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Cloud vs. Desktop Accounting Software

Est. reading time: 4 min

What’s right for you?

Cloud accounting is growing in popularity. You can access and update your books from a browser, with all the convenience that entails. We even offer AccountEdge Connect as a companion web app to AccountEdge Pro, precisely to leverage the benefits of the Cloud. But when it comes to the integrity of your small business's data, many don’t want to trade control, ownership, and security for convenience. In other words, the Cloud may not be for everybody.

Access your data all the time on the desktop

Keeping your books means you have access to data that paints an up-to-date, real-time picture of your business. Doing the work of bookkeeping means that you know what position your business is in the moment you ask yourself: "what's my current cash flow?", "what's my inventory worth?", or even "where is my inventory?" And, you are in control of access.

But with the Cloud you don’t have that same level of access control. What if your cloud app's server crashes? What if you aren’t able to access the internet? On a plane? What if your ISP has issues? Or your router? The cloud adds layers of complexity –– more moving parts means there are more places for something to go wrong –– and if your finances are in the cloud and something breaks down, you are very much reminded that you are on the ground.

Security and privacy

The added layers of complexity involved with online accounting also adds vulnerability. As your data moves from point to point, security needs to be strong, and it needs to be checked. When data moves from your local machine or network up to the cloud, it is more vulnerable than if you were to keep that data local.

This is not to say that desktop software is automatically secure. Of course you need to take all measures to keep your data safe no matter what avenue you take with your accounting. And security doesn't extend to just ill-willed people with curly mustaches rubbing their hands together. Remember that data needs to be backed up. Even on the desktop, it's a good idea to keep more than one backup in more than one location.

What if you leave the cloud?

If you choose cloud accounting, then for one reason or another decide to end your subscription, what happens to your data? In most cases, you can export (most of) that data into a spreadsheet. Now you have a huge spreadsheet full of data; kind of what most people want to move away from when they purchase small business accounting software.

Many leading online accounting apps do not let you use their app if you are not paying for it. So that data dump you made right before you cancelled your subscription? That's how you will be reading your finances.

With desktop software, you make your purchase up front, and then the relationship between you and your software vendor moves forward on your terms. If you opt to switch your software, you still have your data, and more importantly you still have the app to read that data. Forever.

Working in the browser vs. a native application

There are many conveniences built in to an application that lives in the cloud. Access anywhere you have internet. Easy multi user access (although, like desktop software, most apps start charging you more for multi user access). Less reliance on your own back up plan.

But what if you have to enter a week's worth of sales? The browser isn't always the quickest, easiest, or most intuitive place to do repetitive data entry. Performance is dependent on a number of factors: server connection, page speed, how many people on your network at any given time. An app written for the desktop is more often going to be more responsive.

Cost of ownership

A very important consideration for many people choosing accounting software is cost. Cloud services use the subscription model: a monthly fee that builds continues as long as you want access to your data. AccountEdge Pro costs the same as the average cost of the major cloud accounting offerings. In your second year of business, if you upgrade to the new version of AccountEdge Pro, you're saving over 25%. If you don't upgrade, you're spending 66% less over two years.

Make the right decision

Making the right decision when choosing accounting software is extremely important. More than anything, you have to choose the software that you will be happy using. For some people that's going to be cloud accounting, but if you want the steady control offered by desktop accounting software like AccountEdge Pro, then sign up for a trial version and give it a shot.

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