Back in the good ole' days – before just move it to the cloud was the answer to every business problem – QuickBooks gave us the tools to be responsible managers of our financial information. Remember when you bought your accounting software in a box? You popped the CD into your desktop or laptop and everything you needed was instantly there for you.
You and your accountant knew that safeguarding your valuable company information was what business owners did so you diligently created complete backups of your QuickBooks company file.
Now Intuit has made their desktop offering a forced subscription that is cost prohibitive for a lot of companies. Instead, they tout the ease, convenience, and lower cost miracle of QuickBooks Online, making the shift to the cloud version a no-brainer.
But wait. Where's the familiar company backup click?
An Accounting Firm Was Surprised There Are No QBO Backups
We were meeting recently with an accounting firm, and I made the offhanded comment that I really dislike QuickBooks Online. There are several reasons, but the big one is the absence of a true backup. The conversation continued on to other things.
Suddenly, the meeting host jumped up and said he would be right back. Time passed. His surprised comment when he returned was simply "You're right. Unless you have the advanced version of QBO – which no one has – you can't do a backup."
I've asked other QBO users if they think their data is being backed up and protected for them. Without exception, everyone stated -- with absolute certainty -- that Intuit is backing up their data. After all, Intuit has servers all over the place. It's only logical to assume that somewhere on those big servers every company's data is safely stored and always available for them.
Quickbooks Online Terms of Service
, the agreement that none of us read. I confess I only recently dove into this when the impacts of no complete backup hit home. The lack of control over our data was alarming.
(The highlighting and comments in the legal text are ours.)
6. CONTENT AND USE OF THE SERVICES
6.1 Responsibility for Content and Use of the Services.
1. Content includes any data, information, materials, text, graphics, images, music, software, audio, video, works of authorship of any kind, that are uploaded, transmitted, posted, generated, stored or otherwise made available through the Services ("Content"),
which will include without limitation any Content that account holders (including you) provide through your use of the Services. By making your Content available through your use of the Services, you grant Intuit a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive license to host and use your Content. Archive your Content frequently. (Huh? Have you just been warned?) You are responsible for any lost or unrecoverable Content.
You must provide all required and appropriate warnings, information and disclosures. Intuit is not responsible for any of your Content that you submit through the Services. (Can't get much clearer than that.)
Another Critical Responsibility They've Delegated to You
8. DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTIES
8.1 YOUR USE OF THE SERVICES, SOFTWARE, AND CONTENT IS ENTIRELY AT YOUR OWN RISK. […] DISCLAIM ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING ANY WARRANTY THAT THE SERVICES ARE FIT FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, TITLE, MERCHANTABILITY, DATA LOSS
, NON-INTERFERENCE WITH OR NON-INFRINGEMENT OF ANY INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS, OR THE ACCURACY, RELIABILITY, QUALITY OF CONTENT IN OR LINKED TO THE SERVICES. INTUIT AND ITS AFFILIATES AND SUPPLIERS DO NOT WARRANT THAT THE SERVICES ARE SECURE, FREE FROM BUGS, VIRUSES, INTERRUPTION, ERRORS, THEFT OR DESTRUCTION.
9. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY AND INDEMNITY.
INTUIT, ITS AFFILIATES AND SUPPLIERS ARE NOT LIABLE FOR ANY OF THE FOLLOWING: (A) INDIRECT, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, EXEMPLARY, PUNITIVE OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES; (B) DAMAGES RELATING TO FAILURES OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS, THE INTERNET, ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS, CORRUPTION, SECURITY, LOSS OR THEFT OF DATA, VIRUSES, SPYWARE,
LOSS OF BUSINESS, REVENUE, PROFITS OR INVESTMENT, OR USE OF SOFTWARE OR HARDWARE THAT DOES NOT MEET INTUIT SYSTEMS REQUIREMENTS. THE ABOVE LIMITATIONS APPLY EVEN IF INTUIT AND ITS AFFILIATES AND SUPPLIERS HAVE BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.
What Does No Quickbooks Online Backup Mean For You?
Simply, if anyone with access to your QBO company file deletes, damages, infects, steals, sells or harms your data in any way, it's on you to recover it.
This is such an important and misunderstood gap in your company's financial data protection that it's worth taking time to consider what this means to you.
Action Steps to Protect Your Quickbooks Online Data
If you're an accounting professional with access to your clients' QBO data, what specific steps can you take to safeguard their data?
Your clients most likely assume that you are safeguarding their data in some way. Human mistakes happen. Breaches within your internal network expose your clients' data too. You and your clients are at risk.
If you're a business owner, what will the loss of any data mean to your company?
You can export your data to csv files. If you rely on transactional data in your company, then it's worth implementing a regular data export. In the event data is lost or deleted, you can at least reenter it from your csv files. Clunky, but better than the alternative.
We've researched third-party providers' QBO backup solutions, but we haven't put them to work yet. If you're interested in learning more, we're happy to share what we've learned so far.
With convenience comes shared responsibilities. Assumptions are easy, but they come with a lot of risk.