to just have them use VNC and then FolderShare or email PDF reports back to the laptop so they could print them remotely, but just to slow.

I decided to get STX on the laptop to connect remotely over the Internet to the server on the internal network. Since there is NO documentation on this, I had to do some digging. First, what ports does STX use, and what is the STX server IP internally? Getting the IP is trivial, there is a setting in STX->Preferences->System where you can set the IP, so I had that. Finding out the ports, I fired up Terminal on the server, and ran

netstat -na | grep ESTA

To see what connections were established

stx_netstat

As you can see there are 3 ports that were going the server (the server was 10.0.1.100) – 9090, 4000 and 20260. These are the 3 ports you need to open up on a router and use port forwarding to the server to connect STX remotely.

Once again, the ports to use Salon Transcripts (STX) remotely are:

Port 9090
Port 4000
Port 20260

Those 3 tidbits would have saved me some time :)

After port forwarding those to the server, I tried connecting the laptop client over the net to my DynDNS host and it worked!

One thing I noticed though is running reports is VERY SLOW over the Internet, almost locks up STX.

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16 thoughts on “Salon Transcripts (STX) – Using Remotely – Opening Ports, Port Forwarding”

  1. Although I am not technical, I do have a salon/spa where I employ 40 people. I have 6 computers at my salon that all run STX. I also connect in from home on a daily basis during the salons hours of operation. I have never experienced what you are speaking of, nor has STX ever locked up on me. Perhaps this problem could be due to your personal choice of internet companies? I am Verizon FIOS. Additionally, I did not have to do any digging to find out everything I needed to do to connect remotely, I simply emailed my question. The company swiftly emailed me back, at no charge, a document for my tech person outlining every detail. I feel this is much more secure than having this info posted for everyone to see.

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  2. STX does lock up and has issues, just like every program. Yes, Verizon FIOS is the FASTEST internet you can get out there.

    I disagree with you where you say it is more secure. Security by secrecy is by no means more secure, if secure at all. This info on how to connect to STX remotely should be on their site, freely available, and easy to find. It shouldn’t warrant a support ticket.

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  3. I am sorry you are having problems, I have had great success with the software and the company for 10 years now. I wouldn’t change for anything.

    Take care.

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  4. I have set up dozens of STX clients with SECURE remote access to their STX servers. Port forwarding (as described above) lays open the heart of your business server to the hackers and crackers and zombies of the Internet. I strongly recommend against it. While this description is workable, it is inherently insecure and invites potential trouble as the ports mentioned are well known and sought by hackers for exploitation.

    I only recommend using secure encrypted VPN tunnels that are a click and about 5 seconds away from a SECURE ENCRYPTED virtual private tunnel into your business network. Your STX server is carefully protected behind the firewall and not sitting exposed to the whole Internet as described above.

    You can find out more at http://teksource-it.com or call the tech support people of Salon Transcripts for a recommendation. I was a reseller for STX so I know your product and business, and have the patience to walk you through the process to a safer secure connection to your STX from wherever you find Internet access.

    Please, care for your business security as much as I do and don’t expose your server with the method laid out above.

    Steve Jacobson
    Apple Consultants Network
    Apple Certified Technical Coordinator
    Apple Certified Help Desk Specialist
    STX training, installing, supporting since 2002

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    1. Just an update for anyone using the Open Ports method, in 2010 you will not be able to have Open Ports and process credit cards over the Internet. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCIDSS see: https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/) will not allow you to store or transfer bank account information on an insecure network, and they have determined that using Open Ports is not secure enough. VPN will be necessary for secure remote access. Use of telephone based terminals puts the security responsibility on the phone company and Open Ports will be acceptable if the card number is not stored on your computers. I am not certified by the PCI, so do your due diligence to be sure of your security. There is a pdf document available at the link above outlining the requirements to adhere to.

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  5. of course VPN works. By biggest gripe is that STX has no documentation about anything on how to connect. and if you are working on a network where NO ONE knows any of the info and its just a hack setup to begin with, and they dont want to call STX for help or pay for it, then you do what you have to do. which is what i did.

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  6. I can vouch for Steve Jacobson’s comments. While setting up my network I contacted STX for help. They put me in contact with Steve and he provided the necessary hardware and know how to get me setup securely. I run the business side of our salon virtually from my home office. It’s been almost three years now since Steve helped us out and we are still going strong without any connection issues.

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  7. Connect via VNC is great for working remotely. However, installing the client program onto a computer and then trying to connect to the database over the internet is not a good idea.I'm not privy to the source code for STX, but I can assume, like many programs written by industry professionals that can code, rather than by coders familiar with an industry, the program structure is flawed. More than likely the client program opens a connection to the database server and that connection remains open while the client program is running. With a continuously open pipe, your speed is going to go way down.If the program where written where all the program's data functions executed as stored queries on the database server and a connection to the database server were only opened long enough to run the query and retrieve the result, then speed would go through the roof by comparison.So here's my dilemma: I am a great programmer, and my girlfriend and I own a salon together. However, I am not involved in running the salon at all. I don't know what goes on. I've been looking for a software package for her, but I can find nothing that I like so I've decided to write one myself. Unfortunately, I now have to learn about the salon business and I really don't want to.

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  8. I am looking to purchase STX for my salon. I have a FULL boutique in the salon so I will need an inventory program that can handle anything from clothes to shampoo. Do you recommend this software?

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  9. I have been using STX in my laser clinic for 5 years.  I went with it because I have MACs and there aren’t many programs for MACs.  The program works well while you’re small.  As you grow it is VERY LIMITING.  The reporting capabilities, scheduling, waiting list are all limiting (among other things).  The customer service is not the best either.  The fees to go online are $250/month and I didnt’ see much value in it.  The tech support packages are equally as expensive. 

    I remote access from home and have never had a problem.

    I would recommend using a different program.

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    1. This does not seem to ring true. We have used Salon Transcripts for 13 years, first as STPro and then as STX. There is no limit to the number of employees you can have or the number of locations. Yes, there are licensing levels depending on how many employees you have to manage, but I do not see it as limiting at all. In fact, it has helped me build our business substantially. It is actually “bigger” than most salons will ever need.

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  10. I hope someone can answer this question for me…I have looked everywhere and can not find any topics regarding this. We have a commission stylist that is constantly looking at our other commission stylist books and questioning why they have certain people on their books. We have talked to her in the past but she is still doing this and it really bothers our other stylists. Is there any way of changing her security so that when she logs in she is only able to see her schedule on the calendar and not everyone’s schedule? 
    Thank you in advance :)

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  11. My salon just purchased the software. They were not aware it is mac,iphone,ipad based, not for Android.How can I use STX remotely on a PC?

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