QuickBooks Online Vs Desktop – What’s the Difference?

In this episode of the Mission Business Podcast, we talk about the difference between QuickBooks online and the more traditional desktop version of QuickBooks. Each have their advantages, and this episode will help you clarify which is best for your business.

If you have any questions about this podcast episode, feel free to contact us.

Full Transcript of Audio Below

We’ve transcribed the audio into text and formatted it for easy reading below. Please excuse any typos or odd wording, as this transcript is taken directly from the spoken word within the audio above.

Interviewer:  Welcome back to the show. What we’re going to talk about today is a common question we get asked about QuickBooks.

QuickBooks is a very powerful piece of software for your business, but there are multiple different versions of QuickBooks. So what we want to talk about today with Bernard is the difference between the various QuickBooks versions, and specifically give you some information on how to know what direction to go into when choosing a given version of QuickBooks for your business.

Basic Difference Between QuickBooks Online And Desktop Version

Interviewer: Bernard, let’s start of by talking about the difference between the online version of QuickBooks and the desktop version of QuickBooks.

Bernard: Well, the desktop version has been around for ten, fifteen years. The online version was also around and almost fell out of favor. But most recently, the online version has been tweaked with a lot of resources behind the online version. It’s very much a contender now.

Clearly, the online version is appropriate for users or companies that have multiple users in diverse locations. It could be, for instance,

  • A club that may not have a central office, or
  • A company with more than one location

The online version is very appropriate and a simple piece of software to link participants in physically different locations.

The desktop version has a rich history with a lot of third party software vendors that tie into QuickBooks, so

  • The desktop version is many times a safe version in terms of usability, being able to do what we want it to do.
  • Online is a bit of a maybe, not as feature-rich, but very simple, easy to use, for companies that have diverse users in different physical locations.

QuickBooks Online is a Software As A Service

Interviewer: So you’re saying that with QuickBooks online, it’s possible for basically anyone within the company that’s been given access to it to actually log in from anywhere? There’s no software to install on the computer that they’re using, right?

Bernard: Correct. It’s basically what’s called – technically speaking – “a software as a service”. You log in using your browser, and you’re right there. You’re using software that is running on the internet. The database is on the internet.

  • It’s basically like going to Google or Amazon, or whatever it is. You just use the application there.
  • It has a look and feel of a browser, as opposed to a desktop.
  • So that’s not exactly the same feeling as a desktop, but with today’s internet speeds and broadband, it’s come a long way, and is very convenient to use.

Interviewer: That sounds really powerful.

How to Get the Best of Both QuickBooks Online and Desktop

Interviewer: Explain to me, if somebody thinks that they need to use the desktop version, maybe because of a specific feature of the desktop version of QuickBooks, is there any way that they can give access to people throughout their company that aren’t in the same location? Basically, is there a middle ground between QuickBooks online and the QuickBooks desktop version?

Bernard: Well, to many of our clients, we recommend to stay with the desktop version, because it’s a very proven version.

  • You can do many, many things with the desktop version, and you have a whole lot of industry of third party vendors that can extend the functionality of QuickBooks with third party applications, and
  • Many times we recommend to these clients that they host their QuickBooks application and QuickBooks database with a commercial company who specializes in hosting the application.

So you would essentially run the desktop version, but that desktop version would be running on some remote computer. We don’t really care where that remote computer is and you’ll be accessing the QuickBooks through the internet.

So it’s basically running QuickBooks online, but when you go online, you are actually seeing the screens that you would see if you were sitting right there, running QuickBooks through the desktop. It’s some kind of a server, but a server on the internet as opposed to a server in your local office.

  • The cost is a little bit more than regular QuickBooks online, but we find it’s many times a very favored solution.

Interviewer: So that seems like a good option if a company’s not really sure what to use between the desktop version versus the online version. It sounds like you can kind of get the best of both worlds.

Need Help Setting Up a Hosted Version of QuickBooks?

Interviewer: Now, if somebody was going to be moving into the desktop version, but they wanted to do it as a hosted software, is that something that they could set up themselves, or would they need to work with a specialist to do that? Is it simple to do?

Bernard: Yes, it’s simple to do, but obviously working with a reseller; a QuickBooks reseller or a QuickBooks provider makes it a little bit more comfortable. We know the industry. Basically the process is that

  • You sign up with a hosting company
  • They will give you a login, and
  • They will ask you for your QuickBooks license
  • Even though you are hosting QuickBooks, you still have to purchase a proper QuickBooks license
  • You either create your file or copy your file over to the hosting server, and follow the instructions
  • You may have to set up a printer and a scanner

It’s certainly not very hard, but we find many of our clients like to work with us or colleagues of ours so that it’s just easy because we know the steps. They don’t have to go through the technicalities of dealing with a software company or an IT type of vendor.

Interviewer: Perfect. Thanks so much for summarizing both of those different pieces.

We Are Happy To Help

Interviewer: There’s a lot more resources available on the website about;

  • What you can do with QuickBooks, and
  • The difference between the versions of QuickBooks.

If you are having trouble deciding between the two versions, or  if you are confused about going down the hosted route, hosting the desktop version of the software, please feel free to contact us through the MissionQuickBooks.com website.

Thank you so much for your time, Bernard

Bernard: Thanks. You’re welcome.

Bernard Roesch About Bernard Roesch

Bernard Roesch is co-founder and Managing Partner of Mission Consulting. Bernard’s background in the early years of his career was spent in the manufacturing sector, making his QuickBooks perspective a unique one – he understands the intricacies of a complex environment and then applies his strategic skills accordingly.