Last updated:
April 17, 2024 9:00 AM
min read

Comparing Cloud-Based and Desktop Accounting Solutions: Which Option Reigns Supreme

In this comprehensive comparison, we explore the strengths and weaknesses of cloud-based versus desktop accounting solutions to determine which technology best supports the needs of contemporary businesses.

Cloud-Based and Desktop Accounting Solutions

In today's digital era, businesses have a plethora of options when it comes to accounting solutions. Choosing between cloud-based or desktop accounting systems is one of their most critical decisions. Each comes with unique features and capabilities, catering to the diverse needs of businesses across various industries.

In this article

Understanding the differences between these two systems is crucial for enterprises aiming to streamline their financial processes and enhance efficiency. Let's delve into the intricacies of cloud and desktop accounting solutions to determine which dominates the modern business environment.

01 | What is A Cloud Desktop?

But first of all, what does the "cloud desktop" mean? The term "cloud desktop" has given the virtual desktop environment a name. It is very supportive of remote servers through the Internet. Unlike traditional desktop applications and locally installed and managed computer desktop systems, cloud desktop allows users to log in and access their desktops from anywhere with an Internet connection. Such flexibility and availability would be pretty tempting for people seeking modern solutions for their accounting needs, especially for people in business.

02 | Advantages and Disadvantages of Cloud-Based Accounting Software

Cloud-based accounting software is becoming more popular among businesses—small, medium, or large—because it has several advantages. Some key merits of this software are:

  • Accessibility: This would help make financial data accessible to anybody who has access to the internet, thus allowing for smooth collaboration of even remotely based teams and increasing efficiency in the work.
  • Cost-Effective: Cloud-based solutions are offered at a mostly subscription-based price, whereby companies pay for only what they need and have the opportunity to scale accordingly.
  • Real-time collaboration: Another great benefit that cloud-based accounting software gives any business is that several accountants can work on the business's financial information together while making changes. 
  • Security of data: All recognized cloud accounting service providers, with sensitivity in the security of financial information, take strong security measures like the encryption of the data, controlling for regular backup, and access control.
  • Cost Saving on Infrastructure: Cloud solutions help companies save a lot on overheads involved in procurement and maintaining heavyweight hardware to store data. Space must not be allocated for server rooms and locations to house physical servers. 

Some of the main drawbacks associated with the use of cloud-based accounting software include: 

  • Dependence on Internet connectivity: Cloud-based solutions depend on Internet connectivity and expose the service to disruptions in Internet services. 
  • The risk of data breach: Whether the financial data stored in the cloud will be questioned regarding the data's security toward access by unauthorized parties or, even worse, data breaches.
  • Less customization flexibility: Most cloud accounting software offers significantly fewer customization options than its desktop counterparts, which generally curbs the flexibility for organizational requirements in software customization.

03 | What is Desktop Bookkeeping Software?

On the other hand, desktop bookkeeping software is an accounting application installed and run from individual computers or laptops. The desktop software is not based on the cloud and simply operates locally from a user's device, while the cloud-based solution sees data stored and processed on remote servers accessed via the internet. All that translates to the accounting data, software files, and operations being stored and managed on the user's computer, not in the cloud.

04 | Advantages and Disadvantages of Desktop Accounting Software

The desktop accounting software is run from the individual hard local drive of the computer. This kind of software does not require the internet for it to run. Some of the significant benefits that businesses can gain from desktop accounting software include the following: 

  • Offline access: Without the desktop accounting software, one will have to use his or her information on their business financial information that is required with an internet connection.
  • More customizable: Desktop accounting software usually has richer features than most cloud-based solutions regarding the possibility of customization. It provides business settings to the software, which every organization has to adapt according to its particular needs or preferences.
  • Control of data: Desktop accounting software helps businesses control their financial data without feeling insecure about third-party access to this data or how it is stored. 

However, desktop accounting software also has its limitations, including:

  • Limited access: the desktop solution confines access to financial data only from some specific computers on which the software is installed. This limits the smooth functioning of the remote teams.
  • Manual updates and backups: desktop software requires one to manually update and back up, hence increasing possibilities for data loss or using outdated software versions.
  • No real-time collaboration: Desktop accounting software cannot allow users to collaborate in real-time on the document. It's not cloud-based; hence, all the users cannot work on the document concurrently.

05 | Comparing Features of Desktop and Cloud Accounting Software

The comparison between desktop and cloud accounting software includes features and functionalities. Both types of software will still perform core accounting functions, such as transaction recording, managing accounts receivables and payables, and generating financial reports, but differ in accessibility, collaboration, and integration with other business applications.

Desktop Accounting Software Features:

  • Offline access: The desktop accounting software will make users' data available without an internet connection, ensuring uninterrupted critical and much-needed service.
  • Level of customization: Such desktop solutions usually provide a high level of software customization, allowing businesses to tune the software according to their unique requirements and likings.
  • Data under control: Ensure one thing without a shred of doubt. Businesses are in absolute control of all their financial data, and there is no chance for a third party to get a peek or for any data to be breached.

Cloud Accounting Software Features:

  • Accessibility: The financial data are accessible from cloud accounting software worldwide with an internet connection; this way, business operations can be carried out while traveling or at home with team members, which enables remote working and easy collaboration among the team.
  • Real-time collaboration: Cloud accounting software allows for collaboration over shared financial datasets among various users who may also be editing them concurrently.
  • Integration: Smooth integration of the best cloud accounting solutions with other business applications gives the decision-making processes a clear view of consolidated data from across the departments.

06 | Cost Comparison of Cloud-Based and Desktop Accounting

The cost, on the other hand, is a primary defining consideration between cloud-based and desktop accounting software. Businesses should learn what possible cost implications may be to enable them to make informed decisions regarding options of their choices.

Cost Considerations for Cloud-Based Accounting Software:

Generally, cloud-based accounting software follows a pricing model wherein it provides subscription-based services, and businesses typically pay them monthly or yearly for delivering software and services. The monthly fees of the cloud solution can vary according to the number of users or features, and depending on the case, additional services may be needed for good customer support or training.

Cost Considerations for Desktop Accounting Software:

On the other hand, desktop accounting software requires an upfront investment as it requires purchasing a single license. Although the up-front investment in desktop solutions is less than that for cloud-based solutions, companies still need to consider related software updating and technical support expenses or associated hardware upgrade/maintenance expenses.

07 | Case Studies and Examples of Using Eleven’s Cloud and Desktop Accounting Efficiency Software

So, to clearly explain the pragmatic implications of the trade-off between cloud-based and desktop accounting software, a few instances are discussed below where businesses have derived benefits by applying Eleven accounting efficiency software. 

Case Study 1: Small Business A

Small Business A, a boutique marketing agency, struggled to manage its financial processes effectively using traditional desktop accounting software. The team also encountered challenges such as poor accessibility, manual data entry, and the failure to work jointly in remote areas on the financial tasks. Small Business A, seeking a more modern solution, transitioned to Eleven's cloud-based accounting software.

Small Business A realized several advantages by moving to cloud accounting:

  • Improvement of accessibility: Team members can log on and access financial data from anywhere with an internet connection, hence working remotely with everybody looking at the same data.
  • Enabled seamless collaboration: The cloud accounting software allowed not only one but many users to access and update financial data simultaneously. This has dispensed with the need for manual entry tasks and errors that may arise.
  • Enhanced efficiency: Eleven's cloud accounting software helped Small Business A streamline its financial processes and improve overall efficiency by automating repetitive tasks such as invoicing, expense tracking, and reconciliation.

Case Study 2: Medium-Sized Company B

Medium-sized Company B, a manufacturing company with multiple locations, relied on traditional desktop accounting software to manage its financial operations. However, as the company grew and expanded its operations, the limitations of desktop accounting became increasingly apparent. Company B looked into the cloud for some accounting solutions because there had been issues of scalability, accessibility, and data security.

After evaluating various cloud accounting options, Company B chose Eleven's cloud-based accounting software for its comprehensive features, scalability, and robust security measures. The transition to cloud accounting enabled Company B to:

  • Scale seamlessly: With cloud accounting software, Company B could quickly scale its operations and accommodate growing business needs without additional hardware or software upgrades.
  • Enhance data security: 11 provided strong protections to its cloud accounting software in its features, such as data encryption, regular data backup, and restrictive access controls. It has enhanced data security for Company B amidst escalated finance threats.

Improved collaboration: For team members spread over different locations; real-time collaboration was greatly improved with the use of cloud accounting software, hence smooth communication and sharing of workings in finance activities.

08 | Conclusion

Generally, many factors influence an individual to choose between cloud-based and desktop accounting software. Organizational size, how big organizations are structured, whether there is any budget constraint, the security measures, and the requirements for collaboration within the system. When you compare accounting systems and solutions directly, you'll see that both cloud-based and traditional software have pros and cons. All these have pros and cons, but cloud accounting software is increasingly becoming the business choice for modern, scalable, and efficient accounting.

09 | FAQ

Q:  Which accounting system is safer - cloud-based or desktop?

The safety of both cloud-based and desktop accounting systems varies depending on factors like implementing security measures. Cloud-based systems offer robust security features such as data encryption and regular backups the provider manages. Desktop systems rely on user-installed security measures like firewalls. Both can be secure with proper precautions.

Q: How is cloud accounting different from traditional accounting?

Cloud-based accounting, accessed via the Internet, enables instant collaboration and smooth integration with other software platforms.

Traditional accounting software, installed on individual computers, limits accessibility and requires manual updates.

Q: Which accounting solution is better for small businesses?

This cloud-based accounting is often preferable for small businesses since they can access it from any device, it's scalable, and it's cost-effective. It enables remote collaboration, provides real-time data access, and eliminates hardware maintenance.  However, some may prefer the control of desktop systems.


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