FrontAccounting (opens in a new tab) is a capable enterprise resource planning (ERP) system for small businesses. It can handle accounting, inventory management, reporting, billing, and even procurement functions for manufacturing departments. Best of all, FrontAccounting is completely free, relying on voluntary donations from satisfied users.
Getting started with this free and robust software can be challenging, so we’ve compiled this handy step-by-step guide to help you get started Hostinger (opens in a new tab) as a hosting solution. While the process may seem intimidating at first, it’s easier than it sounds. It’s worth it, as the amount of features you get from this free program is comparable to expensive alternatives.
How to set up your own accounting system with FrontAccounting: preparation
FrontAccounting requires four things before starting setup:
- A domain (opens in a new tab)
- A web servers (opens in a new tab) with PHP (opens in a new tab) installed
- A MySQL (opens in a new tab) server
- A PDF reader installed on your computer. (See our roundup of best pdf readers for windows (opens in a new tab)free and paid, to help you choose the right one for your business.)
You don’t need to know what these things are to set up FrontAccounting, but if you’d like more information, we’ve included links to some definitions in the previous points.
Installing a PDF reader is a product-specific process, so we won’t cover it in this guide. If you need help, please consult your player’s installation instructions for assistance.
The cheapest web server option is shared web hosting (opens in a new tab) floor. We have choosen Hostinger (opens in a new tab)a top-notch hosting provider, with packages starting at just $1.99/month.
Hostinger also provides domain names, so you can buy one directly from Hostinger or transfer a domain (opens in a new tab) from another provider in just four clicks.
All Hostinger plans come with PHP installed by default. For MySQL, read Hostinger’s guide—What is MySQL (opens in a new tab)—to upgrade, download and install the free Community Edition of MySQL from the MySQL website (opens in a new tab).
Step 1: Open the FrontAccounting unattended installer
Installing FrontAccounting manually can be tricky, but Hostinger’s Auto Installer does all the hard work for you. You just need to fill in a couple of fields and click install. Hostinger will do the rest.
To get started, log in to Hostinger, go to Hostinger auto installer (opens in a new tab), click More and select FrontAccounting from the drop-down list. Then click Select.
Step 2: Configure and run the FrontAccounting unattended installer
Most of the autoinstaller options will be pre-populated, but you need to specify some fields on the first page. That is to say, you will need to enter your administrator username and password, then create a password for your MySQL database in the Advanced tab. You should also name your subdirectory, which is part of the web address you will enter to open FrontAccounting.
When you fill out the first page, click Next, leave the second page as is, and hit Submit. If successful, you should see a new link appear under Installed Applications in the Auto Installer.
Step 3: Try the FrontAccounting demo data
Change to your domain name/subdirectory or click on the new link in the Auto Installer to reach the FrontAccounting login page. From here you can log in with your administrator credentials.
You will notice that FrontAccounting is already populated with data. This is dummy data that you can use to familiarize yourself with the basics of FrontAccounting. The next few steps will outline several common tasks that FrontAccounting helps you perform. We recommend that you follow this guide in FrontAccounting and try out these features for yourself.
The basics: Double-entry accounting
FrontAccounting has a fully functional double-entry accounting system. You can create journal entries using an intuitive interface on the Banking & General Ledger tab, located at the top of the screen.
Using the General Ledger Reports menu, you can automatically generate commonly used financial statements for any date range. These include profit and loss account, balance sheet, trial balance and many more.
You can also generate an audit trail with a single click for any date or time. The audit trail will show all changes made or entries created or deleted, who made them and when. You can also filter audit trails by user.
Advanced Features: Sales
FrontAccounting sales tools are flexible. If you want to keep things simple, you can use the Sales menu as an invoice manager, where you create invoices and mark them as paid as the funds arrive.
If you need more granular control, you can set up quotes, convert them to sales orders if closed, ship goods (which interacts with the inventory menu), and track invoices. The level of detail and depth on the sales side of the system is entirely under your supervision.
Advanced Features: Inventory
You can track your inventory items, including sales, transfers and adjustments, from the Inventory menu. You can also quickly adjust units of measure, reorder inventory levels and locations. Finally, you can track prices and costs and generate various inventory-related reports from this tab. If you have multiple distribution centers, you can also track inventory individually by location.
When you ship goods in the sales menu, FrontAccounting will automatically reduce the inventory in the appropriate location by that amount.
Advanced features: Purchases
Consider this tab the opposite of sales. Here you can track supplier invoices and supplier payments. Naturally, all purchases will be assigned to inventory when you enter them into the system.
Advanced features: Production
FrontAccounting allows you to track the progress of work orders and register the inventory used in the production process through this tab. You can also generate two production reports: a BOM listing and a work order listing.
Advanced features: fixed assets and depreciation
It is possible to record the purchase and depreciation of fixed assets from a dedicated file. Fixed assets will also automatically appear in the correct location on your balance sheet (and other financial reports) when added via this tab.
You can extract a report of all fixed assets and get a total valuation less depreciation using the Asset Valuation report.
Advanced features: Configuration
The Configuration tab has a variety of tools that control the entire reporting environment. For example, you can set up your tax year, manage taxes and tax groups, set up user accounts for employees, determine their access privileges, and much more. You can also use the Create Company function to create a new company, which is useful because otherwise there is no easy way to delete demo data in FrontAccounting.
After familiarizing yourself with the demo, create a new company using the Create Companies feature and connect it to a new empty MySQL database. Alternatively, connect your existing company to a new empty database (also from the Create Company screen), to remove the demo data and get started with FrontAccounting.
FrontAccounting is a powerful, free, web-based accounting platform that can handle everything from financial reporting to sales, inventory management, and manufacturing.
Thanks to Hostinger’s built-in Auto Installer, you can install FrontAccounting quickly and easily in just a few clicks. To learn more about accounting software in general and see what alternative accounting programs have to offer, check out our list of best accounting software for small business (opens in a new tab).
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