QuickBooks Online vs QuickBooks Hosting – Which One Is Better For You?


qbo vs qb hosting

Are you unsure about the right accounting solution to handle your business? Imagine effortlessly managing your finances from anywhere, at any time – that’s where QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Hosting come into play. But which one suits your business needs better?

QuickBooks is a name familiar to many business owners, offering a range of in-house accounting applications, including payment processing, payroll functions, and bill management.

In a market driven by innovation, a staggering figure of over 1.57 million subscribers speaks volumes about QuickBooks’ popularity as the go-to financial tool. Among these, a remarkable 85% of users opt for QuickBooks Desktop or its cloud-hosted counterpart. Approximately 78% of accounting personnel, from small to mid-sized enterprises, have readily adopted cloud-based solutions like hosted QuickBooks.

In this article, we’ll compare QuickBooks Online with QuickBooks Hosting, exploring their features and functionalities to help you make an informed decision for your business’s financial management needs.

What Is QuickBooks? – An Overview

QuickBooks takes center stage in modern business finance as a prominent player in accounting software. Its reputation for adeptly managing expenses, income, invoicing, payments, and tax deductions caters to businesses of all sizes, including self-employed individuals. One of its standout features is its integration of advanced time tracking, a facet often lacking in competing solutions.

Two main versions of QuickBooks, namely QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online, present distinct choices for users. QuickBooks Online (QBO) is a cloud-based accounting software that enables you to manage your finances effortlessly from anywhere. On the other hand, QuickBooks Hosting takes the desktop software to the cloud, enabling access to QuickBooks Desktop through remote servers and the internet.

What’s The Difference Between QuickBooks Desktop And QuickBooks Online?

The key difference between QuickBooks Online and Desktop lies in their accessibility methods. QuickBooks Desktop relies on your computer, while QuickBooks Online lies within the cloud, reachable wherever there’s an internet connection. QuickBooks Online merely requires a device with internet access, whereas the Desktop edition necessitates access to the specific PC where it’s installed.

What Is QuickBooks Online?

QuickBooks Online, developed by Intuit, stands as a prime example of cloud-native financial management. It provides a portal for seamless collaboration and cloud-based access to the native QuickBooks Desktop version.

QuickBooks Online sets itself apart with its numerous integrations, excelling in invoicing with contemporary designs, automatic translations into six languages, scheduled invoicing, batch and progress invoicing, payment reminders, and various other functionalities. For a monthly fee, you get access to a virtual bookkeeping solution—an invaluable asset for managing and setting up accounts.

What Is QuickBooks Hosted On The Cloud?

For individuals and businesses seeking the capabilities of QuickBooks Desktop alongside the convenience of seamless remote collaboration, the solution lies in cloud deployment. Instead of being confined to a local PC, QuickBooks Desktop migrates to the cloud. This transition facilitates access from anywhere and anytime, free from device constraints.

The industry-specific features of QuickBooks Desktop cater to the dynamic needs of diverse workflows, ranging from retail to manufacturing, wholesale, and more. This tailored adaptability remains absent in the QuickBooks Online counterpart.

What Is QuickBooks Cloud Hosting?

QuickBooks cloud hosting involves installing QuickBooks Desktop on a network server, accessible globally via web browsers. QuickBooks hosting service allows you to access your QuickBooks software via a cloud server. This server securely stores and operates all your data and files. You can log in to your remote desktop from anywhere using a special username and password. This grants you access to your data and lets you utilize the software as if on your local desktop.

Because QuickBooks cloud hosting involves using the QuickBooks desktop version on a server in the cloud, it brings great benefits like remote access, real-time teamwork, access to all the built-in desktop features, and 24/7 IT support.

When To Use QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online could be your perfect match if you need the freedom to access and manage your account from anywhere on the globe. Wondering when to opt for QuickBooks Online? Here’s the simple answer:

1.     When you need to grant access to your accountant or others from any place: With QBO, you can create unique user IDs and passwords for each person who needs to reach your data, no matter where they are.

2.     When you require automatic, real-time updates: QuickBooks Online automatically updates every time you or other users make changes. No extra steps are needed—the data stays current effortlessly.

3.     When you prefer making transactions via mobile, PC, or Mac: QBO doesn’t need software installation. Just open a web browser on your mobile, PC, or Mac and swiftly log in to your account to access your data.

When To Use QuickBooks Hosting

As business demands grow and remote access becomes crucial, QuickBooks hosting steps in as the ultimate solution for streamlined business management. Wondering when to opt for QuickBooks Hosting? Here’s the simple answer:

1.     When automated data backup is a must: Opt for QuickBooks Hosting when you need your data automatically backed up. With QuickBooks Hosting or cloud-based QuickBooks, your data is not only secure but also regularly backed up by the service providers.

2.     Need for enhanced processing speed: QuickBooks hosting offers speedy and accurate performance, varying by provider. It’s a versatile and faster alternative compared to QuickBooks Online.

3.     Compatibility matters: QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop don’t always align with every version. That’s where QuickBooks Hosting shines. Hosting providers support all editions of QuickBooks Desktop, ensuring compatibility.

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QuickBooks Online vs. QuickBooks Hosting: Comparing Key Features

Choosing between QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Hosting requires comparing their key features to make an informed decision. Here’s a breakdown of the key distinctions between QuickBooks Online and hosted QuickBooks, helping you make the right choice based on your needs.


QuickBooks Hosting and QuickBooks Online offer similar levels of accessibility, but they differ in execution. QuickBooks Cloud Hosting grants remote access to the desktop version, preserving the familiar interface that desktop users are accustomed to. This familiarity can enhance efficiency and minimize the learning curve.

In contrast, QuickBooks Online boasts cloud-based accessibility, enabling usage from any device with an internet connection, a benefit for businesses on the move.


QuickBooks Online, developed by Intuit, offers a managed cloud service with a distinct interface and limited features. Intuit also provides QuickBooks Desktop, which isn’t cloud-based. Hosted QuickBooks, however, combines the strengths of both – the accessibility of QuickBooks Online and the industry-specific features of QuickBooks Desktop.

In hosted QuickBooks, you install QuickBooks Desktop on a cloud server instead of a local computer, delivering it to users through virtual desktop provisioning.


QuickBooks Hosting provides a robust layer of security that proves invaluable for businesses that must adhere to industry-specific regulations. It incorporates advanced security features such as two-factor authentication to safeguard sensitive financial data. The utilization of advanced encryption makes data incomprehensible to unauthorized eyes.

On the other hand, QuickBooks Online adheres to standard security measures such as encryption and regular data backups. However, its reliance on security implemented by its parent company, Intuit, might challenge businesses navigating industry-specific regulations.


Various factors influence the pricing dynamics of QuickBooks Cloud Hosting and QuickBooks Online. Despite the potentially higher initial costs of moving to the cloud with hosting, it could prove more cost-effective in the long run. Hosting providers generally offer flexible pricing plans that allow businesses to tailor expenses to required features and user numbers. Support and maintenance services are usually included in the package.

QuickBooks Online might initially present a more affordable option for small businesses with basic accounting needs. However, costs can quickly accumulate as companies demand additional features or users. The pricing structure for QuickBooks Online can also vary significantly based on optional services like full-scale payroll and multiple company profiles.

User Experience

QuickBooks Hosting ensures a seamless user experience by retaining the classic desktop interface. This continuation of familiarity empowers users to transition from offline to remote work smoothly, facilitated by a stable network connection.

In contrast, while QuickBooks Online provides remote accessibility and collaborative advantages, accountants accustomed to the offline desktop version might encounter an adjustment period. The different interface and reorganized functionalities introduce a learning curve for the team.

Integration Capabilities

Both QuickBooks Hosting and QuickBooks Online exhibit seamless integration capabilities with third-party applications as necessitated by businesses. QuickBooks Hosting facilitates integration with diverse business tools like CRM systems and ERP software, creating a centralized workspace for streamlined financial management, transaction tracking, and report generation.

QuickBooks Online extends a broad spectrum of free add-on options and premium integration capabilities. However, premium integrations might entail extra costs or reliance on third-party software.

Maintenance And Upgrades

Cloud hosting providers expertly handle maintenance and upgrades for QuickBooks Hosting. This proactive approach guarantees that businesses consistently operate with the latest QuickBooks version. It also relieves companies of the burden of managing upgrades and maintenance, which can be resource-intensive and time-consuming.

Intuit is responsible for maintenance and upgrades for QuickBooks Online, ensuring a seamless user experience. While businesses might not dictate update timings, this method minimizes disruptions and potential concerns linked to new updates.

Features & Practicality

QuickBooks Cloud Hosting offers robust customization of QuickBooks Desktop software. It suits businesses seeking maximum control and flexibility in financial management. This option includes high-end features and utilities for job costing and inventory management tailored to specific business needs.

Unlike QuickBooks Online, with limited features, QuickBooks Hosting enables custom reports and integration with critical applications.


QuickBooks Hosting offers superior scalability, accommodating user fluctuations and more intricate accounting needs. The flexibility to add or reduce users and support larger workloads is a notable advantage.

QuickBooks Online extends scalability up to a certain extent within its available plans. However, limitations might arise in terms of users or advanced features based on the chosen pricing tier. In contrast, QuickBooks Hosting can provide more extensive scalability by leveraging the infrastructure of hosting providers.


QuickBooks Hosting capitalizes on remote servers purpose-built for hosting desktop applications. The outcome is swifter processing times and heightened performance.

On the other hand, QuickBooks Online depends on consistent internet connectivity for optimal performance. However, QuickBooks Online operates within a shared cloud environment, implying that system resources are distributed among all users. This can potentially lead to performance issues during periods of peak usage.

QuickBooks Hosting vs QuickBooks Online: Side By Side Comparison

quickbooks online vs quickbooks hosted feature comparison

How To Host QuickBooks Desktop On A Server

Are you wondering how to make QuickBooks Desktop accessible to multiple users on your network? By setting up QuickBooks Desktop on a server, you can achieve this goal. This guide outlines the steps to install and configure QuickBooks Desktop for a multi-user network.

Step 1: Setting Up QuickBooks Desktop

1.     Install QuickBooks Desktop on the computer that will serve as your server. If you haven’t done so, download and install the software.

2.     Choose a Custom and Network installation.

3.     Depending on your needs, select either “I’ll be using QuickBooks Desktop on this computer” or “I will NOT be using QuickBooks Desktop on this computer.”

4.     Follow the instructions provided on the screen to finish the installation. It’s recommended to keep your company files on the server’s local hard drive for easier sharing across the network.

Step 2: Setting Folder Permissions

Ensure the folder containing your company files has the necessary permissions to be accessible on the network.

Step 3: Installing Database Server Manager

During Step 1, QuickBooks installs the Database Server Manager on your server computer. This tool facilitates sharing company files across the network.

Step 4: Adjusting Firewall And Security Settings

Configure your Firewall and Internet security settings to allow QuickBooks and Database Server Manager to function over the network.

Step 5: Admin Rights

Ensure that the user account used to sign in to the server computer and the Windows user account for Database Server Manager have admin rights.

Step 6: Using Database Server Manager

Once installed, use Database Server Manager to scan the folder containing your company files

Step 7: Turning On Hosting

Activate Multi-user Access on your server computer:

1.     Go to the File menu in QuickBooks Desktop and hover over Utilities.

2.     Choose “Host Multi-User Access,” then confirm your choice by clicking Yes.

Step 8: Installing QuickBooks On Workstations

Now that your files are hosted on the server follow these steps to install QuickBooks on workstations:

1.     Download and set up QuickBooks Desktop on your workstations.

2.     Choose a Custom and Network installation.

3.     Choose “I will use QuickBooks Desktop on this computer.”

4.     Follow the provided directions to finalize the installation.

For network access, log in as a user with admin rights on both the server computer and workstations. This setup will allow seamless multi-user access to QuickBooks Desktop across your network.

Can I Access My QuickBooks Desktop Remotely?

There are three remote access options available for QuickBooks users.

1. QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online, a cloud-based software by Intuit, is a popular choice. Users can select different plans based on their required number of users. Opting for QuickBooks Online instead of QuickBooks Desktop brings several benefits, including easy data sharing among multiple users, strong support with online chat options, and data security without needing for backups.

2. QuickBooks Via Remote Access Tool

This add-on provided by Intuit enables users to access QuickBooks from various computers. Some advantages of using a QB remote access tool include local printing and access to data files, enhanced compatibility, security, and integration, and the ability to copy folders and documents between local and remote machines.

3. QuickBooks Cloud Hosting

Intuit allows authorized hosting of QuickBooks Desktop software on third-party servers. Users can access the QB setup installed on these hosting providers’ servers remotely. The key advantage of hosting QuickBooks Desktop on the cloud is that users retain the same features as the desktop version, along with the benefits of advanced hosting services.

What Is QuickBooks Enterprise?

QuickBooks Enterprise is a cloud-based accounting solution that caters to businesses that need flexibility and accessibility even while on the move. While retaining the core functionalities of QuickBooks, QuickBooks Enterprise offers more intricate processes and features. These include advanced payroll management, pricing options, and enhanced inventory tracking capabilities. Notably, it provides a higher data capacity, more sophisticated inventory management, and supports multiple entities.

When comparing QuickBooks Enterprise to QuickBooks Online, the latter has an advantage in terms of accessibility. However, QuickBooks Enterprise has advanced features that are not only robust but also highly customizable.

How To Choose The Best Quickbooks Hosting Service Provider?

When searching for the right QuickBooks Cloud Hosting Provider and a valid QuickBooks license, evaluating various QuickBooks cloud hosting providers and their QuickBooks cloud hosting services is crucial. Here’s a step-by-step guide to assist you in making the right choice:

1.     Assess Your Business Needs: Begin by evaluating your business requirements. Consider factors such as the number of users, data storage needs, integration with other software, and specific features crucial for your operations.

2.     Reliability and Uptime: Opt for a hosting provider that guarantees high uptime and reliability. Your financial data should be accessible whenever you need it without downtime disruptions.

3.     Customer Support: QuickBooks hosting can involve technical complexities. Ensure the provider offers reliable customer support, with quick response times and knowledgeable staff to assist you in case of issues.

4.     Cost Consideration: While cost shouldn’t be the sole factor, evaluating pricing plans is crucial. Compare the features offered against the price to ensure you get value for your investment.

5.     Reviews and Reputation: Look for user reviews and testimonials. A hosting provider’s reputation in the industry speaks volumes about their service quality.


What Is The Disadvantage Of QBO As Compared To The Desktop Version Of QuickBooks?

When comparing QuickBooks Online (QBO) to the desktop version of QuickBooks, there is a notable disadvantage worth considering:

Internet Dependency:

QBO operates in the cloud, meaning a stable internet connection is essential to access your data. Finding yourself in a location with unreliable or limited Wi-Fi could pose challenges in accessing your financial information and performing tasks seamlessly.

Monthly Subscription:

Unlike the traditional QuickBooks Desktop version, where you make a one-time payment for the software, QuickBooks Online operates on a monthly subscription model. This ongoing expense might not align with the financial preferences or structure of every business. Some businesses might find the flexibility of a monthly subscription suitable, while others might prefer the upfront cost of the Desktop version.

How Much Is QuickBooks Desktop Hosting?

The cost of hosting QuickBooks will vary depending on the plan’s features. More budget-friendly QuickBooks hosting services often utilize shared servers, while higher-priced options offer added functionalities like 2-factor Authentication.

Is QuickBooks Online Very Different From QuickBooks Desktop?

The primary distinction between QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online lies in their infrastructure. While QuickBooks Desktop operates on a desktop-based platform, QuickBooks Online functions through a cloud-based system. This fundamental difference translates into easier and more convenient data accessibility with QuickBooks Online, requiring only a device connected to the internet.

Is Quickbooks Desktop Being Phased Out?

Intuit, the developer of the accounting software QuickBooks, recently announced that QuickBooks Desktop is undergoing a gradual phase-out. All subscription billing for QuickBooks Desktop ceased on May 31, 2023, and complete discontinuation of access and support is scheduled for around June 30, 2023, or shortly thereafter. Subsequently, support will exclusively be available for assisting users in transitioning to QuickBooks Online.

The Bottom Line

Ready to streamline your accounting processes and enjoy the benefits of cloud hosting with the expertise of Wingman Solutions? Schedule a call today to get your QuickBooks hosted on the cloud with us!

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