Simplify your company’s financial system.
- Generate unlimited invoices and estimates
- Track time and expenses
- Process online credit card payments
Our top pick: FreshBooks
Small business accounting software that makes billing painless.
- Unlimited Invoices and Estimates
- Track Time and Expenses
- Easily Accept Online Credit Card Payments
- Automatically Import Expenses from your Bank Account
What is online accounting software?
Online accounting software works in two ways. You just need to choose which one works best for your small business needs.
One is via hosting, where there’s no change to the existing software you use, like Sage small business accounting or QuickBooks. There would be little change in how you carry out your accounting operations in such a scenario; one difference is you’ll have to start the software using a different icon. Access to printers and Microsoft Excel could be a concern, but just about every other aspect remains the same as when you had standard accounting software loaded onto your computer.
Your other option is to move your entire accounting system to the cloud. In this case you’ll move to a Software as a Service (SaaS) model like Xero, QuickBooks Online, Freshbooks or Wave. These systems tend to offer fewer features and work well for people who need simple accounting systems. Switching from your existing desktop system to a SaaS-based model would, in all likelihood, require setup, conversion and training.
What is cloud accounting software?
Cloud accounting relies on the basic concept of cloud computing, in which multiple users can access data stored on a single server using various devices. Cloud accounting works along the same principles of commonly used accounting software like AccountEdge, and the key difference is that the program and data are stored on a secure cloud server instead of your computer. This gives users the ability to access data from just about any internet enabled device.
Another benefit of cloud accounting is your data is protected in the event that your computer’s data is erased. There’s no need to transfer data if you upgrade devices, because it’s all in the cloud.
Users can access online accounting software and data through secure remote connections. Data first travels to the cloud, and the cloud then processes it and returns it to the user.
A few online accounting software options are listed below, but there are plenty more out there to suit your individual needs.
Accounting software options
Why would I want to store my accounting data on the cloud?
Cloud accounting can provide multiple benefits for on-the-go small business owners. The variety of options available today mean that you can find an online accounting software that fits your needs and budget.
- Access from anywhere. Since all your accounting-related data is part of the cloud, you can access the information you need anywhere with a computer, tablet or smartphone, as long as you have internet connectivity. This is particularly beneficial for organizations that work from multiple locations or for small business owners who travel extensively or work remotely. Some companies and plans offer you the ability to work offline with automatic uploading to the cloud once you’re online.
- Access for multiple users. Most online accounting software systems come with options for multiple users, as part of your plan or for an additional monthly fee. You get to decide who gets access to your company’s online accounting system. Employees can manage their own time-tracking and some systems even offer payroll options. Working with your accountant at tax time is much easier when you’re able to give them access to your online accounting software with real-time updates.
- Automatic updates. You don’t have to worry about software upgrades anymore, because your online accounting software will continue to update periodically. Most plans also include support to help with any major updates.
- Data security. Businesses that offer cloud accounting solutions typically store data in data centers that make use of the latest technology in security controls, which is normally better than what individual small businesses can afford on their own. Most online accounting software companies also offer data backup and disaster recovery as part of their standard plans.
- Options. Online accounting software companies offer a variety of options to fit small business needs, with a variety of price ranges. If you’re on a budget and operating solo, you can choose a bare-bones package for free or a low monthly fee. If your business is growing and you have a larger budget with multiple employees, there are plans to fit your needs, too.
- Support. Comprehensive support services are offered by most companies. Online and real-time support is a breeze when your entire accounting system is located in the cloud.
A wide variety of accounting software is available, and the right choice for you will depend on your company’s needs and budget. Compare a few different options before deciding on the best fit for your business.
How did we choose these products?
To choose our list of the best accounting software, we compared the cost, type and plan features. We also considered online reviews from unbiased third-parties.