QuickBooks Desktop vs. QuickBooks Online: Which is the Right Choice for Your Business?

When it comes to managing your business finances, QuickBooks is one of the most popular accounting software options available. With its user-friendly interface and robust features, it has become a go-to tool for small and medium-sized businesses. However, when choosing the right QuickBooks version for your business, you may find yourself torn between QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online. In this article, we will explore the key differences between the two and help you make an informed decision.

QuickBooks Desktop: The Powerhouse of Accounting Software

QuickBooks Desktop, as the name suggests, is a software that needs to be installed on your computer or server. It is a locally-hosted solution that offers a wide range of features to handle your accounting needs. Let’s take a closer look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of using QuickBooks Desktop.

The Pros of Using QuickBooks Desktop

  • Advanced Features: QuickBooks Desktop offers a comprehensive suite of features that cater to the complex needs of businesses. From advanced inventory management to job costing, it has everything you need to keep your finances in check.
  • Speed and Performance: Since QuickBooks Desktop runs locally on your computer or server, it tends to be faster and more responsive compared to its online counterpart. This is especially beneficial for businesses dealing with large amounts of data.
  • Data Control: With QuickBooks Desktop, you have complete control over your financial data. You don’t need an internet connection to access or work on your files, making it a reliable choice for businesses operating in remote areas with limited connectivity.
  • Data Security: By keeping your financial data stored locally, QuickBooks Desktop provides an added layer of security. You don’t have to worry about your sensitive information being compromised in the event of a data breach.
  • Industry-Specific Versions: QuickBooks Desktop offers industry-specific versions tailored to the unique needs of various industries such as construction, manufacturing, and nonprofit organizations. These versions come with industry-specific features and reports, making it easier to manage your finances.

The Cons of Using QuickBooks Desktop

  • Lack of Mobility: Unlike QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop is not accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. You can only access your files from the computer or server where the software is installed.
  • No Automatic Updates: With QuickBooks Desktop, you are responsible for manually updating the software to the latest version. This can be time-consuming and may require technical expertise.
  • Higher Cost: QuickBooks Desktop requires an upfront investment as you need to purchase the software licenses. Additionally, you may need to pay for upgrades and support plans, increasing the overall cost of ownership.
  • Limited Collaboration: If you have a team that needs to work on your financial data simultaneously, QuickBooks Desktop may not be the ideal choice. It lacks real-time collaboration features, making it difficult to collaborate efficiently.

QuickBooks Online: Accounting in the Cloud

QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based accounting software that provides businesses with the flexibility and convenience of accessing their financial data from anywhere, at any time. Let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages of using QuickBooks Online.

The Pros of Using QuickBooks Online

  • Accessibility and Mobility: One of the biggest advantages of QuickBooks Online is its accessibility. You can access your financial data from any device with an internet connection, allowing you to work on the go or collaborate with your team remotely.
  • Automatic Updates: QuickBooks Online takes care of software updates automatically. You don’t have to worry about manually updating the software, ensuring that you always have access to the latest features and improvements.
  • Lower Cost: QuickBooks Online operates on a subscription-based pricing model, which means you pay a monthly or annual fee to use the software. This eliminates the need for upfront investment and allows you to scale your subscription as your business grows.
  • Collaboration and Integration: QuickBooks Online makes it easy to collaborate with your team and share real-time financial data. You can also integrate it with other cloud-based applications, such as payment gateways and CRM systems, to streamline your business processes.
  • Automatic Backups: With QuickBooks Online, your data is securely stored in the cloud, with regular backups performed automatically. This ensures that your data is safe even in the event of hardware failure or natural disasters.

The Cons of Using QuickBooks Online

  • Limited Features: While QuickBooks Online offers a solid set of features, it may not have the advanced functionality that some businesses require. Certain industry-specific features available in QuickBooks Desktop may be missing in the online version.
  • Internet Dependency: To access QuickBooks Online, you need a stable internet connection. This can be a disadvantage if you operate in areas with poor connectivity or if you frequently travel to remote locations.
  • Dependent on Third-Party Services: QuickBooks Online relies on third-party services for some features, such as payroll and payment processing. This may result in additional costs or limitations in terms of functionality.
  • Security and Privacy Concerns: Storing your financial data in the cloud raises concerns about data security and privacy. While QuickBooks Online takes measures to protect your data, some businesses may still prefer the control offered by locally-hosted solutions.

Which QuickBooks Version is Right for Your Business?

Choosing between QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online depends on your specific business needs and priorities. Here are some factors to consider when making a decision:

  • Complexity of Your Business: If your business requires advanced features or industry-specific functionality, QuickBooks Desktop may be the better choice.
  • Accessibility and Mobility: If you need the flexibility to access your financial data from anywhere, collaborate with your team remotely, or work on the go, QuickBooks Online is the way to go.
  • Budget and Cost: QuickBooks Desktop involves an upfront investment and additional costs for upgrades and support plans. QuickBooks Online, on the other hand, offers a more affordable subscription-based pricing model.
  • Data Control and Security: If you prioritize having full control over your financial data and want the added security of storing it locally, QuickBooks Desktop is the suitable option.

It’s worth noting that Intuit, the company behind QuickBooks, is putting more emphasis on QuickBooks Online and actively developing new features for it. While QuickBooks Desktop is still widely used and supported, it’s clear that QuickBooks Online is the direction the company is heading.


Choosing between QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online is a decision that requires careful consideration of your business needs and priorities. QuickBooks Desktop offers advanced features and data control, making it a reliable choice for businesses with complex requirements and limited internet connectivity. On the other hand, QuickBooks Online provides accessibility, mobility, and cost-effectiveness, making it ideal for businesses that prioritize collaboration and require the flexibility to work from anywhere.

Ultimately, the choice between the two versions depends on your unique circumstances. If you’re unsure, you can always start with a free trial of QuickBooks Online to get a feel for its features and capabilities. Remember, both versions offer robust accounting solutions, so you can’t go wrong with either choice as long as it aligns with your business goals and requirements.

FAQs After The Conclusion

1. Can I switch from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online?

Yes, it is possible to switch from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online. However, the process may involve data conversion and some adjustments to ensure a smooth transition. It is recommended to consult with a certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor or follow Intuit’s guidelines for a successful migration.

2. Is QuickBooks Online suitable for businesses with multiple locations?

Yes, QuickBooks Online is well-suited for businesses with multiple locations. Its cloud-based nature allows you to access your financial data from anywhere, making it convenient for managing finances across different locations. Additionally, you can set up multiple users with different access levels to ensure proper control and collaboration.

3. Can I use QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online together?

Yes, it is possible to use both QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online together. Some businesses prefer to use QuickBooks Desktop for its advanced features and industry-specific functionality while utilizing QuickBooks Online for its mobility and collaboration capabilities. However, it’s important to note that this may result in additional complexities and require careful management of data synchronization.

4. Does QuickBooks Online offer the same level of customization as QuickBooks Desktop?

QuickBooks Online provides a certain level of customization, allowing you to tailor the software to your business needs. However, it may not offer the same extensive customization options as QuickBooks Desktop, which allows users to create custom reports, forms, and templates. If customization is a critical requirement for your business, you may find QuickBooks Desktop more suitable.

5. Can I access QuickBooks Desktop remotely?

Accessing QuickBooks Desktop remotely is possible through remote desktop solutions or virtual private networks (VPNs). These methods allow you to connect to your computer or server where QuickBooks Desktop is installed and access the software from a remote location. However, setting up and maintaining remote access can be complex and may require technical expertise.


Choosing between QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online is a decision that depends on your business’s specific needs and priorities. QuickBooks Desktop offers advanced features, data control, and offline access, making it suitable for businesses with complex requirements and limited internet connectivity. QuickBooks Online, on the other hand, provides accessibility, mobility, collaboration, and cost-effectiveness, making it ideal for businesses that prioritize flexibility and remote work. Ultimately, the right choice depends on your unique circumstances and the features that align with your business goals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button