Which is right for you?
One of the most common question we get is from new business owners inquiring about the differences between the online and the desktop versions of QuickBooks.
The answer depends on the complexity or the simplicity of information they are looking to get from the system. If you are running a small medical office and just need to track your sales and expenses as they occur, then QuickBooks online is an excellent choice. If you operate a photo studio and only use basic functions such as invoicing or bill entry, then the online version will work well too. On the other hand, if your business requires job costing analysis or escrow account tracking like the kind used by attorneys, builders, architects, then the online version will not satisfy your needs. For businesses that need more complex and detail reporting options, we recommend the desktop version.
Here are some key differences between the two systems:
QuickBooks Online offers remote access 24 hours a day, provided that your internet connection stays on. For small businesses this is a very convenient feature since so many business owners travel and need access to financial data anywhere, anytime. The desktop version stopped supporting remote access as of January 2015.
Online edition of QuickBooks permits up to to 25 simultaneous users access the system, while the desktop version allows up to 5 users. However, the more expensive edition called QuickBooks Enterprise, which is used by larger businesses, does offers up to 30 users. This system is much more expensive and from our experience most small businesses only have a need for up to 3 users.
QuickBooks software updates, which are periodic maintenance releases are automatically updated in the online edition. In the desktop edition users install it themselves upon logging into the system.
Online edition upgrades, which are new software releases are free with the online version yet cost the full price of the software for desktop editions. We suggest using your desktop version for two years before upgrading.
QuickBooks support is free for the online version while support for desktop is extra.
QuickBooks online does not integrate with Intuit POS as the desktop versions do.
Quickbooks online does not offer complete job or project costing reports although you can configure it to track expenses by job. It also lacks a lot of report customization features found in the desktop version. QuickBooks for desktop, especially the higher version like Premier or Enterprise offers multiple industry-specific reports which the Online version does not.