Many firms would like to be able to access their QuickBooks Pro/Primer file from home, office or the road. Recent drops in the cost of cloud computing now make this more affordable and easier than ever before.

The process works by purchasing a virtual computer from a hosting company. If you are not familiar with the term “virtual computer”, then think of it as one very powerful computer that can be segmented into many virtual computers. Millions of companies use virtual computers when the task at hand (like running QuickBooks) doesn’t require the capacity of a complete server.

The technology used to access and work on these virtual computers is called “Remote Desktop” (RD) and it works for both Mac and PCs. This technology has been around for decades, but it has gotten better in that it can print to your local printer and support multiple monitors.

RD is simple to use. All PCs have a Microsoft program called “Remote Desktop” that allows the computer to connect to another computer. Open the program, enter the web address of the other computer, enter your log-in and voila you’ll be on the remote desktop. If you use a Mac, you’ll need to download the free Microsoft Remote Desktop app from the App Store, but once it is installed the process is identical.

Once you are on the remote desktop, it will look like any other Windows desktop. (Sorry Mac lovers. You can access the remote desktop from your Mac, but it will be a Windows desktop). You’ll need to install QuickBooks and copy your QuickBooks file to this computer, and if you are using DesignSmart and our QuickBooks Connector, then you’ll need to install DesignSmart as well. Those tasks are relatively simple and well worth the effort considering all the benefits of being able to access QuickBooks from anywhere.

For those of you who have several licenses of QuickBooks, then you will also need to purchase additional “Remote Desktop Sessions” from the hosting company so several people can access this cloud computer at the same time. Each person will have their own log-in, but they will all be able to access the QuickBooks file.

While some people might view RD as old technology long past its usefulness, we would argue that it can be safe, reliable, inexpensive technology with many very key benefits.