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Simply Accounting Online
Best Software's Simply Accounting Online offers anytime, anywhere bookkeeping for small business users, and it safeguards your data against fire and office theft by placing it on secure servers outside the office. All isn't a green-lampshade paradise, however; Simply Accounting Online provides convenient tools to manage inventory and purchase orders, but it lacks key features of its desktop counterparts, such as purchase and sales quotes, direct deposits, and account reconciliation. It's expensive, too: a three-user account runs $75 per month or $900 annually, where a six-user version of the desktop Simply Accounting Pro software costs one-third as much, and three people can use QuickBooks Online annually for $240. Given the limited feature set and whopping cost of Simply Accounting Online, this well-designed and secure service might be worth a look for small businesses only if its price drops.
To give the service a whirl, visit the Simply Accounting Online Web site, which allows a 30-day free trial (no credit card required). You have to wait four days after signing up to log on; when you're ready, just open Internet Explorer version 5.5 or higher from any Windows PC. We uploaded our company file from the desktop Simply Accounting Pro 2004 by using the Online Data Prep utility, which installs on your PC. Simply Accounting Online also allows you to import data from desktop editions of QuickBooks, but not from Quicken. Unfortunately, the installation process was less than seamless; we had to scour our hard disk to find the company file because the Data Prep tool doesn't automatically locate it, and our first two conversion attempts resulted in mysterious pop-up failure messages. But our third attempt worked like a charm. Like its competitor QuickBooks Online, Simply Accounting Online won't upload data for features it doesn't support, in this case, quotes for purchases and sales.
The browser-based Simply Accounting Online doesn't mirror the interface of the desktop version, although it incorporates many of the same features and is just as easy to navigate. For instance, its Home screen displays the Daily Business Manager, a calendar and transaction tracker that appears as a separate window in the desktop version. Online's drop-down menus make it easy to jump to popular modules, such as Vendors & Purchases and Customers & Sales. Unlike QuickBooks Online, Simply Accounting Online includes a built-in payroll manager. And the Help button at the top of the screen provides one-click access to context-sensitive guidance. For example, when you're working in the Employees section, Help displays relevant advice about adding or deleting staff, printing an employee list, and so on. If you need to integrate data with Microsoft Outlook, you'll have to buy either the Pro or Premium desktop version of Simply Accounting.
What makes Simply Accounting Online different from desktop accounting tools? Both this and competitor QuickBooks Online provide friendly interfaces that help you to prepare invoices, write checks, and create an audit trail, and both charge extra to process credit cards or make direct bank deposits. Simply Online goes deeper by letting you manage payroll, track inventory, project cash flow, create purchase orders, and use multiple currencies, but unless these functions are critical, QuickBooks Online is the better buy. As does its Web-based rival, Simply Accounting Online lets you import a company file once from a desktop version of Simply Accounting, but it won't let you synchronize and alternate between both editions.
Simply Accounting Online allows you two technical support incidents per month. Beyond that, you pay $150 annually for 100 minutes of phone assistance, $25 per month for two support incidents, or three dollars per minute with a 45-minute minimum on a per-issue basis. By comparison, QuickBooks Online provides free support. You can access Simply Accounting Online customer representatives by phone via a toll-free number weekdays, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT. If you have problems connecting to Online, you can reach phone support for hosting services 24/7.