Webtimeclock Blog

Is there an online time clock without a subscription?

Nov 24, 2023
Online Time Clock

Recently someone asked about this. They had a business with about 40 employees and needed a better way of tracking employee time.

All their employees worked at one location using a biometric time clock, while the payroll manager worked at a different location.

So, to make things easier, the manager wanted online access to the time clock reports. Otherwise, they would have to transfer hours manually from one location to the other using a USB drive.

They asked... Is there a system we can buy without a subscription?

Sorry, it doesn't exist.

Not long ago, buying software without a subscription was your only option. Whatever you purchased, you owned. Sure, it cost more upfront, but you had no monthly fees or additional costs unless you needed support.

So what happened? Why can't you buy ONLINE time clock software without a subscription? In this article we'll cover the reasons.

– Traditional client-server without a subscription
– Free online time tracking software
– The last hybrid online time clock system
– Why online time clocks require a subscription
– Conclusion

Traditional client-server without a subscription

For time clock software to work, it needs to communicate with multiple devices such as other computers, or wall-mounted time clocks. This allows employees to clock from their own PC or from a time clock.

Without getting too technical, traditional client-server software is installed on one central PC that acts as a server, while client devices connect to that server within your local network.

If you only have one location, and don't need browser access (computers, phones, tablets), then this method works fine, a few systems are still offered.

But if you need access to different locations, or from a phone, this kind of system will NOT work. At least without substantial IT costs.

Free online time tracking software

There are companies that offer free versions, but none of them come close to providing you what you need for payroll, that is, until you upgrade to their paid versions... Thus defeating the whole purpose of avoiding monthly fees.

Keep in mind these companies don't offer free subscriptions to save you money, their goal is to get you to sign up, and get you to upgrade.

Further, there is no free version capable of handling employee hours for payroll with a biometric device. Including those who offer tablet software.

The last hybrid online time clock system

The discontinued TotalPass by Icon Time (owned by Paychex) was the last hybrid. These time clocks had internal software you accessed through a web browser, providing a balance of online software without a subscription.

However, Paychex pulled the plug. Here is what they said...

"As technology and industry standards have evolved, IconTime is changing our approach to time and attendance for businesses. Recent surveys and industry trends have made it clear that business clients want more than just time clocks when it comes to managing their employees."

"That’s why we’ve discontinued our line of TotalPass clocks...."

The bottom line is Paychex (like most other software companies) have moved to a subscription model.

Why online time clocks require a subscription

Online software is not installed on your computer, it lives on a server owned and maintained by a vendor. That is the core difference.

Instead of buying software to install on your computer, you rent space on the vendor's server. A space that includes automatic upgrades, backups, support and more. The biggest advantage is online access from a browser.


We understand the reasons why people don't want another subscription, it can seem like too much these days. It would be nice to just pay once for something you only use at a single location.

But if you need web access to the software, have multiple locations, want free support, automatic backups, and ongoing upgrades, then an online time clock subscription is and will remain the only way.

Webtimeclock is an online time clock plus optional online payroll. Have questions? Contact our support team, or call us at 1-800-450-2692. Sign up today for your free 15-day trail. We are located in San Diego (Carlsbad), CA USA.