Choose QuickBooks Online over Desktop- Overview and How to Migrate From Desktop to Online

Are you confused about which one to choose- QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks Desktop? Well, it actually can be a tough choice to make. These two products from Intuit have acquired a dominant portion in the accounting space now. QuickBooks Desktop has already acquired the bulk of the market with 80% of new QuickBooks users using it, and QuickBooks Online is expected to take over the future market.

Overview of QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop

QuickBooks is designed to handle the financial operations of SMEs and ensures easy management of activities such as manage budget, track- expenses, payroll, inventory, sales, and reporting. QuickBooks has evolved over the years and has added several functionalities like marketing and merchant services and at the same time has developed and integrated industry-specific tools in the Desktop Version.

QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based service, which means there is no software download required. Just have an active internet connection, and one can access QB from anywhere in the world. On the other hand, you need to download QuickBooks Desktop and install it on your computer. QBO is available by subscription service fee while for QBD you pay a one-time upfront fee. A QBD purchase provides you only with the current version, and you will have to upgrade at least in a few years’ time for the updates.

QuickBooks Online provides greater accessibility with just an internet connection as a prerequisite, while QuickBooks Desktop is more suitable for on-the-go business owners who prefer to access info on the desktop or laptop without internet.

QuickBooks Desktop

QuickBooks Desktop has been there for a decade now. Since its introduction in the 1990s, it has been the favorite choice for millions of small to medium-sized businesses.There are three versions in it Pro, Premier and Enterprise. Whichever version you pick, each one allows you to track income & expenses, generate professional invoices, monitor sales tax, manage bills & accounts payable, track employee time and billable hours, track inventory and pay 1099 independent contractors.

Also Read: What are QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Tax Tables?

Pick QuickBooks Desktop if you:

  • Require multiple inventory options-If you require numerous inventory options like FIFO or the average cost method. QBO provides you only with “average cost method.”
  • Require Batch invoicing – This feature is helpful if you have to process recurring invoices with the existing group of customers with the same price/ service/invoice template & billing frequency.
  • Require Industry-specific features- Industry particular features are required such as for Retail & Nonprofit. For example, if you have General Contractor version, you can analyze job profitability or track job estimates, while if you are working on the Non-Profit version, you can produce year-end donation statements or donor contribution reports.
  • Want an enhanced customizable solution- QB Desktop allows you to customize your icon bar, views, homepage, etc.

QuickBooks Online

QBO is the most recent addition of the Intuit products service line. It is billed as “SaaS” in which you pay a smaller monthly price and have access to a regularly updated platform. It is best suited for SMEs and startups with excellent user-friendly features such as automatic planning and sending of transactions, automated organizing of  bank and credit card transactions, audit log review, accessibility control when providing to users, JEs can have several A/R & A/P, excellent integration with third-party apps, etc.

Pick QuickBooks Online if you:

  • Want to provide access to other users to your QuickBooks Account.
  • Want to have easy access to your QuickBooks from anything and anywhere.
  • Looking to pay a monthly fee rather than a significant amount up front.
  • You prefer automation feature
  • Have an Apple computer

How QuickBooks Online has the edge over QuickBooks Desktop?

QuickBooks Online App Store

An excellent feature in QuickBooks Online is to provide access to over 400 apps through the QuickBooks Online App store. You can integrate with the best of the technologies to manage various aspects of your business.

There are specialized apps for different types of businesses, and each app allows a separate login which grants good security for protecting your data from other users. Expensify, Fathom are some useful apps in this category. Expensify keeps a right track of expenses, receipts and mileage from their phones while with Fathom you can generate dashboards and performance reports for your business.

The seamless integration provided with these apps definitely will induce business efficiency and profitability.

 Good for Contractors

QuickBooks Online is a good option for service based or contractor businesses because of its anywhere accessibility feature. Since your business is continuously on the move, easy accessibility to data is a foremost requirement.  A good contractor software such as FieldPulse integrated with QuickBooks can make life easier while managing customer records, job scheduling, estimated & invoices, build personalized relationships with customers.


You can access QuickBooks Online as opposed to QuickBooks Desktop which will be only available on the desktop you have installed it on. QBO is a cloud-based solution while QuickBooks Desktop has to be downloaded on your computer. As everyone continues to move to cloud-based services, there might come a situation when QB Desktop is discontinued, thus making QuickBooks Online inevitable.


You can automate email reports and bank transactions (downloading and recording) that look like sent from a particular online user. The recurring transactions tool allows you to preschedule invoices.


QuickBooks Online integrates and syncs well with other software solutions.  It is easier to integrate/sync with a web-based product as both products will sync over the internet automatically with the help of “Application programming interface”. No wonder, FieldPulse & several other software chose to integrate with QuickBooks Online that will enhance business profitability.

Switching to QuickBooks Online from QuickBooks Desktop (Pro, Premier, Mac, and Enterprise)

If you are a QB Desktop user and now looking to migrate to QuickBooks Online, it requires different steps from each version.

Note: Even after importing your data into QuickBooks Online you can still use QuickBooks Desktop. Though, the two data sets do not sync well unless you continue exporting the company file to QBO.

Let’s look at the process of converting a QuickBooks Desktop File to QuickBooks Online:

  • Converting QuickBooks Desktop Pro/Premier Company File to QuickBooks Online
  • How to Convert QuickBooks Mac Company File To QuickBooks Online
  • Convert QuickBooks Enterprise Company File to QuickBooks Online


Thank you for reading this article, we hope, it gave a comprehensive outlook for understanding both QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online. If you would like to know more about which Edition of QuickBooks is best for you, Call us at Quickbooks Desktop Customer Support Phone Number 1-888-412-7852.