Answers to Common Questions About QuickBooks Hosting
Q: What does “hosting” my QuickBooks really mean?
A: “Hosting” your QuickBooks means that the QuickBooks software and related data files are stored, protected, and accessed from the service provider’s system instead of running it all on our own PC. The service provider does all the system-level work, and you simply connect to the service provider system via the Internet.
Q: Is a VPN required or necessary?
A: VPNs are generally not necessary in order to access a secure hosted environment. Most providers offer secure methods of accessing the service, such as secure login portals or special client software. (Note: be wary of any provider using pure RDP… there isn’t any security on an RDP connection unless you’re using a VPN).
Q: Is my data backed up?
A: Quality hosting providers will back up your data at least nightly, and then will retain those backups for several weeks, if not months (opinions vary as to whether the host should keep backups of data for clients who have ended the service, but that’s a different issue). A quality service provider will also allow you to make backup copies of your data on the host system, so that you can retain month-end, year-end and other copies of your data as desired or required.
Q: Do I have to install program updates or maintenance releases?
A: No – your service provider is responsible for testing and installing software updates and maintenance releases. This is one of the primary benefits of having your QuickBooks software hosted by an authorized commercial provider. A quality provider will always do at least a minimal amount of testing for any software update, just to make sure it won’t harm your system. This is another benefit you don’t get when you run the software on your PC and subscribe to automatic updates.
Q: Do I have to purchase or lease a server?
A: No you don’t! This is another benefit of having your QuickBooks software hosted by an authorized commercial provider. You access QuickBooks software from secure, high-performance systems provided and managed by the service provider. This allows you to benefit from enterprise-class technologies and systems without the upfront costs of purchasing or leasing hardware. When you use standard applications, your service provider can generally deliver your service from redundant servers, providing additional levels of fault tolerance for your business. Some of the more experienced providers also offer completely customized environments, where you can deploy the unique mixture of applications and solutions your business needs.
Q: Is the service for Windows users only, or can other platforms be used (like Mac and Linux workstations or devices)?
A: Whether or not you can use systems other than Windows depends on the service provider. Some services can be accessed using a wide array of OS and device support options, including Java-based connections which need no software installed on the local PC, and even a connector for iPad.
Q: Is hosted QuickBooks faster than QuickBooks on my PC?
A: Any time you connect to a service via the Internet, performance will depend upon the quality of your Internet connection. With a quality Internet connection, many users have expressed that their hosted QuickBooks is actually faster than running the software from their own PC. For the most part, you should expect near-equivalent performance.
Q: How is hosted QuickBooks different from QuickBooks Online?
A: The hosted QuickBooks service provides the advanced functionality in the QuickBooks desktop software editions, and the software is installed and maintained by a service provider. It’s exactly the same software you would install on our own PC, just managed by someone else so you don’t have to. QuickBooks Online Edition, on the other hand, is a fully web-based software solution intended for startup and very small businesses that do not require the advanced features and functionality of the desktop editions. You cannot download and install the QuickBooks Online Edition on your PC – it exists solely on Intuit’s servers, and users are completely dependent upon that system in order to access their software and business data. The thing that hosted QuickBooks and QuickBooks Online have in common is that they are managed, secure, and available to you at any time and from any Internet-connected locale.
Q: Do I have to purchase my QuickBooks software in order to have it hosted?
A: Yes, you generally must purchase your QuickBooks licenses in order to enter the QuickBooks hosting service. The exception to this is that QuickBooks Pro and Premier licenses can be rented from an Intuit-authorized Commercial Host for QuickBooks. Rental options exist only for Pro and Premier – Enterprise Edition is not eligible for subscription license rental. Once in the hosting program, future licenses must come from Intuit directly, either via purchase (for all editions) or through rental from the service provider (Pro and Premier editions only).
Q: How well protected is my hosted data?
A: Data hosted with an authorized commercial host is generally quite secure. Intuit places requirements on all of their hosts to provide certain levels of redundancy and protection, as well as having to agree to abide by Intuit security and privacy policies. In most cases, the commercial provider systems are far more secure and fault-tolerant than an in-house system. Encryption, virus protection, firewalls, multiple layers of access controls and other elements are usually part of the service provider service. Sadly, the largest security risk generally rests with the subscriber, who may not regularly change passwords, may choose simple passwords, leaves passwords and login information on sticky notes, or even caches the username and password in the browser or app.
Q: Can I get other applications hosted besides QuickBooks?
A: The answer may vary with service providers, but most hosts will provide hosting for at least Microsoft Office applications, because QuickBooks relies heavily on Office for certain reporting and other functionality. Whether or not you can have your choice of products hosted is a question you should ask your would-be provider before you engage.