QuickBooks Online vs QuickBooks Desktop – which one is right for you?
QuickBooks consistently stands out as a market leader when it comes to accounting software options for businesses. After the original version of the software that launched in 1983, Intuit has continued refining and streamlining its programs for almost forty years. Today, they offer various options to choose from. Choosing to go with QuickBooks as a solution is easy. What may prove more difficult, however, is deciding which QuickBooks product is suitable for your needs.
QuickBooks offers various different solutions, the most popular two, though, are QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online. The Desktop version of QuickBooks has been around since 1992, with QuickBooks Enterprise (a higher featured edition), introduced in 2002. It can be purchased as a one-off software package and installed onto a single device. QuickBooks Online, as its name infers, is a cloud-based online software. Launched in 2001, QuickBooks Online is purchased monthly as a subscription service and can be accessed from any device with access to the internet.
Both of these solutions are used not only by all of MyWorks Sync users but also by millions of users worldwide. QuickBooks has proven to be a market leader when it comes to accounting software.
MyWorks Sync is compatible with both QuickBooks Online and Desktop – as well as the separate QuickBooks point of sale solution – QuickBooks POS. Our users often ask us about the differences between QuickBooks Online and Desktop, and whether they should switch from one to the other. Unfortunately, there isn’t a straight answer, so we’re going to compare them by a few metrics to see which accounting software will suit the needs of your business best. Keep in mind that the difference between QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop is not their quality but the different features they offer and the type of business they are for.
QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop – Software Type
QuickBooks Desktop is a locally hosted software that you purchase a license for and install on the computer of your choice. This means that you will only be able to access QuickBooks Desktop from the computer(s) you installed it on (although there are providers that host it on the cloud, and allow access via remote desktop, such as Right Networks).
This also means that once you have bought the product, while you own the specific version you purchased – like QuickBooks 2021 – you will receive minor updates, but not the next version, unless you purchase it. Technology develops quickly, and with over 30 versions of QuickBooks Desktop already produced, the development team is hot on the heels of these new developments. If you choose QuickBooks Desktop, you will be purchasing an extensive and powerful program, but you may need to factor in additional costs if you want to stay completely up to date all the time.
QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based subscription software. This means that you aren’t buying the program itself; you purchase monthly access to a program on the cloud that you can access from a variety of devices. Because QuickBooks Online is stored with QuickBooks, they continuously update it, which is a cost already factored into your monthly subscription fee (just like MyWorks!). Another helpful benefit of Quickbooks Online is that it allows you to access hundreds of powerful third-party apps to customize your software.
QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop – Accessibility
As we’ve mentioned before, QuickBooks Desktop is a locally hosted software that needs to be installed on one or multiple computers to allow access. This does not mean that it’s limited to one user profile, though. Depending on the specific QuickBooks Desktop plan you choose, you can create individual profiles with varying access levels for up to thirty individuals. This software is suited to businesses working from a single premise, in which individuals share a network and can access the QuickBooks Desktop Company file from one location.
QuickBooks Online is based in the cloud. The benefit of this is that you can access it from anywhere and on any device. Simply by using login details, accounting processes can be collaboratively undertaken by individuals across the world. QuickBooks Online also has an easy-to-use mobile app and a user-friendly desktop interface. QuickBooks Online can only facilitate up to 25 unique logins depending on your plan, so it’s suited for use by small to medium enterprises.
As the global work culture becomes steadily more focused on online and remote work, this feature has seen 80% of new users opting for QuickBooks Online over its desktop alternative (but keep in mind that there are other key differences to consider)
QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop – Pricing
Quickbooks Desktop can initially be purchased as a once-off payment, with the option to choose the Pro, Premier, or Enterprise package. You can also opt to pay an annual subscription fee called the Pro/Premier Plus option. This is slightly pricier but includes more opportunities for you to keep your software totally up to date. After choosing your payment structure, you will need to select your plan level: Silver, Platinum, or Diamond. Choosing more advanced options will increase your price incrementally. After that, you will need to determine how many user profiles you want to enable access for, which will also affect your price range. The lowest, once-off price for QuickBooks Desktop, with no additional subscriptions or users, is $399.00. An enterprise Diamond plan, specifically created for large businesses, will cost $3,825 per year for one user, with the price increasing as more users are added.
QuickBooks Online works through a monthly subscription. They offer four options: Simple Start, Essentials, Plus, and Advanced. Prices increase as the plan level increases, and the plan structure is less customizable than those offered to QuickBooks Desktop users. A Simple Start plan begins at $25 per month, and an Advanced plan starts at $150 per month.
QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop – Features
Up to now, you may think that QuickBooks Online seems like a clear choice over QuickBooks Desktop… but we haven’t yet covered the difference in features between the two. QuickBooks Desktop is undoubtedly the more powerful solution in terms of features. Due to its extensive inventory, job costing, and data entry features, it is suited for use by larger businesses and retail businesses alike.
Some of the features offered by QuickBooks Desktop and NOT QuickBooks Online are:
– The creation of batch invoices and the entry of batch timesheets and transactions.
– Job costing for payroll and labor burdens.
– Comparison reports between the estimate and actual job costing.
– Multiple vendor ship-to addresses.
– Industry-specific reporting, with much more customizable reports.
– Sales orders, inventory valuation, and maintenance of inventory reorder points and inventory sites.
– Backup and restore features.
– The QuickBooks statement writer feature.
QuickBooks Online is not as robust at handling inventory, reporting, or advanced functionality, but it does also have features of its own.
Some features that Quickbooks Online has that QuickBooks Desktop doesn’t are:
– Automatically scheduling and sending transactions.
– Attaching documents, signatures, and images to transactions through desktop and mobile.
– Automatic connection to Online Banking feeds (with an undo option).
– Unlimited time tracking and reports.
– Presentation-ready report bundles and documentation.
– Multiple budgets per year.
QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop – Summary
QuickBooks Desktop is a powerful solution that has provided reliable accounting tools for decades. The more robust of the two options, it may be too expensive/detailed for small to medium businesses. QuickBooks Desktop is best suited to medium-large businesses, specifically those in specific industries, like manufacturing, for example. This is because of the incredible inventory management, job costing, and reporting tools that the software offers. It’s also more suited towards businesses with in-person work environments as it can be accessed remotely, but users must work off a single company file hosted locally, or in a server.
QuickBooks Online is an ideal solution for small to medium or less complex businesses. It’s flexible, it’s mobile, and it is easily scalable to suit a growing business. It is not equipped with the Desktop version’s robust inventory capabilities, so it’s more suited towards companies that require simple inventory management, or sell service or B2B offerings.
QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online are user-friendly, customizable accounting tools that you can invest in to make your bookkeeping easier. Both of these options have unique benefits, so, at the end of the day, the option you choose is entirely contingent on the specific needs of your business.