In the beginning, personal finance management consisted of a shoebox filled with receipts. It was easy to use and you could secure it by locking it in a closet. Then there was the spreadsheet, which let you manipulate your finances, graph data, build budgets and conveniently share information with your CPA. It was fairly easy to use, and you could keep your personal financial records password protected on a Macintosh computer with a backup file on a portable storage device locked in a drawer.

Along came personal finance software, which let you download transactions from your bank to save you from the data-input chore that the spreadsheet demanded. And everything was fine for a few years   until the migration of data storage to the cloud, that is. So now what do we do?

Should you continue to manage your finances on a Mac or move your financial data to the cloud? It depends. If you are at all leery of the state-of-the-art cloud security, then by all means, stick with platform-specific software. We have examined Mac personal finance software to find the best applications available. We recommend Money, Moneydance and iFinance as the best options. For more information, please read our other articles about Mac personal finance software.

Every decision involves a tradeoff. If you manage your finances online, you might have concerns about security. Bruce Schneier, CTO of BT Counterpane, points out that when we agree to reveal our personal identities to cloud-based entities in exchange for security and protection, we are returning to a feudal arrangement. Just as medieval vassals pledged loyalty to their kings in exchange for protection, 21st century vassals reveal everything to Apple, Google or Intuit and expect protection in return for being clients.

As Big Data accumulates in the cloud, it becomes an increasingly tempting target to attackers. A marauder who successfully attacks the king s castle gets everything, just as a hacker who cracks a cloud captures every record. Insecurity about cloud security is probably why there is still a market for Mac personal finance software. In exchange for feeling more secure with platform-specific software, you are subject to periodic software updates, and you will need to accept the responsibility for backing up your data. If you agree that these chores are worthwhile to keep your financial data out of the cloud, you are in good company.

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