Forum Message

Online vs offline

What are the actual benefits of the 2 versions.
I'm a vat registered sole trader, so to go from the offline version (one off payment) to a quite extortionate monthly payment for the only benefit being that it's "in the cloud" which quite frankly I don't need!

Posted by Rob Couzins on Feb 18, 2019 12:34 PM GMT

Hi Rob,

Probably the biggest benefit of the online version version over the offline version is the ability to submit VAT returns directly to HMRC in accordance with the new "Making Tax Digital" rules. Here are some of the other benefits:


Posted by Mark McLaren (Solar Accounts) on Feb 18, 2019 2:05 PM GMT

Are you planning to discontinue the off line version of Solar? Do we need to start looking for a new software package?

Posted by Neil Millward on Feb 26, 2019 9:12 AM GMT

Hello Neil,

Yes, we stopped developing the offline version of Solar Accounts in 2014 and will end support for that version soon. In case you haven't seen it, this page describes how to switch to the online version:


Posted by Mark McLaren (Solar Accounts) on Feb 26, 2019 1:33 PM GMT

Hi Rob, like you I'm a bit miffed off about being backed into a corner on this. It seems Solar accounts have gone from being a very reasonable priced product to an overpriced product. At least that is what it seems to me, when you don't use all the products abilities. I don't use the offline version to its full potential as I don't need to. Likewise I wouldn't use all the online features. Shame Solar haven't offered a "lite" version at a reduced price for people like me who don't want all the bells and whistles and just need to enter their VAT online. At £240 (plus Vat) per year its too much but I fear we might have to all bend over and take it.
I'll be looking around to see what else is available as I'm sure will many others, thanks to the MTD rules, which is a shame as I really like the Solar accounts product but If i find something better priced I will have to go.

Posted by Roland Youngs on Mar 4, 2019 12:02 PM GMT

Just seen prices are going up for the online version ready the MTD launch and the offline version will soon to be no longer be supported.

Shame, I’ve just sorted my excel MTD bridging solution for under £20 a year allowing me stick with my offline version and now may have to re-examine everything again during the year.

Unfortunately the 25% increase to £300 a year is way too a high a price for the online version when I can get QuickBooks now for £9 a month for 6 months and that includes a lot more. For now the offline version and using a MTD bridging solution will work for me until HMRC change something that will stop me from using the offline version. Luckily, my accountant will tell me and change accordingly.

Posted by Kp on Mar 6, 2019 6:16 PM GMT

Hi KP,

The quickbooks price is only an option if you give up the free 30-day trial, and in any case is only available for 6 months. So for comparison I think a more accurate picture would be their usual price of £18 per month. Yes, this is still cheaper than our offering but we believe we provide better value by making our software easier to use and providing better support. I hope you will consider Solar Accounts Online when you are ready to upgrade from your old Solar Accounts version.


Posted by Mark McLaren (Solar Accounts) on Mar 7, 2019 9:59 AM GMT

Hi Mark,

Like many small businesses our day to day accounting is very simple, it was only the hassle of using excel spreadsheets that we decided on using a dedicated accounts software package, the automation that it brings easily justified it’s one off cost and Solar Accounts filled our need.

I have many friends that use QuickBooks and user friendliness and live support doesn’t seem to be an issue, they seem to like the ability to call up their accounts on any PC especially on mobiles & tablets when on the move, have their bank accounts sync automatically, etc. As Solar doesn’t have mobile app solutions, one is still tied to the desktop or laptop wherever that may be as long as a secure reliable internet is available.

My biggest issue with any cloud based system pushing the high cost issues to one side is they don’t allow working offline and then simply syncing to the cloud as they solely rely on a constant reliable internet access to work. Using public internet such as hotels, cafes, etc., isn’t secure so not an option.

When working with Solar online is all the data transmitted back and forth encrypted like with banks?

My PC set up backs up automatically to a separate encrypted hard drive on an incremental basis hourly and daily then a full back up weekly. I also have google drive that syncs my important files like my accounts so any changes on my desktop or laptop are automatically updated to my inexpensive cloud account. I also have a power back up system for my office PC should the power go out. All the above is a cheap reliable system that I’ve been using for years before cloud accounting became a profitable business.

If I use Solar accounts online version offline I’m still paying for an expensive cloud based system that raises the question on how does MTD work this way, can Solar Accounts be used offline line then simply switch back to online for the purpose of doing VAT to comply with MTD and then again switch back.

The other issue with offline mode is needing an internet connection just to log in when starting Solar Accounts or has this changed?

I can’t complain with the support as it’s always been good but really only used it at the very beginning, I assume the online version comes with a proper user manual now, one that can be downloaded and printed off, that was something lacking with the offline version.

Currently for me it doesn’t make financial sense over using any desktop version with a MTD bridging solution, certainly until changes are made to the current cash accounting system that makes the offline version redundant.

Posted by Kp on Mar 7, 2019 7:34 PM GMT

Hi KP,

Yes, the Solar Accounts software uses standard 128-bit TLS encryption when communicating with the server - this is the same type of encryption your browser uses when you log into view your bank details. If you choose to keep your data offline then Solar Accounts Online is more secure than your current version because it encrypts your data on disk and only decrypts it in memory (or when you save a backup file).

Yes you will still need an internet connection to log in and to submit your VAT return. Unfortunately we do not have a user manual designed to be printed. We also do not support mobile devices, although this situation may change by the time you decide to upgrade.


Posted by Mark McLaren (Solar Accounts) on Mar 9, 2019 6:10 AM GMT