QuickBooks: Online Backups

By Patrick Bonnaure, Founder and CEO of ProLedge Bookkeeping Services

Whether you are looking to backup just your QuickBooks file, all your documents or your whole computer, options are many, but online backup solutions need to be in your repertoire. Online backup services are now mainstream, proven and undeniably useful.

In an earlier post, I discussed processes and options for backing up your QuickBooks files, so let’s not rehash the importance of backing up your files regularly. Let’s just look at the role that online backups can play.

The benefits of online backups are clear:

  • Safe (which is a distinct concept from “secure” – see more on this below). Local backups, whether they are on a separate drive on your computer, on an external drive, on DVDs or any other medium, are susceptible to fire, floods, power surges (e.g. lightning strike) or theft. Remote backups have redundancies built in and are immune to that.
  • Convenient: Once you’re setup, you don’t need to worry about making sure that you external drive is connected, checking that the backup disk is not full or has bad sectors, swapping DVDs, etc… With online backups, as long as you’re connected to the internet, you’re good to go. Also, online backup services have their own software that comes with the service. The software is regularly updated remotely, most of the time, seamlessly. With local backups, more onus is on you because have to select your own software, configure it and keep it current on your computer.

Online backups have downsides though:

  • Slow: If you are on a cable modem or DSL, your backups are throttled by the bandwidth available. The backup software that these services download on your PC or Mac are smart enough to upload only the changes from the previous backup, so that the incremental data uploaded on a regular basis is small and manageable. However, the initial backup can be incredibly long. If you are not careful about the files you select to backup initially, the first backup could takes days or weeks (I’m serious!). For the initial backup, focus on the important files. Don’t backup your whole PC and hold on off on backing up your pictures until later.
  • Cost: There are many local backup solutions that are free, whereas online backup services need to charge you to cover their costs. Some have free introductory plans, but eventually, you have to switch to a paying plan.
  • Security: Most, if not all, quality online backup services encrypt the data when it is being transferred from your computer to their data center and they keep it encrypted once saved on their server. So, security risks are low. However, there is no denying that risks are still greater than with local backups. It’s a trade-off that you need to be willing to make. Are the benefits listed above worth the smaller incremental security risk? There is no right or wrong answer. It depends on your risk tolerance profile and the sensitivity of your data.

If you want to try online backups, there are many options available to you, for all types of budgets. Two of the most popular and well established services are Mozy and Carbonite. Intuit also has an offering that integrates with QuickBooks, but they are comparatively new-comers to the online backup party. Intuit’s service allows to backup any file and is not limited to the QuickBooks files, but their differentiation is their integration with the Intuit product line. If you have QuickBooks 2011, the offering is called Intuit Data Protect. If you have QuickBooks 2010 or an earlier version, the offering is called QuickBooks Online Backup.

Very often, the better backup strategy will include a combination of local backups and online backups. For instance, you can use an online backup service to backup your documents and use an local backup solution to backup the whole PC. The rationale behind this approach is that, if your whole PC crashes, you need to have a quick solution to get back on your feet. Downloading a complete image of your hardrive from a remote location could take forever. You’re better off doing the restore from a local device.


  • 20-05-11

    Great article. We advise our clients on this all the time, it’s so important! Losing your financials is a nightmare. Thanks!

    – JB

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