QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop
When choosing your QuickBooks software, one of the first things you should do is to determine if the Desktop or Online version is the best fit for your (and your business’) needs. Both versions have their own distinct advantages, so it is a good idea to understand these differences from the outset.
The Advantages of Online and Desktop QuickBooks Versions
For a company that needs multiple people in different locations to access their books, QuickBooks Online is your best bet. This software can be especially useful if you're going to outsource an accountant or bookkeeper since it lets the users get access to the entire software online. In addition to this, getting started with this software is easier since QuickBooks Online is very intuitive and a breeze to navigate.
The Desktop software, while not as simple as the Online software, includes additional features such as planning, budgeting, and forecasting that are not available in the Online versions. Although it has a slightly more complicated interface, the software is extremely comprehensive. If you have some bookkeeping experience or an accountant to help set up your books, the QuickBooks Desktop software is the best choice.
There are a few advantages to a Desktop "Plus" account over both the Online and Desktop versions. Besides getting the features of the Desktop versions along with online access with QuickBooks Connect, you can choose to only pay month-to-month fees and can cancel at any time. With the release of the QuickBooks 2012 versions, you can also pay for these versions annually, which would save you between $110 and $130 a year. The one downside to the Desktop Pluses is that if you do cancel, you will be unable to edit your old bookkeeping data until you buy another version or subscription to QuickBooks.
Unlike QuickBooks Desktop, QuickBooks Online does not have any upfront costs. The Online software also comes with a free trial so you can test out their service before making any purchases. Getting started is very easy: all you have to do is fill out a short form with your contact information. There is nothing you need to install or download in order to start using QuickBooks Online.
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You can access all of your data from any computer with an Internet connection, as well as from your cell phone through their mobile-optimized website. All of the Online versions include the basic bookkeeping tasks, such as invoice creation and check printing from within the interface. Another advantage of using the Online software is that it automatically upgrades when there are new updates.
However, one disadvantage of the Online versions is that not all of the features will transfer over if you decide to upgrade to a Desktop version. This is because the Online version was developed separately from the Desktop version. Also, even the most comprehensive Online version does not have as many features as the least expensive Desktop version. Because the features offered with the Online versions are more basic, they are easier to set up.
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Every year QuickBooks updates their Desktop software with new features, but they suggest using the software for three years before buying a new version in order to take advantage of the new features that come with each year’s QuickBooks release. To make sure you upgrade your desktop software, online banking through the software is only free for three years.
With the Desktop version, users are able to access their information faster and can streamline their everyday tasks by organizing all their finances in one place, as well as their customer, vendor, and employee data. There is also a New User Setup to help users get started and learn how the software works. In addition, the Desktop version comes with one hour of customer support to help users set up their accounts and customer information. However, we recommend having an accountant set up the software for you because the initial setup can be a little confusing.