Online v. Desktop

First, check our my detailed Spreadsheet with over 200 features compared across all versions of QuickBooks:

Second, If you are going to purchase QuickBooks Online, use my link to get 30% off:

But, if you are planning to purchase QuickBooks Desktop, e-mail me, and I can recommend the right version plus offer any current deals available for new Desktop users or upgraders of older versions!

Ok, Let’s start by looking at all the PROS about using QuickBooks Online:

  • Native cloud-based application so can be accessed from anywhere with an internet and any computer (PC, Mac, Chromebook, etc…) with a web browser.
  • It has a tablet and smartphone native app, so you can do a lot of transactions and reports on the go, but certainly not as powerful as working on a computer’s web browser yet.
  • Better integration with 3rd party apps, because is cloud-based, a lot of these integrations happen behind the scenes with no user-input needed, which really speeds up the data sync across apps. The QuickBooks Online integration ecosystem is much larger than the QuickBooks Desktop at this point; most new app developers only built integrations to the Online version.
  • No need for “security backups” because Intuit has world class secure servers with redundant backing up of the data. The problem is you cannot do “temporal” backups to have a snapshot of the accounting database at a point in time, useful for audits and fixing issues when users mess up the accounting. There is a back-up system built into QuickBooks Online Advanced, and/or a 3rd party app called REWIND that can help you do this; but is not the same as QuickBooks Desktop.
  • No need to make major IT investments, since QuickBooks Online is cloud-based, you do not need to get a server, a set of special workstations, a specially setup local area network with remote access capabilities, etc. QuickBooks Online is simply available to anyone with a web-browser. This alone can save you thousands!
  • No Single-user vs. Multi-user mode drama! QuickBooks Desktop users know about this too well… with QuickBooks Online all users can be on at the same time doing virtually any function concurrently, with some small exceptions.
  • Some features are just better like Online Banking which is extremely powerful, much better than Desktop’s, plus with Desktop you might need to pay your bank $10 to $15 a month to have automatic transaction downloading into QuickBooks, with Online there are no additional costs and it works with virtually any bank in the US.
  • Other features such as report e-mail automation and recurring sales receipt automation to automatically bill yours clients every period previously agreed upon which combined with QuickBooks Payments, its an incredible cash-flow generating tool!
  • Lastly, it is easier to use, it has less moving parts and less features you will probably never use that QuickBooks Desktop has, making it a very “bloated” piece of software for many business with simplified operations

Ok, lets move on to the CONS of QuickBooks Online; or really when QuickBooks Desktop is a better choice:

  • Feature set, all and all QuickBooks Desktop has 20x more features seen in almost every transaction type or function vs QuickBooks Online, to be fair, most people do not use them, BUT there are many companies that have grown to love specific features in Desktop.
  • Payroll: this is the best payroll system in the market QuickBooks Desktop Enhanced Payroll (which is an additional cost, starting $50/m – and to be fair, doing payroll to Online is about the same cost anyway). In Desktop you can edit your paychecks and make after-the-facts adjustments like a charm; this is all extremely restricted in QuickBooks Online and often a very frustrating issue for accountants and power users that want more control and flexibility with Payroll.
  • Job Costing: well Payroll can be fully burdened (wages, taxes, benefits, etc) by payroll item or activity, by customer:job, and/or by class; which makes the job costing portion of payroll very powerful. Additionally for job costing even with QuickBooks Desktop Pro, has great reports such as Job Estimates vs. Actual Reports letting you know where you are budget-wise at the job level. And with QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise you can run WIP reports enabling you to know what revenue and expenses to recognize with Percentage of Completion method of accounting for construction companies
  • Inventory: with QuickBooks Desktop Premier and Enterprise you get Sales Orders which allow you to track sales for items you do not have in stock and let you know you have a backorder waiting to be fulfilled, this is a fundamental feature for Inventory-based businesses. Inventory Management is more powerful in Desktop because all the tools available to import or batch update inventory item information
  • Manufacturing: with QuickBooks Premier and Enterprise you can track multiple units of measure for your inventory items and perform inventory assembly builds which allows you to build a new finished goods from multiple inventory items (raw materials) and even burden labor/overhead using a Bill of Materials
  • Advanced Inventory capabilities such as multiple inventory site locations, serial/lot number tracking, barcode scanner support, mobile device (android) support for inventory pick/pack/ship. You can even print shipping labels for USP/USPS/FEDEX from QuickBooks. You need the enterprise edition
  • Custom Reports: in QuickBooks Desktop the reporting tools are just amazing, you can filter and group by many fields, much more than Online
  • Customizable forms, such as invoices, purchase orders, etc can be fully customized visually to get a very specific look and feel for your customers and vendors