Which QuickBooks version is right for you?

QuickBooks Online vs QuickBooks Desktop qb101

As QuickBooks ProAdvisors, we are often asked which version of QuickBooks is better.  As with any software decision, there are many factors to consider when choosing which product is best suited for your business needs.


1. Are there multiple levels/versions available?

Yes. There are three main desktop versions of QuickBooks: Pro, Premier and Enterprise Solutions. QuickBooks Online has four subscription levels for small and mid-size businesses: Simple Start, Essentials, Plus and Enterprise Solutions + Hosting Service. You can learn more on the Intuit website.

2. What is the cost difference?

The pricing structure is different. QuickBooks Online has a monthly fee whereas the desktop software has a one-time fee; you don’t incur additional fees until you update the program to a newer version.

3. Where is data stored for QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks desktop software?

With the online version, your data will be stored in the cloud so that it can be accessed by multiple users anywhere, anytime. The desktop versions of QuickBooks typically store data on a server or with a cloud-based service provider.

4. How secure is my data with each program?

QuickBooks Online uses redundant back-up, and for extra security, the data can be downloaded and stored locally as well. The desktop software stores the data on a server or a local computer, which allows you to have control over the security of your data.

5. How can my accountant access the data?

QuickBooks Online allows up to two accountants to join your company and gives them access to run reports and post transactions. QuickBooks desktop versions have ways to allow your accountant access, such as, creating portable copies, VPNs, Remote Desktop Connections, Dropbox, etc.  We can assist with a solution that is best for you.

6. How often is each program updated?

Intuit, the developer of QuickBooks, is continually updating its software to respond to customer input for changes, improvements and enhancements. QuickBooks Online is automatically updated throughout the year, whenever Intuit issues any modifications to the program. Intuit releases an update of the QuickBooks desktop software products once a year with each version release and releases bug fixes throughout the year.

7. Are there features Quickbooks desktop has that Quickbooks Online does not?

There are a few features that QuickBooks Online is missing:

  • Sales Orders
  • Inventory Assemblies
  • Progress Invoicing
  • Receiving Partial Purchase Orders
  • Item Receipts
  • Balance Sheet by Class
  • QuickBooks Statement Writer
  • More freedom to customize forms and reports
  • Budget vs. Actuals for Jobs
  • Integration with QuickBooks point of sale
  • Better dashboard screens — especially the status report “Company Snapshot,” which provides a more useful “at-a-glance” update on my company’s finances, without having to run reports.

8. Are there features QuickBooks Online has that QuickBooks desktop does not?

The following features are not included in the desktop software:

  • Invoice/Sales Receipt Automation– Recurring transactions in QuickBook Online can be set up to be emailed automatically to the customer, and the QuickBooks user/owner can be copied on each one.
  • Activity Log– QuickBooks desktop has the Audit Trail; in QuickBooks Online, the activity log shows when a user logs in or out, and when he or she edits a customer, vendor, item or account. It shows when a third-party add-on accesses the data, when bank transactions are downloaded and when those transactions are matched or added to a register.
  • Automatic email reporting– Memorize a report in QuickBooks Online, add it to a group, then set that group to be emailed to yourself or your client on a regular basis.
  • Bank transactions automatically downloaded nightly– In QuickBooks Online, you can set up the connection, and the program will automatically pull in the transactions every night.
  • QuickBooks Online has both class and location tracking– QuickBooks desktop has class tracking (the ability to track different profit centers), but QuickBooks Online adds one more layer with location tracking.
  • App integration– Many applications integrate with QuickBooks Online that aren’t as readily available or updated for QuickBooks desktop software.

The bottom line is that QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks desktop software are two different programs, and they will fit different situations and circumstances. If you need help determining which program is best suited for your business, feel free to contact us.