QuickBooks is an incredible tool for small businesses.
It’s a bookkeeping and accounting program that lets you track your expenses and income and run valuable reports that give you insight into how your business is doing.
When you get started with QuickBooks, one of the first things you have to decide is whether you want to use the QuickBooks Desktop version or the QuickBooks Online version (there is also QuickBooks Enterprise for large firms, or companies with large list of inventory items, we can talk one on one if you fall in that category).
Each option has its pros and cons.
So which QuickBooks is right for you? Let's find out.
The desktop version of QuickBooks is a traditional software program you load onto your computer, just like Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. It houses all of your data and files on your computer instead of syncing them to the cloud.
The benefits of QuickBooks Desktop:
QuickBooks Desktop is ever evolving and improving, but still has the same basic features and functionality since the early 90s. This is great for people who have been using QuickBooks and want to continue with the software that they have already learned how to use on their PC or MAC.
Another reason you might want to choose QuickBooks Desktop is if you are in a certain industry you may find the premier version of Quickbooks Desktop best as the premier software is tailored to your specific industry.
This applies to industries like construction or retail that have unique costs or transactions. If you’re in one of these industries, the premier version of Quickbooks Desktop can help give you a leg up on your bookkeeping.
Another benefit to QuickBooks Desktop is that it has more robust features, like more in-depth reporting than QuickBooks Online. If you're really into analyzing your business on an in-depth level, QuickBooks Desktop might be the right version for you.
Have multiple companies? You can create multiple company files within the Desktop software with the one-time software purchase, whereas online you would have to pay for a subscription for each company.
Finally, QuickBooks Desktop comes out cheaper in the long run. You pay a one-time fee to purchase the software, and you might have to update every 2 to 4 years. In the online version, you pay a monthly fee instead, and that adds up to being more expensive than the desktop software.
And now the drawbacks of QuickBooks Desktop:
The biggest drawback to QuickBooks Desktop is that you'll have to send files back-and-forth, just like you would Word documents or PowerPoint slideshows.
Because your QuickBooks files live on your computer, if you're working with an accountant they won't be able to access your files remotely. You’ll actually have to send them the file via email or bring it to their office on a flash drive.
Another drawback to using QuickBooks Desktop is that the versions aren't always compatible with both PCs and Macs. So if you're collaborating with people who have different types of computers, there's a good chance that their Mac won't be able to process your data in the same way your PC does.
And lastly, you have to backup your QuickBooks file on your own. You will have to create a routine for backing up or pay an offsite company to backup your computer or network for you.
QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based version of QuickBooks. This means, unlike QuickBooks Desktop, all of your files are stored within your online account (instead of locally on your computer).
The benefits of QuickBooks Online:
QuickBooks Online might be the right choice for you if you like working with cloud-based programs. With QuickBooks Online, all of your data will be housed virtually, not on your computer. This means as long as you're connected to the internet, you have access to your QuickBooks.
This is perfect for collaborating with other people on your QuickBooks. There's no issue with Mac and PC compatibility when you use online QuickBooks, and multiple people can log in to access your data.
If you're collaborating with an accountant, all they have to do is sign in to take a look at your QuickBooks – no passing files back and forth. When you avoid sending files to each other (by collaborating virtually instead), you minimize the risk of data entry issues, file corruption, and human error.
QuickBooks Online now has apps for your mobile device or tablet, so bookkeeping can be done on the go, including creating invoices and snapping pictures of receipts for expenses that will store in QuickBooks Online as you put them in.
Additionally, since QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based application, your data will be backed up automatically and updated automatically when you use the program online. You don't have to worry about saving your files or backing up to an external hard drive in case your computer crashes.
The drawbacks to QuickBooks Online:
The biggest drawback to QuickBooks Online is probably the cost.
To use QuickBooks Online, you pay a monthly fee, just like other online subscription services (Netflix, anyone?). This means QuickBooks Online ends up being more expensive than QuickBooks Desktop because every month you use your QuickBooks you have to pay a fee.
Another drawback to QuickBooks Online is that you must have an internet connection to use your QuickBooks. If you have an inconsistent internet connection at home (or use internet at public computers only), QuickBooks Online is probably not the best choice for you.
If you want help figuring out which QuickBooks software is right for you, schedule a free consultation with us at Accounting Plus.
We’ll help you figure out if QuickBooks is right for you and get you started using it for your small business.
Plus, if you ever have questions, we are here to help. Our QuickBooks experts are certified with QuickBooks training courses and are up-to-date on everything from technical issues to new software features.