How do you Compare QuickBooks Versions for Your Business?

You’ve decided that QuickBooks is the right fit for your business. Now, how do you compare QuickBooks versions to decide which is best for you, your computer, and your business? First, answer these two critical questions:

  1. How many users need access to permission controls in your accounting system?
  2. Do you track inventory? If so, how do you track it? (Weighted average costing vs. first in, first out (FIFO))

Number of Users in QuickBooks Versions

QuickBooks Version Number of Users
QuickBooks Online Simple Start 1 user
QuickBooks Pro Desktop / Online Essentials 3 simultaneous users
QuickBooks Premier Desktop / Online Plus 5 simultaneous users
QuickBooks Online Advanced 25 simultaneous users
QuickBooks Enterprise Desktop 30 simultaneous users


The number of simultaneous users you need will really set the stage for which QuickBooks version you should choose. Users that are not simultaneous, but require customized access, will also need to be separate users. For example, Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable specialists have a clear separation of duties, and should have their own customized access on QuickBooks, regardless of version. Sales people, on the other hand, might not need to enter information. If they’re just pulling reports in QuickBooks Online, you can set up reports that don’t count against your user limit.

How Inventory is Handled in QuickBooks Versions

If inventory is not a factor, skip this section.

QuickBooks Version Inventory Tracking
QuickBooks Desktop Weighted average costing
QuickBooks Online Plus / Advanced FIFO
QuickBooks Enterprise (Platinum Subscription) Allows for other inventory methods

QuickBooks Desktop versions track inventory using weighted average costing. QuickBooks Online Plus and Advanced versions track inventory using FIFO. There is an optional Advanced Inventory available with a Platinum subscription of QuickBooks Enterprise that would allow for other inventory methods.  There is also the option of adding a third-party add-on software package to allow for inventory costing using other methods. In general, the QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise version is the most robust for larger businesses with inventory.

How Mobile Does Your Business Need to Be? Technology Considerations between QuickBooks Versions

If you have five users or fewer, and inventory is not a major factor, your decision will be tied to how mobile you need to be. Assuming you have a strong internet connection most of the time, being able to run your business from anywhere using a computer or mobile phone can be both useful and appealing. Whether you have a computer running Windows or Mac, you can access the same company data. However, there will be some differences between Windows and Mac versions.

Intuit also has a QuickBooks Online Mobile App for Android and iOS included with QuickBooks Online subscriptions at no additional cost. The mobile app will work seamlessly on either mobile operating system.

Is it better to have a Windows or Mac computer when using QuickBooks?

QuickBooks Online will work seamlessly on either operating system. It is during the conversion stage, if you are converting from Desktop to Online or vice versa that you would need to use a Windows computer.

When it comes to QuickBooks Desktop, you are better off using Windows. QuickBooks for Mac is only available at the Desktop Pro level. Premier and Enterprise versions can only be run on Windows.

Although it is possible to run Windows on a Mac, it can be very unstable, so we don’t recommend it. In the end, QuickBooks Desktop versions above Pro run best on Windows.

What are Pricing Differences between QuickBooks Versions?

If you’ve made it this far and you’re still not sure which version makes sense for you, your decision may come down to pricing.

QuickBooks Desktop, in its basic downloadable form, is a one-time upfront expense that provides three years of support. Features that allow for bank connectivity, sending invoices and files to customers and contacts all last for the supported lifetime. Even though the price is higher initially, the longevity makes it worth the money. If you are someone who typically works in an office, and you don’t need free range mobility, this may be just fine. In general, the features are a bit more robust as well, depending on the level of Desktop you purchase.

QuickBooks Desktop Prices

QuickBooks Desktop Version Retail Desktop Cost (1 user)
Pro $299.95
Premier $499.95
Enterprise $1,100.00


On the other hand, QuickBooks Online is a monthly subscription cost, so the expense is always there.  Mobility and ease of access from anywhere is more important for this type of user. Project-based businesses like construction gravitate to this platform, not only for the mobility, but also the project-based reporting features. If there is something that Online does not already provide, there is usually an app that does the job.

QuickBooks Online Prices

QuickBooks Online Version Retail Online Cost (1 user)
Simple Start $20/mo
Essentials $40/mo
Plus $70/mo
Advanced $150/mo


A note on these prices: The costs above are retail prices. Usually, if you buy straight from Intuit, you can get a limited time discount. However, for both Desktop and Online, if you work through a ProAdvisor, you can get wholesale discount pricing, ranging from 30-50% off. Before purchasing, find a ProAdvisor (like our ProAdvisor!), to ensure you get the best pricing possible.

More factors than these come into play, but we’ve taken you through the major points you should consider when choosing a QuickBooks version. If you’re looking for more help, contact us! Chortek’s friendly ProAdvisors are here to help.

QuickBooks ProAdvisor Ann Weaver Chortek - Online QuickBooks ProAdvisor Ann Weaver Chortek - Advanced Online