Cloud vs Desktop Accounting

Which one is right for you?

There are primarily two platforms for your accounting and bookkeeping: Cloud-based and desktop. Although getting your head around a new software that will keep some of your most confidential and important information can be daunting, with the changes coming from HMRC in April 2019 with Making Tax Digital it is the perfect time to assess your accounting process and question whether the software you are using is the best for your business.

Number of Users

Cloud-based software can have up to 25 users (such as QBO) or even unlimited users (such as Xero) and allow for multi user collaboration and easy data sharing. Most businesses will need access from more than one authority to utilise software to its fullest potential, cloud accounting allows just that.

Desktop accounting software typically only allows accessibility by one single user – not so easy if you have a part time bookkeeper or a remote business. But if you are self-employed, you may not need the extra users.

Convenience and Accessibility

The beauty (and magic) of cloud-based software means that it can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection, on any number of devices. Bringing your virtual office along with you wherever your work takes you.

Desktop accounting software uses a licensed device which means you can only access your accounts on-site. Unless you never leave your office without your computer, this seems to hinder the ease of the accounting process.


With the cloud, all files and documents are safely locked away in virtual vaults, untouched by rust, dust or irreversible damage. Your files can be accessed anytime, anywhere as long as you have an internet connection. If files are no longer needed, you can delete them with the click of a mouse.

With desktop software, all files and documents are saved in paper form. The office is filled with filing cabinets, and the storage drawer is full. That means manually sifting through those boxes of paper every year to shred every document that is no longer needed.

Saving Costs and Time

Cloud accounting reduces installation times and manual work that must be done in accounting such as manual data entry, manual upgrades and data backups. These processes are automatic when it comes to cloud-based accounting, saving your company time and money.

Some argue that Cloud services are not as safe to use as your data is vulnerable to theft. But with the world becoming digital and online services growing, including online banking and medical records, data security is becoming more advanced every day. If you can trust your personal money to be processed online, why not your business accounts too?

Despite their differences, both types of accounting software will help you handle tasks that are important to running your business smoothly; from accounts payable and bank reconciliations to better managing inventory, payroll and sales tax. Whether you’re self employed or part of a large organisation, it is important to constantly review the efficiency of your financial process.