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Cloud-based ATX


schirallicpa
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I will never use cloud based ATX.  Period!!  But then, I am old enough to cash out if that should ever become mandatory.  There are some fine cloud-based tax programs out there at a greatly reduced price.  IMO, my client information belongs on my (hopefully) secure hard drive; and not out there somewhere on a cloud.

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The cloud has advantages, love the idea of it but my experience in practice is that it's far slower than a desktop version. Be sure and test it.

I take my laptop and do taxes at people's homes, offices and farms and cloud makes that far less reliable.

 

A company I work with just rolled out a new tech platform. It literally is 15-20 seconds to load each page. If you want to edit a page with new client data, 10-15 seconds for it to unlock that section for you to start entering and there could be 2-3 sections in one page. Mind boggling that a company thinks that is acceptable.

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56 minutes ago, mcb39 said:

I will never use cloud based ATX.  Period!!  But then, I am old enough to cash out if that should ever become mandatory.  There are some fine cloud-based tax programs out there at a greatly reduced price.  IMO, my client information belongs on my (hopefully) secure hard drive; and not out there somewhere on a cloud.

Catch-22.

Many feel data should only be in the cloud as it is likely more secure than a random box in a home office or small office. Given the number who refuse to even keep their OS current, this is tough to argue. I get daily discussions about how a Vista machine still works fine.

There are some who prefer to and have the skill to manage their own data, but we are aging out. There are some laws in a few areas making cloud storage not proper (claiming safety).

One issue is connectivity. If one assumes daily connectivity, cloud at rest storage is good for most. There seems to be at least annual bouts of major connectivity issues, which can stretch into multiple days.

Another issue is data entry and update speed. Even a one finger keyboard jockey can likely outpace feeding data back and forth to a cloud (especially upload for many connections).

The likely best answer is a hybrid. At rest storage online, and a backup local. Working data is local only. All data is secure by the software so walking away from the machine is safe and cloud is safe too. Load time is minimal as download is reasonable for lost, and if there is a local copy, you can compare instead of download. Program load time is what people see. Cleanup is slower but acceptable as upload is often slower, but people expect and accept closing to take longer.

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There is also the problem of where you are in relationship to your storage. Cloud is somewhat of a misnomer as it really means a physical storage somewhere on land.

Personally, for storage, I can choose a close server farm for main, and different regions for backups. Serving data likely has a main location, hopefully close to you physically, and multiple mirrors in different regions. Advanced usage will offer serving from the closest location possible.

A good way to test location variance is to use a speed test app which allows you to select different servers to test. Local vs thousands of miles away differences are clear. 

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Yes, outages can be an issue, the online payroll program that I used to use was on Amazon Web Services and they had a significant outage every 2 or 3 years

that would last 3 or 4 hours. The current online payroll program that I have my largest client on (60 employees) seems to have a significant latency issue

every 2 or 3 months that lasts 30 to 45 minutes where the program is unuseable.

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When I lose power and internet, I have a whole-house generator to keep my OIH running. But there's nothing I can do until Optimum restores service &/or restrings their lines. During hurricanes and nor'easters, that's been as long as 11 days. We have one AT&T telephone line, also. But the last major storm had winds that ripped all the lines right out of our house (electric, Optimum, AND At&T). We had to wait for tree work here and around town, which doesn't begin until Eversource clears all the power lines, new telephone poles to arrive from WI or someplace in the midwest,  Eversource and Optimum (and AT&T) to string lines, and finally for an electrician we had to hire to replace the specialty metal piece that was broken and twisted and connect the lines from where Optimum's (and AT&T's) responsibility ended and ours began. We had a dead powerline across our driveway, so our propane company wouldn't drive in to refill our propane tanks that power our generator. Couldn't blame them. But it took a LOT of calls to Eversource to unattach the line and move it off our driveway.

I have a cloud back-up and an external drive back-up, but my programs and data reside on my desktop.

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1 hour ago, cbslee said:

Yes, outages can be an issue, the online payroll program that I used to use was on Amazon Web Services and they had a significant outage every 2 or 3 years

that would last 3 or 4 hours. The current online payroll program that I have my largest client on (60 employees) seems to have a significant latency issue

every 2 or 3 months that lasts 30 to 45 minutes where the program is unuseable.

While not reasonable, it is reasonable I suppose.  It comes down to cost.  There are ways to give better uptime, but they are more costly.  Latency is more likely your connection to the server.

I have been testing my choice of servers for a few years.  No significant downtime yet.  Is not AWS, Asure, etc.  Mains are in TX, to reduce distance to the coasts.  Even with what seems like a reliable connection, I am still going the hybrid route for the reasons shared above.

Personal connectivity often gets the blame.  In my personal case, my wired connection is not symmetrical.  They give up on upload and sell download.  (Cable, and they will eventually roll out better upload, maybe even symmetrical.) I have other connections I can route through when desired.

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For me, the "events" so far, flood in '86 (a week without utility power), quake in 2014, and bug out for fire/smoke a couple of times in the last few years.  There have been other events, but those three are the ones where our lives were changed.

The best way to see your "status" is to try recovering without accessing your current computer or connection.  THAT will tell you how ready you are for any sort of outage, loss, theft, or failure.  A good time is when you get a new computer, try setting up without touching your existing machine.

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I can do that with my existing, alternating, external hard drive backups.  I only have to install the backup program and can restore the entire contents of my hard drive at the point of the last backup.  These two hard drives reside in a safe.  My technician does not want me on a cloud and I don't want to be there.  

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I would move one to a different physical location. Don’t rely on just one location, not even a safe which claims to be disaster proof (they are not, if consumer priced).

Aversion to online storage is a red flag for a tech (to me). Even if one does not trust the security of their online vendor, one can encrypt before upload. Online storage means you can have fresher backups and do not have to spend as much time recreating what happened since the backup was made.

Two backups are not enough, and stored in the same place is not good enough. 

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I have a second drive in the box, an external drive in a safe (yes, consumer priced but rated fire proof and easily accessible for me to grab and run) and BackBlaze continuous cloud back up.  That's what I do and hope it's enough for 3 more years.  There are limits for us all both technologically and price wise. 

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Yes, there are limits.  Two safes, two backup hard drives, two jump drives with multiple years of ATX files backed up;  This may not be enough, but it is what I have.  If Margaret and I last for three more years; I think it is sufficient.  I have three active computers in my small office and one at another location.  I have two password books; one of which travels with me, and I have learned to write with pencils because of the ever-changing demand to alter the passwords.  

I have one return to finish tomorrow and I can almost feel the weight lifting.  It is snowing in Wisconsin, which is way too early and I think I have learned to take one day at a time.  Goodnight all.  It's been quite an interesting tax season.  Looking forward to a fresh start going forward and to some R&R in the meantime.  I wish you all great happiness.💞

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