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


I do not understand why using VPN is a problem and will result in data loss. I supported QB for some clients for a short period of time on TS, and the only problems we had, was one of printing where the print drivers were not available and took a little bit of ingenuity to make it redirect and work properly. I could understand if the problem was an unreliable connection due to poor service from an ISP or too low bandwidth. But could you please explain how does the technology of VPN affect QB?

Lost in CQ
Lost in CQ

We have a couple of clients who remotely access Quickbooks from other locations, back to their office, using GoToMyPC as an option. I haven't heard of any issues they have had by doing it this way. We also use Terminal Server for our internal users (Accountants), using the inbuilt RDP options of Small Business Server 2008 Premium. Because we use TS internally anyway, remote access is pretty much the same, just a lot slower! Printing during a session can be redirected to the local printer from where the log in is occurring from, or alternately we sometimes just use Quickbooks PDF printer, and email the document to wherever you are. A couple of our clients are migrating to Quickbooks online, the only issue we have come across so far is that Quicken don't seem to be able to guarantee their backups, recommending clients do a local backup on a regular basis anyway. Apparently it can take a couple of days to get them to do a restore.


Another option not discussed is QuickBooks Online. I work as an IT Support Specialist for several local small accouting firms. All of them use QuickBooks in one way or another to support their clients. In my nearly 20 years of experience, I have seen a multitude of setups for remote access to QuickBooks data. There are several viable options when working with customer data in QuickBooks. One of the newest is using QuickBooks Online. QuickBooks offers several different online versions, just like they offer different versions of the fully packaged prodcut (FPP). Depending upon the needs of the client, options are available starting at $12.95/month to about $78.95/month. (Standard pricing from Intuit's website, not including promotions, as of the time of this writing). Consider that the cost of QuickBooks Pro (the most popular version) is around $200. Divide by 12 months, and it equates to just over $16.67/month. The monthly pricing seems to be reasonable, especially when you consider the added benefits: 1. Your data is being backed up by Intuit. (It's still a good idea to keep a local copy yourself). 2. You don't have to worry about updates. Updates are installed automatically. 3. You don't have to buy a new version every year. When a new version is released, it is automatically ready for you online. 4. You have access to your QuickBooks data ANYWHERE that you have an internet connection. As an accounting professional, you can access your clients data in real-time. The client can also access data in real-time. (Both also benefits of using Terminal Server). However, you don't have to pay for Terminal Server CALs, QuickBooks users, and Server CALs, not to mention the cost of the hardware required to run these services. I have worked with several organizations to setup their QuickBooks this way, and the results have been nothing but positive. In case this sounds like a promotion for QB: I am in no way affiliated with Intuit. I work for an independent reseller. Comments to my post are welcome. --Brian Beckers --Computer Consultant --Fireside Office Solutions

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