Can You Drop(box) QuickBooks?
Q: We use a multiuser version of QuickBooks®, and our remote satellite office personnel log in to my computer remotely using LogMeIn to access the system—which means that only one of us can access QuickBooks at the same time. This also means that when others access QuickBooks in this manner, I can’t use my computer to perform other non-QuickBooks-related work until they are done. To resolve this issue, I am wondering if I save our QuickBooks data file in a Dropbox folder and then share that Dropbox folder with the remote satellite office, can all of us then access the QuickBooks data file at the same time?
A: Nice idea, but sharing your QuickBooks data file via Dropbox will not work because the type of technology used by Dropbox would cause technical problems. Dropbox synchronizes copies of your cloud-based files to all of your computers that access Dropbox, so when you open a file from your Dropbox, you are really opening a copy of that file from your local computer, and Dropbox automatically synchronizes any changes you make to the cloud-based master file. This “file-syncing approach” employed by Dropbox provides two benefits, as follows: (1) Because Dropbox files open locally and not across the internet, they open much faster; and (2) this approach allows users to open their Dropbox files even when they don’t have internet access.
If you were to attempt the solution you describe to access a QuickBooks data file simultaneously, both you and the satellite office personnel would in effect be opening and changing separate synchronized copies of your QuickBooks file from your respective local computers. Thereafter, when Dropbox attempts to synchronize those local file changes with the cloud-based master file, it would encounter syncing problems and, as a result, would create multiple QuickBooks data files—one bearing the original file name and others bearing the original file name followed by the phrase “Conflicted Copy.” (Theoretically, you could share your QuickBooks data file via Dropbox as long as you do not access the QuickBooks data file at the same time, but this approach does not solve your simultaneous access problem.)
It is possible to host your QuickBooks data file in the cloud using other hosting solutions that do not employ Dropbox’s type of file-syncing technology. Intuit offers two hosting programs that enable you to host your QuickBooks data file commercially or to self-host. For more information, refer to Intuit’s “QuickBooks Hosting Program FAQ” article or search for QuickBooks hosting to find a provider in your area.
Editor’s Note: We thank the Journal of Accountancy for permission to reprint this article.