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QuickBooks Desktop or QuickBooks Online: Which Is Best For Your Small Business?

Learn which QuickBooks software is best for your product-based or a service-based business.


Tamara Cohen
Tamara Cohen
June 5, 2022

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.


Overview of QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop

The most significant difference between QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop is that QuickBooks Online is a web-based software while Desktop is an installed platform. QuickBooks Desktop usually works better with a product-based business. While a service-based business generally prefers QuickBooks Online.

Summary Of QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop

  QuickBooks Online QuickBooks Desktop
Plans 4 Plan Options 3 Versions, each has individual plans
Cost Begins at $25 per month Begins at $399.99 per year
Noteworthy Features Mobile app with cloud accessAutomatic product update and data backupTime TrackingAutomatically download bank transactions Specialized data entry, reporting, etc. toolsDiscount calculationsLocalhost; options of cloud backupRebill and calculate job costs
Number of Users Up to 25 Up to 30; Minimum 3
Mobile App Yes No
Integration Hundreds of integration options; Inuit products too Few integration options; Inuit products integration available
Customer Support Depends on plan Depends on the version and plan
Best Choice For Businesses that require a flexible and mobile solution; Service and B2B businesses Businesses requiring more complex accounting tools; larger and product-based businesses 

QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop Pricing

QuickBooks Online’s price is based on monthly subscriptions. They have four plans and each is more expensive than the last. In comparison QuickBooks Desktop has a slightly more complex pricing plan. 

QuickBooks Online

For each of the following plans you have the option of redeeming a 30-day free trial. Or if you waive off the trial, then you can exchange it for a 50% discount for 3 months of your subscription. The prices given below are for a monthly plan.

Simple Start: $25

Essentials: $50

Plus: $80

Advanced: $180

QuickBooks Desktop

Unlike QuickBooks Online’s pricing, which is more straightforward, Quickbooks Desktop is much more complex. There are 3 different versions; each can be further divided into subtypes. The prices given below are based on an online subscription, unless mentioned otherwise, and are for one user – for multiple users, then the price will increase accordingly.

Pro: $399.99

Pro Plus: Additional $299.99

Premier: $649.99

Premier Plus: Additional $449.99

Enterprise:

Gold, local-only: $1,577 

Gold, with hosting: $175 per month

Platinum, local-only: $1,940

Platinum, with hosting: $206 per month

Diamond, local-only: $3,825

Diamond, with hosting: $363.79 per month

QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop: Customer Reviews

Now that you know the difference between Quickbooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop the question remains which one is better. It may be helpful to see what other entrepreneurs have to say about them after using it.

QuickBooks Online

On popular product rating websites QuickBooks Online has managed to receive generally at least a score of four out of five stars. Very few reviews are negative and most of them are positive. Here is what other business owners had to say about QuickBooks Online:

Pros

Cons

QuickBooks Desktop

QuickBooks online also seems to have typically positive reviews across all versions Pro, Premier and Enterprise. Like QuickBooks Online even QuickBooks Desktop averages four or higher out of five stars on product-rating websites. Here is what consumers had to say about QuickBooks Desktop:

Pros

Cons

Many users report switching from QuickBooks Online to QuickBooks Desktop and vice versa. It is because they either want remote access to their accounts or want more features than QuickBooks Desktop offers.

Alternatives to QuickBooks Online and Desktop

If you feel both these options aren't right for you and your business then here are some of the best alternatives:

Wave

Wave is an excellent option for small businesses with financial constraints. Wave is one of the few truly free options. You can link your Etsy and Paypal accounts, track your expenses and income, access sales tax plus much more. You can add more functions with their add-ons with a minimal monthly fee. Their main functions are a great chance for smaller businesses to use accounting software at a much lower cost.

QuickBooks Self-Employed

A great alternative for sole-proprietors looking for an accounting software that better fits your bookkeeping needs is QuickBooks Self-Employed. Using QuickBooks Self-Employed you can track your mileage automatically, send invoices as well as separate your personal and business expenses. More importantly while filing your taxes this software will help you maximize your Schedule C deductions.

Xero

If you feel like you want an easy-to-use software with all the features of a more specialized software then perhaps the best choice would be Xero. Xero can be accessed anywhere through a device connected to the wi-fi since it is a cloud-based software. It is the perfect balance between functionality and cost.

Conclusion

Small business owners find that their choice ultimately comes down to specific features such as reporting tools, customization, remote access and costs.

If you feel that QuickBooks desktop is best suited for you and your business industry type but are not financially able to buy it then see if you can qualify for a small business loan. If you are still facing difficulties choosing between the two then you have the option of going for an alternate business accounting software. But if you want to stick to QuickBooks, you can also try both versions by redeeming the 30-day trial for each.


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