QuickBooks Online vs. QuickBooks Desktop: Which is Better?

QB Article

Every small business owner needs accounting software for his or her company. QuickBooks has remained as one of the most popular accounting platforms for business owners to use today. Product-based businesses with inventory to sell typically use the Desktop version, while service-based businesses and businesses with multiple locations will typically pick the Online Version.

Currently, there are still more small businesses that use Desktop as opposed to Online. However, many small businesses are now converting their Desktop version to Online – and not only that – nearly 80% of new QuickBooks users are choosing Online over Desktop.

You may be wondering if QuickBooks Online or Desktop will be a better fit for you. This isn’t always an easy question to answer, which is why you should consult with a QuickBooks Certified bookkeeper or accountant before making a decision. Nevertheless, it helps to educate yourself before speaking to an expert, because then you know what to look for and have the right questions to ask.

Let’s dive into the differences and see what will be the best program for your needs.

Desktop vs. Online

Whether you’re using QuickBooks for the very first time or you’re an experienced user wanting to convert to another version, it is important for you to first fully understand all aspects of what Online and Desktop can do for you. With QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop, both have strong accounting features, but there is a key difference. QuickBooks Online is cloud-based software with monthly pricing, while QuickBooks Desktop is locally installed with a yearly license-pricing model.

QuickBooks Desktop

QuickBooks Desktop has three different versions: QuickBooks Desktop Pro, QuickBooks Desktop Premier, and QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise. Pro is designed for small businesses, Premier for medium business, and Enterprise for large businesses. QuickBooks Desktop versions are generally better than QuickBooks Online with respect to managing large amounts of inventory. This helps make it a great accounting tool for retail stores to utilize. Desktop has been around since 1992, and it can be more powerful than QuickBooks Online in certain areas.


– Traditional Accounting

– More Secure

– More Features

– Hundreds of Integrations


– Expensive License Structures

– Steep Learning Curve

– Fewer Automations than Online version

– No Remote Access

Choose QuickBooks Desktop If:

– You are looking for locally-installed software accounting software

– You need the industry-specific features of QuickBooks Desktop Premier or QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise

– You need sales orders

– You have very complex accounting

QuickBooks Online

The beauty of Online is that you can access your accounting software anywhere. Many third-party apps are also accessible through Online, which enables it to be (arguably) more powerful than the Desktop standard. You may not want to pay for third-party apps, and that’s something you need to evaluate when comparing the two. Along with cloud-based access, there are far more features that are supported by Online that you can’t find anywhere else within Desktop. QuickBooks Online is designed specifically for small businesses. However, the advanced plan makes the software usable for large businesses. The software offers a strong feature set, solid accounting tools, online payroll, smart invoices, many integrations, and unique lending features.

The best part, QuickBooks Online is also significantly easier to learn and use than QuickBooks Desktop. Online has been around since 2004; and since the software is cloud-based, it works anywhere you have an Internet connection. Again, there are multiple mobile apps that can help you manage your business on the go.


– Easy to Use

– More Automations

– Cloud-Based

– Monthly Subscription Pricing

– Incredible Features

– Built-in Lending

– Hundreds of Integrations


– Fewer features than Desktop

– No sales orders

Choose QuickBooks Online If:

– You want easy to use and learn software

– You need international invoicing

– You want to access your accounting remotely or with mobile apps

– You want real-time sync with your bank and other business integrations

– You need payment processing integrations so customers can pay invoices directly online

– You want access to QuickBooks Capital lending

The Verdict

Ultimately, the real deciding factor is what your specific business size is, the type of business, and what your needs are. More often than not, Payroll companies typically offer discounts for accounting tools such as QuickBooks, so check in with them to save before you end up making a big purchase for your business. We hope this comparison of QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop will help guide you to make the best decision for your company. Southern Payroll & Benefits is QuickBooks Certified; please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for expert opinions on what version will be best suited for your business, as well as discounted QuickBooks pricing.

QuickBooks Online vs. QuickBooks Desktop: Which is Better?