Deciding between QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop can be confusing and time-consuming. In this article we will compare features, reviews, and pricing in detail.

Thinking business woman with glasses looking up at many question marks deciding between quickbooks online vs desktop Ever since QuickBooks launched it’s new Online version (QBO), many business owners have been contemplating making the switch. New business owners, who have never used either software, may be looking into which software may be best for their company. QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop?  The details can seem confusing for many who are not trained in the art of accountant lingo. Have no fear because in this article we break down the key differences and similarities, the future of QuickBooks, and prices for both.

Mobility vs. Stability

It is no secret that Intuit is strongly encouraging its QuickBooks Desktop (QBD) customers and future customers to start using their newest cloud-based software. Entering Intuit’s QuickBooks Desktop vs. Online page, where both products are offered, it would seem like a no-brainer that QBO is the better option. However, this switch may seem unnecessary to many. To begin, let’s look at the key difference between the two: mobility. The main difference between a cloud-based software vs. a desktop software is simply the ability to easily access your accounting software on-the-go. For many larger companies who need the extra features offered on QBD (feats. discussed later in article), while also needing to be able to access your account on-the-go, there are companies that offer cloud hosting for QBD, at an additional cost.

The future of QuickBooks

Before we begin, it is important to note that Intuit will be discontinuing all models of their QBD softwares for Mac computers by 2018.  This is a no brainer for Mac users interested in switching or starting online, cloud-based software, simply because they have no choice. What does that have to do with PC Desktop users? Maybe nothing, but this major news could be foreshadowing the future for all desktop-based software. QBD has been around longer than QBO. This simply means that QBD has had more time to fix bugs, add more features, and perfect its software. Many accountants and bookkeepers feel very strongly about this; they have grown up with QBD, they understand it, and simply put, many have a distaste for change. Even though QBO is newer and not quite as ‘perfected’ as QBD, it is safe to say that in an age of technology and ever increasing competition, the software will only get stronger over the years. What we don’t know is how long will it take for QBO to match up with QBD computing capabilities and what that means for users.

QuickBooks and your computer

Still haven’t made a decision whether QBO or QBD is for you? Let’s talk about your computer. It’s easy to forget that one of the key factors in this decision is the device that will be running your software. Because QBD is a software downloaded onto your computer, internet is not required and vise-versa for QBO. Seems simple enough right? Well let’s complicate things even more. Because QBD is downloaded onto your computer and does not require internet access, it uses less processing power/memory to operate the program and perform tasks. You will have to download the program, thus use computer storage, but the rest is up to the program. When you are operating such a large task online, your computer will need more short term processing power to complete tasks. Therefore, the answer may lie in your computer and how new/old it may be or how willing you are to buy a new computer just so you can run QuickBooks Online.


If you are still not sure whether QBO or QBD is right for you, price may play a key role in your decision. In this section we are going to break down the prices of all QBO softwares as well as QBD softwares. It is important to note that Intuit is nearly always offering special deals on prices. The prices I list below are full price because the deals have a limit over time.

QuickBooks Online

QBO offers 3 different software packages: Simple Start, Essentials, and Plus. Simple Start is $15/month. Essentials is $30/month. Plus is $40/month. Each allows up to 5 users.

QuickBooks Desktop

QuickBooks Desktop includes 2 options. (not including current Mac option to be discontinued in 2018). QuickBooks Pro is $219.95 and offers up to 3 users. QuickBooks Premier is $379.95 and offers up to 5 users.


As far as features go, QBO has more mobility features as well as instant access for accountants, phone support, and up-to-date upgrades without the extra charges. QBD ranks higher for accountants and bookkeepers due to the fact that it has more time saving features which includes more efficient data entries and more customizable capabilities. With that said, business owners prefer the easy to use cloud-based software over the desktop software because of its straightforwardness and lack of accountant jargon. A key deciding factor for you or your company may depend on how large your company is, how many products or services you offer, and if or how many accountants you will be sharing QuickBooks with. For small businesses, who don’t use accountants or may only use 1 accountant, QBO may sound more appealing. On the contrary, if you have a rather large business and a team of accountants, QBD may be the better choice. Check out America's Best Bookkeepers About Complete Controller® – America’s Bookkeeping Experts Complete Controller is the Nation’s Leader in virtual accounting, providing services to businesses and households alike. Utilizing Complete Controller’s technology, clients gain access to a cloud-hosted desktop where their entire team and tax accountant may access the QuickBooks file and critical financial documents in an efficient and secure environment. Complete Controller’s team of  US based accounting professionals are certified QuickBooksTMProAdvisor’s providing bookkeeping and controller services including training, full or partial-service bookkeeping, cash-flow management, budgeting and forecasting, vendor and receivables management, process and controls advisement, and customized reporting. Offering flat rate pricing, Complete Controller is the most cost effective expert accounting solution for business, family office, trusts, and households of any size or complexity.