How to easily move your accounting system (Quickbooks) to the cloud in under an hour.

One of the best things about the advent of cloud technology is that small businesses are now able to afford advanced solutions that were simply just not cost effective for an SMB owner before now. Have a look at any publicly traded company’s financial statements  and you will see a lot of zeros behind the line items related to managing and backing up the data for their accounting systems. In this post we will show you how you can easily and cost effectively replicate the same type of an enterprise class solution with all the same features and benefits by leveraging modern cloud solutions.

For a small business one of the most important and often overlooked mission critical systems is the accounting system. In many organizations the software is installed on one or a few computers and the files are passed around via the local network or USB sticks. This solution works ok until the organization grows to a point where the management team needs to access timely reporting and the daily transactions are managed by people other than themselves so a disconnect starts to emerge. Often at that point the software is installed on one machine (sometimes called a “server”) and different folks use remote desktop technology to access it (and then they are often not able to use it at the same time).

That solution works better but over time that old “server” starts to get on in years and becomes a massive time bomb for the organization. When the hard drive fails (and it will even if it has RAID protection), hopefully someone has backed up the files locally but often that isn’t the case and months of data can be lost, often for good. So if your “server” looks anything like this one does,Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 3.11.53 PM you may want to seriously consider being proactive because being reactive is typically very expensive. This solution will work for any software installed on any computer (“server”) that you may have in your office today. In this case we are going to look at the steps involved to move Quickbooks to the cloud that anyone can do in about half an hour as real world example.

Step One: Sign up for a free account on Cloud-A

You can use any VM type solution for this but most other solutions don’t offer you the ability to sign up for a free account and automatically give you the ability to start making as many VM instances as you like on your own right away. This combined with the average price point being typically half or less as compared to the other guys means you can leverage the cloud with a very modest investment without delay (The VM suggested below is only $25/month). It’s free to setup a Cloud-A account and you get a $10 free credit for doing so that will mean you don’t pay a dime if you test drive the VM we suggest you try out below for a couple weeks and decide it’s not for you for any reason at all.

Step two: Create a Windows VM instance

It’s as simple as filling out the “Create New Instance” form that is front and centre when you are logged into your Cloud-A account (for best results for Quickbooks use the settings as seen below) :

Step Three: Log into your new Windows server

You can think of this server as being like that old server but it’s lighting fast, doesn’t have hard drives that can fail, and is accessible to you wherever you have a browser connected to the internet. It’s in the cloud! and that’s good because you never need buy another  replacement server, install windows, worry about if you have the valid key for windows again. After creating your new instance you should see something like this:

Next, click on the “Console” link under the “more” menu (next to “Create Snapshot”). You will be prompted to accept the Microsoft license agreement and to set your password (make it secure).  Once complete, use the Ctrl+Alt+Del button at the top to login.

Now you are using Wndows in the cloud! Just minimize or close the system information panel an you will see the familiar blue Windows default desktop.

Step Four: Install quickbooks

It’s as simple as going to the website (from within the new cloud server you just made) and downloading the software from the Intuit website (using your favourite browser and a search for “Download Quickbooks” will get you there easily)

Because your server is in the cloud you can download things very very fast (because you are directly connected to the backbone of the internet!). Often when people first experience this they think something must be wrong because it’s so fast you might not even see it finish downloading (don’t worry, it’s just really fast!).

Now you install the software just like you normally would and enter your Quickbooks licence key when you are asked for it (if you don’t have one they give you a 30 day free trial)

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 2.05.11 PM           Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 2.18.10 PM

That’s it, you are all ready to go with Quickbooks in the cloud now, It’s that easy!

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 2.19.42 PM

Now when you or anyone else in your organization wants to use your accounting system it’s available to them from anywhere on the planet where they are connected to the internet. You can always access it (and any other VMs you make) via your Cloud-A account or if you like you can configure your Windows VM to be accessible directly via an external IP address if you know how to set it up and prefer the usability of Remote Desktop as compared to the simple web interface we provide (link below). We don’t do this for you by default so that you can rest assured that your data is safe and never accessible to anyone else unless you make it available to them.

Other things you can do in the Cloud with your new Cloud-A VM / Next Steps: