QuickBooks Desktop is a one-time purchase software that’s installed on your office desktop or laptop computer, while QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based monthly subscription service. Before you can compare the advantages of using QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop, you should compare the pricing tiers of each one. When it comes to accounting software, Intuit’s QuickBooks seems to be a top pick for many small business owners. This isn’t surprising when you consider that more than 4.3 million customers worldwide rely on this popular product to track income and invoices, and manage bills. Small and medium-sized businesses and accountants are among the software’s core customer base. QuickBooks has expanded greatly since it launched more than 20 years ago. Instead of only having a version that’s installed on your desktop, an online version has been added to the mix.
7 Key Differences Between QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop
The differences in the two versions of QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop are evident when accessing the software, creating reports, processing invoices and more. Here are a few of the key differences:
- Initial Fee – Online offers a free 30-day trial so there is no initial fee to try it. The desktop requires the purchase of the software upfront.
- Monthly Fee – Quickbooks Pro Desktop 2015 is a one-time payment or you can get Pro Plus for an annual payment. QuickBooks Online requires a monthly subscription.
- Internet Connection – It is cloud-based, a net connection is required to use QuickBooks Online. QuickBooks Desktop can only be accessed from the system it is installed on regardless of internet connection.
- Automation Functions – With Desktop, transactions (invoice, receipt, reports, etc.) must be processed manually. QuickBooks Online has several automated features for things such as customer billing, email reports and downloading bank transactions.
- Remote Access – Since QuickBooks Online is cloud-based, customers can access QB reports wherever they have Internet access and from multiple devices. The QB Desktop version is linked to the computer it is installed on and therefore can only be accessed on-site.
- Customized Features – The QB Desktop version has several features that are not available in the online version. This includes the ability to prepare 1099s, budget & track mileage, and expenses. In general, the desktop version allows more freedom to customize forms than QB Online.
- Support – The basic QB Desktop version does not come with support although you can pay for support by getting the Pro Plus edition. QuickBooks Online comes with free support.
Choosing the Right QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop Version
Understanding the many differences between the Quickbooks desktop and Quickbooks online versions allows business owners to make an informed decision about what is right for their business. In general:
QuickBooks Desktop is a good choice for:
- Businesses with a fixed office location
- Businesses that have a small number of people who need access
- Businesses that don’t want a recurring monthly charge
- Businesses that don’t want their books to be accessible Quickbooks online
- Businesses that want to explore customized features such as the ability to track budget & spending
QuickBooks Online is a good choice for:
- Businesses where users need to remote access the books
- Where multiple users may need to access the books at the same time
- Businesses that are comfortable with a monthly fee & the additional support that comes with it
- Businesses that are comfortable with cloud computing where data is stored online & only accessible with an internet connection
- Businesses that want to explore automation
Each version of QuickBooks has its strengths and weaknesses. All owners should carefully review the differences before deciding which is the best solution for their business.
Quickbooks online vs Quickbooks Desktop
The online and desktop version has some the same basic features both allow you to create professionals invoices track sales and expenses and manage accounts payable. However, only QuickBooks online allows you to have instant access to your files, automatically schedules and send invoices, and work from a desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet at any time. This type of accessibility and convenience is important for someone who wants to work from anywhere, wants to give their accountant access from anywhere, or just prefers less data entry.
When you compare the desktop and online versions, it’s very apparent that Intuit is making the cloud-based subscription service a priority and they really want you to as well. As with anything, there are some drawbacks to using online accounting software.
For one, you need an internet connection to do any work, which isn’t required for the desktop version. You also won’t be able to work if there are any glitches with the website. Though more than 1 million paid customers to use the online version, the majority of QuickBooks users use the desktop version. The cost could also play a role in this since the desktop version offers one-time payment options.