There has been a trend in the last couple of years to use accounting software as a service or ‘in the cloud’, which basically means using the software which is hosted on somebody else’s server, instead of your own. You access the software and your data via the internet. No matter whether you prefer cloud-based or installed accounting software, you should always be sure that if your data is hosted elsewhere, the company you are working with is a trusted partner. Here’s why it is so important.

Security

When your data is hosted outside of your facility, somebody else is in charge of the security. Therefore, the more familiar you are with these people, the more confident you will feel with your data in their hands. And while pricing is important, probably the most important thing is trust. So choose a trusted partner, rather than an unfamiliar vendor who gives you the lowest price.

Control

If something goes wrong with the company hosting your data, you will want to be sure your data is safe. Think SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act, U.S. House of Representatives) and PIPA (Protect IP Act, U.S. Senate). These bills are aimed at foreign Web sites that infringe copyrighted material. These two pieces of legislation could greatly affect the use of data on the internet. Who will regulate what? Which site might be shut down as time goes on, in the quest to stop online piracy? No matter what, you will want to be sure your data is controlled by the company you have carefully chosen and trust. Of course, no matter whether your data is stored internally or externally, there are risks. But you can cut down on the risk by choosing an external host who is a trusted partner.

Backup

Never underestimate the importance of a good backup. When your data is hosted elsewhere, there is somebody else besides you in control of backing up your data, so you should check into how they are handling that. Make sure you are comfortable with the frequency with which they back up your data, and also the procedures they use to do so.

The internet is becoming more useful to businesses every single day. And yes, we should all take advantage of the time and cost savings benefits that it can provide. Simply be aware of the risks and dangers of hosting your data with somebody else, be sure you are working with a trusted partner, and most importantly, keep an updated backup of your data. There are circumstances for which you should weigh your options very carefully before moving forward. With whom you host your data, the heart of your business, is one of those times.