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Cloud vs Desktop Accounting Software - which one is right for my business?

Despite a huge shift from desktop to cloud accounting software in recent years, we still get asked by business owners if cloud is the correct solution for their business. To try and answer this question we are going to look at 7 aspects of your accounting software and do a comparison between Cloud and Desktop.

1) Pricing
Cloud software is normally paid by monthly subscription, whereas for your desktop software you will pay a one-off initial fee.

2) Upgrades
Cloud software is upgraded automatically on a regular basis without the user ever knowing. Desktop software is upgraded on an occasional basis and usually incurs an additional cost. Upgrades to your desktop software may be optional, but for legislative changes they are likely to be compulsory.

3) Support
When you purchase desktop software it is likely that an annual payment for support is an optional extra charge. For cloud software, email support is normally included in your monthly subscription.

4) Backup
When you have cloud software, backups are taken care of for you – 100%. If your software and data are stored on your desktop, backing up that data is your responsibility – 100%.

5) Access
If you are sitting at your PC you will have access to your desktop software – guaranteed. However if you are not at your PC you will not have access to your desktop software – also guaranteed! Your cloud software, unlike your desktop software can be accessed from wherever you are and often from a variety of devices as well, including your smartphone or tablet.

6) Availability
You are guaranteed access to your desktop software if you are at your PC. For cloud software, you are dependent on a reliable Internet connection.

7) On Termination
If you have no further requirement for your accounting software and it is on you desktop all you do is stop accessing it, but you know that it will be there whenever you need to refer back to it. Using cloud software, things are a little bit more complicated. It’s unlikely that you will want to continue to pay your monthly subscription so you are relying on the ability to download your information.

And here in our opinion are the winners in each of the 7 aspects we have considered.

Pricing – Depends
Upgrades – Cloud
Support – Cloud
Backup – Cloud
Access – Cloud
Availability – Desktop
On Termination – Desktop

As cloud supporters and Xero Advisors, it will be no real surprise that we are happy to declare Cloud as the overall winner.

If you are considering moving your accounting to the cloud, hopefully you have found this comparison useful. We regularly help clients make the move to Xero. If you are ready to make that move and need some help, then you can contact us here.

We also run ‘Xero Basics’ workshops in Aberdeen, which will get you up and running on Xero in less than one day. The details of our next workshop in June can be found here.