QuickBooks Online Essentials vs. Plus vs. Pro 2016 – What’s the Difference?

It seems like many software companies are coming out with “cloud” versions of their programs, often on a subscription basis. While the changes in QuickBooks have not been as dramatic as we’ve seen recently with other companies, specifically Adobe (all of their most popular Creative Suite tools are only available exclusively on a subscription basis), Intuit too has begun offering online versions of QuickBooks. We personally like the Online versions and use Online Essentials ourselves as it brings greater flexibility for us on the go, but it may or may not be the best choice for your business. The below tables break out the differences between Online Essentials and Plus versions (the two best selling plans) and how they compare to the traditional boxed version of QuickBooks Pro 2016.

Quickbooks Online vs Pro

Quickbooks Online Essentials vs Plus vs. Pro.fw

In terms of price, QuickBooks Pro comes out to the cheapest option if you break it out per month for twelve months (under $21.00/month compared to $26.95/month for Online Essentials).  However, it’s only cheaper if you have one user and don’t need any product support. The online version includes free product support, free upgrades through the life of your subscription, and the ability to have multiple users of the software (up to 3 for Online Essentials and 5 for Plus, with the ability to add more seats if needed).

The key difference however is that all online versions are web-based and require a constant internet connection to work.  While this is great if you work from multiple machines and devices (like your iPad) from your home and office, it’s not so good it you work in the field and don’t always have a fast or reliable internet connection. The only risk is that if your PC ever crashes or gets lost, all your data will be lost if you aren’t backed-up if using the desktop version.  As the Online versions are web-based, your data will still be there regardless from which computer you login from.

Either way you decide to go, you’re covered by a 60 day money-back guarantee from Intuit if change your mind or decide to go with a different version or accounting solution.

  1. January 17, 2017

    Qasim khan

    dear sir, I am currently using online QuickBooks essential for my services type business on Trail base, but it has no payroll option, can it be available when I make the payment? and secondly there is a problem in alignment like when i write something in Arabic,e,g ” how are you” it become ” you are how”. please guide

  2. December 19, 2016

    Michael Shelden

    However, if you have multiple companies to do accounting for, the desktop is by far better. You can create and run many companies for the same price, whereas on Online, you pay for each one individually.

  3. July 2, 2016


    Very helpful. Thanks

  4. March 19, 2015


    Thank you this was very helpful. Why is this so hard for intuit to post on their web page.

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eric owenWritten by Eric

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

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