Advertiser Disclosure

✉️ Grow your business with our expert content delivered to your inbox. Subscribe Now

How To Choose QuickBooks Online VS Desktop For Your Business

Both have a lot going for them, but there are some key differences. Learn which one fits the size, type, and needs (and budget) of your business.

    Erica Seppala
  • 95 comments
  • Updated on:
Advertiser Disclosure: Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity.
Erica Seppala

Erica Seppala

Expert Analyst & Reviewer at Merchant Maverick
An expert in accounting, finance, and point of sale, Erica has been researching and writing about all things small-business since 2018. Erica's insights into personal and business finance have been cited in numerous publications, including MSN, Real Simple, and Reader's Digest. She is a graduate of Limestone College.
Erica Seppala
View Erica Seppala's professional experience on LinkedIn.

Need A Simple Accounting Solution?

FreshBooks



Start Trial

Read our Review

This easy-to-use and feature-rich software is ideal if you have no bookkeeping experience and want top-notch customer support. Get Started.

Need A Simple Accounting Solution?

FreshBooks



Start Trial

Read our Review

This easy-to-use and feature-rich software is ideal if you have no bookkeeping experience and want top-notch customer support. Get Started.

Leave a comment

95 Comments

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the vendor or bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the vendor or bank advertiser. It is not the vendor or bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.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

                More Comments

                Leave a Reply

                Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

                Your Review

                Comment moderation is enabled. Your comment may take some time to appear.
                Please read the "User Review and Comment Policy" before posting.

                Featured Offer: We Recommend QuickBooks 🎉

                Take it for a spin with a free trial.

                Try QuickBooks Today

                Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity. The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone.

                The vendors that appear on this list were chosen by subject matter experts on the basis of product quality, wide usage and availability, and positive reputation.

                Merchant Maverick’s ratings are editorial in nature, and are not aggregated from user reviews. Each staff reviewer at Merchant Maverick is a subject matter expert with experience researching, testing, and evaluating small business software and services. The rating of this company or service is based on the author’s expert opinion and analysis of the product, and assessed and seconded by another subject matter expert on staff before publication. Merchant Maverick’s ratings are not influenced by affiliate partnerships.

                Sign up for the Maverick Newsletter

                • Please select topics of interest

                • We occasionally send out emails with special offers.
                • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.