Welcome To Positive Feedback Software LLC

"Finally there is an affordable touch screen driven POS system for restaurants... FreePOS!"


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Tech support is free of charge via email or at FreePOS School

Registered users pay 50% less for telephone support than unregistered users.   They also get priority access to a technician.
Contracts are available.
New questions and answers are posted on this page regularly.

Beginning in Q4 of 2013, Positive Feedback Software will no longer offer integrated credit card processing on networks other than those supported by XCharge.   We strongly recommend merchants use one or more standalone credit card machines to avoid potential PCI fines & liability.   It is likely that PCI standards will begin mandating minimum hardware & operating system levels soon.  This could mean repurchasing large portions of your POS system simply to remain compliant in the future.  Please call for details.

If you need assistance from a technician, fill out this telephone support agreement and fax it back to us. 


Technical Support Forum - Questions & Answers
1. What is the best way for me to get  up and running?

FreePOS has thousands of features and while you can set up everything yourself, it will take some time.   A lot of people call us and schedule a remote install.  By letting us log into your computer, your system can be up and running in less than 1 hour in most cases.   Before we schedule an install time with you, we'll ask that you fax over your seating chart, menu, and employee list.    Then we'll help you get everything configured so that all you need to do is some basic data entry on your menu.   We can even send a tech out to your location if you wish. 

2. If I install FreePOS, will I have to call support often?

If FreePOS is installed correctly onto battery backed computers, it will be very reliable.   Expect to call during installation and perhaps once a year for "hickups" due to power, hardware, training, system changes, etc.

Here is a list of popular calls we get and our answers.

3. I am not a computer expert... can I install FreePOS myself?

Cabling, computer setup, menu programming, macro scripts and reliable backup storage are vital to the long term success of FreePOS.    If you need assistance, we can log into your system remotely and do the installation from Virginia.  Alternately, you can send us your computers and we will install them for you.   We also sell complete systems that are ready to plug in... click here!

4. Can I use my existing computer systems and just change the software?

If your computers are 1500MHz or better, feel free to.    If you are coming from a proprietary hardware platform (like Micros) you should re-purchase. You should purchase new computers with XP Pro or Windows 7 Pro 32Bit for best results.   We still think XP is best.

5. Which is better:   All in one POS station or a mini-tower w/ components?

For looks, the all in one POS station is the best.    For reliability, low cost of ownership and long term satisfaction, a Dell Dimension or similar is best.  

We also offer the T-Series All-In-One which can even be rebranded!

6. Should I get an LCD, CRT or integrated touch screen monitor?

If you purchase an LCD monitor, expect crystal clear images and a higher initial cost.   Often backlights fail after 1-2 years of operation.

If you purchase a CRT monitor, expect a crystal clear image and a low initial cost.   But plan for more counter space.   CRTs are very resistant to "hard screen touches"... LCDs are likely to have "pixels" burn out where the screen is touched most often.

If you purchase an integrated touch screen monitor, then if the display or the touch panel dies, you will have to repurchase the entire monitor.

If you purchase a regular monitor with a touch screen add-on kit, you can replace ONLY the part that fails.   TOUCH SCREEN ADD ON KITS are the best way to go unless their cosmetic appearance is an issue.

7. Which is better:   Thermal receipt printer or Impact receipt printer?

Thermals are:  fast and require no ribbon.

Impacts are:  slow and require a ribbon.

Thermals are: not able to print on carbon paper and their paper will turn black around hot kitchen areas (grills, ovens etc).

Impacts are: able to print carbons and are not sensitive to heat.


IN A HOT KITCHEN, use impact.


FOR RECEIPTS, use thermal.

FOR EASE OF LOADING, use thermal.



The best solution is usually a MIX of the two printers.

8. How should I back up FreePOS?

Get a computer with a CDRW drive.   Copy the entire FREEPOS folder to a CD each time you wish to backup.   During a backup, users MAY BE logged in thanks to a unique data sharing system implemented in FreePOS.   Also registered users may wish to implement the BACKUPFP module which mirrors the server to a hard disk periodically.

9. Can I edit my credit card batches before I settle them?

Yes, simply use the card software's back office program. 

10. How long can cables be?

Parallel printer cables:   100 feet.

Serial printer cables:   150 feet @ 9600bps

CAT5 network cables:  125 feet or less is best.   Use 568B color codes.

Wireless:  Depends on interference.  50 feet is usually best.

Video cables:  25 feet or less.

* All figures shown above are NOT the textbook answers.   They are the REAL WORLD numbers.   Textbooks often indicate longer distances are okay when in fact random/weird problems occur intermittently.

11. Is a "quick service" mode available?   I run a Fast-Food restaurant and I want to bypass the seating charts, table management etc.  

Yes, FreePOS does support quick service mode.   When a terminal is put into quick service mode, the first thing the operator sees is the ordering screen.    When the order is SENT to the kitchen, the "accept payment window" appears and the receipt is automatically generated.   This is great for "rapid fire" order entry.   Quick serve terminals can be mixed with table, bar, carryout and cashier terminals if needed.

12. I want an entree to print on 2 kitchen printers and the KDS at the same time.   How do I accomplish this?

You must register FreePOS to get this feature.   The registered version includes a program called MultiSpooler.   It allows complex printing/display tasks to be automated.    It also facilitates complex KDS chains often used by the fast food industry.

13. Can I hire Positive Feedback Software to come out to my restaurant and do the installation for me?

Yes.   However, it may be more cost effective to just send us your equipment.   We can set everything up in Virginia and UPS it back to you... usually in less than a week.    If you prefer, we can arrive onsite.   Expect a typical onsite installation to cost $2,500 - $4,000 depending on the size of your system.

14. Which credit card processor is best?

Positive Feedback Software recommends using XCharge or a standalone card processing machine.

15. Do you offer a support contract?

Support contracts are available, but not really necessary unless you have more than 10 POS stations and a couple locations.   Please call for rates.   Most of the time, you're better off buying support by the minute.

16. What does telephone support cost?

Registered users pay $60/hour.    Unregistered users pay $120/hour.   Billing is in 5 minute intervals.    One hour pre-pay may be required if an oustanding balance has not paid in the past.    Receive a 5% discount on 10 hour blocks that are pre-paid.      TELEPHONE SUPPORT IS NOT REFUNDABLE unless the unused portion is greater than $60.00 or unless you are not happy with our services (please notify us immediately if you are not pleased and we will do everything humanly possible to make it right!!)

17. I haven't ever used Paypal.   Is it okay to send a check?

Sure... Please put  your order# on the check.    Call us and we'll get the order details in the computer system and issue an order number.   We also accept Visa, Mastercard & Discover  over the phone.   Because checks can take 5-10 business days to process, we also accept wire transfers and certified funds.

18. I purchased the registered version of FreePOS and I would like to add more terminals.

No problem... you will simply pay $99.95/terminal for each additional license.

19. Can I return the registered version of FreePOS for a refund?

No.   Software/End User Registrations are not refundable under ANY circumstances.   We will gladly replace defective media, however, if a license code was issued, the software is yours.    We offer FreePOS at no cost for evaluation, so please be sure you like it before you spend your money.

20. Can I be added to your mailing list ?

Yes.   Please send an email with your name & address to sales@positive-feedback.net     Thanks!

21. Some features are missing... what should I do?

Download the latest version of FreePOS from this website.  Many shareware sites will download older versions of FreePOS.

22. What should cabling for a POS system cost?

A spool of cable is less than $100 for 1,000 feet.   However, the installation time is usually billed out by the hour.   In general, multiply the number of terminals you need connected by $200 and that is your approximate install cost.    If you are able, run the cable yourself and have your contractor put the connectors on for you.   This can easily cut the costs in half.

23. Where do I purchase ICVerify?

  Please do not purchase ICVerify as we no longer offer it to new installations.

24. Why is FreePOS free?

Simple.  FreePOS is building a user base by keeping entry level product costs extremely low.   When our user base grows and expands, we know they will buy our upgrade products.   FreePOS is becoming a huge force in the restaurant automation industry because we are making POS affordable.    Other software vendors don't like "mom 'n pop" restaurants.   We love them!   Non-profits, Churches and Charities NEVER HAVE TO PAY FOR OUR SOFTWARE.

25. Does FreePOS support Japanese Steakhouse style seating charts?

Yes.  Templates are free for registered users.

26. How much does FreePOS cost compared to other POS solutions?

BPA* Silverware* Aldelo* System3* Digital
Future POS PixelPoint* Aloha* Micros*
$70 plus $30.00 per month. $500+ $400+ $500+ $600+ $400+ $500+ $500+ $600+

* Approximate cost for software per station for a typical 4 station system.    Prices vary by reseller and geographic area.  Prices listed should be used as a reference only... and are intended to be good faith estimates.   Larger system purchases will result in lower software costs per terminal.   All software is not created equally... so be sure to get a demo to evaluate before purchasing a point of sale package.  FreePOS is free to download and evaluate.   Also, be sure to ask how much telephone support costs.   Some POS companies charge per incident and some charge per hour.   FreePOS is $60/hour for registered users and $120/hour for unregistered users.   Some POS software manufacturers require you use their credit card processor and/or their hardware.   This can add thousands of dollars of extra cost over the life of the product.    Some POS software companies require mandatory monthly support fees to be paid (in effect you lease their software) FreePOS works with any Windows XP hardware and any card processor... and there are no monthly fees to use it.

Register FreePOS For 2+ Stations:

Stations: 1-2 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
  free $199.90 $299.85 $399.80 $499.75 $599.70 $699.65 $799.60 $899.55

27. How is data stored in FreePOS?

FreePOS uses a distributed client -server database that deploys by running "DBServer" on one machine in your network.   "DBServer" was custom designed so that there would be no license fees and zero administration.   The database server uses client processor time as well as server processor time to remove the slow downs associated with server-based SQL.   The database server also runs at the client even when the server is down.   This makes "DB Server" much more reliable than any database currently on the market.   A developer kit may be purchased separately by companies that are licensed to rebrand FreePOS.

28. How do I query data in FreePOS?

At end of day, there are databases exported to Foxpro DBF format.   Use a software package like Crystal Reports, Excel or a freeware to do your queries.

29. Why is there a blue background window when I run FreePOS in 1024x768 mode?

The blue background is a desktop protector - it improves system security by protecting the Windows XP desktop from touch screen drivers that support Drag 'n Drop operations.   If your trons drag 'n drop the seating chart window, it would be possible to "see" the Windows XP desktop.   The blue desktop protector eliminates this worry. FreePOS will only look "correct" in 800x600 mode.  Other video modes are NOT supported.

30. What is new in  V6 of FreePOS?

The V6 FreePOS program is extremely close to the commercial POS packages in terms of its capabilities.  It's the best POS program we've ever released.   Learn more by clicking here.


30.  How do I install a USB printer?

To install a USB printer, first determine which operating system you are using.   If it is XP or lower, use winspool.exe      If it is Vista or higher, use vspool.exe

Winspool and Vspool do the exact same thing, however, Vspool is able to work with Vista's escalation and permission structures.

Now complete these steps:

  1. Install your USB printer using the manufacturer's provided driver.   Epson drivers are at www.EpsonExpert.com   Most other printer drivers can be downloaded from their respective manufacturer's websites.
  2. Verify that the printer can print a test page from Windows
  3. Share the printer.   You may pick any name.   We will assume RP1 is Receipt Printer 1 and KP1 is Kitchen Printer 1's shared name for this example.
  4. Determine your computer's name.   Right click "My Computer" and select "Properties" then click the "Computer Name" tab.   The computer's name does not have a "." (period) in it even though Windows will show this.   Computer name's must not have spaces (ascii 32) or punctuation.  We will assume your computer's name is STATION1 in this example.
  5. Make a shortcut on your desktop to:

    \freepos\prg\vspool.exe REC1 \\STATION1\RP1 /CRLF

    Please note that UPPERlowercase letters DO MATTER in the above shortcut.   If printing comes out double spaced, remove /CRLF.

    If you are using XP or below, the shortcut is similar:

    \freepos\prg\winspool.exe REC1 \\ComputerNameGoesHere\PrinterShareNameGoesHere /CRLF


  6. The above shortcut will take the print jobs routed to REC1 in FreePOS and send them to the printer share specified.
  7. Optionally, you may move the shortcut to the STARTUP folder so that it automatically loads upon boot up.  (Google "how to make a program automatically start in Windows")

* WINSPOOL and VSPOOL are part of the registered user add-on module.   When you register, you'll receive the link for installation.

31. What command do I run to get my print spooler running?


Click RUN

Enter:   s:\freepos\prg\pspooler.exe \freepos\spooler\SPOOL-NAME-HERE.spl

If you want to use a Windows, IP or Serial Printer the command is:

Enter:  s:\freepos\prg\ipspool.exe \freepos\spooler\SPOOL-NAME-HERE.spl

For the demo restaurant, run:  s:\freepos\prg\pspooler.exe \freepos\spooler\REC1.spl

Or on station #2:  s:\freepos\prg\pspooler.exe \freepos\spooler\REC2.spl

Or to get the KITCHEN going: s:\freepos\prg\pspooler.exe \freepos\spooler\KIT.spl

RUN \FreePOS\PRG\WSSETUP.BAT if you have Windows 2000, XPSP1 or SP2 and you are using PSPOOLER.EXE


32. What command do I run to get my software KDS system running?

Enter:  s:\freepos\prg\kds.exe \freepos\spooler\SPOOL-NAME-HERE.spl

Please keep in mind that you should not have RECEIPTS go to a KDS spooler.   If you set KDS to bump to a printer, be sure the printer is not backing up to another KDS.   Receipts sent to KDS will NOT print or display.

For the demo restaurant, run:  s:\freepos\prg\kds.exe \freepos\spooler\KIT.spl

If you have a MicroPlus Hardware KDS, use this command:

s:\freepos\prg\mpkds.exe s:\freepos\spooler\KDS-SPOOL.spl

33. What IP addressing scheme should I use?

Fileserver -

POS station #1 -

POS station #x -

Router -  (this will be your default gateway address)

DNS - obtain automatically from your ISP

TCP/IP is the best way to network POS terminals.

34. Can I test my credit card system without transferring real money?


Yes, start the ICV Multi-User requestor with the initialize string of /dd.    WE NO LONGER SUPPORT ICVERIFY.   DO NOT BUY IT!


Download the free edition of CreditLine and take all the defaults during installation.  Batching will be disabled but auths will affect available balances.


Support for X-Charge is activated with a release file.  Please call for details.


35. Can I transfer my sales history to the corporate office?

Yes, simply send SALES.PIP to the corporate office using FTP.    This file is located in \FreePOS\Setup\ and is updated at End Of Day.

36. Can I put space holders in my menu and category layout?

Use the name BLANK if you wish to leave a space.    Categories are displayed top-to-bottom in column 1 then 2 then 3.     The number displayed in the menu editor is the location (i.e.  21 = column 2, row 1)

37. Can I set all my POS station clocks to the same time automatically?

This must be done for the time clock to work correctly.

Run this command on each workstation at STARTUP.


38. Which is better:  Windows 7, Vista, XP Home Edition, XP Professional or XP Media Center?

If you are installing a POS terminal, XP Home or Professional  edition will be fine.   Windows 7 also works great.

Vista is very buggy.   We do not recommend it.  

If you are installing a POS server, XP Home is limited to 4 user connections whereas XP Professional provides 10 user connections.   Windows 7 is at least 10 user connections.

Media Center is generally NOT recommended for POS.

39. Can I use a Windows 2000 machine as a server?

Yes.   Set the file system to NTFS however.  

40. Can I run software KDS on a cheap-o Windows 98SE machine?

Yes.   The spoolers and KDS can be set up on Pentium II/400 or better.   Windows 98SE is not recommended but it should be OK for now.

41. Which product should I use to backup FreePOS?

Copy the FreePOS folder to a CDRW drive.   Tape backup is yesterday technology and is only used in situations where the total amount of data exceeds 4.7 gigabytes.   A portable hard disk is also an inexpensive and reliable solution.   FreePOS V6 also includes an automated LAN mirroring utility.

42. Which is better:   Name brand computers or Clone computers?

If you are a computer guru, clones offer some benefits.

If you just want it to work with the minimum effort, get a Dell.

43. How many Kitchen Display Systems can be used?   Can I make them talk to each other?

KDS is unlimited... but a practical limit is 100 screens (each of which can handle 1,000 orders simultaneously).    Each POS station talks to the KDS.    Each KDS terminal can be configured in "pass along" mode.  In pass along mode, the on screen orders follow the plating assembly line.     When each step in the assembly line is completed, the line cook hits "bump" and the order jumps to the next prep center.

44. Can FreePOS handle a Quick Serve environment?

Yes.   Fast food environments are easily configured.   We have some of the largest fast food chains in the country using FreePOS in "test sites".   FreePOS has gotten a lot of recognition from the major chains lately.

45. How do I start a bar tab with a credit card?

Touch a bar stool.

Enter the tab name.

Ring in the opening item or round.

SEND it.

Now click PAY

Swipe/Manually enter the credit card.

Enter an amount of $1 -- or any amount less than the tab.

Click "Finish This Later"

>> The card number will be stored until the check is closed or until you CLEAR the card.   When you are ready to finalize the tab, click NEW AMOUNT and enter the amount to charge.   After the signature form prints, you may use the ADD TIP button to enter gratuities.

46. Can FreePOS reprint a credit card signature form?  

Yes.   Once the check is FINALIZED however, a manager will use the REOPEN CHECK function.   Click MGR to get to the REOPEN CHECK feature.

After the check is re-opened, simply click PRINT on any of the splits you wish to re-print.   Follow the prompts on screen... which default to "print everything possible".       In V6 use the MGR button and click "Print Credit Card Slip" for a fast result.

47. What is a multi-spooler?

Multi-Spoolers are print spoolers that send print/display jobs to multiple destinations at the same time.   Use a multi-spooler when you wish an item to print at one or more printers while at the same time appearing on one or more KDS systems.

To run a multi-spooler, you must register FreePOS.

48. Is there a way to turn off the message "No kitchen printer specified" ?

On version 4 or higher: Go to POS-CFG / Utilities / Custom Settings.   Put a check in the "Don't show NULL kitchen printer message" option.

In Version 1.x, 2.x & 3.x:

If you have not specified a print location for your menu items, FreePOS will notify you of this potential problem.   To change the notification, simply create a file called s:\freepos\setup\flagging.err  This feature is only available on the REGISTERED version. 

49. How do you run a sales report on sales done at the quick serve terminal(s)?

Quick serve checks are stored in locations 901 - 964 (depending on terminal#).   Therefore, just run a sales report by location range:   901 - 964

Obviously, you cannot have tables, carryout, delivery or bar stool locations numbered in this range or the reports will be inaccurate. 

50. Can I change the receipt or kitchen chit formats?

They can be changed, however, we do not have a graphic editor for the process.   Therefore, if you want a new format, please call/email and we'll help you out.

51. Can I use my old serial interface printer?

You may.   For full featured support, register FreePOS and you will receive our multitasking serial print spooler (includes redirection).   For basic needs, you may use IPSpool - which is included free with the download on this website.   Up to 6 serial printers may be driven from a single POS terminal when you register.

For the most professional installation, we recommend serial printers.   For the simplest installation procedure, we recommend parallel printers.

52. Can I use my old serial interface printer to trigger a cash drawer?

Yes.   You must register to get this feature.

53. How does FreePOS support Microsoft Office?

You may run all back office reports and import them to Microsoft Office.   Starting in v4.x you may edit your menus in Excel.  We recommend supporting Open Office which is a FREEWARE clone of Microsoft Office.      You can copy/paste any HTML report directly into Excel for cell level editing.

54. Is there a way to read an electronic scale?

Yes.   Any NCI or A-Com scale is supported over a serial interface.

55. Can FreePOS be configured with custom prompts & button names?


56. Can FreePOS be configured for wireless "take an order at the table" mode?

Yes.  Starting in V4, many options are available.  Please call for details.

57. How can I quickly reorder a round?

The registered edition of FreePOS has a reorder button..

58. I have a new bartender.  Can I have a "bar tender's guide' pull up in order mode?

The registered edition of FreePOS has a recipe button & a bar tender's guide.

59. How does FreePOS compare to other commercial POS systems... and tell the truth!!

FreePOS has very similar capabilities.   The major difference between FreePOS and the big systems is that FreePOS has less back office reporting.   If you are a Mom 'n Pop restaurant, FreePOS is perfect.   If you are a small chain and don't require massive reporting detail, FreePOS is perfect.   If you are a huge chain and want to know how many times Pepperoni  was sold on a Small Pizza that also had mushrooms, FreePOS is not for you. 

60. When I add tables to the system, they are RED... why?

You must go to POS-CFG and select System Settings... and then Regenerate Tables anytime you add or renumber tables, stools or touch zone locations.   Be sure to close all checks before doing this on a live system.

61. Does FreePOS have the ability to accept orders from a Server Side Web App?

Yes.   You will need to purchase the developer kit.

62. FreePOS is perfect except I want to change a few cosmetic things:  button names, currency symbol, colors, disable a couple features etc.   How do I accomplish this?

The source code for FreePOS is available.  Licenses start at $25,000.   If you would like a few minor changes made, please call for a quote.   Simple changes are usually easy to complete for under $250.

63.  How do I map drive letter S:?

Go to http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;308582&sd=tech for Microsoft's answer.

Go to http://engr.oregonstate.edu/computing/accounts/110 for a tutorial.

PLEASE REMEMBER you must run S:\FreePOS\Prg\DBServer.exe BEFORE Freepos1.exe or Freepos2.exe can run.   If the database server isn't running, the POS system cannot be started!

64.  I don't have a receipt printer.   Can I get my desktop printer to emulate one?  I want to see the "roll printer" reports.

Step #1:   Set a printer to be the DEFAULT Windows Printer

Step #2:   Run this command: 

\freepos\prg\ipspool.exe \freepos\spooler\rec1.spl

Step #3:   Startup FreePOS Station #1.   Everything that would normally go to your receipt printer will print on the DEFAULT Windows printer.

* Note:  If you wish to see what is printing in the kitchen, change REC1.spl (above) to KIT.spl   If you want to see what is printing in the bar, change REC1.spl to BAR.spl    Similarly, if you want to see what is printing on the receipt printer connected to Station #2, change REC1.spl to REC2.spl.    Last, to view delivery packing printer, change REC1.spl to DELIVERY.spl

65.  When I first go into FreePOS, my seating chart screen has a solid white background.  Why does this happen?

(1) XP PROCESS FOCUS:    FreePOS is a network application.   When you run the database server on the same machine as the POS Workstation software, sometimes the graphics routines loose focus to the database server.   To fix this, go into POS-CFG and select UTILITIES and then CUSTOM SETTINGS.   Change the check mark next to "Bypass dbServer Diagnostics".   This will prevent the database server from running a long process during boot up. 

(2) VIDEO RAM BUFFER SIZE:   This problem has also been linked to some video cards which do not support large video buffers.   If you have an integrated video card (i.e. built into your mainboard), change the RAM allocation to the video card to 32MB.

(3) VIDEO DRIVER PROBLEM:  This problem has also been linked to corrupted XP video drivers.   If you have tried the two suggestions above, reinstall or roll-back your video driver.


65.  How do I clear out all databases in the system before I go live?

To clear out a system's sales history, go to:


66.  When I run FreePOS from my stand alone computer, it loads/runs quickly.  On a file server however, it runs slower.   What should I do?

FreePOS should be able to run extremely fast on a Windows XP network.  Unfortunately, many networks are missing a Size Request Buffer value in the LAN Manager Server configuration.   This results in slow POS performance on workstations.   It also causes slow network performance in other applications.

To fix this: go to the machine which is hosting the SYS share (the share that S: is mapped to) and perform these actions (backup first!):

1.  On the "Server" computer, start RegEdt32.exe
2.  Navigate to:
3.  On the EDIT menu, create a new REG_DWORD value called (case matters!!!):   SizReqBuf
4.  Set the SizReqBuf value to 14596 DECIMAL (not Hexidecimal)
See Microsoft article Q177266 for more technical information about why this makes
the file server faster.

It should be noted that some users have reported that this patch will not refresh if a server computer drive mapping is in place.    If you make the patch and find it does not work, first double check you have selected DECIMAL and not HEXIDECIMAL then make sure you have SPELLED the registry entry correctly.   It is CaSe sensitive.   Finally, if you still have troubles with the patch, disconnect drive mappings on the file server and reinitialize them.

67. How do I hook up FreePOS on a network?

Run CATEGORY 5 ethernet cable from each POS terminal to a 10/100 SWITCH.

Run SERIAL CABLES or PARALLEL CABLES from a POS terminal to each printer.

When purchasing cable, verify whether PLENUM COATING is required.


68. How do I make my own Null Modem cable?

Although we recommend prefabricated cables for best results, here is the information for those of you who like to solder ends onto CAT5:

Note that pins 2 & 3 are the critical pins that "reverse to each other".

69. Can I use the tablet functions with my touch screen?

Yes, but we recommend you get a felt stylus (available at any office store)... your image clarity will be much better this way.

70. What is the SET_CODE field for in POS-CFG?

These codes are used to control station level settings.  See the manual for details.

71. What is the best way to start accepting credit cards?

The credit card industry is extremely dynamic at the moment.   Please call for the latest advice on this question.

72. My printers aren't working... what should I do?

If they were working and have stopped, try rebooting the workstation.   If they have never worked, give us a call and we can log into your system to help you setup everything.

73. What kind of connectors do I have?

If you are unsure, consult the diagram below.   Remember that most serial printers require a NULL MODEM cable to operate.   They are available from Positive Feedback Software, LLC if you can't find them locally.   Radio Shack sells NULL MODEM ADAPTORS which allow any modem cable to be converted.

74. What are the ports on the back of my computer for?

Here is a typical Dell computer you might be working with.

75. When I run the Database Server the message I get is "The database is corrupted".

This is most likely caused by running the dbserver.exe from the wrong folder.   For example, if you attempt to run c:\sys\freepos\prg\dbserver.exe you will get this message.  If you map S: to SYS and run s:\freepos\prg\dbserver.exe you won't get the message.

76. Why does my printer hesitate before a receipt comes out?

This is caused by the scan rate being set too low.  By default FreePOS sets up a scan rate of 1500mS.  By decreasing this to 500mS, the printer will run faster in most cases.

(POS-CFG,  Utilities, Setup PSpooler & Setup COMSpool)

77. Why won't my cash drawer open?

Is the cash drawer connected to a PARALLEL PRINTER? 

If so, you must run \freepos\prg\wssetup.bat to copy needed DLL files

Did you set the STATION SETUP to LPTX = 0?

If so, this means "No cash drawer is connected".   Change the 0 to a 1,2,3 if the cash drawer is on a parallel port or change it to A,B,C,D,E or F if it is installed on a serial port (COM1=A, COM6=F)

Are you using the proper DKD cable?

Depending on the type of printer you are connecting the cash drawer to, you may need a different cable.   STAR printers do NOT use the same cable as an EPSON or NANOPTIX printer.

Is the printer ON?

If not, the cash drawer cannot open.

Is the printer OUT OF PAPER?

Sometimes this causes the cash drawer not to open.

78. I have a table that says, "The table is marked ready even when the table is in use.  Database corrupt.  Call tech support."

How To Fix The Problem
The problem is localized to just the table you were
working on (the table's database, not the system-wide
database)... so avoiding use of that table is the
"work around" until you complete the steps below:
What To Do:
1.  Run End of day (if you didn't already do this)
2.  Go to the \FreePOS\Checks\ folder and delete any
checks that end in .CSH
3.  Go to POS-CFG
4.  Select System Settings
5.  Select Regenerate Tables (this clears all checks, so be sure
no tabs are open when you do it!!)
Why Did This Happen?
The cause of this problem is the restart of the computer during
the ordering process.   It usually happens during power outage
or a hard drive failure.   Sometimes anti-virus programs cause
this when files are held for scanning.

79.  I can't figure out my reports.   What should I do?

Before you open, ring in a single check.   Record the amounts.

Go to the MGR screen and run all the reports.   Observe how the sale appears on each report.

Go to the back office module - repeat this procedure.

You should now be able to determine what each figure represents.   If you need additional assistance, call us and schedule a training session.

79. Which Windows XP settings should I set before deploying FreePOS?





3. Right click MY COMPUTER and select PROPERTIES then:

a.  Turn OFF system restore (why?  FASTER OPERATION)

b. Turn OFF automatic updates (Remote tab)

c.  Turn ON BEST PERFORMANCE (Advanced tab, Performance)


4. Right click the TASKBAR and select PROPERTIES, then:

a. UNCHECK "Keep task bar on top of other windows"

b. UNCHECK "Autohide the task bar"



5. UNINSTALL NORTON (if installed!) (why?  COMPATIBILITY)


6. UNINSTALL MCAFEE (if installed!)  (why?  COMPATIBILITY)


7. ALWAYS set workstations to STATIC IP addresses (no DHCP)

    (why?  DHCP leased addresses expire causing DISCONNECTS)


8. DO NOT allow internet access at any POS WORKSTATION if you have a back office computer.  To run credit cards, the POS stations DO NOT need internet access.

(why?  SECURITY is improved)


9. DEFRAGMENT the C: drive before putting FreePOS into live operation.



10. RIGHT CLICK the "S:\FreePOS" folder & select PROPERTIES.  Make sure the READ ONLY BOX is UNCHECKED.  (Copying from a CDR sets files to READ ONLY)


12. UNINSTALL BIG-FIX (ships with Dell & Gateway machines)


13. SET VIDEO MODE to 800x600, 16 bit color



14. TURN OFF screen savers



15. TURN OFF clear type (if enabled)



16. DELETE all scheduled tasks






18. CLICK START, Settings, Control Panel, Security Center then:

a.  Click "Change the way Windows notifies me"

b.  UNCHECK all notifications





80. How do I change the HIGHLIGHT BAR's color ?

Follow the instructions below:

81. What codes should I use for my Epson compatible printers?

Set up the ESC Codes (POS-CFG / System Settings / ESC Codes) as shown below:


82. I am getting ready to purchase some kitchen & receipt printers.   What should I get?

Purchase EPSON TM88 thermal receipt printers and/or EPSON TMU200, 210, 220 or 230 impact printers if you are on a budget.   If you want the best printer available for front of house operations, for a little extra, you can get a NanOptix Spill Proof printer.

83. How do I set up a SERIAL printer (Do I have to register first ?)

Yes, you must register FreePOS in order to use serial printers.

Setting up REC1 (receipt printer for station #1) on COM2:


        a) Make sure the RECEIPT PRINTER is set to REC1
        b) If you have a cash drawer connected, make sure the DRAWER is set to B (A=COM1, B=COM2, etc)
    - Go to POS-CFG / System Settings / Print Spooler Setup
        a) Make a line that reads:
                Spooler    Backup    Port    Omit From Station#
                REC1        ______    B        _____
        ____ = do not type anything here
    - Create a short cut on the desktop:
            \FreePOS\Prg\COMSpool.exe \FreePOS\Spooler\REC1.SPL
        Note the FULL PATH to the COMSPOOL.EXE file is specified.
        Note the FULL PATH to the SPL file is specified.
    - Verify there are no other devices installed on your computer using COM2
    - Double click the SHORT CUT you created and the print spooler will start


84. Some of the windows in FreePOS are not correctly formatted.  How do I fix this?

Double check that these items are setup correctly by RIGHT clicking the Windows XP desktop and selecting PROPERTIES.  

85. Everything is set up correctly - but my printer won't print? 

Remember that FreePOS sends print jobs to the RECEIPT PRINTER that is defined in the Station Setup screen (POS-CFG/UTILITIES/Station Setup).   If you have 2 records for the same station or if you have not specified an REC printer, reports & checks won't print.   This is an easy setting to overlook.

86. How can I get a serial magnetic stripe reader to work?

If you have not yet purchased a reader, by all means get a keyboard wedge or USB interface.  If you already have a serial interface reader, you can:

1.  Select Start, Settings, Control Panel.
2.  Select Accessibility Options.
3.  Select the General tab.
4.  Check the Support Serial Key Devices box.
5.  Select the Settings button to enter the device's Serial Port and baud rate.

87. I am getting the message "Database server failed to synchronize."

Install the latest version of FreePOS from this website.   The upgrade will fix the problem automatically.

88.  I am getting an error message:  "The database server has timed out..."

This is caused because the database server is not running OR if multiple .CS files are in the \FreePOS\Shared\ folder.   If you have more than 1 .CS file in the \FreePOS\Shared\ folder, delete all of the LOWEST numbered files and KEEP the single HIGHEST numbered .CS file.

89.  Does FreePOS support large currency? 

No, FreePOS cannot support the currencies of countries like Indonesia.   The maximums are:

  • $9999 per item

  • $99,999 per check split

90.  I can't get into the POS.   It says, "User ID is already working at another terminal."

This is caused when FreePOS is closed while in order entry mode.   Usually, this happens when the power goes out unexpectedly, but it will also happen if you press CONTROL+ALT+DEL and do an END PROCESS on the FreePOS program.

To fix this problem, go to POS-CFG.EXE and select UTILITIES.   Next select RESET USER.   Last, enter the 5 digit user ID that is having trouble.   Remember that user ID's 1-99 are to be entered as 70001, 70002 ... 70099.

On V5 or higher, click MGR and then RESET USER/MGR and answer YES or OKAY to each question.   This autofixes most issues.

91.   I can't get into a table.   What should I do?

If a table becomes inaccessible, you should:

  • In the short term:

    • Goto POS-CFG.EXE and select UTILITIES and then RESET TABLE.  

    • This operation will delete all checks at the table and release it to use.

    • In the POS, press MGR -> RESET USER/MGR and answer YES or OKAY to each question

  • In the long term:

    • Check your network wiring (it may have caused this issue)

    • Check that you ARE NOT using DHCP - you must use STATIC IP addresses

    • Upgrade to the latest version of FreePOS

    • Make sure you DO NOT HAVE more than 1 .CS file in the \FreePOS\Shared\ folder.

92.  Can FreePOS print Chinese characters?

We're working on this feature, but right now the answer is NO.

93.  My old restaurant had a POS called _______ and it had a feature that does ______.   Can you add this feature to FreePOS?

We'd love to hear your request.   Right now, there are over 300 requests for new features.   The requests are tabulated in Excel and each time they are requested, we increment the counter.   When a counter reaches 5 requests, we promote the request to an "evaluation for programming". 

If you need a new feature ASAP, it can be added immediately - it just takes (our) time & (your) money.   Call for a quote.

94.   How do I fix my computer?

99% of the time, reboot the machine and everything will be fine again.   NEVER reboot the file server when other workstations are using the POS.

95.   Why won't my menu post?   And why do I have to post anyway?

FreePOS has the ability to store edits to your menu in a batch and then post the batch to your POS terminals.   This important feature gives you the ability to edit the menu while the POS is in use without disturbing the old menu.  

If the menu changes you have entered have typos/errors, the menu will not post... this means that the old menu will remain in place until the errors are fixed.   Here are some popular data entry errors people make when modifying their menus:

  1. Putting a SPACE in the ITEM_FILE or MOD_FILE column of the MAINTAIN CATEGORIES function.   An item file is the name (alpha or numeric digits only) of the file that stores the items for a particular category.   Filenames may NOT have spaces or punctuation in them.

  2. Entering a printer name that is mis-spelled.   For example, if you have a BAR and a KIT printer installed, sending an item to the BARR printer will cause the item not to print.

  3. Creating a category with no items in it.   You must have at least 1 item in each category

  4. Creating a menu item with a forced modifier script that hasn't been defined.   For example, you create an item called HOUSE SALAD that has a forced modifier script called DRESSING but then you forget to enter the salad dressing choices.

  5. Putting a blank line in the menu or category maintain screens can cause an error on some versions of FreePOS.

96.   Why won't my printer print?

Check these obvious things first:

  • Is your printer turned ON?

  • Is your printer loaded with PAPER?

  • Is your printer loaded with a RIBBON?

    • Remember, thermal printers do not have ribbons

  • Can your printer print a self test?

    • How do you run a self test?

      • Power printer OFF

      • Then hold the LINE FEED key down

      • While you turn the power to the printer back ON

  • Is the data cable plugged into your printer? 

    • If not, the printer will not know what should be printed.

If you've still got a problem, try these things:

  • Every printer is controlled by a spooler.  The spooler software may have stopped running.   If this is the case, reboot the computer the printer is attached to - however, be careful not to reboot the file server (also known as, "back office machine") while the system is in use.

  • Try moving a known working printer to the failed printer's location.   Does it print?   If so, you've got a hardware problem.

  • Print spooler software may have stopped because the DATA CABLE is loose from the back of the computer.   Check the cable is seated well on the back of the computer.

  • Print spooler software may have stopped running because a network cable (CAT/5 ethernet cable usually) is loose.   If the POS software won't start either, you've got a bad network cable.

The problems listed below are EXTREMELY UNUSUAL, so please do not check these items without first consulting your installer:

  • Someone may have set up a BACKUP_TO printer but not configured the challenge/response codes (POS-CFG / System Settings / Print Spooler Setup)

  • Someone may have changed the PORT to which your printer is connected to - but forgotten to update the print spooler setting (POS-CFG / System Settings / Print Spooler Setup)

  • You may not mix INCOMPATIBLE FAMILIES OF PRODUCTS - for example, you can't swap an Epson printer for a Star printer unless you configure the new printer to be 100% ESC/POS compliant.

97.   My tables are showing 60 minutes has elapsed even though I just opened them.

The time change is causing this.   Exit from the POS and double click on the Windows Clock in the lower right hand corner of your screen.   Set the time on each computer using this procedure.

98.   I have Windows Vista and now my end of day takes a couple extra seconds to start up.  Why?

Windows Vista delays the start up of programs due to integrated security.   There is nothing wrong - but you may have to wait a couple extra seconds.   You may wish to call a local computer geek who can turn OFF some of the "vista features" that cause this.

99.   Some of my Vista computer's messages format incorrectly on the display.

Make sure your screen is set to 96DPI - some video cards default it to 120DPI.  Also, enable CLASSIC MODE for fastest operation.    See Q84 above.

100.   My Vista/Windows 7 computer has 512MB RAM.  Is that enough?

No, Microsoft is recommending 2GB and a 256MB Video Card to use these O/S to the fullest.   A minimum amount of RAM is 1GB.

101.   My XP computer keeps asking "Is it okay to run this program?"

This is caused by the zone rights in Internet Explorer. 

102.   My computer's screen keeps going blank.  Why?

This is caused by either or both of the settings below:

* Do you have a screen saver installed?   If so, disable it.

* Do you have POWER MANAGEMENT turned on?  If so, disable it.

103.   The POS is displaying a message "Tables.pos is missing" or similar.

The cable to your computer has become loose.   Replace the ethernet patch cable.  This message can also be caused if you are not using STATIC IP addresses.   You should always use static IP addresses instead of DHCP - otherwise you'll get disconnects every time the DHCP lease expires (36 hours in most cases).

If the server is turned off while the POS stations are running, this message will pop up.

104.   I have a _____ style restaurant.   Do you have a database for a similar restaurant that I can download... so I don't have to re-invent the wheel?

Yes, for $90 we will let you download a pre-designed database that matches your restaurant's genre.   You must be registered to take advantage of this service since most of the databases we design utilize features only found in the registered edition of FreePOS.    Sample databases we have on file:

  • Thai, Pizza/Italian, Sub Shop, Indian, Brazilian, Bar, Mexican, Smoothie, Fast Food, Chinese, American, Rib/BBQ Shack, Fine Dining, Counter Service, Drive Thru, Buffet, Family Style - and virtually any combination of the above.   We even have the database for a Mexican Restaurant that serves Pizza (they play country music while you dine too!).

105.   My computer is slow... what can I do?

Give us a call - we have programs that optimize the performance of your computer.   It doesn't always make your machine new again, but often our optimizer (which we developed) will double the speed of your machine(s).

106.   Why did you change all the configuration menus in V5?

The options themselves did not change... we just organized the options under new headings.   Also, we are now offering bulk Tylenol on this website and figured moving the menus around might increase our sales.  Ha Ha!

107.   How do I reset a table on a different seating chart?

Click the NEW CHART button and enter a number 1,2,3,4,5 or 6.   That seating chart will appear.  Proceed as normal from this point.

107.   Our restaurant is in a hotel and I want to charge checks to guest rooms.   I know I can do this with V5 but I can't figure out what to load.  Help!

We are not being mysterious on purpose, but there are many issues that differ from one hotel PMS system to another.   You'll need to call Positive Feedback Software and provide us with the name of your PMS software.   After we discuss the interface, we'll tell you how to proceed.   Hotel integration is NOT a "do it yourself" job. 

108.   When using TCPSPOOL my receipt printer will not print line feeds and everything comes out garbled.   What should I do?

TCPSPOOL is an ethernet print spooler which can send print jobs to any IP address and PORT... even across the internet!   To start TCPSPOOL make a shortcut to:

\freepos\prg\tcpspool.exe 9100 KIT

which will send the KIT spool to the printer installed at on port 9100 (typical for Epson).     If you are getting garbled print, check the DIP SWITCH on the bottom of your printer - it's CRLF TRANSLATION or "Line feed translation".   Turn this feature ON.   If you don't want to mess with DIP switches, then you can use the alternate printing personality by completing these steps:

1.  Rename \freepos\prg\tcpspool.tkn to tcpspool-old.tkn

2.  Rename \freepos\prg\tcpspoolcrlf.tkn to tcpspool.tkn

3.   Reboot your PC or do an END PROCESS on each instance of TCPSPOOL.EXE in task manager

4.  Restart the tcpspool shortcut - it will now add CRLF codes to each line.   If print comes out double spaced then change it back.

Please note that only a single instance of TCPSPOOL can be run on each Windows XP, Vista or 7 computer.   If you have multiple ethernet printers, run each of them from separate machines or use vspool instead. 

109.   My delivery telephone numbers & addresses did not come over after I upgraded to V5.   What should I do?

From your old backup, copy the \FreePOS\Delivery\ folder to your V5 installation. 

109.   What is the difference between BATCH and HOST mode credit card settlement?

When the BATCH set_code is added to a station setup (pos-cfg -> utilities -> station setup -> set_codes) it tells the POS system to build a batch and to expect each transaction to require finalization when the tip is added.  If the BATCH set_code is missing, the usual result would be that untipped transactions will remain pre-authorized and never finalize.   In HOST mode there is no pre-auth and instead the check total appears as a sale.   BATCH mode is the way most systems should be configured.  

110.   My Vista (or XP with Internet Explorer 7,8 or 9) computer keeps popping up message boxes that say "Unknown Publisher.  Do you want to run this program?"   What should I do?

This is Microsoft's attempt to make your Windows computer safer by asking you EVERY SINGLE TIME whether or not you want to run a program.   Apple Computer did a funny TV spot about it and we agree it's a huge PITA.   To suppress the message on XP:

In Internet Explorer, click tools - Options

Under security settings, select "Intranet zone"

Click the "Sites" button

Uncheck the box that says "Automatically detect intranet network".

Check the "Include all network paths (UNCs).

Click OK

To suppress this & other popup messages on Vista:

Click Start

Click Run

Enter:  MSCONFIG into the text box and press the [Enter] key or click OK

Select the "Disable User Account Control" option under the "Tools" tab and reboot

Remember that these procedures will (according to Microsoft) make your computer less secure.  

111.   Which version of Windows Vista should I get to run FreePOS?

Vista is not recommended.   Use XP or Windows 7.

112.   How do I shutdown FreePOS (or any of the spoolers or processes) using a batch file?

This is easily accomplished using the Windows XP command called TASKKILL.   Below is a sample command to shutdown the database server.   To learn more about TASKKILL go to the command prompt and enter TASKKILL /? and a help screen will appear.


113.   I need a couple extra serial ports on a computer.   Would it be okay to use a USB-Serial Dongle (so I don't have to open my computer up & install a PCI card) ?

It will work for a month or two... but someone will unplug it or the device will simply fail after 60-90 days of continuous use.   In short, the USB-Serial dongles are not "industrial strength" devices.


114.   Do I need to purchase a cash drawer with a particular cable?

Yes.   Most cash drawers have a "Star" as well as an "Epson" compatible cable.   If you use the wrong cable, the drawer will not open.   One small point:  you can get a manual opening cash drawer for less than $50 at most office stores.   Is it really worth the cost to have the drawer open automatically?   Sometimes (in multiple server environments) it is.   But if you have just a single register and you're the only one using it - consider saving the money.


115.   What is the PIN# and why do I need it for version 5.5?

The PIN number (Program Identification Number) tells FreePOS how to send credit card transactions to your payment processing software.    Learn more.


116.   Can I deactivate certain options on the POS-CFG program?   I'm worried people will get into things they should not?

Yes.   The POS-CFG program just calls the .EXE files in the \freepos\prg folder.   If you rename or delete the .EXE file that corresponds to an option, it will be deactivated.

117.  I am totally confused about how fast a computer I need.  Help!

You are not the only one!   In the good ole days, a 286 was slower than a 386 and a 486 was the fastest of all.  Now we've got an industry that changes clock rates, core counts, P ratings, cache (pronounced cash) RAM and buss speeds.  Here is a chart that shows roughly how fast one CPU is in comparison to the others.   Please remember that 256MB RAM is not enough anymore.  XP systems should have 512MB and Vista systems should have 1GB if you are using the Home Basic edition and 2GB for all the other Vista editions.

A couple of other processors people ask us about often:

Celeron 2Ghz - About 60% slower than the base system above

P4 2Ghz - About 40% slower than the base system above

AMD processors X2 cpus over 2Ghz run great - but stay away from the old Sempron & 1st generation Athlon chips. 




118.  Can you explain the comspool settings? For example, what does
ds0 signify at the end of serial port initalization? ENQ get printer
status code? Good ENQ Result?  Serial printer throttle in milliseconds?


Here's an explanation - but do keep in mind that using the default configuration is usually best.


1.  Serial ports have "handshaking" capability.   When you
add the CS0, DS0 parameters you are turning this off.   It
means "just send the data without confirming the printer
received it properly"
2.  ENQ is a code that the comspool program sends to
determine if the printer is "alive".   If the printer responds,
the ENQ result is compared to the response and a
redirect decision is made.
3.  The throttle setting is for unbuffered printers.  For example,
suppose you have an old printer with 128bytes of RAM and a
9600 bps data rate.   The printer can't print 960 characters
per second, so the buffer fills up and the printer errors out.
By setting a throttle, you are telling comspool to send the
data and then wait X milliseconds before sending more.
All new printers should have throttle set to 0.

119.   I have 2 network cards in my computer and the shortcuts to the print spooler(s) are not working when I first boot because Windows has not yet started both network cards.   How do I delay items in the STARTUP folder to give Windows time to fully load?

This is an advanced subject that requires a batch file script.   Below is a summary of how to accomplish the goal.

120.   I have a problem.   Whenever I go to edit my labor, I get a DBFWIN error.   What's going on?

This problem occurs at 1280 pixel resolutions.  Just change the resolution of your screen to 800x600 or 1024x768 and it should be fine.  

Upgrading to V6.5 or higher will also fix this issue.


121.  My SPLIT EVENLY button is not lit up.   What is causing this?

Go to POS-CFG and select UTILITIES and then CUSTOM SETTINGS.   Toggle the REQUIRE SEND option and then press SAVE.


122.  None of my data from before my upgrade to V6.55 is showing up.   What do I do?

Go to the BACK OFFICE MODULE and click MAINTENANCE.   The password is the CHANGE TENDER password (defaults to PASSWORD) which you can configure in POS-CFG -> UTILITIES -> CUSTOM SETTINGS.   Click on CONVERT SALES and CONVERT LABOR as appropriate.


122.  How do I set up a VIP account member and charge to them?

  • (1) Go to pos-cfg -> VIP -> VIP Membership Console 
  • (2) Enter the VIP#, first and last names.   Also set credit limit to 1000 or whatever you are comfortable extending.  Set points to 0.   Click ACCOUNT OWNER.   Click SAVE.
  • (3) Now press the $ button on the VIP member screen.   Enter a starting balance of 0.00 and click POST.    This will set the account to a $0.00 balance with $1000 credit limit.
  • (4) Next, go to pos-cfg -> VIP -> Setup VIP -> If you want everyone to be able to charge to VIP ACCOUNTs, uncheck that the "@" sign is required in front of the user id.
  • (5) Finally go to pos-cfg -> system settings -> payments and be sure the VIP TENDER is CHECKED.    Click SAVE/OK.
NOTE: When you pay a check out to a VIP ACCOUNT, press the ACCOUNT button (next to the cash buttons on the payment screen) and click the VIP NAME from the list.  Then enter the charge amount and tip amount as prompted.   There's a lot more in the manual about this subject too.


123. After upgrading to V6.55, every time I run a credit card, it asks for a manager approval.  Why?

Go to POS-CFG -> UTILITIES -> CUSTOM SETTINGS and enter 50 in the MAXIMUM TIP% field.   This will allow you to enter a 50% gratuity before a manager is required.

124. My mag stripe reader isn't working well.   What can I do?

To fix a mag reader:

    1.  Unplug the mag reader from the computer's USB port
    2.  With a Q-Tip or paper towel, gently swipe the card track (inside slot) or use a "Cleaning Card" if you have one.
    3.  Gently push the sides of the clam-shell of the mag reader together (it should give 1/10 of an inch) and release to reset the gap.
    4.  Carefully insert the USB cable back into the computer
    5.  Note the mag reader's status light is ON if everything is okay.
When swiping cards, be sure to swipe slowly for best accuracy.


125. What is the format my MSR Mag Stripe Reader should output in?  

For a gift card:

  • %1131?
  • ;1131?

For a credit card or debit card:

  • %B4820015460287752^PUBLIC/JOHN Q^08121011000000052000000?
  • ;4820015460287752=081210110000052?

126. What are sentinels and why do I have to program them?

Each mag stripe reader manufacturer makes their product output data in a slightly different format.   Most, however, provide a programming utility that allows the installer to change the output format so that it is compatible with the software being used.   Sentinels are the codes that delimit or "separate" each field.   FreePOS expects these characters: % ^ ? ; ?     to be used as sentinels.   FreePOS also expects a Carriage Return Line Feed (CRLF) between track 1 data and track 2 data.  See the sample scans above which are typical of the output you'd expect to see in NOTEPAD.     If you do not wish to deal with MSR programming, please order your mag stripe readers pre-programmed from Positive Feedback Software at 540 243-0300.


126. How do I amke a printer print multiple copies?   For example, my BAR wants 2 copies of the order each time it is sent?

To make a printer print multiple copies, go to the CMD prompt

(Start -> Run -> CMD -> Enter)
Type these commands followed by an ENTER:
S:  (type this only if you are on a workstation with an S: drive Map)
EXIT (this is the same as clicking the X in the window frame)
Here is what your screen will look like on a Windows 7 system:


Finally, do an end-process in TASK MANAGER on the spooler running the BAR printer and restart the BAR spooler.   Or if you have never used TASK MANAGER before, simply reboot the POS station that runs the BAR printer. When the spooler restarts, it will see the BAR.2 file in the SETUP folder and know to make 2 copies of everything it prints.

127. My mag stripe readers are built into the screen.   I have to use them.   What are my options?

Just because the MSR is built into the screen does not mean that you have to use it... you can always attach an external credit card scanner.   Infact, you'll find at repair time this will save you LOTS of money.   If you want use the built in reader, you'll have to download the setup software for your touch screen's MSR or All-In-One's MSR.   There is no short cut.   We'll be happy to help you over the phone if you need it.


128. How do I set up a user card?

If the card is numbered 1234, simply create a user in the usual manner but add an '8' in front of the card's number in the User Rights grid.  Below is a screen shot of a manager card with the pre-programmed number 1234.    The 8 tells FreePOS this user ID is a card and cannot be punched in.

Please note that as long as the NAME column is the same for two or more users, the labor will accumulate.  It is okay to create two user IDs for the same physical person... one user ID for their mag card, another for their finger print and a third for punching in manually.

129. When I hit FINALIZE & CLOSE the POS locks in a window which reads, "Waiting for database server..."   It flashes this message every 2 seconds or so.  What should I do to fix this?

If the \FreePOS\HISTORY folder is erased (on purpose or by accident) this will happen.   Restore the entire \FreePOS\HISTORY folder from a backup or new install.   Please keep in mind that HISTORY has nothing to do with sales history - rather it is a folder used to track transaction sequences as they are processed... which in turn creates complete database records which are stored permanently.

130. My server is fast and my workstations are slow.   Why?

See question #66 above regarding how to add a SizReqBuf registry entry.

131. Some parts of the order entry screen are not redrawing correctly when I run FreePOS on Vista.  What's up?

Set your Vista Theme to Classic Mode.   The problem affects certain video cards... usually the integrated mainboard SIS or NVIDEA chipsets.

132. I upgraded to Windows Vista from XP and now my computer isn't printing.   Help!

Please call us and we'll log in remotely.  Vista has many issues that require an experienced computer tech to resolve.   If printing alone is the issue, email our support address and request VSpool - a print spooler that is designed for Vista.   It comes with an instruction sheet.

133.   Please help me understand why COMSpool is not working.

Assuming you have registered, comspool.exe will be installed in your \freepos\prg  folder.

Here's a check list of some common problems: 

1.  If you have a Windows Printer Driver installed on the COM port your printer is plugged into,

    the COM port will be unavailable all of the time - regardless of whether you are printing to it.

    Windows holds COM ports open continuously when a driver is installed.   Delete the Windows

   Driver and it should become available.


2.  Verify your baud rate in POS-CFG -> Printers -> Setup Comspool  matches the baud rate settings of

   the device.   The industry standard is 9600,N,8,1,CS0,DS0


3.  If you have a BACKUP TO printer specified in POS-CFG -> Printers -> Print Spooler Setup  remove it

   while you are testing.   This may cause issues if the challenge status string is not compatible.


4.  Make sure you are using a NULL MODEM cable.   This cable has pins 2 & 3 criss crossed and is

required to print from a computer to a serial printer device.


5.  Make sure your touch screen driver (if it is a 3M touch screen) is set to use COM1 - only put

serial printers on com ports after the 3M touch screen's port.    Many 3M drivers have a bug

which scans & holds com ports below it open.  You can turn OFF the 3M serial port discovery service.


6.  Do not use "made by hand" serial cables.   Grounding issues in the cable can cause communications errors.


7.  Make sure your COM port's Windows Driver matches the OS you have installed.   For example,

using a Windows 2000 driver on an XP or Vista OS can cause problems.    Sometimes using Vista

drivers on Vista systems causes problems... so we recommend XP because Vista is kinda buggy.


8.  Make sure you do not have multiple copies of COMSPOOL running.   Each one will try to hold

the com port open and this "blocks" the port for subsequent instances of COMSpool.


9.  In POS-CFG -> Print Spooler Setup  make sure you have the proper COM port for each

spool specified.   A=COM1,  B=COM2, C=COM3 etc


10.  Reboot your machine between tests and verify there are no spooler programs starting up

automatically (Programs/Startup folder for example).


134.  When I run COMSpool I am getting a message which reads, "Detail: Os error: the system cannot find the file specified."

This indicates your command was mis keyed.   Use this one instead:

\FreePOS\Prg\COMSpool.exe \FreePOS\Spooler\rec1.spl

where REC1 is the FreePOS print spooler name

Please note that you cannot run the COMSpool (or any) FreePOS command from a folder

other than \FreePOS\ .    For example:

\sys\freepos\prg\comspool.exe \sys\freepos\spooler\rec1.spl

would cause an error.   The program must run directly from the root folder.


135.   I'm trying to get a wireless printer to work in the kitchen.   I'm getting garbled characters sometimes.

The Sprinter Serial WIFI system and most 802.11B WIFI ethernet printers have a lot of issues working in a stainless steel environment.  Run a cable instead or use professional grade wireless devices rather than devices which rely on consumer bandwidth frequencies.  We've seen 2.4Ghz wireless phones cause 802.11B/G drop outs.

136.   My credit cards stop working whenever the internet service provider (ISP) has an outage.   Can my server automatically dial a modem?

Yes.   Use X-Charge for automatic failover to modem in the event of an ISP outage.   Another solution is to use a router with a 56K analog backup... but X-Charge is much less expensive to implement and only requires a modem be installed in the machine running X-charge.   Learn more.

137.  Why do restaurants say "86 an item" when it's supply runs out ?

Before World War II, many bars had an occupancy limit of 85 persons.   The 86th person could not drink.   This caught on and "86ing someone" became slang for getting rid of them.   Today, occupancy permits and ABC licenses are required and issued on a site by site basis.   The old federal occupancy limit is no longer applicable.

138.   My mag reader loses power sometimes.   What should I do?

Windows Power Management may be turning the reader or USB ports on your computer OFF to save power.    Make sure your devices are not set to "turn off to save power" in the device manager configuration.   Using a USB port without loading the manufacturer's chipset drivers can also cause this.   Always load the chipset drivers that came with your mainboard even if Windows does not appear to need them.   Ofcourse humidity, drink spills, wet credit cards and overly aggressive swiping action can cause readers to turn off as well.  Use a cleaning card once a week to keep the card reader's path clean and free of restaurant  "gunk".   This can also be caused by intermittent USB connectors.  Once plugged in, tape a strain relief loop into the MSR cable's path.

139.   I am using Windows Vista.   Should I upgrade to Windows 7?

Yes.  Vista is a mess and after you upgrade to Windows 7 Professional (32 bit), your system will run faster and without the hassles.

140.  How much memory do I need for Windows 7?

2GB is a minimum.   3GB is better.    A desktop level (not an Intel Atom!!) dual core CPU is also recommended.

141.  How do I build a network and/or install FreePOS On Windows 7?

Please email us for a Windows 7 Networking Guide.   This guide explains how to get the benefits of Windows 7.

142.  I am getting a "Can't read/write to network or disk error".   What should I do?

Usually network/disk errors occur when a cable, network card or switch fails.
The most popular reason is someone powers off the switch while the system
is in use and it just happens to be "writing to disk".
To fix the issue:
1.  If the error occurs on a specific tab
      (a) navigate to \freepos\everyone and erase the .TAB file corresponding to the TAB that's giving you trouble
2.  If the error occurs on a table, bar stool or carryout location:
     (a) go to pos-cfg -> utilities -> reset table (or bar or carryout) and click the touch zone with the problem
     (b) answer OK or YES to each question to complete the reset process
3.  If the error occurs on a phone order in delivery mode:
      (a) navigate to \freepos\everyone and erase the .DEL file corresponding to the order that's giving you trouble
After the procedure is completed, go to MGR (in the pos software) and click RESET USER/MGR
and answer OK or YES to each prompt.   Presto!   All fixed.
  143.   The "PAY" button has disappeared.   I only have "SEND TO CASHIER".   What's up?
Go to pos-cfg -> system settings -> user rights.
And check the ACCEPT_PAY user right for each user.
This will allow each server to close their own checks.
If it is unchecked, the server will require a cashier to close checks on their behalf.

If you wish to affect all users at a specific terminal#, use the AAP set_code to make all users cable to accept pay (Always Accept Pay = AAP)

144. How do I add a station to my existing FreePOS installation?

You must register you new / additional terminal(s) first.   But assuming you've done this, follow these steps:

Step 1:

Go to pos-cfg -> utilities -> station setup
Step 2:
Use the ARROW DOWN key and add a line to the bottom of the Station Setup Grid
If you have 3 licenses currently, add a 4th line and enter:
Station# = 4
Receipt Printer = REC4
Cash Drawer = 0 (if no drawer is connected) or 4 (if a drawer is connected to the receipt printer)
And copy the remaining settings from another station.
Step 3:
Enter your new registration key in pos-cfg -> system settings -> dbserver
Remember - it must be in UPPER CASE letters!!!!
Step 4:
If you are using integrated credit card processing go to pos-cfg -> peripherals -> credit card processing
and replace the old PIN# with the new PIN# you received in your "FreePOS Registration Upgraded" email.
Step 5:
Go to the new station and install touch screen drivers on top of a fresh install of Windows.
Make sure your new computer station has a 1.8Ghz CPU and 512MB RAM minimum.
Step 6:
Map drive letter S: to the file server's SYS (or similar) share.
Step 7:
Make the following shortcut in the START -> PROGRAMS -> STARTUP folder
s:\freepos\prg\freepos4.exe     (if you're adding station #4 as in our example)
Step 8:
Add a print spooler for REC4 in the START -> PROGRAMS -> STARTUP folder:
s:\freepos\prg\winspool.exe REC4 LPT1 /CRLF     (if REC4 is connected to LPT1 of the new station)
If you are using serial, ethernet, usb or other printer interfaces, please call us for the
best installation method as they vary by interface and printer manufacturer.
Couple of other little notes about adding stations:
1.  Make sure you have a folder called REC4 in the \freepos\spooler\ folder.
Otherwise there will be nowhere for the print jobs to be stored.
2.  If your printer is not working, make sure the connections and cables
are secured properly and that the correct power supply is being utilized.
3.  Make sure you have THERMAL paper in thermal printers.   PLAIN paper
is only for impact printers.

4. Use static IP addresses for each station - this will make your system much more reliable.

145. What is the password to get into Back Office -> Maintenance?

       Just enter "password".    To change it go to pos-cfg -> utilities -> custom settings -> change tender password -> save

146. I want to move my computer.   Do I need to change the POS system?

As long as you leave all of the peripherals connected to each computer, you can move them anywhere there is a good ethernet cable.

147. How can I do a "Buy One Get One Free" coupon?

       Make a category called COUPONS.   In this category, add an item called "BOGO" or whatever you wish to call it.   Use a forced modifier to prompt for the "buy one" and then a second forced modifier to prompt for the "get one free".   Set the price of the "get one free" forced modifier to $0.

148. I have a forced modifier that has more than 12 choices.   How do I make this work?

You must register.   Then email us for a quick tutorial on setting up multiple page forced modifiers.

149. I have a ROD KDS system and the screen(s) froze and won't accept orders.  What should I do?

The best solution is to restart the ROD NGEN controller(s) first.   This corrects most issues.  If you stilll have a problem, go to the root of the C: drive of the computer that ROD GOLD is installed on and delete the KDSDATA file.    It may have become corrupted during a power outage or another program may be holding it open.   If the problem still persists, erase the .ROD file(s) on the root of the C: drive and reboot the PC.   Before deleting any file, it is good practice to make a backup copy.

150.  Can I network 2 computers together with a category 5 crossover cable and save the cost of a hub/switch or router?

Yes, but it is not a good idea.   By getting a router (like the Linksys WR41 series) that has a switch built into it, you can share internet service, interface with online ordering, perform automated network backups, get remote access support from a technician all while allowing your customers access a "hot spot".   Internet service and a router should be considered a mandatory item for any restaurant POS system.

151.  My system lost power and now a table won't open.   What should I do?

Try pressing MGR -> RESET USER/MGR and answer OK or YES to each question.     That should fix everything.

152.  Is there a way to make the POS with hold final receipts unless I specifically request them to print?

Yes.   Upgrade to version 6.85 (or higher) first.
Then go to pos-cfg -> utilities -> station setup -> copies_final = 0
When a customer wants a print of their bill, press REPRINT and pick
their bill from the chronological list which appears.

Another solution available on V4.95E and higher is to use the SET_CODE PAF - but upgrading to 6.85 or higher is preferred.

153.  For 22 days no one has run end of day.   Now when I try to do it, I get a message indicating there is too much payment volume.   What should I do?

FreePOS can handle a maximum of 2,000 closed checks per shift.   If you have exceeded 2,000 checks over the 22 days then your payment volume is too large.   To fix the issue, go to the \freepos\check folder --- notice that there are a bunch of .CHK files.   These files are date and time stamped when they were closed.   You can move the files out of this folder day by day and run end of day to post the sales bit by bit.   Call tech support too - since this can be tricky.

154.  Will a POS system save me and my staff time?

Eventually you will see an increase in organization and time savings... but when you are first learning any system it will take some getting used to.  Remember the goal of a POS system is to capture more sales than you could on a manual paper system.   The secondary benefits are organization and time savings.

155.  I have a shortcut to vspool in my startup folder.   Do I need that?

Yes.   Vspool prints checks from the \freepos\spooler\ folder to your shared printers.   Without this shortcut, your printer(s) may not work.  Feel free to email us if you need a cheat sheet on how vspool works.

156.  What is the difference between winspool and vspool - they seem like they do the same thing?

They do!   But Winspool is for windows XP and lower.    Vspool is for Vista and Windows 7.

157.  What does "[NOT verified...]" mean?  Is there something wrong?

No - it simply means the POS's integrated credit card processing system has not been installed and verified.   It is not an indication that something is wrong.

158.  What should I do to fix a green table?

Go to pos-cfg -> utilities -> reset table and click the table that is green.   Answer OK or YES to each question.   This will reset the table to $0.00 and close it.  This can happen if you change user id's while a user has an open table.   It can also happen if you forget to grant the ACCEPT_PAY user right.    The SET_CODE AAP makes it so that all users can accept pay regardless of their user right settings.

159.  Windows 7 won't run FreePOS correctly.  What should I do?

FreePOS works perfectly with Windows 7 and Vista, however, you must register FreePOS for all the functionality and you must be logged in as the administrator.   Email us and we'll send you a Windows 7 system preparation cheat sheet.

160.  It is 6:30p on a Saturday night and no one will return my tech support call.  Why?

You must sign up for telephone support by placing a credit card on file with us.   Click here to complete this important step.   Email support is always free!

161.  I forgot my CreditLine password.   Can it be reset?

Yes.   Please call us and we'll assist you.   This is not a do it yourself job.

162.  I am getting a "Transmit Failed" error from my credit card server.  Why?

Usually it is because your internet service is down.   Reset the modem/router and wait 2 minutes.   Try again.  If the problem persists, consider changing your DNS server address and/or adjusting firewall settings.     It has been reported that Adobe program updaters can temporarily block card processing requests.

163.  My credit cards randomly start declining.   Why?

Usually, this is because one or more of these conditions have occurred:
  1. The internet is down - try rebooting the modem and router
  2. Your ISP's DNS server is having problems - try updating one or both of your DNS server addresses
  3. Your credit card swiper is misprogrammed or worn out.
  4. Your credit card server software has stopped running
  5. Your computer(s) have a virus.   Make sure you run virus detection software on any internet connected PC at minimum.
  6. Your computer(s) have multiple accounts - each one is running a copy of the card server thus creating multiple instances.
  7. An intermittent wiring problem can cause temporary problems
  8. Your credit card processor is having a computer outage (Add a modem and  use XCharge's modem backup as a failsafe)
  9. Use static IP addresses on each computer - this way DHCP leases will not expire.

There are reasons that this can occur for each processor as well.   Call Positive Feedback Software if you need a hand with diagnosis.

164.  What should I do if my file server computer crashes?

We can assist you with repair or data restoration.   The best solution is to make a BACKUP of your \freepos\ folder before a crash.

165.  How do I get developer level support?

Developer support is required when you wish to integrate a program with FreePOS.   Please call us at 540 243-0300 for rates and options.   In general, we do not offer integration/developer level support for less than $175/hour.


166.  How come the printing is all jumbled?

Below, please see a "jumbled" print out.

This occurs when the printer is not feeding paper after each line is printed.   To fix this:

If you are using this spooler Then make this change
TCPSPOOL Rename the tcpspoolcrlf.tkn to tcpspool.tkn in the \freepos\prg folder
WINSPOOL add /CRLF to the end of your shortcut  (i.e.   \freepos\prg\winspool.exe REC1 LPT1 /CRLF  )
COMSPOOL You'll need to set a DIP SWITCH on your printer called LINE TRANSLATION to ON
VSPOOL same as WINSPOOL - add /CRLF ((must be in UPPERcase letters))


167.  When we try to change User Rights, it says "Missing Job File".  How do we fix it?

Go to pos-cfg -> system settings -> job groups and create a job group by the same name show in user rights.

In the screenshot above, the job groups are named MGR and TRON. 

168.  We are adding tips but none of them are adjusting in CreditLine.   What's up?

Verify that the \911\data\911_ccv.ini file has the TransNumMod=10000 line enabled.   It should look like this:

;Limits the maximum transaction number.
;The number specifies the maximum transaction number before it rolls over and start with 1.
;Values: 10000 (4 digit transaction number) to 1000000000 (9 digit transaction number)
;Default: 100000000

This applies to CreditLine V4.x and not earlier releases.

169.  We keyed in a manual transaction into CreditLine but it won't batch.   Why?

Verify that it was keyed in as a SALE.   If it was keyed in as an AUTH it must be edited before it will batch.

170.  How can I confirm that my Credit Card processing solution is working?

Call your credit card processor and verify a small test amount before going live.   This is a critical first step.

171.  On Windows 7 and Vista my POS Configuration toolbar closes when I select an option.  Why?

Windows 7 and Vista use a technique called "escalation" to protect home computer users from programs launching other programs.   As you might guess, a computer virus uses this technique quite often to "launch itself" again into memory.   Unfortunately, many types of programs use process launching for practical reasons.   The FreePOS Configuration menu option selections are each mapped to .EXE files located in the \freepos\prg folder.   If you wish to disable a particular menu option, you can simply rename or delete the corresponding .EXE file... this is a great feature that allows the installer to keep the end user out of options like dbserver setup that could potential damage the install.   Windows 7 needs to be told that every shortcut should be run as an administrator.   Look at the screenshot below to see how this is done:

One of the reasons Windows 7 has been criticized is that the O/S attempts to protect you from yourself.   This may be what the novice computer user wants, but in the Point Of Sale world, most systems need to be running in an open environment that the operating system does not interfere with.  

If you need more assistance with Windows 7 networking, please email us for a Windows 7 guide.

172.  On Windows 7 and Vista I am getting random database server errors like "failed to issue token".   What's wrong?

Windows 7 and Vista (fully service packed) improve performance in some of the operating system's libraries.   This improved performance may require you to decrease the database server's throttle to 250 or even 200 mS.   Ofcourse, permissions can also cause issues as well.   For best results have a network technician configure your W7 or Vista server and make sure that the S: drive is given full administrator permissions at the share and folder levels.

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