Quick Take: Quickbooks and The Cloud

At Charland Tech, we’re Quickbooks Certified ProAdvisors of a different sort. We’re not accountants. We don’t want to be accountants. But it’s critical for us to be able to install, support, and advise on Quickbooks issues.

One of the most common questions to come up lately is “Can I run Quickbooks from my favorite cloud provider (i.e. JungleDisk, Box.Net, DropBox, SkyDrive, etc)? What’s the best way to share or use a company file remotely?”

Sadly, we’re not always able to give the answer they’re looking for. Short answer: Quickbooks does not “play nice” with any kind of cloud/file sharing systems.

As most of us in the business know, the QuickBase database the runs Quickbooks panics whenever it “loses sight” of its files for a millisecond. The program has become more robust over the years but it still needs a CONSTANT network connection to avoid errors and corruption.

The problem comes when your cloud file service downloads a local copy…then opens it in QB…then QB tries to open another file handle in the cloud file, which is still being saved (and pushed back to the cloud). QuickBooks has so many different file handles open in different states that it won’t work well on a Network-Attached Storage device or Windows Home Server with DriveExtender even on a Local Area Network.

 We have tried several different providers, and even those using a local cache still have enough lag and file system mapping that the QB DB connection will break, even in single user mode. It’s a company file corruption waiting to happen. Similar to a NAS configuration, we recommend hosting the company on a local workstation that backs it up to the cloud.

It may appear to be working for a while but there’s a very high risk of data corruption. Company file corruption = no fun at all and often no way to recover.

For those businesses who want/need to have multiple users in multiple locations accessing a company file at the same time, there are options:
1. Use one of the intuit-approved QB hosting providers
2. Use gotomypc, logmein, etc to remote into desktops on your local network
3. We’ve found that Windows terminal services configurations are stable and reliable when set up properly (although technically unsupported by Intuit). SBS2011 gives us the ability to very easily run server-based applications on a remote desktop, which is nice because the Quickbooks data connection is not reliant on your network.

Keep in mind that each of these setups has its own performance and security ramifications. Contact us for more info about your specific situation and we’ll give our recommendations on best practices for your Quickbooks installation!

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Comments

  • Chris Wise  On March 25, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    Traditional file share resources do not work well with QuickBooks. As an alternative, please visit the website for Qbox and read about an application that was designed to work specifically with QuickBooks. (in addition to a handful of other file types)

    With Q Box, accountants and their client’s continue to use the same desktop version of QuickBooks. However, using Q Box, they have a locally hosted copy of the file that is continually synchronized with their remote client’s copy. In other words, no more sending QBW files back and forth, no more screen sharing, no expensive cloud hosting and no more downloading/uploading of QuickBook files.

    With Qbox, there is also a locking technology that avoids the creation of conflicting copies. Additionally, if you ever do end up with corrupted file (unrelated to Qbox) Qbox keeps ten different versions (updates) of the file so you can easily restore a previous copy with just a few clicks.

    • gregc00  On March 26, 2014 at 11:19 pm

      Chris, I disagree. QuickBooks is a notoriously “chatty” database…it’s always reading and writing to the QBW file. Additionally, QuickBooks does not support VSS (Volume Snapshot Service, which most modern databases use for backup) Which means that any file sync product will face two problems:
      a) you’ll lock the QBW file and prevent (or delay) a read/write operation, corrupting the company file and/or sync’d copy, and
      b) you’ll grab stale data right before changes are committed, corrupting the sync’d copy.
      I don’t recommend using ANY file sharing/sync service for a live QuickBooks file.

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