FrontAccounting | AccountingWEB


Hi All - anyone heard of this: a free web based accounting/ERP system?

Will be looking at this in more detail for a colleague but wondered if it's too good to be true?




The costs of free - try it an see .....

JC | | Permalink

@Paul Scholes

Yes it is free & probably a good product (77k downloads already), however ....

Free is always relative and it really depends upon how much work you want to do & how you value your time - are you really 'au fait' with systems; not just the initial load but maintenance, backups, new upgrades etc. and how long do all these take (is your time worth more than £15-£20 per mth -which seems to be the going rate for other Cloud systems) - what is the business risk involved?

Otherwise there is a cost for them to host the application - which is probably the safer bet; but then it ceases to be free

Download it and set it up locally on your own internal systems & report back about time, opportunity cost, technical skills etc. - although you will need the following

  • A working HTTP web server eg. Apache, IIS.
  • PHP installed on the web server.
  • A working MySQL server - with innodb tables enabled (see notes below)

Finally support seems to be from forums - not a disadvantage but time consuming

Hugh Scantlebury's picture

You may also want to take a look at Openbravo

Hugh Scantlebury | | Permalink

...which is another pretty established open source ERP solution. As ever it will always come down to what the business needs etc. 

Paul Scholes's picture

Thanks both

Paul Scholes | | Permalink

I'm going to look really stupid here but I'm clearly confused by the difference between an Open Source facility and one of the many cloud applications that you pay for. 

I recently started to use Open Office which is also Open Source but, of course, that's downloaded as an application on my laptop.  So are you saying that you can download this and run it locally or arrange for them, or someone else, to host it to make it Cloud based?

I've just been into an existing user's version onine and was impressed but, as mentioned, there's no bells & whistles,  "help" or prompts, and but if you know your way around accounts, it's very neat & tidy.

Hosted locally

mm01 | | Permalink

Most hosting packages come with everything you need to be able to host this yourself, I am going to put it on my test domain later this afternoon so will let you know how it goes but if you dont have the time or knowledge to do it yourself than a local IT company will be able to do it for a relatively low fee which then also means that you are in control of the data (assuming you backup correctly of course!)

Seems great at first glance so thanks for the heads up

The short answer ....

JC | | Permalink

After reading their site

  • The system is an internet/web based system (SaaS/Cloud)
  • Yes it is OpenSource
  • Yes you can download and run the application on your local pc / intranet or external internet under your control

Alternatively they will host & run the app for you (at a cost)

However, if you are not familiar with this environment then probably the safest route is to go for a straight hosted application - see the many offerings on the market


Of course this is one route, but utlimately the costs may outweigh the benefit - for instance cost of hosting, time costs etc. all of which mount up.

If a local IT company does the work for you then of course it will work but what benefit arises above letting the original developer host it for you - not cost but maybe control of data is a benefit

Essentially the message is probably stick to what you know and unless you have time on your hands to learn, implement & support the application with all the users then ones time is probably better off spent earning fees in other areas & let specialists deal with the issues of providing the application - ultimately it could well cost far more than £20/mth one hopes to save



mm01 | | Permalink

With cloud accountancy being in its fairly early days I am still unsure about it perfectly honest. What happens if I switch some of my clients onto Xero and 2 years down the line they get hacked or go bust even?  I know this could happen anywhere (just look at Sony) and possibly an even greater risk of clients having their local Sage/QB data on their laptops and it becoming corrupt or stolen but the fact you have it yourself and are responsible for the data means if anything happens it is nobodys fault other than your own should something happen. 

If something did go pear shaped woth Xero,Sage One, QBs online etc then I know who my clients would be pointing the finger!

Re the time, Ive managed to get it installed already and busy setting it up so not really time consuming at all considering its the first time too.

It certainly isnt as polished as some of the others but I was expecting that with it being open source.

Paul Scholes's picture

Good stuff

Paul Scholes | | Permalink

It's the "ERP" side that intrigues me about these and other offerings.  I hate the acronym and have to Google it every time I see it but have been aware of the principles since viewing large packages 5-10 years back, ie they do more than just the books but, as with the current cloud based facilities, which each have their special bits, is the ERP side always the same or do some cover more than others?

On Cloud based accounting in general I've seen others write that, as in every new market, there will be a wealth of entrants at the start, but the typical fall off over time to leave survival of the fittest few.  I'm wondering however whether we might be left with more than a few and that, as with more and more resources, people will chop & change on an annual basis, ie use FreeAgent for a year, move to Xero, then on, matching changing needs to different offerings?  It's a thought. 

I'm not that worried as I'll be retired by then, life's too fast & furious, with less to show at the end.


SaaS/Cloud mature - not early days ...

JC | | Permalink


The SaaS approach has been in existance for over 10 years and is not really regarded as 'early days'

Yes hacking can occur even to the most well regarded systems (as I understand matters Sony failed to keep their protection up to date so they must take the blame) and again it is possible for providers to go bust (this is an area where SLA-Service Level Agreements have an impact)

Nevertheless, your own hosting provider could be in exactly the same position so in this respect there is no difference

In any event most of the Cloud applications provide the facility for you to download your own data (backup) to a local pc which should cover some of your points. What it will not handle is if the application is withdrawn (data without programs to access it are worthless), however, this is once again a SLA issue and possibly involves an escrow arrangement

Well done for getting the whole thing up and running - but what is your charge out rate (£25-£50 p/h) and how long did it take to setup? At £25 p/h assuming only 1 hour was spent = 1 month of other hosting & application & data storage; ignoring your own hosting costs. Also what about your backup procedures - nightly, cost extra, whose reponsibility, cost to recover etc.? - all elements to consider

Probably worth you having a look at the Cloud NewsBoard on Aweb which does address some of these matters

garyturner's picture

No such thing as a free lunch

garyturner | | Permalink

In my experience when something says it's free, what this actually means in practice is cash is not required but you pay indirectly in other ways. With open source apps, you pay with your own time and expertise (or someone else's) to get it setup, maintained, backed-up, etc. For some people that's attractive but it's not likely to be practical for most. You could keep a cow in your garden and get free milk forever, but so long as you're happy to clean up after and feed the cow. Most people are happy to pop down to Tesco's and pay for the convenience.

Other web services that are cash free like Facebook (and even AccountingWEB) don't require you to do anything other than be subjected to an endless stream of targetted adverts. In these kinds of scenarios, Facebook isn't the product - in fact you yourself are the product that's being sold on to Facebook's advertising partners in return for free use of Facebook.

Someone somewhere is always picking up the cheque, regardless of what the sticker says on the box.

Gary Turner
Managing Director, Xero

Accounting in Poland with FrontAccounting

accountinginPoland | | Permalink


we're using FrontAccounting for 2 years to service foreign investors who setup their business in Poland. They keep their books @ FrontAccounting according to Polish regulations, having English user interface.

If you're interested - visit us at



Add comment
Log in or register to post comments