QuickBooks Desktop vs Online: What You Need to Know

quickbooks online vs quickbooks desktop

For over a decade, she’s helped small business owners make money online. When she’s not trying out the latest tech or travel blogging with her family, you can find her curling document retention policy up with a good novel. Another notable difference is QuickBooks Online offers a Self-Employed version for $15 per month, which is not available with QuickBooks Desktop.

quickbooks online vs quickbooks desktop

From restaurants to retailers and plumbers to painters, professionals in nearly every line of business have benefited from QuickBooks. And while for many years QuickBooks was limited to desktop computing environments, there now exists an alternate version of the software that’s accessible from any internet-connected device. Whether your home-service business is just getting off the ground or if you’ve been operating for years, a proper accounting system is essential to ensuring the fitness of your finances. By using the right tool to monitor your company’s money, you can quickly track your income, see what you’re spending, and find out whether your customers are paying their bills on time.


QuickBooks Online can be accessed from any internet-connected device, including a mobile device with the QuickBooks app installed, after you enter a valid username and password. QuickBooks Online is cloud based, which means you can access your QuickBooks account anywhere you have the internet and an internet-enabled device. QuickBooks Desktop is desktop based, meaning you’ll buy a hard copy of QuickBooks’ software, then download that software once onto a single device. Speaking of extra fees, QuickBooks Desktop also charges for e-commerce app integration, invoice-based payment acceptance, and online data hosting. If you choose QuickBooks Desktop Pro Plus, you’ll also need to pay extra if you want to access customer service via live chat. Notably, only QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise includes 24/7 customer service.

  • If you purchased a Desktop Pro plan in 2021, your software will still work until 2024—but new customers who bought the 2022 software version can only choose annual subscriptions.
  • However, setting up and reviewing your job costing metrics in QuickBooks Online is much easier than in QuickBooks Desktop.
  • QBO was primarily frowned upon for not offering as much customization, being able to automatically send invoices, have job costing abilities, or provide the same security as Desktop.
  • QuickBooks Online’s monthly subscription may be easier for some small businesses to fit into their financial situation.

If neither application catches your eye, why not take a look at some QuickBooks alternatives or check out The Ascent’s accounting software reviews. This is a tie since both QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop offer users the same support options. Both applications can have long wait times to access telephone support, but you’ll likely get a better response if you purchase QuickBooks Online Advanced or QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise, as both offer 24/7 support.

Common QuickBooks Online Complaints

While people may assume that QuickBooks Online is simply the cloud version of QuickBooks Desktop, in reality, the two products are very different. You can send a copy of your company file to your accountant and import their changes. Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page.

It’s more affordable, easier to share with your accountant or other financial stakeholders, and offers better invoicing than its locally installed counterpart. The dashboard is super intuitive with large, easy-to-understand charts, and the mobile app is similarly easy to use. If your home or office has a slow or unpredictable internet connection, QuickBooks Desktop can ensure you can reach most of your data even if the internet goes down overnight. The downside to locally stored data, though, is that you can only access it from where it’s stored. You can pay extra (or upgrade to a pricier plan) to get data hosting through QuickBooks, which will let you access some financial information—though not all of it—on a different device.

QuickBooks Online vs. QuickBooks Desktop: Support

QuickBooks is an Accounting Management software that helps businesses with Bookkeeping, Accounting, Payroll, Inventory Management, and other financial tasks. QuickBooks was developed by Intuit, a California-based company, to automate typical tasks and save time on bookkeeping and paperwork. Hundreds of thousands of small companies across the world rely on QuickBooks to keep track of their finances. It can be further customized to fit one’s own needs and tastes, making it applicable to a wide range of businesses.

  • While QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop offer contact management, only QuickBooks Desktop allows you to manage and track leads as well as contacts.
  • Instead of showing clear images of your cash balance, outstanding invoices, and upcoming bills like the QuickBooks Online dash, the desktop version’s dash is a flowing series of connected folders and files.
  • However, businesses with ever-changing needs may prefer the freedom offered the applications offered within QuickBooks Online.
  • This may influence which products we review and write about (and where those products appear on the site), but it in no way affects our recommendations or advice, which are grounded in thousands of hours of research.
  • Our complete QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop comparison covers key differences, pricing, features, and usability, so you can easily decide whether QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks Desktop is right for your business.

Small to midsize businesses that want a desktop solution or need advanced inventory and industry-specific features. The two versions are independent of each other, which means the data you enter on Desktop doesn’t sync to the Online version and vice-versa. Terms, conditions, pricing, special features, and service and support options subject to change without notice. Meanwhile, QuickBooks Desktop gets more praise for strong functionality, such as inventory accounting and the ability to generate advanced reports. One user is happy that they can set up different reports so that they can see what and who needs to be paid easily. Those who have left negative reviews dislike that it doesn’t offer many third-party integration options.

See why businesses are switching from Desktop to QuickBooks Online

It also is routinely one of the least expensive solutions for a business looking for simple bookkeeping or accounting for their entire organization. QuickBooks Online has limitations like internet dependence, ongoing subscription costs, limited customization options, and fewer integrations compared to QuickBooks Desktop. It may not suit businesses with advanced needs or those without reliable internet access. QuickBooks Desktop is preferable when advanced customization, industry-specific versions, or offline access are required. QuickBooks Desktop requires a one-time upfront payment, making it more cost-effective in the long run for users who don’t require regular upgrades.

QuickBooks Desktop

QuickBooks Accountant is specifically designed for accounting firms and bookkeepers, with the goal of handling accounting transactions for companies that are not their own. The Accountant’s version provides bookkeeping services that can import accountant copy files from clients, batch enter transactions, and run a working trial balance report. While QuickBooks Desktop has been many business’s accounting software of choice dating all the way back to the late 1990s, in the modern era, the online version of the tool can be a far better way to go.

QuickBooks also tries to promote a DIY attitude and will typically push you towards their knowledge base before connecting you with a live human, this can be frustrating when your product is not working correctly. For the purposes of this graph, we’re comparing a 5-user instance of QuickBooks Online Plus 1-5 Users + Payroll, vs. a 5-user instance of QuickBooks Enterprise Gold (which includes payroll) over a 4-year period. We’ve included the current best available promotional price to illustrate how prices will change year-over-year. However, please note that access to add-on services will be discontinued for all QuickBooks Desktop software after May 31, 2023. Before the launch of QuickBooks Desktop 2022, the QuickBook products were available as a one-time purchase. Now, Premier Plus and Enterprise packages are available on a subscription-basis only.

Even though QB Desktop has more comprehensive features in general, there are some key features that only QuickBooks Online has, such as bookkeeping support. It’s hard to say which software is cheaper because there are so many variables. But there are some general guidelines to know which version might be the one for your business (and your budget). QuickBooks Desktop offers more than 100 standard reports that can be customized as needed. QuickBooks Online wins this one, offering easy system navigation from the user dashboard.