LUTZ BUSINESS INSIGHTS
quickbooks online vs. quickbooks desktop: what’s the difference?
mike perry, client accounting services director
QuickBooks Online is not simply a web-based version of QuickBooks Desktop. Yes, they’re both designed for small business owners, so they’re easy for non-accountants to use. They both help you create records and enter transactions so you can track your financial accounts, your income and expenses, and the products and/or services you buy and sell. They allow you to connect to online services like banks and payment processors. And their built-in features can be expanded by integrating with hundreds of add-on applications.
But there are many differences, starting with what you see when you log into QuickBooks Online or open QuickBooks Desktop. QuickBooks Online displays charts and other text and graphics that give you an instant overview of your finances. The desktop version’s home screen contains a combination of toolbars and menus and flow charts that help you find your way around the software.
Other differences include:
You can log in to QuickBooks Online on any device that has an internet connection. QuickBooks Desktop ties you to the PC where it’s installed.
You’ll pay a few hundred dollars upfront for the desktop version, unless you choose the Plus or Enterprise subscription-based desktop versions, where the web-based edition requires a monthly (or annual) subscription fee.
Updates and backup
When you use QuickBooks Online, you always have the most current version, and it’s backed up automatically. Not so with QuickBooks Desktop. You have to install updates as they’re released and set up your own backup. And to get the latest features, you must upgrade your copy of the software once a year.
Each edition of QuickBooks Online allows a set number of users at no additional cost. If you use the desktop version, you have to buy additional licenses depending on the number of users you have.
Mobile and More
If remote access to at least some of your QuickBooks data is very important to you, you’ll find that QuickBooks Online more accommodating. Using QuickBooks Online’s mobile app, you can view and enter transactions, take photos of expense receipts, receive payments, and track mileage automatically, among other things. Where QuickBooks Desktop’s mobile app only allows you to take photos of expense receipts and only works with subscription-based versions of QuickBooks 2020 and newer. The site also makes it easier to connect to your online financial institutions, import transactions, and monitor account balances.
Do you need to track jobs as well as customers? QuickBooks Desktop will better serve you in that regard as the job related reports are more robust to the reports available in QuickBooks Online. It’s also a more powerful, flexible inventory manager, and its Reminders feature is superior to QuickBooks Online’s task tracking. QuickBooks Desktop offers more comprehensive help files within the software itself, and it gives you more control over customizing the application’s settings through its Preferences options.
Before you decide which version would work better for you, you’ll have to ask yourself some questions about issues like your technology budget, the importance of the user experience, any specific requirements you have, and your support needs. We can help match you with the right version and get you set up with it. If you have any questions, please contact us or click here to learn more about our outsourced accounting services.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
MIKE PERRY + CLIENT ACCOUNTING SERVICES DIRECTOR
Mike Perry is a Client Accounting Services Director at Lutz with over 15 years of accounting experience. He focuses on providing business consulting, software implementation and training, accounting procedure assistance and outsourced accounting replacement consulting for closely held companies.
AREAS OF FOCUS
AFFILIATIONS AND CREDENTIALS
- American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Member
- Nebraska Society of Certified Public Accountants, Member
- Intuit Certified ProAdvisor, QuickBooks Advanced
- Certified Public Accountant
- BSBA in Accounting, University of Nebraska, Kearney, NE
- Community Bike Project Omaha, Past Treasurer
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