QuickBooks: Online Vs. Desktop

QuickBooks: Online Vs. Desktop

QuickBooks has two versions: online and desktop. Both are substantially different, so how do you tell which one is right for you? Let's take a quick look.

Which QuickBooks Setup is Better?

As an accounting firm, Stapley Accounting gets asked about QuickBooks a lot. Since the company unveiled its online version, one of the major questions has been whether the original desktop version or the online version is better. It seems like a simple question, but it really isn’t. Both versions have their own strengths and which one works best for a business depends on that business’s model. So, let’s see what they have to say about the different versions.

Major Differences Between QuickBooks Online vs. QuickBooks Desktop

1. Ease of Use Vs. Breadth of Use

The first question in deciding which version to use is to determine how complex a version you want. The online version focuses on being simple, straightforward and easy to use. It’s quick to pick up and quick to learn. You can easily jump right in and get started. This comes with a trade-off, however; the online version has far less features than the desktop version. What makes the desktop version so much harder to learn is that it has so many options for very complex accounting. To get the most out of it, there are way more tools you need to learn to use. On the positive side, though, those extra tools give you so many more options, including several industry specific options. If your business needs to do very complex accounting, or requires those industry specific tools, desktop might be a better choice than online.

2. Flexibility Vs. Security


There’s no doubt that the online version has far more flexibility than the desktop version. The desktop version is Windows only, limiting the types of machines you can use it on. While the online version has less features, it has far more integrations with other programs, more than 650. It also includes many automation features the desktop version lacks, making it even faster and easier to use. Then again, being online and having so many automation and integration features does, by necessity, open it up to more security vulnerabilities. There are simply more points of connection the program can be attacked through. Desktop may not have all the integrations, but it also therefore lacks the vulnerabilities, making it easier to secure.

3. Monthly Vs. Yearly Subscription

When comparing price points, it’s hard to say that one is cheaper than the other – both versions tend to be more expensive than other accounting software on the market. And the wide price range for the online version means that it could be comparable to the desktop version, or significantly more expensive, depending on which subscription you sign up for. The big difference is the monthly vs yearly subscription.

When you buy QuickBooks online, you sign up for a monthly subscription, while the desktop version uses a yearly licensing model. Do you prefer paying regularly over the whole year, or paying it all in one big sum at the start of the year?

So, Which Is Better For My Business?

As you can see, it’s not easy to make a simple statement about which version is better. It really comes down to what your business needs. If you need something quick and easy to learn that gives you greater online flexibility, then QuickBooks online is the choice. This is especially true of businesses that do their work entirely online.

On the other hand, if you’re a larger business with more complex accounting that needs to have industry specific tools, especially if your business does most of its work on the ground, the desktop version will probably be your best bet.

Need Help? Ask a QuickBooks Pro Advisor

While these comparisons can help you when looking over the two different versions, deciding still requires reviewing a lot of features. If you’re still having trouble deciding, you can always speak to a QuickBooks Pro advisor. QB Pro Advisors, like Stapley Accounting, are trained in all of QuickBooks’s features and can help you pick out the best option for your business. They’ll walk you through the process of picking out the version with the right tools to suit your needs.