Qbo Vs Qbes

The Difference Between QuickBooks Online and Desktop

QuickBooks is the most dominant accounting product on the market. 80% of small and mid-size businesses use a QuickBooks product. Rightfully so! It offers comprehensive features that will make running your business a little bit easier.

But between QuickBooks Online (QBO) and QuickBooks Desktop (QBD), you may be wondering what the difference is. QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop have some key differences that can be more ideal for your needs depending on the size of a business and how your business operates. Here are a few:

Subscription vs. Licensed

Let’s start by looking at QuickBooks Online vs QuickBooks Desktop. QuickBooks Online is a subscription-based software with a monthly fee. The monthly fees start at $20/month for the most basic plan, Simple Start, and going up to $60/month for the Plus version. The features of each plan differ in terms of users allowed, time tracking, managing bills, and tracking inventory. All plans conveniently include receipt capture, 24/7 support, and integration with other apps.

In contrast, QuickBooks Desktop is a licensed software where you pay a one-time cost ranging from $299.95 for Pro to $1,100 for Enterprise.

Although subscription software has become the norm, many businesses prefer to purchase the software outright, thus putting a limit on their capital expenses. Ostensibly, you could purchase QuickBooks Pro or Premier one time, and run it for a decade. However, we strongly recommend upgrading every three years. So let’s take a look at the expense of each software over a seven year time span.


When it comes to support, as stated earlier, QuickBooks Online’s subscription fee includes 24/7 phone support, while QuickBooks Desktop has an $89 fee for 90 days of the same support.

Bank Transactions

QuickBooks Online can automatically download bank transactions, while this feature is a paid add-on for Desktop. Both products sync natively with most major banks, but the link is much easier on QuickBooks Online.

Cloud-based vs. Installed

QuickBooks Online is not installed and does not run on your computer. Rather, it runs through a browser which allows you to access QuickBooks from wherever you have internet access with a set login and password.

It is a cloud-based subscription service that gives you the freedom to work from any device, including a phone. Accessibility is one great benefit of QuickBooks Online. An entrepreneur or small business owner will benefit from the easy access to data and the ability to us both Mac and PC operating systems.

On the other hand, QuickBooks Desktop is installed on your office desktop computer. This means that you will not be able to access the software from other locations or devices unless you opt to purchase hosting. Hosting simulates the cloud-based environment by pushing your QuickBooks Desktop to the cloud, and giving you a remote login and password.

  • Access anywhere
  • Associated mobile app
  • Hosted by a third party company
  • Accessed in browser
  • Hosted securely by your company
  • Available offline
  • Runs as a program on your computer
  • No mobile app


Another key difference is that being a cloud-based software, QuickBooks Online automatically does data encrypted back-ups. The desktop version of the software, however, charges $9.99 a month for this service.


QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop are both great accounting software, in that they offer features that can make running your business much smoother.

If you need to access anywhere and you don’t mind paying a higher price, QuickBooks Online may be the best option. However, if you’re looking to limit your capital expenses long-term, and want to securely host your file, we recommend QuickBooks Desktop.

For a free consultation,  email [email protected].

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