QuickBooks is the leading small business accounting software, used by thousands of businesses nationwide. Currently, there are two main choices for their software: QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop, and between those are different versions of each. We’re looking at the differences between the online and desktop varieties to help you choose the best option for your business.

What Is QuickBooks Desktop?

QuickBooks Desktop is accounting software that is locally installed directly into the computer. The license is purchased annually and is available in Pro for small businesses, Premier for medium-sized organizations, and Enterprise for large businesses.

Benefits and Features of QuickBooks Desktop

QuickBooks Desktop offers the following features:

  • Invoicing
  • Estimates
  • Client portal to manage and track leads and contacts
  • Accounts payable
  • Inventory
  • Project management
  • Budgeting
  • Expense tracking
  • Advanced Reporting with 130 reports available
  • Sales Orders
  • 240 integrations

Also, QuickBooks Desktop relies on more advanced accounting practices. This makes the interface and navigation more confusing and there’s a steeper learning curve, but some businesses may benefit from this advanced functionality.

Challenges of QuickBooks Desktop

While QuickBooks Desktop is a robust software program, it’s important to consider the challenges.

  • Annual cost of $349 for basic Desktop Pro
  • Only allows access to one to three users
  • Outdated invoicing
  • Minimal automation
  • No access to integrating payment gateways for online invoice payment
  • Advanced interface has a steep learning curve for beginners.

What Is QuickBooks Online?

QuickBooks Online is cloud-based software, so you can access it anywhere you have an internet-enabled device. There are four options:

  • Simple
  • Essentials
  • Plus
  • Advanced

The Simple version is ideal for sole proprietorships and small businesses, while the Advanced option is the most expensive but, like Enterprise, offers the most features and functionality.

Benefits and Features of QuickBooks Online

  • Affordable monthly subscription
  • Access anywhere, including through mobile app
  • Plans allow more users
  • Easily share with your acountant at no added cost
  • Upgrade your plan as your businss grows
  • Easy, user-friendly interface that works well for beginners
  • Mileage and time tracking
  • Accounts payable
  • Inventory tracking (Plus and Advanced)
  • Job costing (Plus and Advanced)
  • Invoicing
  • Automations including monthly automatic invoicing, invoice reminders, and tracking
  • Budgeting
  • Expense tracking
  • Estimates
  • Access to financing through QuickBooks Capital
  • 650+ integrations, including multiple payment gateways

Challenges of QuickBooks Online

  • Basic contact management
  • More basic reporting (80 reports available compared to 130 from Desktop)
  • No industry specific software options

Choosing QuickBooks Desktop vs. QuickBooks Online

Most smaller businesses will find QuickBooks Online is the better option. Its accessibility and lower cost often work well for small business owners who may work on their accounting away from the office and have a tighter budget for operating costs. Plus, the wide variety of features and easy interface make it ideal for business owners with less experience in bookkeeping and accounting.

However, QuickBooks Desktop offers more advanced features and technical, traditional accounting features, so larger organizations that may need an industry-specific software and those with more complex financial details may find QuickBooks Desktop the right option.

Get QuickBooks Support from Our Certified Team

If you use QuickBooks for your bookkeeping and accounting and would like to learn how to maximize its functionality and improve your record-keeping, we can help. We have certified QuickBooks Pro support on our team to help you get the most out of your software. Reach out to us today at  (919) 872-0866 or fill out the form below to get started.

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