QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop: head to head. QuickBooks is focusing their efforts on the online version, and they’re nudging their customers over as well. See how these two platforms compare to each other, so you can prepare for the inevitable move over.
Last updated: 16.01.2023
6 mins read
If you’ve been using QuickBooks Desktop to manage your business finances, you likely have heard that Intuit is transitioning to QuickBooks Online as its preferred platform.
You may have used the software for a long time and have been happy with it. In this case, you’re probably not overly excited about this news. But what does it mean to you? Will you lose all your data and have to start from scratch? Do you have to start researching accounting tools and scrambling to find a new solution?
In this article, we’ll compare QuickBooks Desktop vs. Online and explore the pros and cons of each to see if this transition is a logical upgrade to a better platform or a painful endeavor with minimal benefits.
Let’s see how these two platforms compare in features, pricing, and reviews to help you decide on QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop in 2023. Below you’ll find a QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop comparison chart showing the main differences between the platforms.
A cloud-based solution, accessible from anywhere
Locally installed, only accessible via the computer it’s installed on
Intuitive and user-friendly design
Steep learning curve
$30/month – $200/month
($360/year – $2400/year)
$549/year – $1340/year
Up to 25
Up to 30*
*$299/year per additional user
QuickBooks Online vs. QuickBooks Desktop features
The main difference between QuickBooks Desktop and Online is that QuickBooks Desktop is desktop-based, while QuickBooks Online, you guessed it, is a cloud-based software. This means that accessing your data with QuickBooks Online is easier and more convenient as all you need is a device with an internet connection.
To access QuickBooks Desktop, on the other hand, you need to use the PC where you have the software installed. It’s worth noting that QuickBooks Desktop is only available on Windows.
When comparing the platforms, the first thing you notice is the design. QuickBooks Online boasts a user-friendly, intuitive design, while QuickBooks Desktop looks quite antiquated and summons memories from the mid 2000s.
Both platforms come with the basic features needed to manage your accounts, but there are certain differences between QuickBooks Desktop and Online.
For one, QuickBooks Desktop offers advanced features for more complex accounting. It also lets you create sales orders, has better reporting, and provides industry-specific features to:
Both platforms offer different plans depending on your exact needs. QuickBooks Online has four plans with a monthly subscription, and the total number of users depends on your plan. You can add a payroll option for an additional $45/month.
Up to 3 users
Up to 5 users
Up to 25 users
QuickBooks Desktop offers three plans with a yearly subscription, and the maximum number of users is again dependent on the plan you subscribe to. However, adding additional users involves an extra cost and is not cheap. You need to fork out $299 per user per year, so the total cost can climb quickly if you need additional users.
The payroll option for QuickBooks Desktop costs $50/month.
Up to 3 users
Up to 5 users
Up to 40 users
Both platforms offer a free 30-day trial that you can use to get familiar with the software before paying.
QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop reviews
Taking a look at review sites, you’ll notice that both platforms have a reasonably good average rating. Looking at the mean score for the top 4 review sites, QuickBooks Desktop has a score of 4.3 and QuickBooks Online 4.15. But let’s take a look at QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop pros and cons.
When talking about the pros of QuickBooks Online, users often mention:
Accessible from everywhere
Intuitive user interface
For QuickBooks Desktop, users often bring out the following pros:
More advanced features
Better template customization
Easier payroll feature
Give Katana a go with a free 14-day trial*
Katana's manufacturing ERP integrates with QuickBooks Online, giving you everything you need to manage your inventory and manufacturing processes from a single, intuitive platform.
But it’s not only pros, both platforms have certain shortcomings that get mentioned relatively frequently. When looking at the cons of the platforms, QuickBooks Online users bring out:
Limited reporting capabilities
Lack of features
Limited payroll feature
QuickBooks Desktop users have the following to say when talking about cons:
No remote access
No monthly subscription
Limited bank feeds
Is QuickBooks Online better than QuickBooks Desktop?
As with most comparisons, the answer depends on your needs. QuickBooks Online is probably the better option if you need easy-to-use, remote-access accounting software that can be used from anywhere. However, if you need more features and customization options, currently, QuickBooks Desktop has the lead.
It’s worth pointing out that since QuickBooks focuses on the online versions, it receives regular updates and seems to be slowly catching up regarding features. So, in the future, we should see QuickBooks Online becoming the better overall solution and overtaking Desktop.
As of now, if you’re already using QuickBooks Desktop, you can keep using it, but support will slowly phase out.
Will QuickBooks Desktop be discontinued in 2023?
QuickBooks has confirmed that they will discontinue support for QuickBooks Desktop 2020 on the 31st of May 2023 as they focus on their online platform. This means that from June 1st, 2023, you won’t have access to any add-on services, nor will you receive any updates. The basic features will still keep working, but you won’t be receiving system-critical updates starting from the 1st of June 2023.
You can check out the complete list of affected services on the QuickBooks website. In the meantime, if you’re currently using QuickBooks Desktop, it’s worth considering transitioning to the online version as soon as possible.
Try Katana for 14 days with a free trial*
Besides QuickBooks Online, Katana also integrates with a ton of other business tools, giving you a unified experience to manage your business.
If you’re a manufacturer using QuickBooks Desktop to manage your inventory, then QuickBooks Online may not be suitable for you as it currently lacks many of the features necessary to manage a manufacturing business efficiently.
Katana’s manufacturing ERP is perfect for companies that currently use or are looking to transition to QuickBooks Online. Katana offers a range of features, including:
Katana integrates with QuickBooks Online and equips you with all the necessary tools to manage your inventory and manufacturing processes. It also keeps all your information automatically synced across all your business tools, saving you precious time and eliminating human errors.
Henry is an avid traveler with a passion for writing. Having lived most of his adult life abroad, he’s amassed a variety of experiences from many different fields. From ForEx trading to compliance to mobile engineering to demolition, he’s definitely not afraid to test out new things.
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