There are two versions of QuickBooks: QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online. They are both made by Intuit, but they look and operate completely different from one another.
Which one is right for you? They each have their strengths and weaknesses.I’ll list some of them below and then give you my personal opinion.
Quickbooks Online (QBO)
- It can be accessed anywhere as long as you have an internet connection. It can even be accessed from your smartphone.
- You don’t have to shell out hundreds of dollars all at once. Imagine purchasing Desktop for $400 and then a few months later your business folds. With QBO, you pay month-to-month with no long-term commitment. Also, CPA’s can often get you a sizable discount on your monthly rate if you sign up through them.
- It works with Mac’s. Intuit no longer makes Desktop for Mac’s.
- It’s much easier to share your books with your accountant. All they need are login credentials and an internet connection.
- Most of the online forums for solving QuickBooks problems now only show solutions to QBO.
- Intuit’s call center representative are now primarily trained in QBO. They undergo some cross-training in Desktop, but it is limited.
- Apps, Apps, and more Apps. Intuit purposely made QBO to be very simple, whereas Desktop is quite robust and can handle virtually all of your accounting needs. When you need additional functionality from QBO, the solution is usually to purchase a 3rd Party App. As of this writing, there are around 500 3rd Party Apps you can purchase for QBO.
- QBO is more expensive in the long-run because you have to pay for it each month. Intuit just raised their prices making it even more expensive.
- You can't use QBO without an internet connection. We didn't have internet for about two months in Key West after Irma. We didn't have reliable internet for about a year.
- QBO doesn't handle inventory as well as Desktop does. There are 3rd Party apps though, but that leads us to our next bullet point.
- QBO is already more expensive overall than Desktop, adding 3rd Party apps makes it even more expensive.
Quickbooks Desktop (Desktop)
- It’s been around for over 30 years and it’s proven itself.
- It’s a one-time purchase. Unlike QBO, you purchase Desktop with a one-time payment and then you get to keep the software indefinitely. While you don’t have to renew, in my experience most businesses renew every 2-3 years.
- It’s not internet or cloud-based. This means if the internet goes down, you can still use it.
- It’s faster because the computing is done on your computer instead of a server connected to the Internet.
- It handles large reports, like the General Ledger, much better than QBO does.
- It handles inventory much better than QBO does.
- It's only accessible on the computer it's installed on. You can have it hosted but that can be expensive.
- Sharing files with your accountant is a major pain. You have to email, or mail, a backup file to your accountant. They work on it then send it back to you.
- Intuit believes, and so do I, that the future of accounting services is in the cloud. They are not investing a lot of resources into Desktop and there may come a day when they stop making it.
In my personal opinion, QBO is better for most small businesses. I began to realize that technology was becoming more cloud based in 2016. That's when I made the switch from Desktop to QuickBooks Online. I haven't looked back. Now, whenever I have to do work on Desktop for a client, it feels kind of clunky, whereas QuickBooks Online keeps getting better and better.
Why Use Robert E. Clark, LLC for QuickBooks Consulting?
I am a QuickBooks Online Advanced ProAdvisor a QuickBooks Desktop ProAdvisor. In both of these, you have to know how QuickBooks wants you to enter in transactions. Any CPA will know how to make QuickBooks spit out accurate financial statements, but if they do it by journal entry, it often causes problems down the road for the small business owner. When we perform work in your QuickBooks, we use the proper workflow so that problems don't pop up months later.