What is Online Accounting?

Online accounting is software which you access via the internet. Instead of the accounting being installed on your own computer, it is installed elsewhere.

The Need

Using Your Accounting From Home
Let's talk about using your accounting software from a remote location - like your home. Wouldn't you like to enter invoices or receipts from your own den instead of coming into the office each day. It doesn't have to be everyday, maybe just one morning each week. Hang out at home with your pajamas on and enter transactions and review and print reports. Maybe you don't want this for yourself, but how about your staff? Could your bookkeeper spend one day at home and save gasoline and commuter time? Or maybe you're thinking of opening a branch office in another city. 

Sneaker-Net The above are good reasons to use your accounting from a remote location. If you want to move ahead with this idea, there are several different approaches that may be employed. One method has the unofficial name: "sneaker-net". Sneaker-net means that the person who is going to work at home makes a backup at the end of the day. When at home and ready to work, Peachtree is opened on the home computer and a restore is done of the day's data. When all entries and reports are completed at home, another backup is made. When this employee reaches work the next day, a restore is done using the backup that was made at home. Backups should be done to either Zip Drive or some type of USB memory. Click here to see more on flash memory.

The biggest draw back of the sneaker-net approach is the risk that something will go wrong with the timing of backups and restores, or that the wrong backup set gets restored. Suppose the bookkeeper works all night on company bookkeeping, then is out sick the next day. He or she stays home and forgets about the company restore. Mean while coworkers come into the office and begin to enter new transactions. The following day the bookkeeper who was out sick comes in and restores her data from two nights before. At this point all the work that coworkers did on the prior day is lost.

This is not to say that the sneaker-net is so perilous that it should not be used. I've known companies where this method of allowing bookkeeping to be done at home has been used with success for many years, but let's look at some other possibilities.

The Solution

Most people who are considering online accounting software usually assume that their software will be hosted by the publisher of the software. For example, Intuit, Sage, Zoho, and Xero are all developing special versions of accounting software which they host for users. QuickBooks Online is one of the most popular online, or "cloud", accounting packages available.

Prices for online accounting vary greatly. There is even one package we like which is free. This is by Wave Accounting, Inc. They are able to keep their accounting software free because of advertising they display in the border of your accounting screens along with other services they offer.

An alternative to using special online software is to work with a company which specializes in hosting desktop software made by various desktop publishers. Working with a hosting company like this allows you to get onto the cloud without changing your software. You can choose a hosting company which is hosting the same software you've been using on your PC.

An example kind of hosting company is NovelAspect. They host QuickBooks, Peachtree, and several other accounting applications.