DIY: Terminal Server for a QuickBooks environment

Jack Wallen answers a TechRepublic member's question about growing a QuickBooks user base on Terminal Server.

Welcome back to Ask Jack. Today's question comes from TechRepublic reader Barb and involves growing a QuickBooks user base on Terminal Server. Please post your suggestions for Barb in the discussion.

Q: I have my own bookkeeping company. Some years ago I bought a 2003 HP DL580. I have recently had Terminal Server Software installed. I want to be able to host the QuickBooks on my server and then RDP in. Printers have been a costly issue! Since the server is an '03, I need to be looking around for a replacement. I like the Terminal Server feel. What are your suggestions? I would like this to grow as a service to perhaps 10 - 20 QB clients. Licensing — 5 CAL - ??? Does this mean I can set up 8 CAL users but only 5 can log on at one time? Processor and Memory to run QB and various MS Office programs. A: Here's the deal with QuickBooks: If you purchase five user licenses, only five users can log in at a time, regardless of how the users are logging on — through Terminal Server or a VPN. You can have more than five users that use QuickBooks — just not simultaneously.

If this machine is being used as a means for users to get into QuickBooks from outside your network, you are spending a lot of unnecessary money on Terminal Server. But not having a Terminal Server environment means you won't be having multiple users log in at once. So if you need to have more than one person outside of your company network accessing QuickBooks at the same time, you will need Terminal Server. If you do not need more than one user logging in at once (from outside the network), you can place that server on something like LogMeIn.

When using QuickBooks, I would avoid at all costs working over a VPN connection. VPNs are so unreliable that using QuickBooks over one will be a certain case of when, not if, you lose data. But, if you decide to save money and go the VPN route, I would tell your QuickBooks-over-VPN users to close QuickBooks every 15 minutes to avoid too much data loss; however, even then you run the risk of corruption of the data file.

The short answer is: If you need multiple, concurrent users logging in to QuickBooks from outside the network, you will need as many CALS for Termserv as you have users and at least as many QuickBooks licenses as you have concurrent QuickBooks users. You can always purchase more CALS and licenses as you grow. I hope that helps! Ask Jack: If you have a DIY question, email it to me, and I'll do my best to answer it. (Read guidelines about submitting DIY questions.)


Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website

Editor's Picks