Advice + Tax + Accounts for smart business owners.
May 20th 2019

Cloud vs desktop accounting software

Steve's article explores the merits of the two main accounting software options.

Cloud or Desktop Accounting Software?

Cloud – operated in the cloud (the internet). Software is hosted on remote servers, allowing you to access the software anywhere, from nearly any device, anytime – but only if you have an internet connection!

Desk top – installed locally and downloaded onto a specific computer(s), the software is hosted on that computer’s server, which means that you can only access the software on the device it’s downloaded on. (A terminal server set-up does allow the possibility of accessing the software from other locations however.)

What are the key differences?

Cloud based software is easier to access, from any location, by unlimited users and on nearly any device, so if this is important to your business, this is probably the option for you.

Desk top accounting software doesn’t require the internet so if that goes down you can carry on working.

Cloud based accounting software is arguably easier to use, there is less of a learning curve. Business owners/bookkeepers with previous accounting experience may prefer the feature-rich desk top accounting software and should be able to learn how to use it relatively easily but if your accounting knowledge is limited, perhaps the more intuitive cloud-based offering is for you?

Cost is always an important consideration to the business owner and the Cloud based offerings are generally cheaper than the desk top solutions.

What about security? If you take the correct steps to secure your computer and its server, your desk-top software has the potential to be far safer than cloud-based software. However, if you don’t want to or can’t take the time and effort to learn how to protect your locally-installed software, a cloud-based alternative that has built-in security and automated backups already handled for you would be the more preferable option.

The ability to share data with your accountant? This is far easier with Cloud based accounting software. It is very simple for your accountant to log on and discuss your data with you by telephone and even make changes remotely for you if required.

Another key area where cloud-based software wins is the access to hundreds of third-party apps geared towards your individual business needs, industry, business type, and/or processes. There are specific apps geared towards construction, retail, agribusiness, restaurants, document management …the list is growing as we speak!

We've also invested in Futrli, which works alongside QuickBooks or Xero to help business owners produce visually appealing, easy to understand financial reports.

In conclusion, it is important to stress that there is no “one solution fits all” answer. Every business is different and there will always be a number of factors to consider.

Please get in touch with Steve at the Edinburgh office or Leonard at the Kirkwall office, should you wish to discuss your own individual business requirements.


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