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QuickBooks Online vs. QuickBooks Desktop: Which One Is Right for You?

Written by prositesfinancialFeb 2 • 3 minute read

QuickBooks is one of the most reliable accounting software solutions for small businesses. Intuit offers two versions of the application: QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online. Although both are dependable solutions for business owners looking to streamline and simplify their accounting functions, they differ in many ways.

Which option is right for your company? Read on to find out.

The Best Features of QuickBooks Online

The main features of QuickBooks Online include its cloud-based functionality and monthly subscription model. Intuit designed this version specifically for small businesses, making it suitable for business owners who operate on the go. The company also offers the QuickBooks Online Advanced plan that’s scalable for large or growing businesses.

QuickBooks Online supports invoicing, online payroll, and more than 650 integrations. It’s intuitive and convenient because you can use it anywhere with an internet connection. It’s also versatile and flexible because it enables access via different channels, including mobile apps. For this reason, QuickBooks Online is preferable if you share your books with external professionals such as accountants, auditors, and tax experts.

Key Advantages of QuickBooks Desktop

QuickBooks Desktop is a locally-installed application that works best for complex, traditional accounting. It’s available in three versions: Desktop Pro for small businesses, Desktop Premier for medium organizations, and Desktop Enterprise for large companies. Each plan varies based on the number of users and specific capabilities supported.

QuickBooks Desktop’s comprehensive features include expense tracking, job costing, advanced reporting, budgeting, and over 240 integrations. It’s important to note that this particular app is only compatible with the Windows OS. Intuit’s alternative for macOS devices is known as QuickBooks for Mac.

Differences Between QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop

The main difference between the two versions of QuickBooks is apparent from their names. As a cloud-based application, QuickBooks Online depends on the internet to run. Although QuickBooks Desktop can work offline, you’ll need an internet connection to access it remotely.

The cloud-based nature of QuickBooks Online makes it slightly more secure. That’s because Intuit incorporates in-depth cybersecurity features to keep your financial information safe. The security of your locally installed desktop version depends on the overall anti-virus and anti-malware measures present on your computer. Other differences include:

  • Pricing: While QuickBooks Online has a monthly subscription plan, QuickBooks Desktop charges an annual fee.
  • User support: Depending on your plan, QuickBooks Online accommodates up to 25 standard users. The system also allows you to configure users that may only access the software’s time-tracking features. You can add an unlimited number of these users to support payroll processes. QuickBooks Desktop Pro, Desktop Premier, and Desktop Enterprise cap out at 3, 5, and 40 users, respectively. All desktop plans charge extra per additional user.
  • Features: Although both versions share several characteristics, QuickBooks Desktop is more extensive. However, the cloud-based functionality of QuickBooks Online makes it more automation-friendly than the desktop alternative. For instance, it can sync your credit card or bank data in real-time.
  • Ease of use: QuickBooks Desktop’s focus on traditional accounting with fewer opportunities for automation makes it more complex than the online version. It has a steeper learning curve and a more elaborate user interface.

Final Thoughts

The final decision between QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop depends on your accounting needs. While both are excellent tools, they also have unique strengths and weaknesses. The cloud-based option is suitable if you’re looking for remote access, prompt updates, and intuitive functionality. The desktop version is preferable if you want the most advanced accounting features for your business. When in doubt, consult with an experienced accounting professional who can help you evaluate your company’s needs, select the right version of QuickBooks, and get the most out of the software.

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