QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks Hosting: Which is Better?

You’ve seen the commercials. Small business owners become organized, stable, and tech-savvy after implementing QuickBooks into their day-to-day lives. QuickBooks enables businesses to manage finances, pay employees, and even accept credit cards. With well over 20 million business customers, Intuit QuickBooks is one of the most favored accounting software solutions across the globe. Over the years, the various desktop versions of this solution – like Pro, Premier and Enterprise – have gotten the job done for many small to mid-sized businesses.

However, as the workplace culture has changed and the need for remote accessibility has increased, most companies have realized that sticking to a traditional desktop just isn’t the best option for them anymore. If you currently work (or have worked) at a company like this, you are probably ready to migrate your QuickBooks desktop software over to the cloud.

During your search for the best QuickBooks cloud solution, you may have come across options like QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks hosting. Although these two terms sound similar, they aren’t interchangeable: the details, benefits and offerings of both services are fairly different. When it comes to implementation, which method is better for your type of usage?

We believe it's important for QuickBooks users to explore all of their options before making the switch to ensure the decision is truly right for their business. Check out our Quickbooks Desktop vs Online showdown below.


Differences Between QuickBooks Hosting and QuickBooks Online


1. Set-Up and Use

In a hosted QuickBooks scenario, a hosting provider installs your licensed or leased edition of QuickBooks Desktop on an off-premise shared or dedicated server environment that’s located in a data center. Users are then able to work in their software, typically using a remote desktop on their preferred internet-connected device.

When setting up QuickBooks Online, Intuit copies your QuickBooks Desktop data and transfers it to your online account. To use QuickBooks Online, users access this specific version of QuickBooks by logging into the QBO portal using a supported web browser. There are also some limitations regarding functionality in comparison to hosted QuickBooks Desktop versions.


2. QuickBooks Versions Supported

With QuickBooks Online, only the Online version is supported since it’s an independent version. This means your QuickBooks Desktop software is not compatible with the online portal. A cloud hosting provider, on the other hand, should be able to support all types/editions of QuickBooks Desktop. At Summit Hosting, for example, we commonly host QuickBooks Pro, Premier and Enterprise in the cloud for our U.S. and Canada-based customers.


3. Features

Hosted QuickBooks Desktop enables you to use all of the features you’re accustomed to, like budgeting and tracking expenses, with the added benefit of remote accessibility from any device, including mobile. So, you won’t have to worry about a learning curve or losing industry-specific features since its functionality is the same. Keep in mind, the features you have access to vary according to the version of QuickBooks being hosted and the different 3rd-party accounting applications that have been integrated.

The features included within QuickBooks Online depend on the plan you choose (i.e. QBO Simple Start, QBO Essentials or QBO Plus). Basic features of QBO include FIFO inventory tracking only, syncing bank accounts and sending and tracking invoices. It’s important to note that, according to Intuit, not all QBO features are available to use on mobile devices.


4. Maintenance

Maintenance for both versions of QuickBooks are similar in the sense that the 3rd-parties are in charge of this function, however, the items “maintained” are very different. With cloud-hosted QuickBooks, the 3rd-party hosting provider handles the day-to-day server maintenance, server repairs and associated hardware upgrades. In a QuickBooks Online setting, Intuit maintains its QBO portal and website.


5. Customer Support

Most hosting providers include some form of customer support with their services, but the coverage time and type of support depend on the provider. For example, we provide 24/7 connectivity support – yes, even on weekends and holidays – through our online ticketing system. Although this is an online-chat-based type of support, customers can always request to be called by a network engineer if they prefer phone calls.

QuickBooks Online offers phone support Monday – Friday from 6 am – 6 pm PST. This support service is free during a 30-day QBO trial and is included with a paid QBO subscription. Important note: according to their “important offers, pricing details, & disclaimers,” Intuit reserves the right to limit the length of your call.


6. Product Updates

All QBO updates take place automatically when a new version or feature is available. Hosted QuickBooks Desktop updates, contrarily, are handled manually so you can choose if you’d like to run the update or not.


7. Price

The cost of QuickBooks cloud hosting and QuickBooks Online both differ depending on the circumstances. For example, the price for quality QuickBooks hosting usually ranges between $50 - $60 / month per user depending on the hosting provider. The price of QBO Simple Start begins at $20 / month but can go up to at least $100 / month with add-ons like full-service payroll and additional costs for multiple company files.

Since the pricing for either service can be so different, it’s better to do a side-by-side comparison of the costs associated with QBO and the specific cloud hosting provider, as well as the available add-ons and extra per employee/user costs.


8. License Ownership

When you host a traditional copy of QuickBooks Desktop, you can flat out purchase the software (pay once) or you have the option to lease the license (pay monthly for the subscription). When using QBO, you pay a monthly subscription fee to Intuit, and you are unable to buy the software since it is a web-based service.


QuickBooks Online and Hosting Similarities

Although there are many differences that set the two apart, there are a few key things QBO and cloud-hosted QuickBooks have in common. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that these similarities can vary slightly depending on the 3rd-party hosting provider.


1. Automatic Data Backups

QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks hosting are both backed up automatically by their respective service providers. However, the frequency of these backups is fully dependent on either Intuit or the 3rd-party hosting provider depending on which service you choose.


2. Remote Accessibility

The main attracting factor of both services is enhanced remote accessibility. QuickBooks hosting and QBO gives users the opportunity to access their data and collaborate with others at any time from just about anywhere with most devices.


3. Cloud-Based Applications

Each service has the ability to integrate various cloud-based accounting applications that can help automate features and streamline tasks.


4. Off-Premises Data Storage

Both services keep your data in off-premises servers, meaning you don’t have to worry about server maintenance or the cost of hardware upgrades. However, the type of server your data is stored on does vary between Intuit’s service and a cloud hosting provider. At Summit Hosting, for example, we only host QuickBooks on dedicated servers because they allow for more customization options.


5. Easy-to-Use

A plus of both hosted QuickBooks and QBO is that they are pretty easy to use – you do not have to be an accountant to use either of these versions.


Should I Use QuickBooks Online or Host QuickBooks with Summit Hosting?

Ultimately, you need to choose the best cloud-based QuickBooks solution for your unique business needs. Here is a comparison of the popular features and benefits to consider of hosting QuickBooks with us vs using QuickBooks Online:

Business owners often find themselves having to choose between the features they want and the freedom of mobility they desire. However, with Summit Hosting's QuickBooks hosting solutions, you can get the best of both worlds. When using a virtual cloud desktop, all users can access their QuickBooks from any device no matter where they are.

While the desktop has some of the best customizable features and the better financial package for serious businesses, the desktop version does not allow mobility for users and QBO lacks beneficial features and customization.


Take Your Entire Office With You

Third-party desktop software, such as Microsoft Office, Dynamics CRM, Adobe Reader, and Google Chrome, can all be brought with you. Specifically for your small business, we found that QuickBooks connects with business tools such as SmartVault, Bill.com, and Fishbowl, all of which can be accessed by Summit Hosting. All of your data and software can be securely accessible from one convenient location, no matter where you are or what device you’re using.

As you decide between QuickBooks cloud hosting and QBO, our team members are happy to answer any questions you may have; and they’re always ready to fill you in on why Summit Hosting is one of the largest, most trusted Sage and QuickBooks hosting providers in North America.

If you would like to try out a free trial to see how your software performs in the cloud or if you want more information on how to join our community of 20,000+ users, contact us here. Or, you can always give us a call at 888-244-6559.

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