Trending March 2024 # 11 Best Small Business Accounting Software In Usa (2023) # Suggested April 2024 # Top 8 Popular

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Accounting software is an application that records and processes financial transactions within modules. These modules include account receivable, account payable, ledger, journal, payroll, etc. It helps professionals to manage accounts and perform numerous accounting operations.

Following is a handpicked list of Top Accounting Software for Small Business with popular features and website links. The list contains both open source (free) and commercial (paid) software.

Best Accounting Software for Small Business

Quickbooks is an automated accounting software that enables you to handle sales tax, bookkeeping, invoicing, etc. You can use this software to track bills and expenses.

#1 Top Pick

Quickbooks

5.0

Customer Support: Phone

Compliance standard: PCI and SOC

Supported Platforms: Windows, Android and iOS

Free Trial: 30 Days Free Trial

Visit Quickbooks

Features:

You can access your account and manage your business anytime, anywhere.

It supports online banking integration.

You to create professional invoices and sales receipts.

Control your books with roles and permissions.

You can manage your cash flow according to vendors’ due.

Quickbooks is a small business accounting software in USA provides customizable reports and dashboards.

Supports compliance standard such as PCI and SOC

Offers inventory tracking

Provides multiple payment options like debit or credit card, ACH bank transfer, Apple Pay®, PayPal, and Venmo

Seamlessly integrates with PayPal, Square, Etsy, and Shopify

Offers Payment Reminders, Cashflow Tracking, Payroll, and Invoicing

It provides customer support via Phone

Supported platforms: Windows, Android and iOS

Price: Plans start at $11 a month. 30% Discount on Yearly Payment.

Free Trial: 30 Days Free Trial

👍 Pros 👎 Cons

Simple and easy to use Below-average customer support

Beginner-friendly UI

Easy inventory management

Sync bank statements

30-Days Free Trial

Zoho Books is a tax compliant accounting software that enables you to manage your account payables, receivables. It allows you to collaborate with the company employee.

#2

Zoho Books

4.9

Customer Support: Phone, Chat and Email

Compliance standard: GST and GDPR

Supported Platforms: Windows, Android and iOS

Free Trial: 14 Days Free Trial

Visit Zoho Books

Features:

It automatically calculates GST and generates the report.

You can follow up payment using automatic alerts.

It enables you to integrate with numerous online payments.

Zoho Books enables you to track expenses and record bills.

You can choose your price from the list provided by Zoho Books.

It automatically fetches a bank statement from the bank into your account.

You can manage more than one project, add tasks, and assign them to employees.

You can generate invoice customer depend on on-task time or fix cost for any project.

Supports compliance standard such as GST and GDPR

Offers stock tracking

Provides multiple payment options like PayPal, Eazypay, Razorpay, and paytm

Offers End-to-end accounting, Receivables, Payables, Inventory, Banking, Timesheet, Contacts, and Reports

Seamlessly integrates with Zapier, Office, Slack, and twilio

Offers Multi-currency, Payment Reminders, Cashflow Tracking, Payroll, and Invoicing

It provides customer support via Phone, Chat and Email

Supported platforms: Windows, Android and iOS

Price: Plans start at $20 a month. 25% Discount on Yearly Payment.

Free Trial: 14 Days Free Trial

👍 Pros 👎 Cons

Easy to access Complex for small businesses

End-to-End Accounting Cannot track fixed assets

Time Tracking

Customizable Reports

Great mobile apps

14-Days Free Trial

FreshBooks is an best accounting software in USA developed by 2ndsite Inc company. It helps you to run your small business fast, easy, and secure way.

#3

FreshBooks

4.8

Customer Support: Phone, Chat and Email

Compliance standard: PCI and GDPR

Supported Platforms: Windows, Android and iOS

Free Trial: 30 Days Free Trial (No Credit Card Required)

Visit FreshBooks

Features:

This accounting software enables you to organize expenses effortlessly.

You can use log hours without any hassle and automatically put them onto the invoice.

This accounting software helps you to collaborate on projects.

It provides easy to understand reports on finance.

Freshbook mobile app helps you to stay connected with your clients.

It automatically checks and balances to ensure compliance and accuracy.

Supports compliance standard such as PCI and GDPR

Offers Time and Mileage tracking

Provides multiple payment options like VISA, MasterCard, AMEX, Apple Pay, Stripe, and PayPal

Offers Accounting + Reports, File Sharing, Rich Proposals, Tax-Friendly Categories, Automatic Tax Calculations, and Retainers

Seamlessly integrates with Hubspot, Zapier, and Wufoo

Offers Multi-currency, Payment Reminders, Cashflow Tracking, Payroll, and Invoicing

It provides customer support via Phone, Chat and Email

Supported platforms: Windows, Android and iOS

Price: Plans start at $4.50 a month. 5% Discount on Yearly Payment.

Free Trial: 30 Days Free Trial (No Credit Card Required)

👍 Pros 👎 Cons

Fast customer supports Lacks multi-currency support

Flexible pricing plans

Expansive integration

Collaboration focused

30 Days Free Trial (No Credit Card Required)

Features:

This accounting software can track bank cash flow.

It allows you to send online invoices with online payment options.

You can connect Xero to your bank.

Record and manage receipts and expenses.

You can follow an employee’s payroll information.

Xero provides financial reports to monitor the amounts.

It saves a snapshot of relationship history and contacts.

This accounting software has one dashboard to check business performance.

Supports compliance standard such as ISO 27001, SOC 2, and PCI DSS

Offers transaction and Projects tracking

Provides multiple payment options like debit and credit

Offers Pay bills, Claim expenses, Bank connections, Accept payments, Track projects, Bank reconciliation, Capture data, Reporting, Inventor, and Analytics

Seamlessly integrates with Zapier

Offers Multi-currency, Cashflow Tracking, Payroll, and Invoicing

It provides customer support via Email

Supported platforms: Windows, Mac, Android and iOS

Price: Plans start at $25 a month.

Free Trial: 30 Days Free Trial

👍 Pros 👎 Cons

Ease of use No live chat and phone support

Easily Integrated No automatic recurring payments

User-Friendly

Cloud-based Service

30-Days Free Trial

NetSuite is an integrated cloud business product suite developed by Oracle. It provides real-time visibility of your business financial performance.

Features:

It has billing management capabilities that can integrate your finance and sales.

This bookkeeping software provides a revenue recognition management solution.

Netsuite helps you to streamline your financial planning process.

You can manage users according to their roles using the dashboard.

Supports compliance standard such as SOC, ISO 27001 and PCI DSS

Offers Stock and inventory tracking

Provides multiple payment options like Credit card, ACH, PayPal, and Apple Pay

Offers Cloud Finance, Accounting Solutions, Billing Management, Revenue Recognition Management, Financial Planning, Financial Reporting, and Global Accounting

It provides customer support via Phone, Chat and Email

Offers Multi-currency, Cashflow Tracking, Payroll, and Invoicing

Supported platforms: Windows, Linux and Mac OS

Price: Plans start at $99 a month.

Free Trial: 14 Days Free Trial

👍 Pros 👎 Cons

Multiple integration options Pricing isn’t transparent

Ideal for big companies Not ideal for small businesses

Real-Time Data Visibility

Large User Network

14 Days Free Trial

Patriotsoftware is an online accounting and payroll management software for small businesses. It enables you to securely run your payroll from any device connected to the internet.

Features:

This small business accounting software provides support via phone, chat, or email.

You can track all customer payments you need to make.

It utilizes encryption techniques to keep your bank information safe.

You can assign departments to vendor payments and customer invoices.

Supports compliance standard such as Payroll

Provides multiple payment options like PayPal, Venmo, and Zelle

Offers Free Direct Deposit, Easy-to-use, Quality—everywhere, Being trustworthy, Free Payroll Setup, and Unlimited Payrolls

It provides customer support via Phone, Chat and Email

Offers Multi-currency, Payment Reminders, Cashflow Tracking, Payroll, and Invoicing

Supported platforms: Windows

Price: Plans start at $17 a month.

Free Trial: 30 Days Free Trial

👍 Pros 👎 Cons

Easy to use No customizable reports

Affordable Lack of notifications

Simple interface

Great payroll flexibility

30 Days Free Trial

Melio is a web-based accounts payable software that lets businesses conveniently pay their bills via bank transfer and debit card for free OR via a credit card (2.9% fee), even for vendors who only accept check payments.

Features:

Pay any invoice with a bank transfer for FREE, or use your credit card to defer payment (2.9% fee). Vendors receive a check or a bank deposit

No sign-up or monthly fees. No transaction fees and no charges to recipients

User-friendly, efficient, reduce costs, saves time, which enables SMBs to focus their business rather than logistics

Designed specifically for the needs of SMBs

Supports compliance standard such as PCI DSS

Provides multiple payment options like ACH, debit, and credit

Offers Unlimited users, Recurring payments, Team management, Approval workflows, Accounts Payable, and more

Seamlessly integrates with Quickbooks, Xero, and FreshBooks

Offers Multi-currency, Payment Reminders, and Invoicing

It provides customer support via Contact Form and Email

Supported platforms: Windows and Mac

Price: Plans start at $1.50 a month.

Free Trial: 7 Days Free Trial

👍 Pros 👎 Cons

Reliable cusomer support Only pay companies located in the U.S.

Easy approval for the payment Limits of Integration

Easy payroll process

Organize documents

7 Days Free Trial

Sage is a small business and accounting software that helps you to manage payments and expenses. It offers a wide range of payroll and accountancy products.

Features:

You can access customer details, transaction history, and account balances from M.S. outlook.

It can be integrated with Office 365.

You can upload a photograph of expense receipts to Microsoft OneDrive, and it will automatically sync with Sage.

It enables you to schedule backup to MS OneDrive with 1 T.B. of available storage.

Supports compliance standard such as GDPR

Offers Stock and Inventory tracking

Provides multiple payment options like Stripe and Paypal

Offers Automated bank reconciliation, Cash flow & invoicing, Job costing, Reporting, and Security Shield

Seamlessly integrates with Zapier

Offers Multi-currency, Cashflow Tracking, Payroll, and Invoicing

Supported platforms: Windows and Mac

Price: Plans start at $34.30 a month. 40% Discount on Yearly Payment.

Free Trial: 30 Days Free Trial (No Credit Card Required)

👍 Pros 👎 Cons

Cloud-based Time-consuming to set up

In-depth reporting function Not easy to use

Multiple customisation opportunities Lack of Efficiency

Easy integration

Affordable monthly costs

30 Days Free Trial

Neat is the easy-to-use small business accounting and bookkeeping software for businesses of all sizes. It is one of the best small business accounting software that increases efficiency with real-time reporting, mobile receipt capture, fuss-free customer billing with online payments, and more.

Features:

Neat helps you visualize your business by providing trending data about your cash balance, total sales, large expenses, etc.

It allows you to access saved reports and documents that need review.

It helps you to make informed decisions with real-time reporting.

It enables you to reduce costly bookkeeping mistakes.

It offers unlimited support to solve all your queries.

You can use Neat’s mobile app to upload and match receipts to expenses as they occur on your phone or tablet.

It helps you to pair receipts with expenses in minutes so that you will get real time updates.

Supports compliance standard such as HIPAA

Offers Expenses tracking

Provides multiple payment options like Visa, Discover, Mastercard, American Express, Bank ACH, Check (Manual Entry), and Cash (Manual Entry)

Offers Make tax time less taxing, From anywhere to everywhere, Unlimited file storage, Data capture with human verification, and more

Seamlessly integrates with Quickbooks, Quicken, Outlook, mailchimp, Gmail, and turbotax

Offers Multi-currency, Payment Reminders, Cashflow Tracking, Payroll, and Invoicing

It provides customer support via Chat and Contact Form

Supported platforms: Windows, Android and iOS

Price: Plans start at $200 a month.

Free Trial: 14 Days Free Trial

👍 Pros 👎 Cons

Easy to use Lacks CRM integration

Easy to install Expensive

Simple interface

Easy to pair receipts with expenses

14-Days Free Trial

10) Freeagent

FreeAgent is an online accounting and money management tool. You can use it to send and track professionally designed invoices. This small business accounting software provides a bird’s eye view of the performance of income, expenses, and profit.

Features:

You can fill and file your self-assessment tax return to HMRC.

You can forecast your corporation tax bill.

This best accounting software enables you to analyze your cash flow and see when your tax bills are due.

Freeagent provides a bird’s eye view of the performance of income, expenses, and profit.

This small business accounting software offers an in-built stopwatch to record your time.

Supports compliance standard such as GDPR

Offers Time and Expenses tracking

Provides multiple payment options like paypal, gocardless, stripe, dwolla, debit, and credit card

Offers Dashboard, Business insights with Radar, Property, Security, Estimates, Expenses, Projects, Banking, Sales Tax, Unlimited user, and MTD-compatible

Seamlessly integrates with Dext, stripe, PayPal, Sellwire, Cyclr, and Zapier

Offers Multi-currency, Payment Reminders, Cashflow Tracking, Payroll, and Invoicing

It provides customer support via Chat and Email

Supported platforms: Windows

Price: Plans start at $12 a month. 12% Discount on Yearly Payment.

Free Trial: 30 Days Free Trial

👍 Pros 👎 Cons

Reasonable monthly cost Limited reporting features

International invoicing Lack of integrations

Well-designed UI

Unlimited number of clients

11) Waveapps

Waveapps accounting tool helps you to handle invoices, track expenses, transactions, and investments. It enables you to connect unlimited bank connections.

Features:

This accounting software for small business enables you to track income and expenses without any stress.

Waveapps enables you to create and send unlimited professional invoices.

It has a smart dashboard that gives complete information about how your business is going.

Supports compliance standard such as PCI DSS

Offers Income and Expenses tracking

Provides multiple payment options like bank deposit, credit card, and Apple Pay

Offers Accounting, Banking and Advisors

Seamlessly integrates with PayPal, Stripe, HubSpot, Zapier, and Avaza

Offers Payment Reminders, Cashflow Tracking, Payroll, and Invoicing

It provides customer support via Email

Supported platforms: Windows

Price: Plans start at $6 a month.

Free Trial: 30 Days Free Trial

👍 Pros 👎 Cons

Fully integrated Lacks time-tracking features

Hassle-free Invoice management Basic options for the reporting

User-friendly interface Poor customer support

Handling multi-currency

FAQ

The following are the key difference between desktop and cloud small business accounting software:

Desktop Small Business Accounting Software: To use desktop software, You need to install software on your computer and run it there. And all your business accounts data is also stored on your computer.

Cloud Small Business Accounting Software: This accounting software runs on the internet. To use it, no need to install software on your computer. Your business accounts data is stored on a cloud server. To access the Cloud software, you visit a website and sign in with a username and password. This means you can access software with a connection to the internet from anywhere and any device.

Below are some of the Best Small Business Accounting Software in USA:

Quickbooks

Zoho Books

Freshbooks

Xero

Netsuite

Patriotsoftware

Melio

Sage

You should consider the following factors before selecting best accounting software for small business.

Ease of use.

Size of your business.

Quality of Customer support.

License cost, if applicable.

Hardware/Software requirements of the accounting software.

Support and Update the policy of the accounting software.

Reviews of the company.

Best Accounting Software for Small Business

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How To Choose Accounting Software For Your Business

Accounting software helps you track your accounts payable and expenses in one place.

Accounting software packages vary in size, capabilities and integrations.

When selecting accounting software, you should evaluate all offerings, including compliance, reporting, tracking and available add-ons.

This article is for small business owners or financial officers looking to incorporate accounting software into their operations.

One of your top priorities as a small business owner is keeping a close eye on the money you bring in and pay out. This is why it’s critical to have the right accounting software. You need a program that helps you accomplish your daily accounting tasks, including recording payments, tracking expenses, invoicing customers and reconciling transactions. Your accounting software should also help you manage your business’s financial health, allowing you to generate reports that analyze your business’s performance from multiple angles.

Editor’s note: Looking for information on accounting software for your business? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information and quotes you need.

We’ll examine the factors involved in choosing accounting software for your small business and look at some excellent options. 

Primary factors to consider when choosing accounting software

Choosing the best accounting software for your business is challenging. Every program includes a different set of features, and most offer multiple pricing plans that vary in functionality, number of users and other aspects. 

To simplify your search, keep three primary factors in mind when selecting accounting software for your business.

Cost: Would you prefer inexpensive, basic accounting software or an application that costs more but includes extra features?

Usability: How many users must access the software? Do you prefer a cloud-based system you can access anywhere or desktop software? Do you need your accounting software to have a mobile app? What capabilities do you need the app to have?

Features: What do you need the accounting software to do? Do you need both accounts receivable and accounts payable tools? Which accounting reports do you need to generate? Do you need it to track inventory? Do you need it to include ancillary services, such as time tracking, project management,and payroll?

Tip

If you already know what you need and only want to see our recommendations, see our page for the best accounting software for small business.

What usability factors should you look for in accounting software?

To find the best accounting software for your business, you need to decide how and where you want to use it and if anyone else will be using the system. Here are some factors to consider.

Easy integration

Even the world’s most feature-packed, reasonably priced accounting applications won’t do your business much good if they don’t integrate with your existing solutions, such as sales platforms, shipping systems and even payroll applications. By choosing accounting software that works with your existing solutions, you won’t have any compatibility issues leading to potential time-consuming errors. 

Multi-user access

Most accounting programs allow you to invite other users to the system and control the data they see and the tasks they access. For instance, you may wish to give your business partner and accountant full access while allowing your employees to use the system only to track their time and invoice customers. 

Some systems allow you to invite multiple users at no additional cost; others provide free accountant access but require you to subscribe to a higher pricing plan or pay extra to add other users to the system. Some solutions offer “unlimited” payment plans to accommodate growing businesses while providing robust account options. Understanding your company’s access needs will guide you toward the right decision.

Multi-business support

If you own more than one business, you may want accounting software that supports multiple small businesses under one account at no additional cost. Otherwise, you’ll pay extra to set up separate accounts for each entity.

Cloud-based software and mobile access

Most of the top accounting systems are cloud-based so that you can access your account anytime, anywhere from any computer with internet access. This ease of access helps you run your business remotely, whether you’re at home or on vacation.

Many also offer mobile apps to help you monitor key information and accomplish core tasks on the go, which is especially helpful for teams working from home or in the field. Some packages offer separate apps for employees with basic features, such as tracking time and submitting expense receipts.

Mobile app capabilities vary, so if mobile access is an essential feature for you, ensure the accounting system’s app has the functionality you need. You’ll also want to ensure it works on your preferred platform, as some are compatible only with iOS, while others can be used with smartwatches in addition to phones and tablets.

Key Takeaway

When choosing the right small business accounting software, consider how you need to access the software. For example, would you utilize mobile apps or require remote access through cloud software?

What are the top accounting software providers?

There are a few leading accounting software providers that offer stellar service. Which provider you should choose comes down to a few key factors, but the better-known names are reputable and offer reliable service. 

These are some of the best-regarded accounting software providers:

QuickBooks

FreshBooks

Sage 50cloud

Wave Accounting

QuickBooks

QuickBooks is one of the leading accounting software providers in the world, and with good reason. Renowned for stellar products and accounting support, QuickBooks is a fantastic all-in-one accounting solution for small or growing businesses. 

QuickBooks comes with a nice variety of features that can handle most businesses’ needs, including payroll, estimate creation, organizing receipts and even cutting-edge automation technologies – all to keep your accounts up to date and error-free.

Prices range from $12.50 per month for a single user up to $90 per month for up to 25 users. But unless you’re running an accounting firm, you probably won’t need to create accounts for too many employees, so you can keep your monthly costs manageable. 

For more information, read our QuickBooks Online review.

FreshBooks

Another great option for accounting software is FreshBooks, which is filled with features to keep your finances in order. Because FreshBooks uses a payment model based on how many billable clients you have, rather than how many users need access, it’s an ideal service for contract workers or ultra-small businesses. 

Organizations with up to five clients can expect to pay $6 per month for FreshBooks’ services. For $20 per month, an organization could subscribe to a service plan to accommodate an “unlimited” number of clients. 

With FreshBooks, services include expense tracking, estimate submissions, automatic recurring bills, vendor management and more. It gives any small business a fantastic return on investment and can easily scale as your business grows.

Our review of FreshBooks has more details about how this software stacks up.

Sage 50cloud

The most significant selling point of Sage 50cloud accounting software is its easy integration with Microsoft 365 enterprise software. Sage 50cloud has a robust and intuitive dashboard so you can easily understand and analyze your accounting activities, all from a central hub. By capitalizing on the cloud architecture of Microsoft 365, 50cloud can access and organize your data to simplify all your accounting activities.

Pricing for Sage 50cloud is available on annual plans only, but each plan comes with features such as cash flow analysis, inventory management and 24/7 support to remove any hurdles from your accounting software. If you’re using Microsoft 365 as your preferred enterprise software solution, this is a great accounting software solution.

Wave Accounting

For a business that needs a free, easy-to-use accounting solution, Wave Accounting is a great place to start. Although Wave Accounting is free, it offers an excellent array of features and functionality to help organize and streamline any business. With Wave, any business can set up basic accounting with ways to optimize operations. 

Wave allows you to link multiple bank accounts or credit cards, while essential financial tools allow you to generate reports to observe your financial performance, whether it’s month over month or year over year, and provide significant financial insights about your business’s overall health.

You can learn more in our Wave Accounting review.

Cloud-based accounting software vs. desktop software

While you may assume that your chosen accounting software’s cloud-based and desktop versions perform the same functions, the two platforms can have significant differences.  

The desktop version of an accounting software package is typically a one-time purchase. On the other hand, cloud-based software usually runs on a subscription model. Often, desktop accounting software can access data saved to that computer only, missing out on the updated features and functionality that come with cloud-based options. Unlike cloud software, however, desktop accounting software is not dependent on an internet connection for access.

Cloud-based software syncs directly with your bank accounts and can be accessed from anywhere. It offers regular updates with new features to optimize functionality. Additionally, cloud-based data storage offers top-level security, so you can rest assured that your sensitive financial information is protected.

Key Takeaway

There are considerable differences between desktop and cloud software, but user access is vital. Desktop software is available only on the computer on which it was installed, while cloud-based software is accessible from anywhere you have internet access.

Questions to ask when evaluating accounting software

When you’ve narrowed down your choices to a few options, sign up for the free trials so you can see for yourself whether the accounting software has the features you need, is easy to use and saves you time. 

Call the software companies and gauge the quality of their customer service so that you can be confident that you’ll receive the support you need if you experience an issue with the program.

Here’s a list of questions to ask when you call to help you select the right accounting software for your business:

Is your software a good fit for my industry?

Do you offer customized solutions to fit my business’s needs?

How many employees and clients can your software accommodate?

How can your software help me comply with GAAP, tax laws and financial regulations?

How is my data backed up? Can access be restored immediately after an outage?

What security measures do you have in place to keep both my business’s and my customers’ data secure?

What is the total cost? Are there any setup or cloud storage fees?

What types of tech support and customer service do you provide? (For instance, does the provider offer your preferred form of contact, such as via phone or live chat?)

Eduardo Vasconcellos and Stella Morrison contributed to the writing and research in this article.

Best Cybersecurity Practices For Small Business

There is a myth among many entrepreneurs that cybercriminals and hackers do not target small businesses. That’s why they do not take crucial steps to make their businesses secure. This mistake costs high to many startups. The reality is far away from this myth. Cybercriminals focus more on small businesses than larger ones. This is because small businesses lack many essential security measures. In this article, we will discuss the best cybersecurity practices that can protect small businesses from cyber attacks.

What is a Cyber Attack?

A cyber attack is an attempt to have unauthorized access to computer systems and networks. Such attacks aim to destroy, disrupt, disable, or control the computer systems and steal, delete, or manipulate confidential data. The person who carries out a cyberattack is referred to as a cybercriminal. Cybercriminals can launch a cyber-attack from anywhere and have several attack strategies.

Why do Cyber Attacks Happen?

The primary aim of cyber attacks is to cause damage. However, there are also other objectives of cybercriminals, including the following:

1] Financial Gain

Financial gain is one of the most common reasons for cyber attacks. Hackers or cybercriminals aim to steal the confidential data of people including credit card numbers, internet banking passwords, etc. Some cybercriminals inject malware or virus into computer systems and block the access of authorized users. Then they demand a particular amount of money to unlock the computer systems or remove the malware or virus. Other cybercriminals aim to gather valuable corporate data, like propriety information.

2] Disruption and Revenge

Sometimes financial gain is not the motive of the cybercriminals. They want to either disrupt the reputation of an organization or get revenge. Such attacks often target Government bodies or non-profit organizations. If you search on the internet, you will get many examples of such types of cyber attacks.

Why do Cybercriminals Target Small Businesses?

There are many reasons for increasing cyber attacks on small businesses. Small businesses or startups are easier targets of cybercriminals because of the lack of resources. We are listing here some reasons why small businesses are more prone to cyber attacks.

1] Lack of IT Department

If you want to set up a separate IT cell in your organization, you need to hire top IT professionals because they have years of experience in handling various cyber attacks. Also, they know the best ways to protect an organization from such attacks. Hiring the top professionals requires good capital. But startups have limited resources due to which they fail to set up an IT department in their organization.

2] Lack of Security

Less security means more opportunities for hackers or cybercriminals. Many small businesses do not have enough capital to invest in cybersecurity like antivirus software for all their employees’ computer systems. However, the cost of security software is much less than the cost of a data breach. An antivirus program adds an extra layer of security to your system. Hence, the lack of an antivirus program makes it easy to hack a computer system.

What are the Best Cybersecurity Practices for Small Business?

How can you protect your small business from cybercriminals? Is there any solution? Yes, there is. We are sharing here the best cybersecurity practices that will help you protect your business from cybercriminals and hackers.

1] Use a Firewall 2] Educate All your Employees

If your employees know about all types of cyber attacks and the strategies to minimize the risk, your business will become less prone to such attacks. You can provide them with some security tips that they should take care of while surfing on the internet, such as:

3] Invest in a Good Security Technology

An antivirus program is a must-have for all businesses, especially for the smaller ones. Antivirus software is one of the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other types of cyber threats. This is an easy cybersecurity practice that you can implement in your business. Install antivirus software on all the computer systems of your organization. Generally, viruses and malware enter your system if you visit malicious websites. Antivirus software blocks all such malicious websites and prevents the risk of malicious attack.

4] Use Only Trusted Web Browsers

Never install any third-party web browser on your computer systems. Firefox, Chrome, Edge, and Safari are among the most trusted web browsers. These web browsers come with anti-phishing and anti-malware technology that protects you from cyber attacks. When a user visits any harmful website, these web browsers display a warning message on the screen. This lets the user know that the particular website is not safe to visit.

5] Secure your Wi-Fi Networks

Securing the Wi-Fi networks is another best cybersecurity practice for small businesses. Because Wi-Fi involves the transmission of data over the air, anyone in proximity can try to access your network. Therefore, always set a strong password to your Wi-Fi network. It will be more beneficial if you make it hidden or encrypted. To hide your Wi-Fi network, you have to enable SSID broadcast on the Wi-Fi router. This protection tip can help your organization’s confidential data from being compromised.

6] Use Multi-factor Identification

Always use multi-factor authentication on your employees’ accounts. The multi-factor identification adds an additional security layer to a person’s account and protects the data from being leaked. Enabling multi-factor identification, hackers cannot access your account even if they know your password. They have to verify additional steps. The two-step verification process in Google accounts is an example of multi-factor identification.

7] Keep changing the Passwords

We know that your employees have pain in changing their passwords regularly, but it is among the best security practices. If you change your passwords regularly, you will limit the account breaches. Also, changing a password prevents constant access to third-party apps and software. Apart from that, no person can guess what your password be.

8] Backup all the Data Regularly

You have read above in this article that cybercriminals aim to destroy the confidential data of an organization or lock the computer systems and demand a high amount to unlock. Therefore, you should backup all your crucial data regularly. If you have a backup, you need not worry about your data being destroyed by a hacker.

Cybercrimes are increasing day-by-day. Therefore, every employee of your organization must give cybersecurity practices the primary importance. Because you are the owner of your small business, you should keep yourself updated on the latest trends in cybercrimes and cybersecurity technologies.

How To Use Variable Pay In Your Small Business

What is variable pay?

Variable pay comprises extra wages that you pay to sales employees when they hit certain performance marks or make more sales. For example, if your sales agents earn a certain amount of extra pay every time they make a sale, these additional wages are variable pay. 

The word “variable” reflects the fact that sales employees rarely, if ever, earn the same amount of this pay per payroll cycle. Conversely, base salaries are constant and don’t vary between pay cycles. Together, an employee’s base salary and variable pay are known as the employee’s pay mix.

Key Takeaway

Variable pay is the extra money your sales agents earn atop their base salaries for hitting certain performance marks.

What are the different types of variable pay?

Variable pay falls into three categories: commissions, bonuses and management by objectives (MBOs).

Editor’s note: Looking for the right payroll service for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

How do you implement a compensation plan?

Once you know whether a commission, bonus or MBO variable pay plan best suits your small business, you’ll need to go about implementing it. Doing so is typically an easy process, but it requires some tact and care to set up equitably. There are three key things you should keep in mind as you implement your plan.

1. Tie incentives to what your sales agents can control.

Let’s say your sales team interacts directly with customers. In that case, a commission structure might be easy to set up: You’ll just multiply each agent’s total sales by your commission rate. 

However, let’s say your team mostly makes business-to-business (B2B) sales, but your company also makes business-to-consumer (B2C) sales that mostly result from effective storefront placements. In that case, tying commissions to consumer purchases may fail to incentivize your team. Instead, tie your commissions to the B2B service of selling B2C products in bulk to retailers for resale. This way, you give your sales team a fair shot at earning variable pay.

2. Offer variable pay based on employee (not team) performance.

A team that performs poorly might have one or two star players. You should reward these agents with variable pay of their own instead of tying their commissions and bonuses to the team’s performance. 

3. Give employees with more direct sales influence greater variable pay.

Let’s say your sales team consists of employees who each handle one of the following: lead generation, early calls with prospects and deal closing. Each of these parts of the sales cycle has a different influence on the sale. Lead generation is less directly tied to sales than early calls, which in turn have less impact than closing conversations. Each of these roles should be tied to variable pay that reflects these distinctions.

For example, let’s say a $10,000 sale involved three people. One person generated the lead, one person initially reached out and one account executive ultimately sealed the deal. You could pay each of these people 1%, 2% and 3% commissions, respectively. That rate comes to $100, $200, and $300, or $600 total. That’s less than the $900 that would come from paying all three people 3% commissions.

4. Use payroll software. 

The more sales your team makes, the harder it can be to track sales and commissions for each employee. Payroll software can minimize these errors while streamlining your commission calculations and payments. 

Tip

Visit our reviews of the best payroll software to learn how these systems allow you to incorporate commission into paychecks. Read about how QuickBooks stacks up against Gusto Payroll.

Best Web Design Software For Mac In 2023

Keeping up with the ever-evolving world of website development can be an intimidating task. Everything comes down to choosing the right software for your Mac. Several reliable tools can bring your web design concepts to fruition. In this article, I’ve compiled a list of the best web design software for Mac to get your dreams up and running.

1. WordPress – Editor’s Choice

WordPress is a powerful, popular, and free content management system (CMS) that is widely used for web development. It is open-source software that can be installed on any web hosting platform, making it a great choice for Mac users who want to develop their own websites.

WordPress is a user-friendly platform that can be used by both beginners and experienced developers. It offers a wide range of plugins, themes, and other features that can be customized to create a unique website. Additionally, WordPress is easy to use and update, making it a great choice for those who want to maintain their website themselves.

I personally enjoy the software’s vast customization options, which allow us to readily modify web pages to suit our particular needs. Aside from that, the software also receives regular updates placing it first on my list of the best website-building software for Mac.

Note: chúng tôi and chúng tôi are two distinct websites that shouldn’t be mixed up.

Pros

Completely customizable design

Powered up by plugins and widgets

Creating E-Commerce is simple

A vast library of ready-to-use templates is available

Cons

The learning curve is steep

Need to pay a web host

Price: Free (Plans start at $4)

Free trial

2. Wix – Customizable web development tool

Wix is an all-in-one website builder for Mac that is renowned for its user-friendly interface and extensive customization options. The software offers a vast array of custom-built templates that can be easily tailored to your specific needs through a simple drag-and-drop process. Moreover, it allows you to integrate WooCommerce or social media into your website.

This cloud-based platform enables you to access and edit your website from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection. Wix also provides a range of tools and resources to help you optimize your site for search engines, monitor its performance, and engage with your audience.

One of the major benefits of using Wix is the support one receives from the makers. The platform has a responsive and knowledgeable help center that includes tutorials, videos, and articles to guide you through the process of creating your site. Additionally, if you encounter any technical or design-related issues, you can reach out to the customer support team via email or phone.

Pros

Free plan

Have built-in SEO tools

Comes with more than 300 integrations

Wix Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI) editor integrated

Cons

Can’t change the template for a published website

E-commerce is not available with each plan

Price: Free (Plans start at $16)

Free trial

3. Shopify – Create your store here!

Shopify is an e-commerce platform that has established itself as an industry leader. It is a cloud-based tool that provides entrepreneurs and small businesses with an easy-to-use platform to create an online store. This platform is particularly attractive for Mac users due to its wide range of features, which include product management, order processing, payment gateway integration, and customer relationship management.

The key selling point of the software is the user interface that allows you to design your online store using pre-designed templates, customize them to match your branding, and manage your entire sales process in one place. Aside from that, you do not require any prior coding knowledge to use it; as a result, the tool is accessible to all users.

Additionally, Shopify’s easy-to-navigate payment process is a standout feature that sets it apart from other web development software for Mac. It supports a variety of payment gateways, including major credit cards, PayPal, and Apple Pay, allowing merchants to accept payments from around the globe.

Furthermore, the tool provides a secure checkout process that meets the highest standards of security and fraud prevention, which is important for giving customers peace of mind when making purchases. Overall, Shopify is an excellent choice for anyone looking to create an online store on their Mac.

Pros

Built specifically for e-commerce

3-day free trial

Third-party apps available

Cons

Limited free themes

Fewer modification choices

Can’t create a blogging website

Price: $9

Sign up now

4. SquareSpace – Mark your real estate online

SquareSpace is a feature-rich platform that makes it simple for users to easily construct beautiful websites, online stores, and blogs. Website development is made simple for users of all ability levels by the software’s user-friendly interface and extensive selection of templates.

The platform also makes it simple to integrate third-party technologies, such as social media and e-commerce platforms, to assist companies in enhancing their online presence. Also, the software provides a number of marketing tools that customers may utilize to promote their websites and increase their internet presence.

It also has the capacity to offer dependable and secure hosting services. Finally, SquareSpace is a well-liked option among users because it provides top-notch customer assistance. The platform offers round-the-clock phone, live chat, and email customer care to make sure consumers can always get the assistance they require.

Pros

Award-winning templates

14-days free trial

Responsive designs

SEO capabilities

Cons

Pricier than competing website builders with the same features

Price: $16

Sign up now

5. Drupal – Adaptable web design tool for Mac

Drupal is an open-source CMS that is considered one of the best web design software for Mac. It offers a strong framework for creating scalable, dynamic websites, web applications, and online communities. Thanks to its extensive customizability, flexibility, and modularity, it can be used for a variety of web development projects.

The software’s adaptability and scalability are two of the tool’s USPs. With different content categories, user roles, and permissions, the program enables developers to build sophisticated websites. Additionally, the development community, which regularly releases updates and security patches, guarantees the stability and security of your website.

Pros

Framework is flexible

Allows creating custom content types and views

High-quality security measures implemented

Cons

UI is not beginner-friendly

Site building is time-consuming

Price: Free

Free trial

6. Weebly – Professional website maker software

Weebly is a popular and free website builder that offers an easy and intuitive way to create a professional-looking website without any coding skills. It is an excellent web development software for Mac users, allowing you to design and manage your website directly from your Mac computer.

With this tool, you can choose from various customizable templates and drag-and-drop tools to create your website’s pages and content. You can add text, images, videos, forms, and other elements to your website effortlessly, making it easy to create a website that meets your unique needs.

One of the reasons for adding this program to my list of best web design software for Mac is its user-friendly interface, which makes it easy for anyone to create a professional-looking website quickly. The platform is also highly customizable, allowing you to add your own branding and style to your website.

Additionally, it also offers a powerful e-commerce platform that allows you to sell products and services directly from your website. You can easily set up an online store, manage inventory, and process payments using Weebly’s built-in tools.

Pros

Responsive-design themes

Site stats included

Allows you to switch themes without rebuilding your site

Uptime is good

Cons

No interface-wide undo feature

customer service in testing is slow in responding

Price: Free (Plans start at $10)

7. Joomla – Dependable website builder

Joomla is an open-source web development software that can be downloaded for free on Mac. It is a popular choice for developers who want to create dynamic and interactive websites that include blogs, online stores, and social networking platforms. Aside from that, It is maintained by a strong community of developers, making it one of the dependable tools to consider while crafting your website.

One of the standout features of Joomla is its CMS capabilities, which allow developers to manage website content easily, organize pages and menus, and configure permissions for multiple user roles. Additionally, it offers a wide range of customizable templates and extensions that enable users to create unique and sophisticated websites without needing to do extensive coding.

Pros

User-friendly interface

6,000+ extensions

Visual editor

Freedom in backend management

Cons

Require some coding knowledge

Gets pricey with paid extensions

Price: Free

Free trial

8. GoDaddy – Hosting website builder

You can select from various section templates that have already been created and modify them to match your brand or sense of style. Additionally, the platform provides a wide range of features, such as social media integration, SEO tools, and e-commerce functionality. To make your website stand out, you can also add your own photos and multimedia content.

Small businesses, bloggers, and individuals who want to build a professional website on their own without assistance from a web developer should use GoDaddy Website Builder. Besides this, you can also check for the cheap hosting plans offered by the service provider.

Pros

Customizable section templates

Reformats content when switching themes

Pricing plans are cheap

Cons

Templates aren’t visually appealing

Creative freedom is not available

Price: Free

Free trial

9. Hostinger – Creative web dev software

Hostinger is a great option if you want to create a professional-looking website but don’t want to deal with coding or selecting a web host. However, it’s important to note that this website builder isn’t free.

Nevertheless, its user-friendly interface makes it an excellent choice for beginners, and its drag-and-drop editors, customizable templates, and pre-built elements allow you to create a website that meets your requirements.

Using a hosting website builder has several benefits, including the ability to optimize your website for search engines, monitor its performance, and engage with your visitors. With Hostinger, you can integrate social media, add contact forms, and leverage email marketing tools to connect with your audience. These features make it a valuable tool for building an effective online presence.

Pros

Beginners friendly

Affordable than most of the options on the list

Built-in features

Cons

Lacking customization

Dependence on the platform

Price: $2.99

Sign up now

10. SITE 123 – Responsive web designing tool

Although SITE 123 may not top my list of the best web development software for Mac, it is undeniably a top-tier tool that has become the preferred choice for both individuals and businesses seeking to create visually appealing websites.

The software’s sleek interface and user-friendly features have made it a go-to option for web development. One of its standout features is the vast collection of pre-designed templates that ensure a polished and professional look for your website. All of these templates support responsive design and can be optimized for both desktop and mobile devices.

Pros

A vast collection of pre-designed templates

Templates support responsive design

Wide range of features and tools to enhance your website

Cons

Not much customization offered

Price: Free (Plan starts at $5.80)

Free trial

FAQ

Why is Mac a good choice for web development?

Web developers frequently favor Mac for web development because of its svelte design, user-friendly interface, and high-performance capabilities. Macs are also renowned for their dependability, security, and interoperability with well-liked web-building tools.

What’s your choice?

Read more:

Author Profile

Bhaskar

Bhaskar is a member of the iGB family and enjoys experimenting with words and rhythms. He also has a knack for web and app development. If not writing, you may find him on strings or engaging in sports. And by evening, his quotes will be appearing on your Instagram feeds.

Best Virtual Machine Software In 2023 (Detailed Guide)

Whether you’ve chosen Windows or macOS, for the most part we love our computers, and they do pretty much everything we need. But from time to time the grass may look greener on the other side. A Mac user may become interested in an app that only works on Windows. Or a Windows user may start to wonder why there’s so much interest in macOS. Without purchasing a second computer, what can you do?

Virtualization software is a fast and convenient solution that will let you have your cake and eat it too. It enables you to run other operating systems and software without needing to reboot. It gives you many of the benefits of buying a new computer without making such a huge financial outlay.

There are three major contenders in this space: Parallels Desktop, VMware Fusion, and VirtualBox. We tested them all and concluded that Parallels Desktop is the best choice for most Mac users. It’s the easiest way to access Windows apps on your Mac, is competitively priced, and performance is excellent. It is easy to install and easy to use.

The other two apps work on Windows as well. VMware may feel more at home in your company if it has a dedicated IT team. In fact, they may already be using it for more technical purposes. And VirtualBox is absolutely free, making it worthwhile if you value price over performance, or you’re just ready to get your toes wet.

Of course, virtualization products are not the only way to run Windows apps on your Mac. We’ll cover those options at the end of this article. In the meantime, let’s dig a little more into what virtualization software can do for you.

Why Trust Me for This Guide

My name is Adrian, and I write about tech topics on SoftwareHow and other sites. I’ve been working in IT since the 80s, providing training and support for companies and individuals, and I’ve spent a lot of time with DOS, Windows, Linux and macOS, using each on a long-term basis. Let’s just say I love tech. I currently own an iMac and a MacBook Air.

When I first switched from Windows to Linux in early 2003, there were still a few Windows apps that I needed to use most of the time. I was discovering a lot of Linux programs I loved, but I hadn’t found alternatives for a few old favorites.

So I experimented with the best way to handle that. I set my laptop up as dual boot so that both Windows and Linux were installed, and I could choose which to use each time I turned my computer on. That was useful, but took time. It felt like too much work if I just wanted to use a single app for a few minutes.

So I experimented with virtualization software, starting with the free VMware Player. I found that app a little too limited, but wasn’t ready to spend money on the full version. So I tried the free option, VirtualBox. It did everything I needed, and I used it for a few years until I was fully weaned off Windows. After that, I used it to try out new versions of Linux without risking my working machine.

Along the way, I sometimes experimented with WINE, a program that allows you to run Windows apps without having Windows installed at all. I managed to get quite a few Windows apps running that way, including Ecco Pro, and old favorite. But it was often quite a lot of work, and not all apps worked. While I loved the idea of WINE, I normally found myself using VirtualBox instead.

With that experience of running virtualization software on Linux years ago, I was keen to try out the options today. Read on to discover what I loved and what I didn’t.

What You Need to Know Up-Front about Virtual Machines

A virtual machine (VM) is a computer emulated in a software program. Think of it as a computer within a computer, or software pretending to be hardware. It’s a substitute for purchasing a new physical computer. It’s less expensive, and often more convenient. The virtual hard drive is just a file on your actual drive, and a portion of your actual RAM, processor and peripherals are shared with the VM.

In virtualization terminology, your real computer is called the host, and the virtual machine is called the guest. In my case, the host is MacBook Air running macOS High Sierra, and the guest VM could be running Windows, Linux, or even a different version of macOS. You can have any number of guest machines installed.

With that brief explanation out of the way, what real-life implications does that have for you?

1. A virtual machine will run slower than the machine that is hosting it.

A software emulation of a computer can’t possibly have the same performance as the computer it’s running on. After all, the host is sharing just some of its CPU, RAM and disk space with the guest.

By contrast, if you were to install Windows directly onto your Mac using Boot Camp, it will have 100% access to all of your computer’s resources. That’s important when performance is the priority, for example when gaming.

VM companies spend a lot of time tweaking their software so that Windows runs as close to native speed as possible, and the results are impressive. How much slower is Windows when running on a virtual machine? It depends on the software you choose, and is an important consideration we look at further.

2. Initial setup may be tricky with some virtualization apps.

While installing virtualization software is no harder than any other app, getting Windows up and running is easier on some platforms than others. Here are some issues:

Some platforms don’t allow you to install Windows from an installation flash drive.

Some platforms have an easy-install mode that does most of the work for you, others don’t.

Some platforms install drivers automatically, others don’t.

We’ll tell you about our experiences installing Windows on each platform.

3. You may need to purchase another Microsoft Windows license.

If you don’t have a spare copy of Windows sitting around, you may need to purchase another license. In my case, a new copy of Windows 10 Home cost $176 AUD. Make sure you include that cost in your budgeting calculations. If you’re planning to install macOS or Linux, you should be able to do that for free.

4. Protect yourself from malware.

Mac users are generally less concerned about viruses than Windows users, and often don’t even run antivirus software. Though the risks may be lower, you should never take security lightly—you’re never 100% safe. This is why if you’re about to install Windows on your Mac, make sure you install a decent antivirus solution as well.

Who Should (and Should Not) Get This

In my experience, most people are happy with the operating system they’re using. After all, they chose it, and expect it to do everything they need. If that describes you, you may not find any benefit in running virtualization software.

Who can benefit from running it? Here are some examples:

You’re happy on your Mac, but there are a few Windows apps you want or need to run. You could run Windows on a virtual machine.

You’re happy using Windows, but you’re curious about Macs and want to see what the fuss is about. You could install macOS on a virtual machine.

Your business depends on an app that only works on older versions of your operating system, and it’s not feasible to update the app. It’s amazing how often this happens. You can install the operating system version you need on a virtual machine.

You want to try a new app, but are concerned that installing it may compromise the integrity of your current work computer. Installing it on a virtual machine is safe. Even if it crashes or hoses your VM, your work computer is not affected.

You’re a developer, and want to make sure that your app works on different operating systems, or older versions of your current operating system. Virtualization makes this convenient.

You’re a web developer, and want to see how your websites look in browsers that run on different operating systems.

You’re a manager, and want to see for yourself whether your business website looks good in browsers that run on other operating systems.

You love exploring new software and new operating systems, and can’t get enough of them. Run as many as you want in virtual machines, and switch between them easily.

Do you fit into any of those categories? Then read on, to discover which virtualization solution is the best fit.

Best Virtual Machine Software for Mac Users

Parallels Desktop for Mac is a fast and responsive virtualization application for macOS. It is designed for the average user, is priced competitively, comes with great support, and makes installing Windows a breeze.

That’s a great combination of features, which is why I’ve chosen it as the winner for Mac users. There are a number of versions, starting at $79.95.

I thoroughly tested most features of this app, so if you’d like more details, check out our full Parallels Desktop review. Also, have a look at our Windows winners—they are strong contenders for Mac users as well.

For now, let me highlight a few key features of the full version of Parallels Desktop I really like, and explain why they might be important to you.

Parallels Desktop Makes Installing Windows Easier than the Competition

After installing your virtualization software, you’ll need to install Windows. This is potentially difficult and time-consuming, but not with Parallels. They’ve made the process as simple as possible.

Firstly, they allow me to install Windows from every installation medium, including a flash drive. None of the competitors support installing from flash drives.

All done. Now I just need to install my Windows apps.

Parallels Desktop Makes it Easy to Launch Windows Apps

If you’d like to bypass the Windows interface altogether, you can launch Windows apps the same way as you launch your Mac apps. You can place them on your dock or search for them in Spotlight. They run them in their own window, so you never need to see the Windows desktop or start menu.

Parallels calls this “Coherence Mode”. It can even place your Windows Desktop icons on your Mac desktop, but having tried this, I prefer not to have quite that much integration, and keep Windows in its place.

Parallels Desktop Runs Windows Apps at Almost Native Speed

I didn’t run any benchmarks, but I’m happy to report that Windows felt snappy and responsive when run on Parallels Desktop, even on my eight-year-old iMac. I didn’t experience any lags or delays when running typical business software. Switching between Mac and Windows was seamless and immediate.

Parallels does its best not to slow down your Mac software, too. When not in use, it pauses the virtual machine to reduce the load on your computer.

Parallels Desktop Lets You Run Other Operating Systems

If you’re interested in running operating systems other than Microsoft Windows, Parallels will handle that as well.

You might like to run macOS on a virtual machine. That can be useful if you want to test a new app without compromising your main machine, or if you have an app that only works on an older version of OS X, say a 16 bit program that is no longer supported.

However, running these operating systems under Parallels didn’t feel as responsive as Windows. I imagine Parallels have spent their efforts tuning their software to Windows, the operating system most people buy the software to run.

Once you have several operating systems installed, launching them and switching between them is very straightforward. You can run each one in its own window or space.

Parallels Desktop Is Good Value for Money

The Home version costs $79.99, which is a one-off payment. This is very competitive with the standard version of VMware Fusion, which costs $79.99.

The Pro and Business versions, however, are subscriptions, and cost $99.95 a year. None of the other virtualization apps use the subscription model, and if you’re not a fan, it’s one reason to consider VMware instead. Parallels Fusion Pro is aimed at developers and power users who demand the best performance, and the Business edition includes centralized administration and volume licensing.

There’s another option you won’t read about on the company’s website: Parallels Desktop Lite is available as a free download from the Mac App Store. It allows you to run macOS and Linux for free, and Windows with a $59.99 yearly subscription as an in-app purchase. This is definitely the cheapest way to get Parallels, but at the cost of some features. A 14-day trial is available, and a Windows license is not included.

Parallels Offers Excellent Support

The company also makes it easy for you to find answers to your questions in their online reference materials. They provide a comprehensive knowledge base, FAQ, Getting Started Guide, and User’s Guide.

Best Virtual Machine Software for Windows Users

I ran across a good comparison of the three apps on a forum:

Parallels = Consumer-level

VMware = Enterprise-level

VirtualBox = Linux Nerd-level

Both VMware and VirtualBox fit well in a business or enterprise with an IT team, but may be a little more difficult for the average user, especially during the installation phase. Not so difficult that it’s a show-stopper though. VirtualBox is the only free option, and will attract some users for that alone.

Let’s look at the apps in detail. Note that I evaluated these apps on my Mac, and the screenshots and my reviews reflect that.

Top Choice: VMware Fusion

If you’re looking for a quality virtualization solution that runs on more than just Mac, then VMware Fusion is your best option — it runs on Mac, Windows and Linux. They have a whole suite of more technical products available that are aimed at the server and enterprise markets. That plus the way their support works makes it a great choice if your business has an IT department.

I found the task of installing Windows on VMware Fusion a little more difficult and time-consuming than with Parallels Desktop. The Parallels guys seem to have made ease of use a major priority, giving more installation options, and making the whole process easier. Not everyone will have the problems I did, but let me list them for you:

I was unable to get the software working on my iMac because it is too old. VMware can’t run successfully on Macs made before 2011. That was my fault for not reading the system requirements more carefully, but the latest version of Parallels Desktop runs on that computer fine.

I encountered some error messages while installing VMware Fusion itself. Restarting my computer helped.

I was not able to install Windows using the USB installation drive I purchased. The options were DVD or disk image. So I downloaded Windows from Microsoft’s website, and was able to use the serial number from my flash drive to install it.

Despite the extra effort required, I was able to install Windows successfully. For many people, the installation will be no more difficult than with Parallels.

Windows apps run as smoothly under VMware as Parallels. The team has obviously worked very hard to maximize performance under Windows.

But I was able to install Linux Mint without any complications, though VMware’s drivers didn’t successfully install on my first attempt. The performance was quite acceptable anyway, especially when using apps that were not very graphics intensive.

The cost of VMware is competitive. The standard edition of VMware Fusion ($79.99) is almost the same as Parallels Desktop Home ($79.95), but things diverge once you get to the Pro versions of the apps.

VMware Fusion Pro is a one-off cost of $159.99, while Parallels Desktop Pro is a yearly subscription of $99.95. If you’re not a fan of the subscription model, that may give VMware the edge, at least with the Pro-level apps.

But things aren’t quite that simple. The Parallels Desktop Pro subscription includes support, whereas VMware doesn’t provide free support for any of their products. You can pay for support on an incident-by-incident basis or sign up for a contract. Either has the potential to increase the price significantly, leveling the playing field a little. Read more from my review of VMware Fusion here.

Runner-up: VirtualBox

VirtualBox’s winning features are its price and ability to run on multiple platforms. If you’re looking for a free app, VirtualBox is currently your only option, but at the cost of some performance. The software is aimed at a more technical audience, so its interface is a little more complicated, and even the app icon is a little geeky.

Installing Windows was a little more involved than with both Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion. Not that it was particularly difficult, but a very manual process. VirtualBox does not have an easy install option like the other apps.

Drivers were not installed automatically, either, leaving me with a limited number of screen resolution options. But it wasn’t difficult to install them.

From the Devices menu I selected Insert Guest Additions CD Image, and from there I ran the VBoxAdditions app to install all of the drivers. Once I had restarted the virtual computer, I had a full range of screen options, including when running Windows full screen.

The performance when running Windows is quite acceptable, but not in the same league as Parallels or VMware. That may be partly because the default amount of memory given to the VM was only 2GB. Changing it to 4GB helped somewhat.

I also installed Linux Mint under VirtualBox, and it went as smoothly as the Windows install. I was able to install the additional VirtualBox drivers, but wasn’t able to achieve video hardware acceleration, limiting the performance I could achieve with graphics-intensive apps. When using normal business and productivity apps, I didn’t notice this at all.

VirtualBox is an open source project, and the only virtualization option that is available totally free of charge. That will make it appealing to many, though they’ll have to compromise on performance.

They’ll also have to compromise on support, which is community-based rather than coming directly from Oracle, who manages the project. There is an excellent forum available, and you are encouraged to make that your first port of call for support issues, so developers can spend time improving the product rather than answering endless questions. However, if you discover a bug in VirtualBox you can contact the developers via a mailing list or the bug tracker.

Alternatives to Virtualization Software

Virtualization software isn’t the only way to run Windows software on your Mac. Here are three other ways you can do it, and most of them are free.

1. Install Windows Directly Onto Your Mac App:

App: Apple Boot Camp

Pros: Performance and price (free)

Cons: You will need to restart your computer to access Windows.

You don’t need a virtual machine to run Windows—you can install it directly onto your Mac. And by using tools like Apple’s Boot Camp, you can have both Windows and macOS installed at the same time, and choose which to run each time you start your computer.

This makes a huge difference when every bit of performance counts. If you like to play Windows games on your Mac, Boot Camp is your best option. It comes installed with macOS, and is free of charge.

2. Access a Windows Computer on Your Network

App: Microsoft Remote Desktop

Pros: Space and resources—you don’t need to install Windows on your Mac

Cons: Speed (you are accessing Windows over a network), and cost (you need a dedicated Windows computer).

If you have a computer already running on your home or office network (or even in a remote location), you can access it from your Mac using Microsoft Remote Desktop, which is free on the Mac App Store. Windows and the apps you need will run on the Windows machine, but will be displayed on your Mac’s screen. They feel like they are being run locally, and are able to access your local documents.

Microsoft’s app is not the only way to do access a Windows computer. One alternative is Chrome Remote Desktop, where you can access a Windows computer in a Chrome tab. You can also access Windows computers in this way via VNC (Virtual Network Computing), and there is a wide variety of paid and free VNC apps available.

3. Avoid Windows Altogether

Apps: WINE and CodeWeavers CrossOver Mac

Pros: You can run Windows apps without installing Windows

Cons: Configuration can be difficult, and does not work with all apps.

Finally, it’s possible to run many Windows apps without installing Windows at all. WINE is a free (open source) app that doesn’t emulate Windows, it replaces it by translating Windows API calls into something that your Mac can understand natively.

That sounds perfect, so why isn’t the whole world using it? It’s geeky. You may need to do a lot of tweaking to get some Windows apps to run, and that may include tracking down obscure DLL files on the Net.

CodeWeavers take a lot of that work off your hands with their commercial CrossOver Mac app (from $39.99). They take WINE and tweak it for you so that popular apps like Microsoft Office and Quicken run without any additional configuration (though you may have the best experience with older versions of the software). Even some top Windows games run. The CodeWeavers site has a compatibility page so you can make sure the software you need will run before you purchase the program.

Best Virtual Machine Software: How We Tested and Picked

Comparing software products isn’t always easy. Fortunately, the apps that we cover in this roundup have different strengths, and each one is worth considering. We’re not so much trying to give these apps an absolute ranking, but to help you make the best decision about which one will suit you best in a business context.

So we hand-tested each product, aiming to understand what they offer. Below are the key criteria we looked at when evaluating:

1. Which operating systems are supported?

Does the software run on Mac, Windows, or both? We give special consideration to Mac users who want to run Windows, as they may well be one of the biggest groups interested in virtualization. We also give attention to virtualization on Windows, and installing guest operating systems other than Windows.

2. How easy is it to install Windows and other operating systems using the software?

Installing an operating system is a big job, though hopefully not one you need to do regularly. As I already indicated, there is a difference in how easy each app makes this. That includes which media you can install Windows from, how smoothly the process goes, and whether the necessary Windows drivers are installed automatically.

3. How easy is it to run apps using the software?

If you’re using virtualization to gain access to an app you rely on regularly, you want the process of launching that app to be as smooth and simple as possible. Ideally it shouldn’t be any harder than launching a native app. Some VM apps give you more ways to do this than others.

4. Is the performance acceptable?

Just as important, once the app is running, you want it to be responsive. Ideally, it shouldn’t feel slower than running a native app.

5. How much does the app cost?

Not everyone will be willing to spend the same amount of money on virtualization software. If your business depends on it, you’ll see it as an investment. But if you’re just planning to dabble, a free option may be welcome. Here’s a quick summary of the costs of the apps:

Parallels Desktop Home $79.95

VMware Fusion $79.99

Parallels Desktop Pro and Business $99.95/year

VMware Fusion Pro $159.99

VirtualBox free

6. How good is their customer and technical support?

When questions arise or problems are encountered, you’ll need help. Of course, you’ll want to be able to reach out to the developers or support team through a number of channels, including email, live chat, and phone. A clear and detailed knowledge base with FAQs may answer all of your questions without the need for further support. Similarly, asking questions to the community of users can also be very helpful, such as through an actively moderated forum.

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