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Issue #831: Jun 25 – Jul 1, 2023

Q: Currently, I am using a locally installed version of QuickBooks 2016, which I purchased several years ago and have run on several laptops and versions of Windows for accounting of two rental properties. I now use a Microsoft Surface Pro, which stores info locally and allows me to transfer info to my accountant for annual tax preparation.

 I receive upgrade or conversion inquiries each time I open QuickBooks. However, it has to be an on-line version with a monthly fee. I really have no desire to have my financial info stored on-line and the fee isn’t worth what little I am doing. Question – how long do you think I might have with my purchased issue of QB before they pull the plug?

 The second part of the question relates to M/S 10 vs IOS running QB. Most of what I do is on iPad. The only reason I use M/S compatible equipment is to run my purchased copy of QuickBooks. The attached keyboard on my Surface suddenly quit after an upgrade and cannot be repaired. I am using an external keyboard. The only QB versions for IOS are on-line. I have no wish to have my financial info stored on-line and my volume is not worth the fee. Can you suggest a purchased accounting package for iPad IOS where I can store the info locally on the hardware memory vs on-line?

 – Jim D.
Niceville, Florida

A:  The type of software licensing you are referring to is called Software as a Service or SaaS.  It is a model that many software vendors are moving to, because it offers significant advantages for both the company, and for you, the end-user.

Many people think that when they acquire software that they are buying it.  Truth be told, that’s not the case.  You’ve probably never, ever, actually purchased software.  What you’re buying is a license to run it.  In other words, you pay for the right to use it, but you don’t actually own the software – it remains the sole intellectual property of the vendor.  Each vendor handles this license differently, such as limiting how many computers it is allowed to run on, how many simultaneous users are allowed, and how upgrades are handled when new versions come out.  That last one is mighty important, because for locally-installed software, it’s up to someone on your end to maintain the software, perform upgrades, and implement security patches when they come out.

With SaaS, all this happens automatically for you.  When you use cloud-based software, you can be assured that you always have the latest version, and all the latest security patches.  That’s great for you, but, as you’re finding out, it comes at a cost.  The “service” isn’t free, and that’s one of the reasons the vendors like it, because it guarantees a more stable flow of revenue than occurs with installed-software that you acquire with a one-time payment.

As for your questions, I don’t see any reason you can’t keep going as you are indefinitely.  Your software is installed and working and does everything you need it to do.  The problem is that your vendor probably will not provide updates or patches if security holes or bugs are discovered.  This is far less critical with a single application than it would be with something like Windows itself, or a web browser.  And only you can decide whether the cost/benefit options are worth it to you.

While I can’t make a product recommendation for you, I’d like to give you some food for thought.  You have clearly expressed that you don’t want to have your data in the cloud, but you haven’t really said why.  I’m guessing it’s for security and/or privacy reasons?  I’m curious how you transfer your financial information to your accountant as you mentioned.  If the answer is via e-mail, then you’re already putting your information in the cloud, and doing so using one of the most vulnerable mechanisms on the Internet.  If you transfer it via a supposedly secure upload, what happens to it after it reaches your accountant?  With the way things work these days, chances are that it’s either being stored directly in the cloud, or your accountant is using a cloud-based backup system to ensure data are not lost.  Either way, you may already be more in the cloud than you realize, and are denying yourself your own use of the cloud that could make life a lot easier for you.

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June 2024

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