QuickBooks Online vs QuickBooks Desktop

Which QuickBooks is right for your business

It can be confusing to decide which version of QuickBooks to choose. Today we'll take a look at QuickBooks Online vs QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise - two of Intuit's most popular products. We'll dive into what features you can expect from each piece of software, the differences between them, and how to make your ultimate decision!

Table of Contents

Getting the Right QuickBooks Product For Your Business

QuickBooks is one of the most popular choices for accounting software among companies big and small. The question is no longer whether QuickBooks is a good choice for your company. It has now come down to deciding which version of the QuickBooks software is best for your business. Therein lies the age-old debate: QuickBooks Online vs QuickBooks Desktop.

Every business does not have the same needs, wants, or capabilities. The accounting software a company chooses needs to be able to work for those using it and scale with the growth of the company. This is what makes software selection such a vital step in a company’s overall financial management journey. 

Administration teamwork, office documents or people review financial data, finance funding or accounting statistics.

Join us to compare, explore, and discover each version as we delve into the difference between QuickBooks Online vs QuickBooks Desktop (Enterprise).

At a Glance

QuickBooks Online

  • Cloud-based software
  • Perfect for small businesses
  • Access through your browser
  • Available for up to 25 users
  • SaaS product 
  • No installation required
  • Automatic updates

QuickBooks Desktop

  • Desktop-based product
  • On the market since 2002
  • Can handle a large volume of data
  • Advanced reporting options
  • Does sync with the cloud
  • Available for up to 40 users

Benefits of QuickBooks Desktop (Enterprise)

QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise is, in our opinion, the most powerful financial software on the market at its price point. It has been on the market since 2002 and has added features and functionality every year since. It can handle a large volume of data, and has advanced reporting options that give users more flexibility.

QuickBooks Enterprise is a desktop-based product. This means you download and install the product and can host it locally on your own servers. Many businesses, particularly those who deal with personally identifiable information (PII) prefer this extra layer of security.

QuickBooks Enterprise does sync with the cloud, but is accessed from your computer’s desktop and is available offline or behind a firewall. The product also available for up to 30 users, so is a good choice for a larger business where more employees need access to the accounting system.

Benefits of QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based software optimized for small businesses. As a user, you will access QBO through your browser by going to a website where you log on to do business. It is available for up to 5 users at a monthly or annual cost.

Because QuickBooks Online is a SaaS product, that means you have access anywhere, any time, including on your phone. You don’t need to install any software, and updates are automatic with no need to download a package.

QuickBooks Online can be a great option for small businesses and companies with only a few employees. It has many of the same features as Enterprise at a fairly low, monthly cost.

Cost of QuickBooks Online vs QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise

Most people believe that QuickBooks Online is the cheaper option, because it has a low monthly fee. This is true for a single user who doesn’t need many bells and whistles. But once you have multiple users, things start to even out.

For the purposes of this graph, we’re comparing a 5-user instance of QuickBooks Online Plus 1-5 Users + Payroll, vs. a 5-user instance of QuickBooks Enterprise Gold (which includes payroll) over a 4-year period. We’ve included the current best available promotional price to illustrate how prices will change year-over-year.

While QuickBooks Desktop is more expensive, you’re still paying nearly $2,000 a year for QuickBooks Online, hardly the affordable product it is marketed to be! You’re also missing out on loads of additional features.

Lastly, we’re able to offer a 20%* lifetime discount on QuickBooks Enterprise. This means that you’ll have 20% off forever. This helps insulate you from price increases. QuickBooks Online will give you a great discount, but it will only be for the first year. They also increase prices regularly, so your monthly payment could increase 25% at any time.

Features Comparison: Quickbooks Online vs QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise


QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based product, which means it is accessed in your browser at a web address. It also has an associated mobile app for Apple and Android. This anytime, anywhere access is ideal for a small business, or a business-on-the-go that needs to perform accounting functions on multiple devices or while traveling.

Access Anywhere

You can host QuickBooks Enterprise on the cloud, but that requires additional hosting setup. It is most commonly deployed as on-premise software, with one license accessible on one machine. This provides the highest level of security from hacking and fraud, but it does mean you won’t be sending invoices from your phone or tablet.

QuickBooks Online comes with 65 built-in reports. These reports focus on the Dashboard view and gauging your day-to-day financials. Since QuickBooks Online is a more lightweight product the reports don’t dive as deep into things like job costing, business health, or financial projections.

Reporting & Analytics


QuickBooks Enterprise comes with 150+ out-of-the-box reports, including industry specific reports for the Contractor, Non-Profit, and Manufacturing Editions. With this software you can also easily build add-on and custom reports to drill deeper into your business.

QuickBooks Online is great for basic inventory. You can manage a limited number of inventory items, and easily create purchase and sales orders which automatically add to, or deduct from, your inventory. You can also create trigger alerts for when you need to reorder an item. But you can’t do much more than that!

Inventory Management


Right off the bat, QuickBooks Enterprise has the capability to hold more inventory items – up to 100,000 which is enough for even most enterprise-level businesses. It also allows more flexibility in how you track and manage that inventory. You can add images of your inventory items. You can perform bin location tracking, serial number location tracking, and sync your QuickBooks Enterprise to a barcode scanner so your warehouse team can easily monitor what’s in stock.


One of the best features about QuickBooks Online is the ability to send invoices from your phone. When it comes to QuickBooks Enterprise vs. QuickBooks Online, they both have great (but different) invoicing capabilities.



QuickBooks Enterprise has one amazing feature that QuickBooks Online doesn’t have when it comes to invoicing: batch invoicing. You can send out multiple invoices at once with the click of a button. This feature is very convenient, particularly if you invoice certain clients once a month.

Most QuickBooks Online support is based overseas. For the U.S.-based reps they do have, they are often newer employees and rookies. QuickBooks also tries to promote a DIY attitude and will typically push you towards their knowledge base before connecting you with a live human, this can be frustrating when your product is not working correctly.

Tech Support


Every QuickBooks Enterprise user will have a dedicated Customer Service Manager who will be your point-person at Intuit for support concerns. These are coveted, highly technical positions. If you have a number of users, or are a quickly growing company, you will be promoted to the Priority Circle which gives an even better level of support.

QuickBooks Functionality Comparison

On functionality, Quickbooks Enterprise will win every time. QuickBooks Online has the edge in accessibility but Enterprise has more features. The features of Enterprise are more robust and customizable.  As a cloud-based product, it is meant for businesses on the go.

FeaturesQuickBooks EnterpriseQuickBooks Online Advanced
Maximum number of simultaneous users4025
Track sales, sales taxes, and customer paymentsTrack sales, sales taxes, and customer payments
Accept credit card payments right in QuickBooksPreferred Rates Available
Access to product experts, unlimited technical support, and upgrades
Anywhere, anytime, on any device accessAvailable with hosting subscriptions
Track fixed assets such as computers and other office equipment with Fixed Asset ManagerFixed assets must be tracked manually
Complete more activities in multi-user mode
Import data from Excel, Quicken, Microsoft Office Accounting & prior QuickBooks versionsExcel and QuickBooks
Download or import your bank & credit transactions into QuickBooks
Industry-specific reports, sample files, menus & chart of accounts
See all your key customer information at a glance with the Customer Snapshot
Track international sales & expenses in multiple currencies
Track & manage inventory & create purchase orders 
Set and manage inventory reorder points
Easily find and locate inventory tasks all in one place with the Inventory Center Attach inventory images
Control, customize and automate your pricing right inside QuickBooks 
Consolidate reports from multiple company files 
Invoice multiple customers at once with Batch Invoicing Up to 115 different activities
Create customized financial reports Available with Fathom
Forecast sales & expenses. Easily create a business plan  
Access all of your QuickBooks data to create any report you need with Advanced Reporting  
Create custom reports with ODBC compliant applications using a direct connection to the QuickBooks database  
Expanded list limits allows you to track 100,000+ customers, vendors and inventory items and employees  
Leverage 14 predefined user roles to help you set up new users quickly  
Get a consolidated view into your business with Company Snapshot  
Reduce paperwork and data entry errors by send- ing sales orders to mobile inventory scanners  
Fulfill sales orders faster with customized pick- lists to be completed by warehouse workers across multiple locations  
Sales Order Management helps empower employees to fulfill orders faster, and lets you check on sales order status in real time  
Get the right information for your business wit-h customized inventory reports  
Manage inventory using bin location tracking, bar code scanning, serial number or lot tracking- , FIFO costing and multiple location inventory  

Which Quickbooks is right for you? Our opinion

QuickBooks Online is great starter software for a business with fewer than 5 employees. It is a great way to get up and running, start tracking accounting data, and may better decisions. Once you’ve hit your stride and are growing, we really recommend QuickBooks Enterprise. It is built for larger businesses and can intake more data, run more (and better) reports, and is more customizable.

On the left you can see the market penetration of both products in the small business segment. Both are widely used and a massive step up from the 18% of small business owners who use no accounting software.

If you want to learn more, you can read about each of the products on our dedicated landing pages.

Join thousands of businesses who trust Fourlane with their books

Whether you’re currently using QuickBooks and need professional consulting services, are looking to buy QuickBooks or even outgrowing QuickBooks, we can help.