QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop: Which Is Best for Your Business?

Around the world, organizations of all sizes rely on QuickBooks accounting software to stay on top of their finances. Nonprofits, self-employed freelancers, general contractors, small businesses and even some enterprise customers use QuickBooks to document their cash flow, keep track of accounts payable, calculate and record sales tax, perform inventory management, receive payments and conduct forecasting. In some respects, QuickBooks is like an on-device CPA.

Since its initial release in 1983, QuickBooks products have branched into industry-specific solutions that are tailored to specific business needs. As cloud-based services matured, the software’s developer, Intuit, launched an online version of QuickBooks that has also seen widespread adoption by organizations that aren’t wedded to the desktop version.

But what if you could use the full desktop version of QuickBooks on any device, without needing to install it, just like the SaaS version? What if you didn’t have to sacrifice functionality and features to get the full flexibility of the online version?

First, let’s review how QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online differ

QuickBooks online (also called QBO) has a few key differences with the desktop software. The most obvious one has to do with pricing. Whereas QBO, like many SaaS products, is a monthly subscription with pricing tiers that are graduated according to number of users or features, QuickBooks desktop charges an annual fee (or annual subscription, if you prefer to see it that way). 

More importantly, the functionality can vary greatly between the two product categories. Intuit seems to target QBO toward small business owners and distinguishes it through features like mobile app integration. QuickBooks Desktop software, by contrast, is actually split out into three different products—QuickBooks Pro Plus, Premier Plus and Enterprise—that offer industry-specific features and more advanced capabilities.

However, as their name suggests, the variants in the QuickBooks Desktop line are not optimized for remote access or mobile devices. This makes these QuickBooks products more PC-oriented, whereas QBO’s cloud-based and mobile app capabilities require an Internet connection.

Those differences raise an important and frequently asked question: Which QuickBooks version is best suited to your business?

Hard choices: QuickBooks Online vs Quickbooks Desktop

For organizations that can fulfill their bookkeeping requirements with QBO’s cloud-based accounting, there’s no need for them to feel pressured into using QuickBooks desktop products. The various tiers of QBO, including the basic Simple Start plan, do offer fairly rich accounting features like time tracking, expense tracking and PayPal integration as well as the ease of use that users expect from SaaS products. The monthly subscription model might also be more attractive than the desktop pricing.

Larger businesses that need robust bank reconciliation capabilities, highly scalable inventory management and flexible automation integration are probably better served by QuickBooks’ pro-grade desktop Premier and desktop Enterprise variants. In fact, even small businesses that primarily comprise desktop users might prefer some of the functionality of the desktop QuickBooks products to QuickBooks Online.

But many organizations might still be left feeling like both versions of QuickBooks have show-stopping pros and cons. Sometimes it can come down to a single essential accounting feature that one or the other is lacking. For example, an organation might want the enterprise-tier handling of bank transactions and inventory management of QuickBooks Desktop software without having to sacrifice some of the user-friendly mobile capabilities and remote access. 

Is there a QuickBooks product that offers the best of both worlds?

Cameyo turns QuickBooks Desktop into a cloud-native app

While the key differences between QBO and its desktop version counterparts will continue to exist for the foreseeable future, you can bridge the gap with Cameyo’s Virtual App Delivery (VAD) solution. Using Cameyo, organizations can provide all or part of their workforce with the desktop versions of QuickBooks—whether you’re talking Pro Plus, Premier Plus or Enterprise—on any device, no matter where those users happen to be. All without having to install & manage the application on any of those devices. 

Cameyo’s pioneering Virtual App Delivery platform provides access to the Windows-native app in real-time via a secure HTML5 browser session. That means employees on Mac, ChromeOS, Linux and Windows computers, not to mention mobile devices like iPads and Android devices, can use full-featured QuickBooks Desktop products securely at home, on the road, as well as in-house. There’s no software redevelopment involved, no compromise on functionality and no learning curve. Users can continue to work with a company file the same way they would in QBO or, say, one of the desktop pro products like QuickBooks Enterprise.

This doesn’t just open up new possibilities for organizations that feel torn between QuickBooks’ cloud-based and desktop software. It also allows desktop-centric organizations to rapidly SaaS-ify their existing QuickBooks solution. If you already have templates, a chart of accounts and ecommerce settings (such as credit card processing) configured for QuickBooks desktop, Cameyo gives you the ability to cloud-enable that install without having to engage specialized professional services to perform an on-prem to cloud migration. And Cameyo does that while also circumventing the need for expensive and insecure VPNs.

The best part is that this ability isn’t limited to QuickBooks. Cameyo enables any software for cloud-based remote access from any device—including processor-intensive titles like AutoCAD and Adobe Creative Cloud. This eliminates the pain of having to choose between the desktop features your organization needs and the simple, SaaS experience that your users want.

Whether you’re trying to decide between QBO and QuickBooks Pro Plus or you want to SaaS-enable an existing QuickBooks desktop product, sign up now for your free trial of Cameyo and see how to expand your options. Just because a software product says “Desktop” or “Enterprise” no longer means that it can’t be cloud-enabled for your workforce. And if you’d like more detail on Cameyo’s security and ease of use before giving it a test run, simply reach out to us and schedule a demo with one of our engineers instead.