QuickBooks Best Version for Business - Online vs Desktop

QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop: Best Version for your Business in 2020

If you’re in business and have your accounting books, you may have come across the term QuickBooks.  QuickBooks is accounting software that comes in two options – Online and Desktop. It’s designed to reduce business accounting complexities by tracking budget control, expenses, and overall management of your business income.

QuickBooks Review

QuickBooks Desktop was the first to be developed in the 90s. Since then, software developers such as Intuit have created numerous versions of the product, with annual upgrades to keep up with technology and meet accounting professionals’ needs.

Quickbooks review - QuickBooks Best Version for Business - Online vs Desktop

Available QuickBooks Types Include:

  • QuickBooks Pro
  • QuickBooks Premier 
  • Enterprise
  • Mac Desktop

QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop – Compare the Difference

The significant difference in both accounting software is the ease of access. You can work with QuickBooks Online from any mobile device or computer via an internet connection. You can also share data with your accounting team fast and easy.

Compare the difference - QuickBooks Best Version for Business - Online vs Desktop

On the other hand, QuickBooks Desktop needs to be installed on your Desktop and you can share data with your accountant via shared documents on computers within the established network.

Both QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop offer information sharing within teams; however, QuickBooks online provides faster data transfer than QuickBooks Desktop. 

QuickBooks Features

The difference between QuickBooks Online and Desktop varies from the layout, menu items, and of course, the cost.

1. Initial Fee

Online offers various products and services on a monthly subscription fee while Desktop offers a one-off price which you pay upfront.

Initial fee - QuickBooks Best Version for Business - Online vs Desktop

2. Connection Requirements

Quickbooks Desktop is ideal for busy entrepreneurs on the go because you can use it anytime, even when offline. 
QuickBooks Online requires an internet connection and cloud-based storage for the sharing of files.

Connection requirements - QuickBooks Best Version for Business - Online vs Desktop

3. Automation

Desktop requires manual processing of all transactions such as; receipts, invoices, and other payables.
QuickBooks online has multiple features, such as customer billing options, financial reports, and downloadable bank transactions. 

Automation - QuickBooks Best Version for Business - Online vs Desktop

4. Support

The Online version offers free customer support for monthly subscribers. The Desktop version does not have free customer support – unless you make a call and explain your situation without online support. 

Support - QuickBooks Best Version for Business - Online vs Desktop

5. Accessibility

QuickBooks Online offers flexibility, with the option to work virtually – anywhere, even without your personal laptop or computer. You can continue from where you left off by accessing your cloud-based files. All you need is your login info and a stable internet connection.
The Desktop version doesn’t offer virtual solutions. You have to work from one source, where you have installed your QuickBooks App.

Accessibility - QuickBooks Best Version for Business - Online vs Desktop

6. Multiple Users

QuickBooks Online can accommodate up to 25 users logged in with different computers and laptops.
Desktop, regrettably, only allows one user at a time.

Multiple users - QuickBooks Best Version for Business - Online vs Desktop

7. Tailored Features

The Desktop version has complex features such as tracking expenses, budgeting, etc. which are not available in QuickBooks Online.

Desktop QuickBooks also offers flexibility and freedom to customize forms.

Tailored features - QuickBooks Best Version for Business - Online vs Desktop

QuickBooks Desktop

Quickbooks desktop


  • Ideal for a fixed office location
  • Ideal for businesses that manage a large amount of inventory in sales and services
  • Offers access to a limited number of people in your team
  • Does not include a recurrent monthly fee 
  • Secure from online hackers since this version does not require an internet connection
  • Has customized features, including
  • Budget creation tools
  • Inventory manager
  • Job costing
  • Expenditure trackers
  • Batch invoicing
  • Batch timesheet entry
  • Price level adjustments
  • Billing rate adjustments
  • Consignment transaction entry
  • ACH vendor deposits 
  • Invoice Financing Options
  • Job Costing
  • Generate estimated job cost reports 
  • Track mileage
  • Evaluate labor costing
  • Learn how to work with capital loans
  • Industry-specific reportage
  • Learn about cash flow increase


  • Works on a single computer
  • Works without the internet
  • Does not include automated features
  • One time cost – which is substantially high
  • No customer care support

QuickBooks Online

Quickbooks Online


  • Accessible to multiple team members who have remote access to your cloud storage files
  • Suitable for service-based business with a small inventory
  • Flexible monthly costs on your preferred package 
  • Access to unlimited customer support 
  • Cloud computing (storage)    
  • Automated services
  • Work on any device (mobile, laptop, or Desktop)
  • Flexibility to work remotely 
  • Automated scheduling and sending reports
  • Automated bank transactions
  • You can attach external documents such as images, documents, and signatures, among others
  • Customized labels
  • Automate scheduling and sending transactions
  • Track changes, review actions using the audit log
  • Track by location
  • Set automatic bank transactions to download every night
  • Unlimited time tracking and report generation
  • Create delayed credits and charges as non-posting transactions to bill or apply later
  • More than one AR/AP line journal entries 
  • Manage multiple budgets
  • Custom administration tool to design presentation reports
  • Effortlessly integrates with third-party apps 


  • Files strictly accessible through an internet connection
  • Does not offer expenses tracking features
  • Risk of losing files to hackers and multiple users
  • Fragile infrastructure due to its access method 

Which QuickBooks version is best for your Business in 2020?

Both QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online offer the same services with totally different infrastructure.

QuickBooks Best Version for Business - Online vs Desktop

QB Desktop has been around for over twenty years and offers more stable accounting frameworks.

On the other hand, QB Online offers advanced accounting solutions with automation, customizable templates, and detailed contact management.QB Online has better software that offers consistent monthly updates, which is great for automated accounting services.

However, if you’re dealing with extensive inventory and large sales reports, you’re better off with QB Desktop for safe access, and a large amount of storage space required handling vast amounts of data.

Deciding between QB Online vs. Desktop depends on your business accounting needs and concerns.

The current QB Desktop is setup for product-based companies dealing with a more extensive inventory.

QB Online is set up, preferably for service-based businesses that don’t deal with large orders or inventory.

Ultimately, there are numerous QuickBooks Online apps that offer a Desktop-type capability in areas where the software is lacking.

Final Word

No matter what accounting option you choose to work with, it is critical to note that most QuickBooks apps promote the Online version to keep up with tech inventions and improvements.

Most software developers are taking this directive – to move hardware programs into cloud computing as the future of IT takes precedence. 

If the Desktop version works for you, the Online version will soon take precedence once developers no longer opt to upgrade the older QB version.