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GnuCash.org offers a free use accounting package with a few additional features to help small businesses work out their finances. However, its systems aren't the most user friendly, being overly simplistic in some cases and overly mysterious in others. Its layout is generally clear, but unappealing. If you can see past those flaws though, it's got enough features to keep most accounting wanna-bes happy.
There are several main features provided by GnuCash, and a fairly decent host of additional features which could come in handy when doing your accounts. On a basic level this works a little like Excel, although you can create several accounts that can interlink so it's somewhat more advanced in some areas. It also has a few fail-safes built in, so that you are alerted when your books don't balance. This is reassuring, particularly for anyone who's not 100% confident of their data entry abilities. It also provides a few features that allow transactions to automatically feature in any registers, and you can schedule transactions so that you won't forget when they're due.
Despite Gnu Cash being rather happy with their reports and graphs options, we felt that these were rather bland and somewhat under developed. Although it's rare to need anything other than bar charts, pie charts and scatter plots, this is all Gnu Cash offer as visual representations of the data. You can produce most of the basic reports, however, including balance sheets, and profit and loss reports. The appearance of these graphs and reports is quite basic (sometimes looking like something from the 1990s) but they are customizable so it may be worth playing around with the options to see if you can get them looking as you'd prefer.
The advanced features might be more interesting, particularly to small businesses. Management has been simplified, allowing you to track customers and vendors, jobs, invoicing and bills, as well as tax. You can also track your stock levels and orders. We would recommend giving the system a try though; we found that it might not be as intuitive to all users as they might expect, whereas it might not offer as many customization options or advanced accounting features as some users would prefer.
GnuCash is a pretty solid option on the free accounting software market. However it seems dated at times and doesn't necessarily provide the ease of use we'd hoped to find. In some senses it's underwhelming, but if you don't need all the bells and whistles then it's a good option for any user who doesn't have the cash to spend.
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