My Accountant Reviews QuickBooks Online vs Desktop


Editor’s note: I use QuickBooks Online to handle the accounting for my blog and conference business. I’ll be honest though – I don’t know much about it or how it compares to the desktop version. I turned to my accountant, who uses it everyday on my behalf, to provide a quick review for anyone interested in using it.

QuickBooks OnlineRunning your successful business can be very challenging. Making the sale, providing the service, and/or producing the product can (and should) consume you and your staff’s day.

This leaves little room for you to track expenses/income and put together a payroll.You need the accounting and bookkeeping to be as easy as possible. Especially when tax season rolls around.

This is where QuickBooks comes in. Intuit’s QuickBooks has set the standard for accounting software for years and is the best selling accounting software.

Now, it would be easy to go to the store, buy the stand-alone version of QuickBooks, install it on your computer and start rolling. But did you know that another version of QuickBooks exists? It’s called QuickBooks Online! No download required.

About QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online is obviously the version of QuickBooks that you access using the Internet. A user ID and a password are required to gain access to your company’s accounting data for security purposes.

QuickBooks Online is great because you can be anywhere to use it as long as you have Internet access. Use it at your family or friend’s house, in another state, a restaurant or hotel with Wi-Fi, or your laptop on your bed if you have Wi-Fi there.

QuickBooks Online can also be accessed by Blackberry, iPhone, and Android phone.

Related: Use Quickbooks Online to Master Your Small Business Accounting

3 Versions of QuickBooks Online

Three different versions are available for QuickBooks Online. The versions, going from limited options to unlimited options, are Online Simple Start – $12.95, Online Essentials – $26.95, and Online Plus – $39.95. Prices can vary based on the occasional promotional discount.

  • Online Essentials and Online Plus are the only versions that can be accompanied with payroll functionality (approx $25 more).
  • Additionally, Online Plus gives you more reporting functionality compared with Online Simple Start.
  • With Online Simple start a bill cannot be created and managed. You also can’t create an estimate. But you can create invoices and manage your customers.
  • With Online Essentials you cannot track inventory or have budgeting and planning. But with Online Plus you can.
  • Finally, Online Plus is also the only one that can track, prepare, and print 1099’s.

QuickBooks Online Versions

A Few Drawbacks

QuickBooks Online is not without it’s negatives. If the Internet is down or unavailable then QuickBooks Online cannot be accessed and therefore no work can be done. Sometimes even if the Internet is available QuickBooks Online servers can get overloaded and it cannot be accessed.

Additionally, if QuickBooks desktop is the only thing that you know, then a big learning curve is present in becoming accustomed to QuickBooks Online.

I’ve found that the speed of QuickBooks Online is dependent on your internet speed whereas QuickBooks desktop is generally fast no matter what.

It can be very frustrating with QuickBooks Online if they want to change something as far as functionality. You have no choice but to get used to it. For instance, payroll has to be done a certain way with little to no flexibility.

One other major downside that I’ve experienced is that QuickBooks Online will time out forcing you to have to log back in to continue with your work.

What I Like About QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online also has a lot of upsides. With QuickBooks desktop, a new version has to be bought and installed on your computer every year in order to keep up with the most recent software. In QuickBooks Online you don’t have to worry about that because it keeps up with it for you.

I also like that your accountant can access it anytime he wants with his own unique username and password to make the right changes. Direct deposit is free per employee in QuickBooks Online, but in the desktop version, it costs per employee.

One of my favorite features is that your transactions can be downloaded from your bank. All you have to do is verify it is going to the right account and you are done. You don’t have to go to your bank online and print a transaction list and enter each transaction.

It is also awesome that you don’t have to be confined to one place to do your bookkeeping; you can be anywhere anytime as long as Internet access is present.

Who Should Use QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online (vs Desktop) is for the business owner on the go who wants to pay a little bit each month instead of a large amount one time per year (desktop versions cost from $183 to $319).

It’s also for the owner who is on a remote job site and has a smartphone or laptop with Wi-Fi capabilities. The owner is able to complete the work and can make out an invoice right there.

QuickBooks Online is for the person who works on a variety of different computers that have internet access.

Finally, it’s for the person (like PT) who wants their accountant to look over their shoulder and make sure they are doing things right.

Try Quickbooks Online Free for 30 Days and get 1 Hour Free with a Quickbooks Expert!

What’s been your experience with QuickBooks Online?


  1. So many tasks can be done with QBDT that cannot be done with QBO.
    Our company uses sales orders which QBO does not have therefore it is totally useless to us.
    I just shake my head when I hear people talk about moving from QBDT to QBO. Why would anyone want to do such a thing? They will have a lot less flexibility and they will have to pay a monthly subscription. Stay with QBDT and purchase a little app for a ONE TIME cost of $14.95 from a company called Xtralogic and you can access your entire computer from your Android phone. I have been using their “Remote Desktop Client for Android” for six and a half years and I would NEVER leave QBDT for QBO! With Xtralogic app combined with Foxit Reader Printer, I can send reports from Quickbooks (or any program) right to my Android phone.
    Xtralogic does not have an app for iPhones but iPhones are not designed for business anyways.
    Please note: I am NOT a rep for Xtralogic! I use their app because it works so great! I much prefer to manage my own data and NOT have someone manage it that has absolutely no interest in my business! QBO is a serious downgrade NOT an upgrade!