I'm curious as to what you guys use in running your business. Right now I just use Word for invoicing and keep books by hand.I have an Accountant to the hard stuff. I thought it was time to get into the real world and get everything on computer. I'm just a me, myself and I operation so I don't need to do too much but would like to do recievables, payables, Invoices, estimates. I was at Sams club the other day and looked at "Quicken for Contractors". What else is out there and how hard is it to use?? Thanks Jon
Regardless of choosing the right software for your needs, if you are moving from paper ledgers to a computer system, it is *vital* for you to plan how to do your system's backups. I can't over-emphasise it too much, because I have seen the stress and chaos at first hand of having to re-enter four years worth of paper, after I was called to look at a nearby neighbour's PC which had experienced a crash which turned out to be irrecoverable. His poor wife was given the job and has hardly forgiven him even now.
One of the lessons from that episode is that I would generally not recommend the use of a "general" PC that you use for surfing, mail etc as a bookkeeping system at all: it is safer to avoid all unnecessary chances of a virus or worm getting in there. A second PC for purely invoicing and running the books could be a very moderately-specified machine, and cost very little, and then it can be kept well away from public networks. The risks these days are a lot higher than they were even three years ago.
Paper books are extremely resilient and have excellent archival properties; electronic data does not. Over a seven-year period (or however long the auditing record requirement is for your tax authority) you could very feasibly change PCs, or at least change to a new hard disk drive. Historically it has often proved to be that over this time frame the backup system you had in the outset will no longer be working or supported at the end. It is always easier to cope with this if you plan it ahead.
Bear in mind also that copying stuff to CD-R is *no longer* a viable backup strategy. These things (both the disk AND the blank disks) are now so cheap that there is really no profit to be made on them, and therefore no longer any incentive for the manufacturers to produce ones that work dependably. There are so many counterfeit blank disks on the market and they *often* just lose data completely after only a couple of years. My opinion is that this is also the reason that my very very old 12X QUE!Fire external drive still seems to read just about anything I put in it, while the far newer drive in my laptop experiences read errors on anything that is not a perfect copy. Even though it probably a sign of my impending old-fartdom, I would still keep some sort of external tape backup unit going, if you are going to be putting business-critical data like your books on there, and from time to time make a c:\trial directory and try doing a small restore test, just to keep an eye on the safety of the data.
As for software I personally like GnuCash which is free and which runs on Linux or Unix, but it sounds to me as though you'd prefer a Windows package.
#52154 - 05/21/0505:21 PMRe: What accounting, invoicing software do you use?
Walrus, it was funny for me reading your post, as I've arrived at the same place you are at the moment, but through a different route...
Over the years I've spent thousands of dollars on accounting package--BPI, Peachtree, Solomon, and QuickBooks. Most of them have been worse than miserable. And the more I paid for them, the more miserable they were.
(A quick contractor story here: The owner of my office building gave the contractor building next door permission to tap into the house panel of our building for construction power. But, as Murphy would have it, the guy went to MY panel instead of the house panel. He killed the power to our panel while my office manager was doing the books on Solomon Accounting. Even with backups, the resulting database crash was completely unrecoverable. I believe that was the point when we switched to QuickBooks. I find that completely beyond belief--Solomon was a package costing thousands of dollars, and they didn't even have the basics right, like always having the disk in a consistent and recoverable state. Arggggh!@#!!!)
QuickBooks was by far the best package for my purposes, which was keeping books for a small company. If was also the least expensive by a large margin. And very easy to use.
If I really needed something now, I'd get QuickBooks. However, I went to work for a while for someone else, and when I went out on my own, I hadn't bothered to get the QuickBooks update from DOS to Windows. So I've been invoicing on Word, and just list everything out at the end of the year on a yellow pad and add it up manually. It works just fine for what I'm doing. It also has the advantage that I can email invoices to the client as "doc" files, which gets me paid faster!
[This message has been edited by SolarPowered (edited 05-21-2005).]
#52155 - 05/21/0505:34 PMRe: What accounting, invoicing software do you use?
Regarding the archival issues Jooles was talking about: Make sure to print out a permanent copy of the ledgers and journals every month, and the invoices as you issue them. That way, you have an archival paper copy that's equivalent to a manual bookkeeping system.
(Incidentally, that was how we recovered from our Solomon crash.)
[This message has been edited by SolarPowered (edited 05-21-2005).]
#52156 - 05/21/0506:44 PMRe: What accounting, invoicing software do you use?
I have been using MS Money Business. It is cheap enough for a one man operation without any bells and whistles. I would recommend Quicken Business because you can update to QuickBooks in the future if you need too. I tried a software package called "Bookkeeping" which I bought from Staples, it is only for someone who doesn't use any credit cards, so I would say don't bother with it. I returned mine to the mfg and got a refund.
#52157 - 05/21/0507:00 PMRe: What accounting, invoicing software do you use?
Here is a tip on backing up stuff. I have a dvd/cdrom burner in my pc. The drive comes with software called "incd" which runs in memory and you can put a blank dvd or cdrom in the drive, I copy all my data files and important files to this drive so if I ever did crash the harddrive I would have a copy burned on dvd. Here is some other good tips. I partition my harddrive and name one partion "Storage" I put nothing on this but data files, pics, .doc files, etc... just use it as a storage drive for backing up important stuff i dont want to loose. Sometimes windows needs to be re-installed due to corrupted files,etc... any experienced computer user knows what I am talking about. So because of having this partition called "Storage" and all my important files on it, I can reformat the C drive and reinstall Windows on it. Then I re-install all my programs on the D drive. Keep Windows on C drive and all programs on D drive. Storage is usually E or F drive, depends on size of your harddrive and how many partitions you make.
Here is a tip worth its weight in gold. If you loose a harddrive and it has important files on it, download a program called "GetDataBack" This happened to me and I had to reformat the whole drive just to reload Windows to boot the computer back up. GetDataBack recovered 75% of my files. I was amazed and very happy. I believe I spent $39.00 for it. Do a web search on Google to find out more.
I hope I have helped someone out there? Jeff
#52158 - 05/21/0507:35 PMRe: What accounting, invoicing software do you use?
Do not use DVDs or CDs as your backups. The writable versions have an organic compound that breaks down in sunlight and overtime. Funny thing also, is that people in South America have a fungus that eats the center of the disks. Writable CDs and DVDs are meant to be temporary storage. Spend the money a proper backup system. Preferably something with an offsite solution.
[This message has been edited by dmattox (edited 05-21-2005).]
#52159 - 05/21/0508:37 PMRe: What accounting, invoicing software do you use?
I assume you are refering to music CDs that you bought? They are made differently than writable CDs. Writable CDs have a layer of an organic compound that is burned by the laser. This layer is what deteriorates over time and in sunlight.