REDCap is server software. It is not something that a user installs on a personal computer.
REDCap must be installed on a local web server by your organization’s internal IT staff, after which users will then be able to access REDCap online, through any device’s web browser.
Your organization’s server environment can be physical/on-premise OR it can be virtual/cloud-based. Regardless, your organization’s internal IT staff must handle all aspects of REDCap installation, maintenance, and support.
When using a virtual/cloud-based server through a service provider, the provider’s staff cannot assist in any way with your REDCap system itself (including access of the source code). They also cannot access Community. Requesting a Community account for a third-party service provider or IT company is a serious concern to our licensing team because it strongly suggests your organization did not understand the license terms. Please contact us BEFORE submitting a license if you have questions about whether your IT support situation is permissible under the license terms.
The REDCap license must ALWAYS be in place before your organization begins installation, regardless of what types of servers you plan to use. To learn more, please visit the Join page.
More background about virtual/cloud-based servers
After your organization receives a REDCap license from the Vanderbilt licensing team, no additional licenses with Vanderbilt are required for running REDCap on a cloud service. But a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) is usually required between your organization and your service provider if you’re storing Protected Health Information (PHI) on a cloud-hosted REDCap installation. Please work with your service provider and organization’s privacy/security team to learn more.
Amazon’s AWS CloudFormation service and Microsoft’s Azure Cloud Platform have each collaborated with the REDCap consortium to provide tools for a fast, friction-free deployment of an entire REDCap server environment on their cloud infrastructures. These providers developed quick start guides: Amazon’s AWS Quick Start and Microsoft’s Azure Quick Start have provider-specific information about how your organization’s IT department can quickly deploy a production-ready REDCap environment through either of these providers. (NOTE: The Quick Start options require REDCap 8.9.3+ for AWS and REDCap 8.11.0+ for Azure.)
Requirements and dependencies for installing REDCap:
REDCap is easily configurable for use by consortium partner institutions and requires minimal infrastructure and setup. REDCap can run on a number of different operating systems (Linux, Unix, Windows, Mac). Below are REDCap’s requirements regarding hardware and third-party software. For more details, see the Technical Overview PDF.
- Web server with PHP 7 or 8. Apache (any OS) or Microsoft IIS (Windows) – Note: REDCap LTS will support PHP 5 until June 2021.
- MySQL database server (MySQL 5.0+, MariaDB 5.1+, or Percona Server 5.1+). A MySQL client (e.g., phpMyAdmin, MySQL Workbench) is required for performing installation/upgrades
- SMTP email server. Configure PHP with an institutional SMTP server or install an SMTP to use for sending emails out of REDCap.
- File server (optional). A separate server may be utilized for housing files uploaded/stored in REDCap via secure communication using WebDAV protocol (SSL supported). Consult your local policy first in case your institution has regulations or mandates regarding file storage practices.
Notes about these requirements:
Although all the components above can be set up on the same machine/server, for best security and performance we recommend that the web server, database server, and file server all be separate and running on different hardware (or virtualized servers).
As noted above, REDCap requires MySQL or derivatives of MySQL (e.g. MariaDB or Percona Server for MySQL). REDCap is NOT compatible with other SQL platforms (e.g. Microsoft/MS SQL).
Additionally, please be mindful that the REDCap consortium help resources provide extensive guidance and assistance for installing REDCap and are not focused on providing help installing the required software listed above. Consult your local IT department or online documentation for guidance installing the dependencies described above.
Lastly, REDCap has no hard requirements for server processing speed, memory, or hard drive space. It is very light weight in most respects and requires very little initial space (less than 10MB for both web server and database server combined). In general, we typically recommend that 10GB be allocated for web server space and also 10GB for MySQL initially, as that should be more than enough for about one year of heavy REDCap usage.
About Validation Testing and Part-11 Compliance:
21 CFR Part 11 compliance is required if you are conducting an FDA-sponsored clinical trial and using computerized systems that contain any data that are relied on by an applicant in support of a marketing application, including computerized laboratory information management systems that capture analytical results of tests conducted during a clinical trial. This applies to computerized systems that create source documents (electronic records), but does not apply to paper records submitted electronically (scanned, faxed copies). Successfully implementing Part-11 compliance for a study requires validation of the electronic system AND study specific processes (e.g. standard operating procedures, formal data management plan).
The REDCap consortium has a standing committee that oversees review of the REDCap software platform as to its ability to be utilized in a validated environment for a study requiring 21 CFR Part 11 compliance. The committee performs rigorous validation tests on each LTS version. LTS is a dedicated version of REDCap released at 6-month intervals. Interim updates contain only bug/security updates (no new features). These REDCap test scripts are all documented on our REDCap Community collaboration/messaging platform and available to all REDCap partner institutions. Any REDCap consortium partner may use those test scripts and other documentation provided by the committee to reduce the burden of implementing a validated system which is one component of study compliance to meet Part 11 requirements. To learn more about compliance, please review the section ‘Is REDCap HIPAA-compliant?’ on our FAQ page.