With the variety of available accounting software in the marketplace today, choosing which is right for your small business or personal use can be difficult. Initial price, ease-of-use, sustainability, even mobile function are important considerations to take into account. Keeping these firmly in mind, we examined GnuCash.
GnuCash is a free, open-source software originally released in 1997 as part of the GNU Project. The purpose behind its development was to create a free alternative to services like Quicken while maintaining similar capabilities. In the 20 years since its original development, the software has continued to grow and diversify. Here are a two of the factors that weighed heavily in our final review.
1. Ease of Setup and Use
This is of primary concern to many first-time software users, such as those just starting their business or even those just learning to keep track of their personal finances. Installation is quick and clean, taking mere minutes. Upon starting the software, the first thing you’ll notice is the barebone aspect of the interface. Although this may be enticing to some, it may be off-putting to others.
When ready, an automated Account Setup program will help with basic design for managing assets, liabilities, income, and expenses. It allows you to input necessary information, such as specifics for accounts, employees, and invoices. It then helps you create an automatic budget, with various options for income, assets, liabilities, and expenses preloaded. Once the information has been loaded, the register is set up in a checkbook fashion, simple and familiar for many of us.
2. Long-Term Use
It’s rare for free software to be able to keep pace with commercially available programs. In the case of GnuCash, however, it is the commercial programs that have difficulty keeping pace. GnuCash has a robust team of volunteer developers working to maintain the program, add features, and remove unstable code and bugs. Online documentation is exceptionally extensive, detailing each feature and its use.
GnuCash supports unlimited accounts and has multiple language options integrated. It has regional support for how various countries express date and time, currencies used, and even some localized taxes. Account files are stored locally, contrasting several commercial programs that require storage in their cloud infrastructure, which they charge a recurring fee for.
The features covered are a small representation of what the program is capable of accomplishing. Whether your experience with accounting is very basic or extensive, GnuCash allows you to take full control of your personal budget, your business’s accounts payable and receivable, your invoicing, and so much more.
The interface itself is basic and a bit of an eye sore. Tasks and options are spread out via drop-down menus, and not always intuitively. The online documentation helps, of course, but a few more in-program tutorials would likely benefit a great many users.
GnuCash is excellent software, a viable alternative to commercially available services. Intuitive to use, once you’ve spent time with the software, it’s unlikely you’ll ever be able to use a different one again.