Cloud Accounting for Startups and SMBs: Blog Series [8/10]

QuickBooks Online vs QuickBooks Hosting: What’s the Difference?

Earlier in the series, we compared the abilities of the cloud against the desktop version of accounting and tax applications. Cloud cuts down the immediate cost of physical infrastructure while keeping the applications equipped with the latest updates for better performance and security. Cloud also eliminates the hardware limitations that exist with the local setup.

Hence, in that comparison, cloud appeared to be a more affordable, reliable, and convenient solution for businesses as well as individual users.


When it comes to business accounting, QuickBooks commands its positions as one of the most popular, trusted, and used applications. However, as the dependency of businesses on cloud technology surged, the accounting application had to keep up with the market demand.

As a result, there are two ways in which QuickBooks is available on the cloud – QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Hosting. In this article of the series, we will compare these variants on various parameters.

What is QuickBooks Online?

Intuit, the makers of QuickBooks, introduced the cloud-based version of the application in 2004 as ‘QuickBooks Online.’ Currently, it enjoys the highest number of subscribers among all the online accounting applications. According to ZDNet, the total number of QuickBooks Online subscribers in 2019 was 3.2 million in the US and 1.3 internationally.

Compared to the desktop version of QuickBooks, it is vastly a different product, and there are a number of distinctions between the features, functionality, and usability between QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop.

Contrary to QuickBooks Desktop (which is an on-premise accounting application), the users can access QuickBooks Online from remote locations through their smartphones, laptops, and tablets.

What is QuickBooks Hosting?

QuickBooks Hosting is a well-versed and accomplished desktop version of QuickBooks on the cloud.

It means that the QuickBooks Desktop is installed on the cloud infrastructure of a third-party service provider, which can be accessed over the Internet. Hence, all the features of QB desktop are available for the users, along with the benefits of cloud technology for business accounting.

1. Features and Performance

QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online has  some features, such as – better user collaboration, automatic scheduling to send invoices, accessibility over Mac, PC and mobile devices, etc. that are not available with the desktop version. So, the performance might appear to be on the better side.

However, there are some features (like – calculations and rebilling of job cost, customer discounts, etc.) with QuickBooks Desktop that QuickBooks Online is not able to provide.

QuickBooks Hosting

As mentioned above, hosting is opting for the desktop version on the cloud. Therefore, it inherently offers all the features of QuickBooks desktop and then adds onto it the abilities of the cloud to provide multi-user collaboration, cross-device compatibility, and more.

Moreover, some hosting providers, who are Intuit authorized commercial hosting providers for QuickBooks, offer the hosting services designed for the best QuickBooks performance.


As an accountant who is accustomed to QuickBooks Desktop, QuickBooks Online has significant changes to welcome. The fact that it is still developing does not help either.

QuickBooks Hosting, on the other hand, offers a full-featured QuickBooks desktop solution on the cloud. Since QuickBooks Desktop is already a performance packed software, any further improvement is the best way to go for now.

2. Support & Speed

QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online has improved for better in terms of speed since its introduction. Yet, it has often faced criticism for processing slower during peak hours.

Support with QuickBooks Online is considered better than that of desktop version as Intuit offers the phone support online version without any charges. With the desktop version, the phone support is available at $89 for 90 days.

However, the pricing factor does not take away the waiting time for customer support. During the rush hours, wait-time on the call can sometimes be within the range of a few minutes.

QuickBooks Hosting

The speed with QuickBooks Hosting is mainly dependent on your choice of hosting provider, server type, resources, etc. User experiences have varied significantly with these factors as the speed of processing QuickBooks tasks depends on them. The story with the support abilities is slightly similar as well.

Different hosting providers follow different support practices as some offer paid support, and others provide it for free, but almost all of them are able to deliver it instantly.


Remember that in this case, we are considering that you are working on an average internet connection. Not exactly the fastest one, but still fast enough and consistent. QuickBooks Online has just one standard that offers neither amazing nor really repelling experience. However, a third-party hosting provider can offer a better or worse experience than QuickBooks Online.

Yet the QuickBooks Hosting gets the edge in the competition as it has more customization in the form of server choice (shared, private, etc.), and resources (RAM, Storage space, etc.,), which allows more control over the speed. Additionally, customer support is a crucial selling point, and they are not going to let the customer down with it.

3. Reliability & Futuristic Solution

QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online has spent more than a decade in the market and grown considerably in terms of customer shares. Being a leader among the online accounting software itself speaks of its merits.

Given that industry experts have referred to cloud technology as the future of all computing operations, QuickBooks Online is here to stay and looking pretty good.

QuickBooks Hosting

QuickBooks Hosting provides the desktop version of QuickBooks over the Internet. As QuickBooks is the leader among all sorts of accounting software and leads by miles for its features and friendly user interface, it has maintained the customer base intact even when the competition has soared.

Integrate it with hosting,and most of the reasons that make cloud valuable are accomplished.


QuickBooks Online has a lot to improve with features and functions with respect to the hosting of the desktop version, which makes it a susceptible option in the current conditions. Intuit, with its recent upgrading strategies, has shown more interest in QuickBooks Online.

So, some years down the line, hosting might slip its grip, but for now, QuickBooks hosting seems a more reliable option for the business accounting needs. With all that said, the precise requirements of the users are variable, and those must be considered while making a final choice.

Coming Up Next

With the next article in the blog series, we will discuss in-depth QuickBooks specific concerns of business accounting. In the article Everything You Need to Know about QuickBooks Add-ons’ we will mention some of the most useful add-ons with QuickBooks, their benefits, and the best practices for maintaining and them.

You can subscribe to receive updates on our blogs via email. Also, don’t forget to follow our social media channels to remain updated with the happening the accounting technology.

About Julie Watson

Julie is a dynamic professional with over 16 years of rich experience as a VDI and Application Hosting expert. At Ace Cloud Hosting, she humanizes disruptive and emerging remote working trends to help leaders discover new and better possibilities for digital transformation and innovation by using cloud solutions with an enterprise-class security approach. Beyond work, Julie is a passionate surfer.
On the weekend, you will find her hanging out with her family or surfing around the North Shore of Oahu.

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Comments (1)

  • Taylor says:

    Support and issue resolution is better with the hosting providers in my experience.

  • Weston says:

    Hosting QuickBooks desktop with Intuit authorized providers maintains more or less the same level of reliability.

  • Nick says:

    Are QB files created by different versions are compatible with each other?

    • Edwin says:

      They are mostly compatible. However, the variation of the versions with different QuickBooks products may have issues sometimes, but they are considered resolvable.

  • Rouven says:

    Since most accounting software are going completely cloud-based, QuickBooks seems slightly uncertain on which ground it should work upon – already flourished desktop or promising online version. Since QuickBooks Hosting is able to deliver a right match of both, it is better to keep them together.

  • Eric says:

    One of the benefits with hosting is that you can switch between the providers if you are not happy with the services. QB Online is restricted and that’s not a good thing.

  • Bordoni says:

    QB Online is improving at a better pace than QB desktop. It’s a thing of the coming time and still able enough for most accounting needs. Complex accounting needs should look for dekstop now.

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