QuickBooks Online vs QuickBooks Desktop: Why You Should Move Online

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QuickBooks is the trusted solution to help businesses overcome their most challenging financial needs. Whether it’s tracking income and expenses, paying bills, or managing cash flow, QuickBooks solutions are trusted by millions of businesses across the globe.

QuickBooks Online vs QuickBooks Desktop

QuickBooks’ two most popular financial software solutions are QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop. While both solutions help businesses better manage their finances, they have distinct features that set them apart from each other and make them better fit for certain types of businesses.

In this post, we’ll break down both QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop to see what features each software has, their pricing, the key differences between them, and why businesses are switching over to QuickBooks Online.

QuickBooks Online Overview

Who is QuickBooks online for?

QuickBooks Online is for financial software for small business owners who are comfortable with cloud-based applications. QuickBooks Online also has low monthly subscription fees that are appealing to businesses who don’t want to pay larger annual contract subscriptions. Additionally, this software is great for business owners who need multiple users to have access to financial data or have access to data on the go with their mobile app.

QuickBooks Online features

QuickBooks Online helps businesses:

  • Capture and organize receipts
  • Maximize tax reductions
  • Track mileage
  • Manage cash flow
  • Invoice and accept payments
  • Run reports
  • Create and send estimates
  • Track sales and sales tax
  • Manage1099 contractors
  • Manage and pay bills
  • Track project profitability

Other tiers of QuickBooks Online offer additional features, including:

  • Access customization depending on the user’s role
  • Business analytics with Excel
  • Managing employee expenses
  • Process and task automation

QuickBooks Online pricing

QuickBooks Online offers four different plans, a Simple Start plan for $30/mo, an Essentials plan for $55/mo, a Plus plan for $85/mo, and an Advanced plan for $100/mo. The Simple Start plan only includes one user, the Essentials plan includes three users, the Plus plan includes up to 5 users, and the Advanced plan includes up to 25 users. As the price point increases, QuickBook Online plans offer additional functionality. You can see a full list of individual plans and features on their website here.

QuickBooks Desktop Overview

Who is QuickBooks Desktop for?

QuickBooks Desktop is accounting software that is installed on a single computer. The software is typically used by small businesses, either by the owner or a financial professional, to track money going in and out the door.

QuickBooks Desktop features

QuickBooks Desktop features vary depending on the plan chosen, but features include:

  • Track income and expenses
  • Invoicing
  • 100+ reports available
  • Tracking sales tax
  • Manage bills and accounts payable
  • Time tracking
  • Manage1099 contractors

Certain tiers of QuickBooks Desktop offer additional features, including industry-specific features and forecasting.

QuickBooks Desktop pricing

QuickBooks Desktop pricing depends on the annual subscription chosen, with three different plans offered. The Pro Plus plan costs $349/yr, the Premier Plus plan costs $549/yr, and the Enterprise plan costs $1,340/yr but does offer 10% off the first year of the subscription. However, if you need additional users, separate seats for each software plan are sold separately and not included in the original yearly plan cost.

What’s the difference between QuickBooks Online and Desktop?

QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop have a number of key differences that may make one more appealing to certain customers.

Subscription vs. license

QuickBooks Online is a subscription-based software with monthly pricing, while QuickBooks Desktop is an annual license. Because the Online version is a subscription, it makes it easier to have multiple users accessing the same information, while this is not necessarily the case with Desktop’s license structure. This is potentially why QuickBooks desktop charges for additional software users while QuickBooks online plans come with a specific number of users included.

Cloud-based vs. installation

QuickBooks Online is cloud-based subscription software, meaning it can be accessed from any device with a wifi connection. This means business owners who are frequently on the go or who spend a decent amount of time away from their desks can still have easy access to their financial information. QuickBooks Desktop, on the other hand, is software that can only be installed on one computer at a time. This means that it is only accessible at one workstation.

Integration capabilities

QuickBooks Online integrates with over 650 business applications to allow companies to achieve total financial transparency without the tedious manual data entry. Some of these integrations include point-of-sale (POS) software, customer relationship management (CRM) software, industry-specific software, and more.

QuickBooks Desktop offers an API where integrations can be built with the program, but they do not have the breadth of ready-to-plug-and-play integration that QuickBooks Online offers.

Why businesses should use QuickBooks Online

Given the needs of most businesses today, QuickBooks Online is the preferred solution for the financial software.

Cloud-based solution

The cloud-based software design of QuickBooks Online makes it a better fit for modern businesses with the ability to access QuickBooks from anywhere and on any device. This gives the flexibility to utilize Quickbooks from the office, the warehouse, on the road, and everywhere in between.

Multiple users

QuickBooks Online allows a certain number of seats for each plan they offer. For instance, the Essentials and Plus plans include three and five users, respectively. This allows businesses to have more team members have access to financial data, thus preventing data bottlenecks that can occur when QuickBooks is siloed with only one employee.

Flexible pricing model

Month-to-month pricing means businesses don’t have to pay for a large contract upfront. QuickBooks Online also allows businesses to easily shift up to different plans as their needs change with incremental increases in their monthly costs. This flexibility lets companies always have the software features they need without the hassle of downloading a whole new application to their device.

More mobile app capabilities

QuickBooks Online works seamlessly with QuickBooks mobile app to let business owners run their companies from their phones, including accessing reports, invoicing customers, entering transactions, and more. Multiple users can even access the mobile app, giving more data democratization within an organization. None of these features are possible with the QuickBooks Desktop application.

Essentially if you will ever need the ability to access QuickBooks beyond one stationary computer, your best bet is to get QuickBooks Online.

Frequently asked questions about QuickBooks Online

Is QuickBooks Online better than QuickBooks Desktop?

QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop have similar base functionality, but the Online version is a cloud-based subscription that can be accessed on any device, while the Desktop version is only available on the sole computer it is installed on. This distinction generally means that companies who need to access financial data on the go are more likely to use QuickBooks Online instead.

QuickBooks Online also has a dedicated network of connections built out to a growing library of business applications to bring all financial information into one place. QuickBooks Desktop does not have this same infrastructure meaning that businesses who would like to connect their tech stack are better suited to using QuickBooks Online.

Is QuickBooks Desktop being phased out?

QuickBooks is discontinuing older versions of QuickBooks Desktop, as recently as the sun setting access to QuickBooks Desktop 2019 this May. QuickBooks Desktop will be discontinued in the UK, specifically after February of 2023.

So yes, you can still purchase QuickBooks Desktop today, and that new version will be supported going forward (as long as you are not in the UK), but QuickBooks is heavily encouraging new and current users to switch over to QuickBooks Online if possible.

How do I switch from QuickBooks Online to Desktop?

The good news is that you don’t need to start over when moving from QuickBooks Desktop to Online. Instead, you can simply move your desktop file to QuickBooks Online company to import your data over. QuickBooks also is currently offering data migration assistance when users move from Desktop to Online versions. You can learn more about this offer on their website.

Next Steps

Having the right accounting software is a critical step to setting your business up for growth. Another important step is to get the right inventory management software that pairs with your financial data to help your company grow.