Choosing Between QuickBooks Online And QuickBooks Desktop For Your Small Business

KONSKIE, POLAND - JUNE 11, 2018: Intuit Quickbooks website displayed on smartphone hidden in jeans pocket

For small and medium businesses, software referred to as QuickBooks has proven indispensable. Though many versions exist, in general, it is the businessperson’s answer to numerous issues and situations. Particularly for those just getting started, QuickBooks software (versions applicable to their trade) are a wise investment.

Here, we’ll examine the dilemma of QuickBooks Online versus QuickBooks Desktop. First let’s take a look at QuickBooks and its history, followed by details involving both versions and their differences.

The History of QuickBooks

In California’s Mountain View area, Tom Prouix and Scott Cook created/founded Intuit in 1983. For individual financial management, their Quicken software was a success. So, for small business owners, they decided to develop similar services. After some experimentation with early versions, Intuit had developed both “pro” and basic versions by 2000. Industry-specific versions were offered as of 2003.

General QuickBooks Knowledge

Used to manage expenses and income, today’s most popular software for business accounting has proven to be nonother than QuickBooks. With it, business owners can keep track of their company’s financial health.

It can be used, among other things, for preparing taxes, generating reports, paying bills, invoicing customers, and more.

Types of QuickBooks

Currently, there are six versions of QuickBooks:

  • QuickBooks for Mac
  • QuickBooks Enterprise
  • QuickBooks Premier
  • QuickBooks Pro
  • QuickBooks Self-Employed
  • QuickBooks Online

But all help business owners with managing their finances and accounting.


Please keep in mind that we can’t offer an exact monthly fee because QB prices can fluctuate. In general, however, the following offers a comparison…

QuickBooks Online offers Plus, Essentials, and Simple Start:

  • Plus – approximately $40 a month
  • Essentials – approximately $30 per month
  • Simple Start – approximately $15 per month

QuickBooks Desktop

Again, prices fluctuate but QuickBooks Desktop can run approximately $300. Monthly subscriptions may be available for the Essentials version at approximately $27 per month.

More in-depth reporting can be accomplished on QBD such as job costing, inventory, manufacturing, etc. QBD features include the following:

  • 1099s
  • Forecasting
  • Profit and loss by class, customer, job, or service item
  • If you use Insperity Payroll or Intuit, job costing
  • Multiple user access

Updatable every year, this software is purchased and then installed on your desktop or servers, unlike QuickBooks online. Enterprise, Premier, and Pro are available for QBD.

What Both Systems Have in Common

The following are offered on both systems:

  • Access for up to 25 users (some variations apply)
  • Automatic data encrypted backups (some variations apply)
  • Cloud access (variations apply)
  • Access to feature updates and latest products (variations apply)
  • Automatically download bank transactions (variations apply)
  • Track miles
  • One-click tax and sales reports
  • Managed accounts payable
  • Track expenses and sales
  • Create professional invoices

How the Systems Differ

Added features available on QuickBooks Online:

  • Real-time collaboration with accountants
  • Mobile app for smart phone access
  • Connect to more than 650 cloud-based apps
  • Automatically scheduled/send invoices

Added features available on QuickBooks Desktop:

  • Calculate discounts by customer
  • Calculate and re-bill job costs

What It All Boils Down To

So, what do you do with all of the information above? To boil that long list of aspects down for better understanding, check this out:

  • Though it doesn’t have the simple accessibility that QuickBooks Online has, QuickBooks Desktop does allow for more reporting.
  • On the other hand, QuickBooks Online doesn’t currently allow for multiple users to access like files at the same time or major functions. But it does offer a lot of the same features as Desktop.

The Best Way to Make a Decision

We, at Fourlane, understand your dilemma. That’s why we’re here. Consider us the Quick Books experts! Contact us for advice, information, tips, and more where QuickBooks is concerned. If you feel you’ve outgrown QuickBooks, we have a solution for that as well.


About Marjorie Adams

Our head QuickBooks trainer and guru, Marjorie Adams, is Founder and CEO of Fourlane, Inc., an award-winning consulting firm and Intuit’s #1 QuickBooks Reseller Partner. Fourlane’s team of experts offers several QuickBooks oriented services including consulting, training, programming, integration, and more. Over the years, Fourlane has helped over 10,000 customers across many different industries with their QuickBooks accounting software. Marjorie Adams is considered one of the top QuickBooks trainers in the country. She was listed on CPA Practice Advisor’s 40 Under 40 in 2014 & 2015, and has been recognized as Intuitive Accountant’s 2015 QuickBooks Desktop ProAdvisor of the Year. Marjorie sits on Intuit’s VIP Program, is a frequent contributor to Inuit Accountants News Central, and has developed Intuit’s QuickBooks Enterprise Certification training. She has also been published in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, BusinessWeek, American Express Open, the Huffington Post, and Inc. Magazine.

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