Difference Between Quickbooks Online & Desktop 2016 – Which is Better?

quickbooks online vs desktop 2016

If this is your first QuickBooks purchase or if you’re considering switching to QuickBooks Online from an older version of QuickBooks Desktop software, you may be confused on which version you should get. If you’ve visited Intuit’s website lately, then you’ve probably noticed that they are pushing hard to get users to try the Online versions. But you do have options. Let’s take a look differences between Quickbooks Online and the desktop versions of Pro/Premier 2016 and see which one is better for your business.

Differences in features.

There is a common misconception that QuickBooks Online is the exact same as it’s Desktop counterpart except that it’s online (cloud) based. But there is much more to it and both versions have their pros and cons with different feature and functionally sets.

Here’s a look at the features in common:

  • Accept credit card payments from customers
  • Audit trail to track changes to transactions and lists
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Budgets (not included in QB Online Essentials)
  • Class Tracking (not in QB Online Essentials)
  • Company Snapshot
  • Create Estimates (not included in QB Online Essentials)
  • Custom fields – varies on the number, and how you can use them, so you have to look at the specifics
  • Document management
  • Express setup of QB company file
  • Invoices
  • Job costing
  • Memorized reports
  • Multi user access (different limits to the number)
  • Multiple windows
  • Online banking
  • Payroll (additional fees may be required)
  • Prepare and print 1096, 1099 (not in QB Online Essentials)
  • Print Bills
  • Purchase Orders (not in QB Online Essentials)
  • Recurring Billing / Memorized Transactions
  • Reversing journal entries
  • Time tracking and billing by customer (not included in QB Online Essentials)
  • Zoom into details from reports

Here’s what you’ll only get in QuickBooks Online:

  • Auto Send Reports – reports or report groups can be scheduled to send automatically
  • Automatic upgrades
  • Automatic Data Backup
  • Company Scorecard
  • Delayed charges/billing – enter charges to be billed later
  • Income list/transaction center
  • Invoice Automation
  • Location tracking, a secondary level of class tracking (QB Online Plus only)
  • More than one A/R or A/P account per journal entry
  • Remote access from any internet connected computer or tablet

Here’s what you’ll only get in QuickBooks Desktop:

  • Advanced Excel export that can update existing exported reports
  • Available Quantity in Inventory
  • Average Cost inventory valuation
  • Balance Sheet by Class
  • Batch Invoicing
  • Batch Timesheet Entry
  • Billable Time and Expense preferences
  • Billing rate level
  • Business Planner
  • Calendar
  • Change orders on Estimates
  • Collections center
  • Condense data file
  • Convert estimate to a purchase order or sales order
  • Customer Snapshot
  • Fixed Asset Manager
  • Forecasting
  • Industry specific reporting (i.e. Contractor, Retail, Non Profit, Manufacturing & Wholesale, etc.)
  • Inventory – reorder/rebuild points
  • Inventory assembly items, Bills of Material, the ability to build assemblies
  • Inventory Center
  • Lead Center
  • Mileage tracking
  • Multiple currencies
  • Multiple ship to addresses for Vendors
  • One click transactions (pay bill from bill, create credit memo from invoice, etc.)
  • Price Levels
  • Progress Invoicing/billing
  • Receive partially against a purchase order
  • Report – collapse rows
  • Report Favorites
  • Sales Order Fulfillment Worksheet
  • Sales Orders
  • Share report templates with Intuit community
  • Shipping Manager
  • Transaction History Panel
  • Units of Measure

A more extensive and comprehensive comparison list can be found in this excel spreadsheet.

Price Differences.

In terms of the price difference, it really depends on the Desktop and Online version that you get. Plus you’ll find different sale prices though out the year (here’s a list of the current promotions for QuickBooks 2016). Typically, the comparison comes down to either QuickBooks Desktop Premier Plus and QuickBooks Online Plus.

quickbooks online vs desktop 2016 price

In short, if you upgrade or plan to upgrade your version of QuickBooks Desktop every year, then the Online version is cheaper. However, if you only plan to upgrade eery three years (Intuit only supports the product and all the online and payroll features for three years) then it’s cheaper to stay on the Desktop product.


Leave your thoughts and questions below!

Leave a comment


eric owenWritten by Eric

This page was written by Eric Owen, an expert on software news and deals. Connect with him on Google+

QuickBooks 2018 Alerts!

Sign up to our exclusive release date notifier list and we'll let you know the moment all of the 2018 editions of QuickBooks are released.

Contact Form

We won't share your info. Read our Privacy Policy.

When will the 2018 version be released?

Every year we wait in anticipation for the new versions of QuickBooks to be released. Expect to see the new 2018 versions announced and shipping at the end of September, 2017. See all the latest QuickBooks 2018 news as we track the latest developments coming from Intuit.

Did a deal expire? Please let us know!

Our team spends countless hours tracking the latest deals and updating the posted offers as soon as there is a change. But, being humans and doing this all by hand, it so happens that a deal can slip though the cracks. If you see anything that looks wrong on this page, a QuickBooks promotion that’s expired, or just about anything else, then please let us know through our contact form.