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Part 2: QuickBooks Online vs QuickBooks Desktop

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In this series, we are taking a look at QuickBooks Online (QBO). But, we understand that you might be wondering “Why don’t I stick with QuickBooks Desktop?” It’s a fair question.

In 2019, it is tempting to think that things which are older, more time consuming, less intuitive, and require more energy to maintain are better: why else do you think vinyl, waxed mustaches, and typewriters are making a comeback?

But let’s be clear: hipster tastes should not translate to accounting software. While in twenty years we will look back at our “new vintage” styles and share a laugh, we will not be laughing at the time, energy, and frustration wasted on maintaining an increasingly obsolete QuickBooks Desktop file.

Certainly, there may very well be a situation (especially if you are dependent on the functionality of QuickBooks Enterprise) in which you would find yourself requiring QuickBooks Desktop (QBD), just like there are situations where vinyl is better or a curly mustache is cool.

But in our experience, QuickBooks Online holds its own, especially for small businesses, as an accounting solution in nearly every way. Cloud-based, easily accessible, secure software is the way forward and is where your business should be headed.



QuickBooks Desktop (QBD) comes in three different editions

  • $299.95 – Pro
  • $499.95 – Premier
  • $1,100.00 – Enterprise

While the first two editions may appear less expensive than QuickBooks Online, there are other factors that we feel make QBO a better value.

For example, if you choose QBO over QBD Premier, it may appear as if you will be spending more on QBO within 9 months.

However, remember that QBO is cloud-based and not hosted locally which reduces hardware and support costs while maintaining – or increasing – data security through the use of Intuit’s data centers, security experts, and independent security audit teams. In our experience, QBO’s data stability and security are far greater than Quickbooks Desktop and come with fewer errors and crashes. This offers a huge advantage as well as peace of mind knowing your firm’s key data is protected by industry-recognized safeguards which use the same strong encryption utilized by the world’s top banking institutions, in addition to seamless, automatic data backups.

QuickBooks Enterprise offers the most capabilities of all the desktop products available through QuickBooks. This product supports up to 30 users at a time, has more built-in reports, and an assigned Help Desk employee to help troubleshoot any issues. Other stand-out features include:

  • Batch data entry to help save time
  • Job Costing reporting
  • Financial projecting
  • Flexibility of local hosting on your firm’s server
  • More granular user permission settings

For larger or product-based companies, QBD offers more fine-tuning to make sure you get the reports you need to track every aspect of your business. Having such a large file stored on the company server means that third party applications will probably be necessary to import data and provide access to all necessary users. This can result in more monthly costs for similar features already integrated into the QBO platform.



QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Desktop

  • 30 day free trial available – great to acclimate yourself with the newer interface
  • Full purchase necessary for product, valid for 3 years
  • Cloud services
  • File needs to be hosted on in-house server
  • Automatically backed up
  • Needs to be manually backed up once a month
  • Allows up to 5 users
  • Allows up to 30 users
  • Better for service-based companies
  • Better for inventory-based companies
  • Built-in remote access for multiple users and devices
  • Requires manual configuration and special security considerations
  • Internet access required
  • No internet access required
  • Fewer custom reporting options
  • Customized reporting
  • 1099s – verify data and click a button. Intuit sends out the forms
  • 1099s- verify the data, export it and import it into another system for processing.


NEXT WEEK: Debunking the myths…