When selecting new custom software for your business, you may find yourself torn between selecting web-based or desktop software programs. Every company is unique and will have different selection criteria. The best choice for your company will typically depend on your business’s goals, needs and the location of your staff. Below are some of the main differences between desktop and web-based software.
To work with a desktop-based program, you must typically use a computer on which the program has already been installed. If multiple users are needed to access the same application then a network implementation is needed where the database is installed on a local server. Then the thin client would then be installed on each local computer and connected through the network to the server. The downside of a sharing network for your office computers, is remote access would have to be managed by another software typically known as VPN. In addition, custom business software designed for a desktop may be compatible with Mac, Windows, or both. When choosing a desktop software program, you must make sure that it will be compatible with all of your computers.
Web-based software, on the other hand, is much more accessible. A web application can be accessed from any location that has internet service. From the road or even a local coffee shop, staff and clients alike can access the application by just an internet accessible browser. This is more convenient for customers, as well as for remote employees. With web-based software, an employee can work on office task from home or while on a business trip. However, if your business doesn’t have a reliable internet connection, this can be problematic. Furthermore, web-based applications sometimes operate slower than desktop-based software.
Maintenance and Upgrades
If your business uses desktop applications, you must install the program individually on each computer you will be using. When you upgrade a desktop software application, you must manually upgrade the software on each computer. If you upgrade your operating systems, the program may need a special update, or it may stop working altogether. This is the case with new versions of Windows operating system.
Conversely, custom web applications require only one installation. In addition, such applications are typically hosted and maintained by third party web hosting companies. If the application needs maintenance or an upgrade, it won’t be your responsibility. In fact, this is one of the main reasons why web-based applications have become so popular. However, these automatic upgrades can also be problematic. If your company doesn’t want or need the upgrades, they will occur anyway. Furthermore, problems with the host can disable the program for all users.
In terms of security, desktop-based applications are usually better. No matter how secure a web-based application claims to be, there are always inherent risks when you work with data online. Whether or not the convenience of web-based applications is worth the risk often depends on the software’s intended use. For example, an application designed to keep track of sensitive financial information may require the extra security of desktop software.
Web applications are usually more expensive than the desktop variety because they involve a recurring fee for services. However, they are often upgraded and advanced more rapidly. Unlike a desktop application, a web application will last for a long time and is unlikely to go out of style. Desktop applications are purchased with a one-time payment, but they must be replaced when they fail to meet the business’s needs.
Making a Choice
By comparing the pros and cons of each type of software, you can decide which model is best for your business. For example, if all of your employees are in one office and you don’t need remote access to your software programs, desktop applications may be better for your business. Desktop software may also be better if you can’t afford any downtime, or if you need extra security. Conversely, if your employees need to access your applications from outside the office, or if your customers need to access the applications, web-based software is the best choice.