Do you use web forms to collect and store sensitive or personal information? It’s not uncommon, but have you ever stopped to consider whether anyone else can access this information?
Privacy is important, and so is speed. Do you display data from a database on your WordPress site? Have you noticed that it can sometimes be slow to load? Ugh…that’s never fun.
Over at CampusPress, we recently had a customer experiencing both of these problems.
They were migrating to our service and already using a popular WordPress form plugin to collect and store private files from job applicants. This was on their main, high traffic marketing website, which meant that their web team had full access to personal applicant information, and any potential security breach of the website could expose all this data, too. This definitely was not an example of good privacy practice.
The customer also was using a form for sorting and displaying complex directory information for their large organization. When searching the directory, it would often time out or load extremely slowly. Despite all of the problems, the customer didn’t want to leave their form plugin because they had invested so much time into building their systems around it and training their staff to use it.
This customer isn’t alone or unique, and although these common problems haven’t always had easy fixes, now they do. It was looking for better solutions for sites like these that led me to the new FortressDB plugin.
What is FortressDB?
FortressDB is a plugin for WordPress that now easily integrates with our form building Forminator plugin.
Forminator is pretty happy to work with FortressDB.
Instead of defaulting to the WordPress database, or saving files in the wp-uploads public folder, FortressDB stores data and files on secure Google Cloud servers and gives you full control of who has access to it.
It uses native WordPress user roles to control access rights and there are built-in Gutenberg blocks to display data blazingly fast in tables, charts, and maps. FortressDB offers 3 different locations for storing data: Europe, the USA, and the UK.
When you create an account, you choose which location to use, and you can even store data in FortressDB in a different country than your website may be hosted.
Why Use FortressDB?
The WordPress database is designed to store content for the public web. Increased regulations and responsibilities in privacy laws mean that now more than ever, we must consider where and how data is stored.
For example, many WordPress hosts do not encrypt WordPress database data at rest or in backups. This might be reasonable for content on your site that is public on the web anyway, but for more sensitive data, FortressDB can help ensure full encryption.
File uploads, even if you use privacy plugins to set a site as private, may still be discoverable by search engines or by direct links. Using FortressDB, you can guarantee that everything you set to private really is private.
Large datasets can add significant size and bloat to your WordPress database, but FortressDB will keep form data out of your WordPress database to help with performance.
It is fast too, check out this million row demo. You can compare it to how a CDN delivers rich-media content. Instead of serving images or videos, it serves data.
There are other solutions for collecting and storing data outside of WordPress, but this is the only native WordPress plugin we are aware of, and definitely the only plugin that integrates with Forminator in just a few clicks (with more form plugin integrations coming).
There’s an API for a simple way of extending and using the secure databases without form plugins too.
How it Works
As you’ll see, it’s quick and easy to set up FortressDB with Forminator.
Here’s a breakdown of how to integrate the two. Then, I’ll show you a video demonstration.
Once you have FortressDB installed and have signed up for a free account, you’ll be all set to integrate with Forminator.
With either a new or existing form in Forminator, you can sync FortressDB by going to Edit Form and Integration.
The Integration area in Forminator.
From here, you simply click Activate App. As long as you have FortressDB installed, activated, and you’re logged in, you’ll be all set. FortressDB will appear as one of your connected apps.
Where you’ll activate the app.
It will then confirm that you want to connect…
Hit Connect to continue.
…and from this point upon hitting Connect, your form is synced to FortressDB as a Table.
You can access it at any time by going to the FortressDB admin area and clicking Secure Forms. Here, you’re able to review any user that has filled out a form and all of the fields of information that were created with Forminator. It also includes the date and time it was created.
Example of information that was inputted into a form.
You can edit information on objects by clicking on each one individually.
Where you can edit information on an object.
In the Access rights area, you can also limit users’ access to the database based on roles.
The Access Rights area.
Also, you can view stats at any time from the Stats tab. This will show you the total rows that are new for a particular amount of time.
Where you can view your stats on your form submissions.
To see all of this put together and in action, here’s a quick video demonstration.
With the release of Forminator Pro 1.13, there is now an eSignature feature on forms so that your users can sign a form and submit. FortressDB stores the form and keeps the signature separate in its database.
In Forminator, you just add the eSignature field to any form.
The E-Signature field.
Now a user can sign and submit a form by signing with their mouse, keyboard pad, or with their fingers or a digital pencil, when applicable.
Where a user can sign and submit a form.
The signature is then saved as an image .PNG file in FortressDB. You can download it at any time in the admin.
Where you can access and download the signature.
To see exactly how this operates, check out this quick example.
With Forminator and FortressDB, it’s simple, easy, and safe to have your eSignatures secured.
For more information on eSignatures with Forminator, including how to incorporate an upload signature option, you can find out more in this article.
FortressDB and Forminator: A Secure Combination
FortressDB and Forminator are both free, so give them a shot and try them out for yourself and see how well they work together. Then, if needed, you can upgrade both accordingly. Upgrading allows for additional features, such as additional WordPress sites with FortressDB and the eSignature option with Forminator Pro.
Plus, if you need to upgrade, we’ve scored a 50% discount for WPMU DEV members over on our Partnership page.
Give it a try along with Forminator and let us know what you think, for security sake.
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