What’s the biggest factor standing in the way of the use of online accounting systems? Users fear loss of control of their data, including both deliberate theft, and accidental disruption of communication that would leave their organizations without access to financial records.

We can’t do much about the theft issue or worries that an online vendor might go bankrupt while holding its clients’ accounting data. But there might be something that can be done about the worries that the data lines will go down. Somebody, maybe users, will realize that their data is nowhere in more danger than in their own hands, and is actually more secure at some high-tech facility with state-of-the-art back-up. After all, offices are burned, flooded, ripped off, and infected with viruses a lot more often than the data lines go down. But until a cultural shift occurs and businesses accept that reality, it’s time to stand off-site back-up on its head.

In classic off-site back-up, tapes on site are rotated off site as new back-ups are made. But what if users could serve as their own back-up? The primary data, the data that must be protected, would reside with an online service that has a bunker somewhere that could survive anything short of a nuclear attack.

Accounting data users, indeed users of all kinds, would use live data via the Web browser with the data safely in the hands of organizations than can protect it. The back-up would be on a computer in the user’s own office. Perhaps at the end of each business day, the service provider (don’t leave this in the hands of the user) sends a signal that kicks up the back-up of changes to the data on the user’s site. This would allow the service provider to make sure things are in sync.

If data communications are interrupted before the process is repeated the next day, the users would have current data on hand and could continue working. All entries made before communications are restored, then get sent to the service provider for synchronization.
This all has to be automatic, because we know businesses often don’t have good back-up practices to begin with -- which after all, is the reason we’re having this discussion. Maybe given the capabilities of SQL Server as part of Microsoft Small Business Server, Microsoft could use this as a selling point for SBS.

Given how cheap storage is, this should not be a problem for users who will probably have adequate server power and drive space
Just a thought.

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