QuickBooks Online vs Desktop: Find Your Ideal Accounting Solution for Your Business [2024]

QuickBooks Online vs Desktop

QuickBooks Online vs Desktop: Overview

QuickBooks Desktop, a traditional accounting software, requires downloading and installation on your computer. QuickBooks Online, on the other hand, is cloud-based and accessible via the Internet. The Desktop version comes with an annual fee starting from $549.99, while the cloud-based option starts from $15 per month. Mobile apps are available for both versions, but the Desktop app primarily serves as a receipt-uploading tool. In contrast, the Online mobile app offers robust functionality.

QuickBooks Desktop caters to businesses proficient in accounting and does not necessitate real-time collaboration. QuickBooks Online is ideal for businesses needing real-time collaboration and access to their QuickBooks files from any device. Crucially, the two versions function autonomously, ensuring that data inputted on the Desktop remains separate from Online and vice versa.

Compare QuickBooks Online Versions

 Ledger (NEW)Simple StartEssentialsPlus
Share access with multiple users1 user
1 userUp to 3 full-access users
Up to 5 full-access users
Up to 25 full-access and custom users
Built-in business reports40+ (with limitations)40+70+90+90+
Share access with accountantsUp to 2Up to 2
Up to 2
Up to 2Up to 3
Track income and expensesYesYesYesYesYes
Maximize Tax Deductions YesYesYesYesYes
Download transactions for your accountsYesYesYesYesYes
Integrate with 3d party appsYes (With limitations)YesYesYesYes
Print Checks & Record TransactionsYesYesYesYesYes
Prepare & Print 1099s for Contractors YesYesYesYesYes
Import data from Excel or QuickBooks DesktopYesYesYesYesYes
Set up automated, recurring transactionsYesYesYesYesYes
Automated bookkeepingYesYesYesYesYes
 Capture and organize receipts YesYesYesYes
Access data from any device YesYesYesYes
Track sales and sales tax YesYesYesYes
Invoice and accept payments YesYesYesYes
Create and send estimates YesYesYesYes
Track mileage using your smartphone YesYesYesYes
Manage and pay bills from vendors YesYesYesYes
Connect online sales channels0 (QB Commerce sales channels)1 sales channelConnect 3 sales channelsConnect all sales channels
Connect all sales channels
Apps Integration diagnostics YesYesYesYes
Track billable hours by customer  YesYesYes
Handle multiple currencies  YesYesYes
Set user access levels  YesYesYes
Track project profitability   YesYes
Track inventory   YesYes
Create and send purchase orders   YesYes
Create and manage budgets   YesYes
Categorize income and expenses using class tracking   YesYes
Track sales and profitability by location   YesYes
Automate workflows    Yes
Enhanced custom fields    Yes
Batch invoices, checks, expenses, bills    Yes
Customize access by roles    Yes
Backup and Restore    Yes
Task manager    Yes
Custom chart builder    Yes
Cash flow dashboard    Yes
Revenue streams dashboard    Yes
Priority Circle    Yes
Custom report builder    Yes
Performance Center    Yes
Revenue Recognition    Yes
Data Sync with Excel    Yes
Employee Expenses    Yes
Fixed Assets Accounting    Yes
Monitor estimates vs. actuals    Yes

Which QuickBooks Desktop Version Is Right for You?

It is always important for you to compare QuickBooks Desktop Versions and find which is right for you. Here we have made a detailed and descriptive table to help you understand which is better:

Features Pro Plus Premier Plus Enterprise 
Max. Number of Users 40 
Data File Size Up to 150-200 MB 150-200 MB 1 GB 
Pricing Starting at $799/yr/user Starting at $799/yr/user Starting at $1830 00 /yr* 
Industry-specific Features No Yes Yes 
Customized Prices within QuickBooks No No Available 
Individual User Permission Yes Yes Yes, with more advanced options 
Fixed assets management No No Yes 
Anytime, Anywhere Access With Hosting Service With Hosting Service With Hosting Service 
Create Business Plan No Yes Yes 
Create Reports with QuickBooks StatementWriter No Limited to Accountants Only Yes 
Predefined User Roles (14 in number) No No Yes 
Sales Forecast No Yes Yes 
Work on Multiple Company FilesSimultaneously No Limited to Accountants OnlyYes
Create Purchase Orders YesYesYes
Import Data from Third-party Apps such as Excel,Outlook, Quicken YesYesYes
International Sales Tracking Yes Yes Yes 
Multiple Currency Expense Tracking Yes Yes Yes 
One-Click Reports Yes Yes Yes 
Tracking Inventory Yes Yes Yes 
Bin Location Tracking No No Yes 
Barcode Capabilities Without Add-on No No Yes 

Also Read: QuickBooks Pro Vs Premier

QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks Desktop: Which is Better?

Pros of QuickBooks Online vs Desktop: 

  • Cloud-based:
  • Accessible from anywhere with an internet connection and login.
  • No need for on-premises servers.
  • Reduces the requirement for IT staff hours.
  • The QuickBooks Accountant (QuickBooks Online) mobile app offers more features.
  • QuickBooks Online offers up to 25 users, while QuickBooks Desktop pricing is per user.
  • QuickBooks Online can restore company data files, unlike QuickBooks Desktop.
  • QuickBooks Online includes free customer support, while some QuickBooks Desktop versions charge extra.
  • QuickBooks Online comes with automatic backups and feature updates, while some versions of QuickBooks Desktop charge extra for these services.

AP automation add-on third-party apps: enjoy your choice of AP automation software for:

  • Streamlined and automated workflows
  • Global batch processing of payables payments
  • Automatic payments reconciliation
  • Reduced labor needs
  • Improved cash flow management
  • Reduced fraud risk

Cons of QuickBooks Online vs Desktop:

Cons of QuickBooks Online Compared to QuickBooks Desktop:

  • Industry-specific editions: QuickBooks Desktop offers industry-specific editions in its Enterprise version, while QuickBooks Online lacks these specialized options. Additionally, QuickBooks Desktop’s Premier Plus version provides industry-specific tools and reports.
  • Robust features: QuickBooks Online doesn’t have as many advanced features as QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise, such as advanced inventory, job costing features, and discounts by customer name.
  • Extensive reports: QuickBooks Desktop offers more extensive and comprehensive reporting capabilities.
  • Customization options: QuickBooks Desktop, particularly its Enterprise version, provides more customization options compared to QuickBooks Online.
  • User limits: QuickBooks Online Advanced is designed for a maximum of 25 users, while QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise can accommodate up to 40 users.

QuickBooks Online vs Desktop Features

Rephrased Text:

QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based accounting software with a subscription-based pricing model, while QuickBooks Desktop is a locally installed software with a one-time purchase option. QuickBooks Online provides multi-user access and regular automatic updates, while QuickBooks Desktop offers advanced customization options and industry-specific versions.

Reworded Text:

Whereas QuickBooks Desktop is installed locally and requires one-time purchases, QuickBooks Online is cloud-based and requires monthly subscriptions. While QuickBooks Desktop offers industry-specific editions and extensive customization, QuickBooks Online provides multi-user access and automated upgrades.

Here we have provided you with a table that gives you all the features of both QuickBooks Online and Desktop:

FeatureQuickBooks OnlineQuickBooks Desktop
AccessibilityCloud-based; accessible from any device with an internet connectionInstalled locally on a computer
Pricing modelMonthly subscription-based pricingOne-time purchase with optional annual upgrades
Version updatesAutomatically updatedRequires manual updates and upgrades
User accessMultiple users can access it simultaneouslyDepending on the license
Data storageData stored in the cloudData stored on the local computer
ScalabilitySuitable for small to medium-sized businessesSuitable for small to large-sized businesses
Industry-specific toolsOffers industry-specific versions (e.g., retail, nonprofit)Offers industry-specific versions (e.g., contractor, manufacturing)
CustomizationExtensive integrations with third-party appsLimited integrations with third-party apps
IntegrationExtensive integrations with third-party appsLimited integrations with third-party apps
Remote accessAvailable through web browser or mobile appRequires remote desktop software for access
Automatic backupsIncluded in the subscriptionManual backups required
Support optionsOnline support, community forums, and chatPhone and email support, knowledge base


When comparing QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop, experts often favor the robust capabilities of QuickBooks Desktop. Hosting QuickBooks Desktop on the cloud through a reliable provider can further enhance its benefits by combining the extensive features of the desktop version with the accessibility of the online version.

Ultimately, the choice between QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop depends on individual business needs. By understanding the unique offerings of both software, CPAs can make informed recommendations to their clients, helping them improve their accounting processes and overall business efficiency. This blog post aims to provide an in-depth, comparative guide to assist in making this decision.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q1. What is the difference between QuickBooks online and desktop?

Q2. What is better QuickBooks online or desktop?

Q3. What is the difference between Quickbooks Online and QuickBooks Pro?

Q4. Difference between QuickBooks online vs Mac desktop?

Q5. What are the Problems faced while converting quickbooks desktop to online?

Q6. What to expect when you switch from quickbooks desktop to quickbooks online?

Q7. What data does not convert from quickbooks desktop to quickbooks online?

Q8. How long does it take to convert quickbooks desktop to quickbooks online?

Q9. Should I switch from a quickbooks desktop to an online one?