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QuickBooks Desktop vs. QuickBooks Online


There is a reason why QuickBooks is the best selling accounting software worldwide with over 42 million desktop users and already over 2.2 million QuickBooks Online users. Part of this success is due to the fact that QuickBooks is all about offering better and more user-friendly solutions to its customers. This also means staying on top of technological advancements and ensuring that users have the option to take their accounting software solutions online and mobile if they want to. With options, come choices and existing and potential customers are always asking – “QuickBooks Desktop vs. Online, which way should I go?”Quickbooks Online vs QuickBooks Desktop

The answer is not a simple one and will vary from customer to customer because it is ‘needs’ driven. One thing is certain’ QuickBooks will be able to offer you an accounting software solution that will work for you. Currently, there are more units of QuickBooks Desktop used by small businesses than QuickBooks Online. However, more small businesses are choosing the online version of QuickBooks. It is helpful to know the differences between QuickBooks Online and Desktop—whether you’re starting to use QuickBooks for the very first time or you are a loyal Desktop user considering the change.

QuickBooks Desktop has a long and rich heritage and is still seen as the most powerful version of QuickBooks. QuickBooks Online is also a great product that will certainly get better faster, but it is not as simple as making the change for the sake of change. One still has to ask oneself whether or not QuickBooks Online is the right product for you now. The best way to do that is the old fashioned way – to list the advantages and see if they tick all your boxes…


QuickBooks Desktop Advantages

There are still some areas where QuickBooks Desktop still holds the advantage, such as managing large amounts of inventory and job costing. QuickBooks Desktop offers the following feature sets that QuickBooks Online does not. If you cannot live without any of the below, then QuickBooks Desktop is most likely best for you now. The best way to do that is the old fashioned way – to list the advantages and see if they tick all your boxes.


Data Entry:

  • Price Levels
  • Create Invoices in Batches
  • Billing Rate Levels
  • Batch Enter Transactions
  • Batch Enter Timesheets


Job Costing:

  • Progress Invoicing/Billing
  • Job Costing Module and Reports (Estimate vs. Actual reporting)
  • Mileage Tracking
  • Change Orders on Estimates
  • Markup Column on Estimates



  • Multiple Vendor Ship to Addresses
  • Business Planner, Forecasting, Balance Sheet by Class
  • Better Report Header and Footer Customization



  • Average Cost Inventory Valuation Method
  • Set and Maintain Inventory Reorder Points
  • Receiving Partially Against Purchase Order
  • Sales Orders
  • Availability to Promise
  • Build Assembles
  • Unit of Measure



  • Backup and Restore Feature
  • Condense File
  • Period Copy
  • Client Data Review tools
    • Fix Unapplied Payments and Credits
    • Clean-up Un-deposited Funds
    • Fix Sales Tax
  • QuickBooks Statement Writer
  • Can have Additional AR/AP Accounts


QuickBooks Online Advantages

Below are the features supported by QuickBooks Online that you can’t find in any version of QuickBooks Desktop:

  • Automatically schedule and send transactions
  • Attach documents, images, signatures and more to transactions using mobile device, or upload on your computer
  • Use Audit Log to review actions and track changes over time
  • Track by Location in addition to or instead of by Class and choose from multiple location labels
  • Re-label your customers if you call them something else. There are7 options to choose from
  • Bank Transactions download automatically each night. You can also “Undo” (and in batch) an added, matched, or excluded transaction within the banking tool
  • Custom Banking Rules can be made to split by R or % and you can assign class/location within a rule
  • Bank rules can be set to Auto-add to register
  • Unlimited time tracking and reports only users
  • Delayed Charges and Delayed Credits to create non-posting transactions that you can bill for or apply later
  • Set up multiple budgets per fiscal year
  • Use Management Reports to build a presentation ready package of reports from cover page to end-note
  • Seamless integration with 3rd party apps


Now, on that last point…

There are some gaps between QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop. As QuickBooks Desktop has been around longer, it is more powerful. However there are many, many 3rd party apps that can help you fill those gaps. There is often an app answer for the small business owner who thinks QuickBooks Desktop works for them and QuickBooks Online does not. You may not want to pay for 3rd party apps, and that is something you have to evaluate when comparing the two.

To complicate things even further, QuickBooks Desktop is now mobile with the new QuickPerks offering which takes the QuickBooks Desktop experience to a new level.
A purchase of QuickBooks Desktop includes a QuickPerks subscription, which provides users with the following benefits:

  • Free upgrades to the latest version of QuickBooks available when you renew your subscription going forward
  • Mobile applications that allow access to information within QuickBooks from a mobile device
  • FREE email and telephone support


QuickBooks Online or Desktop: How Do You Decide?

The easiest way to make the decision between QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks Desktop is to first look at the features that QuickBooks Desktop has that QuickBooks Online does not, and ask yourself:

Is there anything I can’t live without?

If you find something that you absolutely need in QuickBooks Desktop, see if there’s a 3rd party app that can do the same thing in QuickBooks Online. If there is no app, or you feel it would cost too much to add apps and fill the gaps in QuickBooks Online, then QuickBooks Desktop is for you.

It is also a good idea to consult with your bookkeeper or accountant before deciding. It is an important decision, one that could impact on the future of your business.

Still not sure which way to go? Contact one of our sales people who will assess your specific needs and offer advice on which QuickBooks solution will be best for you. Visit or call: 0861 726 657

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