QuickBooks: Online vs. Desktop – Which is Best for You?

Intuit’s QuickBooks (QB) is the accounting software of choice for many small businesses.  I am often asked if it is better to purchase the desktop version or use the online version.  Let’s take a look at both.

QuickBooks Desktop:

  • Although this product requires more money up-front, a purchase of around $250 can last four years.  This would average out to $5.20 per month.
  • It is fast and allows the user to run custom reports quickly.  It also includes options such as planning, budgeting, and forecasting that are not available on the online version.
  • Using the Accountant’s Copy feature allows your accountant to make changes directly in the file while the user can continue to use the file.  The dividing date feature prevents the user from accidentally changing items the accountant is working on.

QuickBooks Online:

  • Probably the greatest advantage to QB Online is that the accountant has access to the QB and can fix any problems, on the spot.  As we consult with our clients and help them stay out of trouble, having instant access to the records is really helpful for a variety of reasons.
  • The user does not have to worry about doing journal entries, importing and exporting Accountant’s Copy files, etc; it really makes it easier on both parties.
  • The user can do their books from any computer with an internet connection.  One does not need to have a designated QB computer.

The major downsides to the two versions are:

QuickBooks Desktop:

  • Some data gets lost for Mac users when the information is converted to the PC version.
  • The Accountant’s Copy feature cannot be used with Mac users.
  • There is the potential for a lot of time spent, by the user and accountant, entering prior period journal entries if the files are not kept up or the Accountant’s Copy is not used.
    • The file must be manually transferred back and forth.

QuickBooks Online:

  • The cost can be a bit higher, starting around $18 – $20 per month.
  • Running custom reports is not as smooth and can take longer.
  • If the user’s internet connection is slower it adds a lot of time to the bookkeeping.

As long as it is within the user’s budget I tend to lean towards the online version.  Feel free to contact us for an open discussion about which version would be best for you.

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