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What's Best for Your Business? QuickBooks Online Vs. Desktop

Mar 30, 2017 / by Dan Wywrot

When’s the last time you thought about analogies? High school? Bear with us.

QuickBooks is to small businesses as synthetic butter is to movie theater popcorn. For some people, they’re necessities.

Intuit QuickBooks helps many businesses organize expenses, create invoices, prep taxes, and beyond. While QuickBooks isn’t for every company, millions of small businesses use QuickBooks to manage their finances.

If you’ve decided that QuickBooks is the way to go, your decision-making isn’t quite over yet. What about QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop?

Make an informed decision

From the QuickBooks comparison table on their site, it’s pretty clear that the company is trying to highlight the efficiency and connectivity of QuickBooks online. Keep in mind that this makes sense from a vendor perspective. After all, Intuit QuickBooks receives a more stable revenue from more monthly QuickBooks Online subscriptions.

Don’t just trust the table. We’ll help you make an informed decision. Read on to find out if QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks Desktop suits your company’s needs.

An overview of QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop

Here’s a quick breakdown of how each QuickBooks interface stacks up.

QuickBooks Online:

  • Pro: The software can be accessed from anywhere and on any device with internet
  • Pro: Data is automatically backed up in the cloud
  • Pro: Third-party apps integrate with QuickBooks Online and expand its capabilities more thoroughly than apps for QuickBooks Desktop
  • Con: Monthly subscription fee
  • Con: Can only import data from Excel or other QuickBooks tools into Lists or your bank feed
  • Con: It offers sparse FIFO inventory management help, but nothing more

QuickBooks Desktop:

  • Pro: One-time license purchase fee
  • Pro: Contains more robust features like batch invoicing, industry-specific versions, and multiple inventory tracking options
  • Con: Multiple users are allowed to work simultaneously only if you purchase multiple licenses and enable “multi-user mode”
  • Con: Integrates with less apps that QuickBooks Online, and some of these integrated apps charge a monthly fee
  • Con: Data is not freely accessible via the cloud, this is an additional paid feature
  • Con: Need to purchase support services and upgrades

Need a chart? Here’s our very own comparison table that highlights the core differences between QuickBooks Desktop and Online. Take that, QuickBooks.

quickbooks online vs. quickbooks deskptop

As a small business owner, you must decide what features you cannot live without.

If you’d rather pay a one-time fee and cloud access doesn’t matter to you, QuickBooks Desktop is the clear choice. If you want up to seven members of your team to be able to access your account, QuickBooks Online makes more sense

Don’t let fancy features (that you might never use!) influence you. Think about how you and your team will interact with the software and let that guide your choice. As a business owner, you must decide what features you cannot live without. If you’d rather pay a one-time fee and cloud access doesn’t matter to you, QuickBooks Desktop is the clear choice. If you want your up to seven members of your team to be able to access your account, QuickBooks Online makes more sense.

One last thing: The QuickBooks discontinuation policy  

Whenever you’re investing in a new tool, it’s always important to check out the discontinuation policy. As newer desktop versions are released, Intuit QuickBooks discontinues add-on and support services for older versions of QuickBooks Desktop. This discontinuation policy includes features like payroll.

Typically, any QuickBooks Desktop version that’s 3 years older than the latest rollout won’t accept add-on services or allow live technical support. You need to purchase new software and upgrade your file to stay up-to-date.

If you do choose QuickBooks Desktop, this should factor into your decision. If you need add-on services like payroll and you like knowing that you can reach out to a QuickBooks customer service rep when needed, you’ll either have to purchase a new QuickBooks Desktop version every few years or switch to QuickBooks Online.

QuickBooks isn’t totally cutting it?

While QuickBooks can be a lifesaver for many small businesses, sometimes you need something more. If you’re ready for a financial professional to help out your company—but you don’t need someone full-time—Paro can help. Learn more about our part-time accounting and bookkeeping services.