- Transaction downloads typically happen automatically in online personal finance software. These downloads either take place automatically in the very early morning hours so that when you log on accounts are updated, or the downloads happen when you first log on for the day and accounts are updated with new transactions in minutes.
- When you use direct data downloads (discussed below), it is sometimes referred to as background banking.
The advantage of downloading data is that doing so saves a lot of time that you would otherwise spend entering the payee, date, and amount of each transaction manually into account registers. Your financial software may also be able to use downloaded data to automatically assign spending categories to transactions.
There are two types of financial software downloads. The most convenient is Direct Connect, which is an automated process for updating accounts with new transactions directly from the financial institution into the software. Automatic account updates, once set up, require little action on your part to use. The second type of data download is called Web Connect, which requires the financial software user to visit an online banking web site to download transactions in a specified date range then import the transactions into the software. An example of how to use Web Connect is discussed in Three Easy Steps to Download Transactions.
Whatever method of downloading transactions you choose, be sure to use strong passwords both for the data file in your software and the online banking sites you use.