QuickBooks Desktop or QuickBooks Online?

Man deciding between QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop
The choice between QuickBooks Desktop or QuickBooks Online
depends upon your specific business model and demands.

Written by Jeffrey Siegel, Edited by Jessie McLaren
July 31, 2019

Many of our clients eager to migrate all business functions and solutions to online cloud environments were quick to swap out their QuickBooks Desktop (QBD) for the online version. However, over the last several years, I’ve noticed countless flip-flops regarding this choice. Sometimes QuickBooks Online (QBO) is EXACTLY what a business needs. However, sometimes users end up switching back. The Desktop version has convenient, timesaving features not available in the online solution. This is especially true for companies with management accounting supply chain needs. Likewise, companies with inventory-related functions, particularly sensitive data, or very large files often prefer QBD over QBO.

10 Reasons Some Businesses Prefer QuickBooks Desktop     QuickBooks checklist

1. If inventory is a major component of your business, consider sticking with QBD. For more complex inventory needs, like those involving multiple locations and serial numbers or lot numbers that are being tracked in QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise, QBD is a much better software solution. This is because QBO only offers basic inventory features. Additionally, it does not integrate with third-party add-ons, further limiting its functionality.

General Ledger

2. If you have very large data files or need to run a general ledger, QBO will slow you down and require more steps. For example, running reports in QBO for extensive files causes it to kick out a message to “load more pages.” This dramatically slows down the process. Also, many of our larger clients with QBO discovered that in order to run their General Ledgers they had to run them in sections. So, they run their ledgers a few months at a time, rather than for an entire year because a year’s worth of data overwhelms QBO.

3. If your workflow requires having multiple browsers and desktop windows to be open simultaneously, consider sticking with QBD. Since QBO is in a browser, having multiple tabs open at the top of the browser window further congests your flow.

WHAT about Your Sales and Pricing?

4. If your business uses sales orders stick with QBD because this is a function that does not exist in any version of QBO to date.

5. If you prefer attaching your sales reps to invoices, you won’t find this feature in QBO. Therefore, if you work with more than 2 or 3 sales reps QBD is a better option for tracking individual performance, sales, and commissions. Additionally, sales by sales rep reports are very handy in QBD but are not available in QBO.

6. If your business has customer-specific discounts and pricing, you’ll find that you are unable to customize these for each customer in QBO, but QBD has an easy function to accommodate this preference, which in turn allows you to provide better customer service.

What if your internet fails?

QuickBooks Desktop is better if you work offline or your internet fails. 7. If you often need to work offline or on project sites where internet and/or Wi-Fi connection is spotty or unavailable, QBD is your best solution. Obviously, QBO always requires an internet connection. If that connection goes down, suddenly you can’t access your client and vendor files. This means delays or worse deters data-driven decision-making. With QBD you never experience this frustration because it runs on your device directly. You can opt for hosting, and always access your data. So, if you work in a variety of environments that impact internet reception, QBD will be the better choice.

8. If you download bank feeds routinely, please note that we see more issues with downloads for clients using QBO than QBD. This is despite the fact that the bank feeds connect better in QBO. The rules that make it easier to categorize transactions simultaneously can cause problems. These occur more when you automate the rules or don’t review them prior to each download. Duplicate entries, uncategorized transactions, and duplicate sales also occur more easily in QBO. QBD download may seem more cumbersome but isn’t as prone to errors as QBO.

What about Data and Reports?

9. If your business handles sensitive data, using QBO may present greater security risks. Do you need to run reports quickly?If you need to download your data, you need QBD anyway, otherwise, you’ll spend considerable time downloading it into various excel files.

10. If you need to run reports quickly, it might surprise you to know that often QBD runs much faster locally than QBO. Depending on available internet speed, and operating memory, there may be some lag time in QBO when running reports, opening windows and inputting transactions. Especially if you are also pulling from a considerable volume of data for reports, it may be a much better option to use QBD.

Some QuickBooks Online Features Rock!

QBO has some great features that are not in QBD or are superior to those in QBD. One such feature is the ability to see if a customer opened and viewed an invoice. Secondly, automated sales tax calculations and the recently added feature of pulling bank statements are wonderful in QBO. when done correctly, bank feeds and downloads are easy for small files. If you’re on the go, QBO has a mobile application that QBD does not have. Also, QBO also has an ecosystem that consists of thousands of third-party applications. These seamlessly integrate with QBO and this application list gets larger by the day.

Features facilitating collaboration between company stakeholders, management and your accountant are built-in to QBO. However, QBD does not have this functionality unless you use a hosting company or share files conventionally. There are many features that QBO has that QBD does not have. However, the same can be said in reverse. Despite the accelerating trend towards using only web-based software (SaaS), online solutions are not always best for every business. Businesses that use a supply chain are frequently better suited to QBD.

So, Which is better: QuickBooks Desktop or QuickBooks Online? Here’s my best recommendation for the undecided.

Can’t decide which is better: QuickBooks Desktop or QuickBooks Online? Get a free trial of QBO and upload your QBD data into it. Then you’ll have 30 days to experiment with QBO. One month is plenty of time to make an educated decision about how well it meets your specific demands.

f the pain points described above occur, you get to decide if the value provided in the online format outweighs the hassle. If you are still uncertain after a month about which version you prefer, consider the following. I recently noticed that many preferred features formerly unique to QBO are being added to QBD. So, if you find a feature in QuickBooks Online that is exceptionally useful, it might popo up in the very next QuickBooks Desktop version.

Call us anytime. We want to help.

You can also allow us at Siegel Solutions to help you choose the best options. We’ll assist you even if you aren’t trying to decide between QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop. We can recommend, install and train you on add-ons that tailor solutions perfectly to your business. Call us at (781) 487-7000. We want to help.


Kimberly Mitchell
Partner Development Manager


Kim is a Partner Development Manager with 10 years of experience working with Strategic Partners. As a 19-year veteran with Intuit and a history of driving growth and sales results within the QuickBooks echo system Kim, brings a wealth of knowledge to our team by assisting us with sales and marketing initiatives while helping us strive for the highest net promoter (clients satisfaction) scores. Kim is passionate about creating and nurturing new partnership opportunities through the relationships she has built over the past 25 years of sales experience.

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Noah Raney
Senior Account Payroll Manager


Noah is our dedicated Intuit Senior Account Payroll Manager who can help you find the right payroll solution for you and your business. He is well versed in all of the QuickBooks platforms being desktop/online/standalone and payroll has been his world since joining Intuit 13 years ago. Whether you are looking for ways to save on time, reduce inflated payroll costs or just get set up with the best discounts, he is here to help. Your success and satisfaction are of utmost importance!

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Sean McCaffery
Global Channel Sales Partnerships and Alliances Leader


Sean McCaffery has more than 15 years of experience leading channel sales and cloud solutions in the US and Internationally. Sean has held leadership positions with Avaya in Europe growing the channel business with resellers and distributors in key countries driving double-digit growth. He then joined Rackspace Technology and was instrumental in developing sales growth strategies in cloud adoption for customers and partners. Most recently, he ran channels at Dizzion responsible for dynamically growing and expanding the partner ecosystem through SaaS-based VDI solutions before joining Intuit. Currently, he runs the QuickBooks Solution Provider Program supporting the strong business that solution providers and ISV partners have established as well as finding new opportunities to drive emerging mid-market growth together!

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Gabor Terebesi
Account Manager


Gabor Terebesi is an Account Manager with the Payments Team of Intuit for over 15 years. He works in the partner division for Intuit payments to ensure Intuit partners along with any clients of theirs are in the most suitable and financially cost-effective solution accepting payments through eCommerce, QuickBooks, mobile payments, or any other options necessary for their business.

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Aimee Garneau
Accounting Manager


Aimee joined Siegel in 2022 as the Accounting Manager overseeing the accounting and bookkeeping team. Aimee brings 18 years of experience with increased responsibility with privately and publicly held companies. Her experience lies with SaaS-based companies as well as in healthcare, consulting, education and nonprofits. Prior to joining Siegel, she held accounting leadership positions with Waban Projects, Elastic Path, Moltin, and Ned Davis Research. Aimee loves partnering with business owners to establish financial reporting and results that promote growth and expansion. When Aimee is not working, she loves spending time with her family and friends and exploring all New England has to offer. She is also an avid Red Sox fan and enjoys going to Fenway Park when she can.

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