QuickBooks Online vs. QuickBooks Desktop: An Overview
QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop are both small business accounting software applications from Intuit that offer complete double-entry accounting along with automatic processing of closing entries.
Though both applications offer many similar services, and the allure of “easy-to-use” and “always accessible” online software is tempting, we continue to recommend QuickBooks Desktop as the better option for our clients.
Who is QuickBooks Desktop for?
QuickBooks Desktop is designed for any small to mid-size businesses that are looking for the reliability, privacy, and security of a desktop software solution. QuickBooks Desktop is also a good fit for niche businesses such as nonprofit organizations, retailers, and general contractors looking for a more industry-specific solution.
Online Access Is Just Not Limited to QuickBooks Online
One of the most appealing features of QuickBooks Online is the anytime/anywhere access. QuickBooks Desktop, however, can also be available online when it’s hosted on a virtual server, giving users the reliability of a desktop application with easy cloud access. And though setting up a virtual server may sound intimidating, it’s not. A seasoned IT professional will be able to it, or there are several online tutorials on setting up your own virtual server.
QuickBooks Desktop Offers Greater Privacy and Security
With QuickBooks Online Intuit ultimately owns your data because it resides on their servers, and like any service provider, the data they host is owned by them. You also don’t have any control over how your data is stored and who has backend access to it. Obviously Intuit takes many steps to ensure data is secure and private, but breaches happen, and you don’t have direct control over preventing those mishaps.
QuickBooks Desktop Is More Reliable
Do a quick search on Quickbooks Online crashing and unfortunately, you’ll encounter a number of results. When Quickbooks Online goes down, users are unable to access their accounts, sometimes during very important events…like tax filings, payroll, and audits, to name just a few. We don’t know for certain why the system crashes but this downtime is inconvenient, and more concerning, out of the user’s control! Users have to wait patiently for Quickbooks to bring their online system back up. With QuickBooks Desktop a client has direct control over their software and can position it properly to ensure availability throughout important events and on critical dates.
QuickBooks Online Is Not Easy To Leave
Users who convert to QuickBooks Online cannot convert back to the desktop. This is an important consideration as it pretty much locks users into using QuickBooks Online indefinitely.
Some QuickBooks Desktop Features Are Just Better Developed
QuickBooks Desktop has been around longer, it’s arguably more powerful, and as such, its features are better developed than comparable features found on QuickBooks Online.
- The Vendor Center: One of QuickBooks Desktop’s best features is its use of centers, which provide a central point for all activity. QuickBooks Desktop’s Vendor Center offers a place to manage all vendor activity, from initial entry of vendor details to the ability to enter information for each vendor. The Bill Tracker feature lets clients view all current bills including due dates, recently paid bills, or pay bills that are due, with options to pay bills by check, ACH transfer, or credit card.
- Customer Center: Another center is the Customer Center lets clients manage all customers, including the ability to create invoices, process customer statements, record payments, and process sales orders and sales receipts.
- Automatic Bank Feeds: QuickBooks Desktop also offers automatic bank feeds so clients can connect and download transactions daily.
- Inventory: The Inventory module in QuickBooks Desktop offers solid inventory management capability. The Premier edition offers advanced inventory functions such as a low stock alert notification, the ability to set reorder levels, product tracking by part number, and custom fields for tracking additional information.
- Online Payments: QuickBooks Desktop also offers easy integration with QuickBooks Payments, which allows clients to accept online payments from customers.
QuickBooks Desktop Support Is Fantastic
QuickBooks Desktop offers the same support options found in QuickBooks Online including video tutorials, on-demand webinars, and various training options. QuickBooks Desktop, like QuickBooks Online, includes an easy setup process that allows users to be up and running in little time.
QuickBooks Desktop Ease-of-Use
Yes, QuickBooks Desktop can be intimidating at first, but with the right setup and training, it is actually a rather intuitive and easy-to-use application. The QuickBooks Desktop interface has flowchart-style menus and navigation centers that make it easy to find features using tabs, vertical menus, and customized “My Shortcuts” so that users can quickly and easily get to the features they use most often and hide other features they do not.
QuickBooks Desktop Software Integration
QuickBooks Desktop integrates with more than 200 third-party applications, making it one of the better-integrated desktop application options. The integration features are not quite as robust as QuickBooks Online, but considering the other benefits, this is not that big of a deal and there are always workarounds that can be developed.
QuickBooks Desktop Reporting
Via the QuickBooks Desktop Report Center, there are more than 100 standard reports that can be customized as needed, plus over 50 more reports, forecasting options, and industry-specific reporting options in the Premier and Enterprise plans. The Report Center offers easy report processing, with a series of icons displayed below each report image that allows users to mark reports as favorites for easier future access, view additional information about the report, and even request report-specific help.
Why We Still Recommend QuickBooks Desktop
Though it may at first sound less convenient, QuickBooks Desktop in our view is a far superior solution. Clients avoid recurring monthly charges, they own and control their data, they control security and privacy, there are numerous advanced and customized features not available in QuickBooks Online, and QuickBooks Desktop can actually be made available online with little effort and more control.