Last Friday, QuickBooks Online was offline for about a half day. There was quite a bit of Twitter traffic about it — people were frustrated who needed to access their books and couldn’t.

That is the downside of cloud computing: When there’s a problem with the cloud, everybody gets rained on. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that one.)

So you might conclude that putting your accounting data in the cloud makes you vulnerable to outages like last Friday’s. And you’d be right about that.

The alternative is desktop software, like QuickBooks Pro, Premier, or Enterprise. When QuickBooks is installed on your server or your computer’s hard drive, it is under YOUR control, and any problems on Intuit’s servers aren’t going to affect you too much.

No, you then have a different set of potential issues to deal with: issues with your own system.

  • Power blips in your office
  • Hard drive crashes on your computer
  • Viruses/worms/malware on your computer
  • Backup failures on your computer
  • Theft/fire/flood affecting your computer
  • Software conflicts between QuickBooks and other software installed on your computer
  • Outdated versions on your computer

There is an extremely good chance that Intuit’s IT department is more sophisticated than yours and is better equipped to prevent these kinds of problems than you are. But if you are running QuickBooks on your own computer(s) and have a good IT plan in place, you might go for years without any problems.

So the bottomline is this: Who do you want to manage the inherent risks associated with business IT?

One final thing.  This isn’t especially a QuickBooks question or even an accounting software question; it is a question that exists for any cloud vs. desktop business app.

What do you think? Do you trust the cloud or your desktop machine more?

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2 thoughts on “More Reliable: QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks Desktop?

  1. As an accounting professional for over 21 years, I have seen hundreds of corrupted accounting software databases. In today’s world, I have little doubt that a reputable company that is in the cloud business has a far superior data safety and security environment and a much more reliable and sophisticated network and tech support team than most small and mid-sized businesses. The benefits of using cloud applications (lets just assume you’ve found the right ones for you) from reputable companies are plentiful…its a no brainer.

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  2. The cloud is a great thing. I’ve used QB desktop and then moved to QB online. The downside right now, especially if you read any of the feedback for the online version on the blogs, is that it is very undeveloped and has shortcomings that affect a wide range of users. Quickbooks got their other versions so right that its hard to see how they could put out an online product that they are constantly trying to “improve”. They took a product that wasnt broke, put it online in a shell of what it has been for most users. I am switching back to the desktop version until they can offer likewise products on the cloud.

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