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QuickBooks Online versus QuickBooks Desktop

Updated: Aug 3


Choosing the right accounting software might be a fundamental decision having drastic effects on your company’s accounting processes for years to come. With so many applications available, it is irrefutable that QuickBooks Online (QBO) and Desktop applications offer distinct features that are beneficial in their own way. It is important for businesses to evaluate these features to see which application will work best for them. Thus, what are the differences between QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop? This is a loaded question as both of them have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages.

7 Key Differences Between Desktop & QBO

1. Initial Fee – QBO offers a free 30-day trial so there is no initial fee to try it while QuickBooks desktop requires the purchase of the software up front.

2. Monthly Fee – Pro Desktop is a one-time payment or you can get Pro Plus for an annual payment. On the other hand, QBO requires a monthly subscription.

3. Internet Connection – Because it is cloud-based, an Internet connection is required to use QBO. QuickBooks Desktop can only be accessed from the computer, but it is installed on regardless of Internet connection.

4. Automation Functions – With Desktop, transactions (invoice, receipt, reports, etc.) must be processed manually. QBO has several automated features for things such as customer billing, email reports.

5. Remote Access – Since QBO is cloud-based, users can access QuickBooks reports wherever they have Internet access and from multiple devices, wheares the Desktop version can only be accessed on-site.

6. Customized Features – The QuickBooks Desktop version has several features unavailable in the online version, like the ability to prepare 1099s and budget, or track mileage and expenses. Broadly, the desktop version allows more freedom to customize forms than QBO.

7. Support – The basic QuickBooks Desktop version does not come with support although you can pay for support by getting the Pro Plus edition, but QBO has free support.

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Choosing the Right QuickBooks Version

Understanding the very discrepancies between the desktop and online versions allows business owners to make an informed decision about what is right for their business. In general:

QuickBooks Online is a good choice for:

  • Remote access the books

  • Multiple people may access the books at the same time

  • A monthly fee and the additional support

  • Cloud computing where data is stored online and only be accessible with an Internet connection

  • Explore automation

QuickBooks Desktop is a right choice for:

  • A fixed office location

  • A small number of people needing access

  • No recurring monthly charge

  • No accessible online

  • Explore customized features such as the ability to track budget, spending, etc.

This link provides more detailed breakdown mentioned above: The QuickBooks Online Difference

Summary: Each version of QuickBooks has its merits and demerits. All owners should carefully review the differences before deciding which is the best solution for their business.


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