Aug 18, 2021Quickbooks Online vs. Quickbooks Desktop: Which one should you use?

One difficult decisions facing many new business owners is which accounting software to use. In the past, most business owners have started out with using QuickBooks Desktop (QBD). In many cases, QBD is still a great option. However, for growing companies, there is an easier, more efficient product on the market. In this article, we’ll explore some of the biggest differences between QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online (QBO).


Major Differences 


One of the biggest reasons why more and more small business owners are switching to QuickBooks Online is because it is more easily accessible. QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based software that can be accessed anywhere at any time. In today’s world, remote work is becoming the norm. Teams of accountants need to be able to collaborate and make changes in a company’s books over the cloud. For companies with growing teams and remote workers, the cloud-based QuickBooks Online is significantly more flexible than the locally installed QuickBooks Desktop.


Number of Users

This is another huge advantage of QuickBooks Online. QBO allows up to 25 active users (depending on the pricing plan) for one company’s set of books. Additional user licenses for QBD cost $299+ per license, up to a total of only three licenses. Again, this means that growing companies trying to transition into the world of remote work will enjoy significantly more flexibility with QuickBooks Online.



QuickBooks Online has far and away more automations than QuickBooks Desktop. These automations include the ability to sync bank accounts and credit cards directly to the software. There are also a myriad of third-party apps designed to help QBO users integrate sales data from customer platforms such as Shopify, Amazon, and Stripe to name a few. The ability to integrate the accounting software with the transactional flow significantly reduces the amount of time accounting staff spend on data entry.


Built-In Lending & Monthly Pricing

One of the most significant considerations for any small business is cash flow. Paying exorbitant amounts up front for a decent accounting software can be a tough pill for any business owner to swallow. QuickBooks Online was built to avoid the issue entirely. QBO employs a monthly subscription model instead of a licensing model. This model allows business owners both increased flexibility and greater access to cash.

Additionally, with an easy application and quick funding process, QuickBooks Online includes one of the most robust funding options for small business owners with QuickBooks Capital. QuickBooks Capital is a lending service available only to QuickBooks Online users. Operating much like Stripe Capital or Shopify Capital, QuickBooks Capital uses a company’s QuickBooks Online information to determine eligibility for loans. In fact, this option actually speeds up the application process by automatically filling in existing company information. With multiple installment loan options and great interest rates, access to QB Capital can be a huge (and sometimes company saving) win for business owners.


Ease & Efficiency

The final major difference is perhaps the biggest. QuickBooks Online was designed to be sleeker, quicker, and easier to use. The interface is much more user friendly than its QuickBooks Desktop counterpart. This creates increased efficiency, less frustration, and easier onboarding for accounting staff. The friendly user interface is also a huge benefit for business owners looking for quick and readable reporting.


The decision to use QuickBooks Desktop or QuickBooks Online is ultimately determined by the needs of the business. However, for small businesses looking to grow in both market share and number of employees, the choice seems pretty clear. QuickBooks Online was designed to be an easy and flexible option that meets the ever-increasing needs of small businesses.