Nowadays many business owners understand that keeping their books in an accounting program can only offer benefits, especially if those records are kept safely in the cloud. But even to this day there are many companies that are still skeptical about the many benefits that comes from cloud accounting for a number of reasons. Some people say that on-site accounting software has more features, while others are afraid that their data isn’t as safe in the cloud as it is inside the database of a desktop program. Granted, these concerns might seem a bit exaggerated, but the question is still valid: which method is the best to opt for in the long term? Can cloud-based accounting software finally prevail or is it locally installed accounting programs that will have the last laugh?
Locally Installed Accounting Software
Even though it may seem too old school for many users, having a desktop-based accounting program is still beneficial for many reasons. For starters, the program’s database doesn’t connect to the internet, which means that the nobody other than the permitted people can access the software. This way business owners can have a tighter control over their accounting, which is especially useful for those companies that handle highly sensitive data and therefore should pay particular attention to avoid letting it be seen by third parties. In addition to that, locally installed accounting solutions also come with a rich set of features – some of which are not available for online programs – and only require a single payment to get permanent access to the software.
Despite being feature-rich behemoths, desktop accounting programs aren’t completely infallible. One of the biggest problems with these solutions is the complete lack of mobility, meanings that its use is limited to just one device and usually just one person. Although this can be prevented by purchasing more software, the outrageously expensive base prices are understandably why only bigger companies could afford such a solution. And not only do desktop programs lack the user-friendliness and third-party customization options provided by online equivalents, but they also become outdated even if users continue to purchase upgrades.
Online Accounting Software
Granted, access to online accounting solutions are only available via subscription plans, meaning that the software and its database cannot truly be yours no matter how long you intend to use them. However, their prices are still perfect for smaller businesses or companies on a tighter budget. And even if online software does typically have fewer features than its local counterpart, there are many things that compensate it for that.
For starters, since they are fully cloud-based – meaning that the only thing needed is a stable internet connection – any users registered onto the same account can access the company’s accounting at anytime from anywhere, even from mobile devices. But the convenience doesn’t stop there, as online accounting software usually sports a user-friendly interface, and can often be further customized by integrating third-party programs into them, making business processes even more automated and, therefore, less stressful.
These tools are fully scalable as well, meaning that you will only need to pay for the features you intend to use and only for as many people as your business employs. And contrary to popular belief, online accounting solutions are perfectly safe thanks to the military-grade encryption and continuous backup of data, the frequently released software updates, and the constant monitoring for any suspicious activities provided by service providers.
What the Future Holds for Software-Based Accounting
After examining the advantages and disadvantages of both solutions it’s easy to understand why there’s still a split on those who rely on desktop-based accounting programs and those that embrace cloud technology instead. But sooner or later we all have to ask the question: which type of software is worth the investment in the long term?
In all honesty, seeing how businesses already prefer online solutions over traditional desktop-based programs – not to mention that cloud accounting software barely differs from its installed counterpart when it comes to critical features – it’s safe to say that the debate is already over; the days of locally installed accounting solutions are slowly coming to an end. No matter how feature-rich and secure these offline programs are, when it comes to overall cost, accessibility, user-friendliness, and flexibility – the very things that striving businesses need to stay afloat in the 21st century – online accounting software easily wins by a mile.
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