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How To Choose QuickBooks Online VS Desktop For Your Business

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Erica Seppala

Erica Seppala

Erica is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. She is a graduate of Limestone College. Initially determined to be an accountant, she put away the calculator and picked up a laptop to pursue her dream of being a writer. Erica has spent the past 10 years writing blogs and articles for hundreds of private clients, and she loves sharing her love of research and the written word with everyone around her.

We've done in-depth testing of each and confidently recommend them.

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95 Comments

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    Ashley Scheib

    About to start a commercial refrigeration company with an LLC. I will have many customers and suppliers which will require many transactions, and possibly 6 employees. Not sure which would be a better fit, QBO or QBD?

      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

      Jessica Dinsmore

      Hi Ashley,

      There are a number of factors to consider. If you are going to have multiple users, QBO is definitely more cost-efficient. If you don’t have previous accounting experience, QBO is also going to be the better choice due to the steep learning curve of QuickBooks Desktop. QuickBooks Desktop does have a few advantages, though, like more advanced inventory and reporting and the ability to rebill job costs or calculate discounts by customer. If those features will be useful to you and you really want more advanced reporting, Desktop may be the better choice. But honestly, QuickBooks Online probably has everything you need. You can always test out both with a free trial to see which you prefer, too. Good luck!

        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

        Andrew McClure

        STAY AWAY FROM QBO.
        We’ve been trying to use QBO for a month now, “Graduating from QB DT”. It has been an unmittigated DISASTER. If you do not follow the predetermined workflows as QBO thinks you need to do, you will end up with HUGE pain. We have tried using invoices and revising said invoices — this cannot be done. We then tried project orientations and the product changed pricing such that we ended up with losses for every invoice (the costs for goods was greater than the retail price).

        THEN we started losing invoices. So we asked for restores. Guess what? NO BACKUP INFORMATION AVAILABLE! On Friday we lost a whole MONTH of data.

        We lived by the design of estimates -> invoices and guess what — you cannot get a report.

        Tread carefully and print everything that you do

          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

          Ann-Marie

          Hello,
          I am trying to decide between QBO and QBPro, I own a few rental properties that are each under their own LLC and have separate bank accounts.
          I would like to manage these as separate businesses. I don’t really need property management software, only the accounting piece.
          Thanks for any input!
          Ann-Marie

            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

            Jessica Dinsmore

            Hi Ann-Marie,
            Based on the info you’ve shared, QuickBooks Desktop Pro would be the better option for you. QBO requires a separate subscription for each company, so these costs could add up quickly. Multiple companies are supported using QB Desktop Pro without having to have multiple licenses/subscriptions. So QB Pro is definitely the more cost-efficient option here. But QB Pro does have a steeper learning curve, so that’s also something to keep in mind.

              This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

              Nick

              Ann-Marie,

              I have used both QBO and QB Desktop Pro. I have a bookkeeping business and a few of my clients use QB Online. The bottom line preference for me is definitely QB Desktop Pro. I don’t believe the writer of this article really made a good comparison on price, first of all. Remember this, in order for QB Online to come close to what QB Desktop pro can do, you have to subscribe to higher cost in QB Online. The $25/mo in QB Online is bare minimum and in your line of business, this is where it’s important. You can use what is called “Classes” in QB Desktop Pro, where you create a “class” for each of your properties. Name each class whatever you want. Then, just make sure that when you receive income or pay expenses, in addition to selecting an expense category, you select a class. Then you can create your P&L Reports by class and see each of your properties P&L’s on separate columns. You CAN’T do this in QB Online at the $25/mo. subscription. You have to upgrade to the next level, costing you at least $40/mo or more. QB Desktop Pro is NOT as difficult to learn as the writer leads you to believe. The program sets your company up by asking you simple series of questions . Then it creates your chart of accounts, etc.

              What do I NOT like most about QB Online? Oh My! I don’t like the cumbersomeness of it, it’s not as user friendly as you might think. Integrations can wreak havoc on your books if you’re not careful, it has the occasional double entry of transactions when integrating with your online bank accounts, it automatically assumes that if you bought an office supply at Office Depot last month that future expenses will be in the same category, so it is important to watch for it, or you’ll find a number of your expenses mis-categorized.

              Finally, if you want QB Online to offer the same or close to the same features as QB Desktop, you’ll have to upgrade to the next level or higher in QB Online, thus costing $40/mo or more. That’s $480.00 per year for QB Online vs. QB Desktop Pro at $399.00 license good for 3 years. Total costs after 3 years: QB Online = $1,440.00 QB Desktop Pro = $399.00 .

              Nick

                This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                Angela G Veal

                Thank you for such a thorough, honest answer.

                  This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

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