Quickbooks Desktop v. Quickbooks Online

Sep 20, 2022

When Quickbooks first hit the market it was a desktop-only product. You would purchase the software, install it on your computer, and that was it.

In 2001, Intuit, the company that markets Quickbooks, introduced the online version of the software. They did this as an alternative to their packaged software sales, which were dropping at the time. With this in mind they introduced the online version of Quickbooks that had fewer features than the desktop version, but was hosted on Intuit’s servers. This way, users could access their Quickbooks data from any computer with an internet connection.

Since then, Intuit has continued to update the software, and has made it possible for users to do more, even if they don’t have a desktop computer.


Quickbooks Online is a cloud-based software, which means that it is hosted on Intuit’s servers. This version of Quickbooks is arguably the “lite” version of the Quickbooks software. Its easier to learn and to use and has less powerful features. It’s still a powerful bookkeeping software which shines on invoicing capabilities, automation and in the number of available integrations that are sufficient for a great number of businesses.

Quickbooks Online features include:

  • Ease of use and soft learning curve.
  • Cloud-based system. This means that:
    • Your data can be accessed remotely (as long as you have an internet connection).
    • There’s no need to install any software on your computer.
    • It’s available on any device or operational system that can support a browser.
  • Strong invoicing and time-saving automation features.

Quickbooks Desktop is locally installed on your computer. Quickbooks Desktop is more powerful than the online product and has more features such as industry specific features and heavier accounting capabilities. Businesses that need to track the various aspects of manufacturing, for example, would be better suited to Quickbooks Desktop than Quickbooks Online.

Quickbooks Desktop features include:

  • More features and more powerful and inclusive plans than the online version such as:
    • Industry-specific features
  • Most powerful plans can support up to 40 users and 1 million customers.
  • Can be used offline. This also offers the advantage of increased safety as its much harder for an unwanted person to access the data of an offline machine.


Quickbooks Online and Quickbooks Desktop have different pricing models. Quickbooks Online has a monthly subscription fee, while Quickbooks Desktop has the option of a yearly subscription fee or a one-time license purchase price.

As of the time of this article, you can get a month of Quickbooks Online for a starting price of $30 per month, and up to $80 per month for the most expensive plan. This plan includes up to 25 users.

Quickbooks Desktop has three plans that vary in the number of users included and functionality: Pro, Premier and Enterprise.

The cheapest plan(Quickbooks Desktop Pro) starts at $349.99 per year, and goes up to $649.99. This plan includes up to 3 users. The most expensive plan (Quickbooks Desktop Enterprise) starts at $1340 per year, and goes up to $4060 per year. This plan includes up to 40 users.

Which Quickbooks is right for you?

The debate rages on at accounting firms, in business offices, and on accounting forums across the globe. The answer to this question depends on a few factors. There are benefits to both Quickbooks Online and Quickbooks Desktop depending on the business owner’s needs.

Quickbooks Online is cloud based and can be accessed from anywhere, has mobile apps, and integrates with other business apps. QuickBooks Desktop is more customizable and better suited for businesses with complex accounting needs.

If you are just starting out in business, run a small business, or if you don’t have a lot of experience with bookkeeping, Quickbooks Online may be a better option for you. Quickbooks Online is also a good choice if you need to be able to access your Quickbooks data from multiple devices.

If your company’s bookkeeping needs are very complex, or you are handling a large team and you need strong features, Quickbooks Desktop may be a better option.


Both Quickbooks Online and Quickbooks Desktop are great products that have found a place in daily business operations globally.

If you are just starting out in business, running a small business, or need a bookkeeping solution that can be accessed from anywhere, Quickbooks Online is a great choice. If you are a large business that requires a lot of customization and accounting features, Quickbooks Desktop is a great choice.

Both products are easy to use and are great tools for improving your business’s efficiency and accuracy.

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