You’re getting ready to install the latest version of QuickBooks, but you’ve got a prior version already installed. Can you have multiple versions installed on one computer at a time? Is this going to cause QuickBooks problems?

And if you can have multiple versions installed, should you?

First, let’s define the term ‘version’. A version in QuickBooks means a particular year’s release of one of the desktop editions of QuickBooks: Pro, Premier, Accountant, or Enterprise. So for example, QuickBooks Pro 2018 and QuickBooks Pro 2019…those are two different versions, same edition.

In most cases, YES, you can have multiple versions of QuickBooks installed on the same computer at the same time. In fact, you can has as many as your hard drive has room for. See caveats below, however.

On my own main work computer, I have all versions of QuickBooks Accountant (Premier) and QuickBooks Enterprise between 2012 and 2019 (the latest version as of this writing). No problem.

The only exceptions to this are…

  • Pro AND Premier. You can only have one or the other installed for a particular version (year).
  • US AND Canada (or other countries’ combinations). You can’t have multiple ‘region’ versions installed on the same computer.

So SHOULD you have multiple versions installed on your computer? It makes sense if…

  • You are a CPA, bookkeeper, or consultant who needs to support the files of clients who use different versions
  • You want to keep an older version (or versions) installed just in case you need to restore an old data backup associated with that old version. Of course, it should work fine to restore an old backup into a new version of QuickBooks — it should upgrade it as it restores it. But sometimes there are glitches there, and you need to restore it in the original version.

Otherwise, you can choose to uninstall the old version(s). In fact, when you install new versions, it will ask you if you want to uninstall an old version.

NOTE: Before you uninstall a version of QuickBooks, make sure that you file away the old version’s install CD (or download file if you bought it that way), your install codes, and your registration information. Just in case you need to reinstall it later for some reason.

Of course, the best option will be defined by what your business needs.

QuickBooks Desktop (Pro, Premier, Accountant, Enterprise) has the advantage of having the longest and deepest track record. QuickBooks Desktop editions have have been installed millions of times since they were initially released in the early 1990s. Some people need the extra horsepower that Enterprise has, especially in inventory reporting. Or some people need an industry-specific sub-version that isn’t available in QuickBooks Online.

The main disadvantages of Desktop editions: You’re in charge of the IT necessary to make QuickBooks run on your network (hardware, networking, security, backups). And, if your users are distributed across different locations, that is a challenge.

QuickBooks Online has been growing in its userbase much faster than Desktop editions over the last few years. QuickBooks Online has also been gobbling up some of the Desktop userbase as desktop users migrate to the online edition.

The advantages of QuickBooks Online are the exact opposite of QuickBooks Desktop’s disadvantages: Intuit does the IT work for you, and you are free from geographical limitations in your user team. The main disadvantage? The software currently doesn’t have some features that are only found in Desktop.

Some people also take philosophical exception to having their accounting data reside in the cloud, on someone else’s computer (on Intuit’s server).

RELATED: My File’s Too Big to Migrate to QuickBooks Online!

Hosted QuickBooks is, in a way, having your cake and eating it too. Companies like Right Networks offer a subscription service where you run QuickBooks Desktop that is hosted on their servers.

So you don’t lose any functionality associated with QuickBooks Desktop, but you are freed from the demands of running QuickBooks across your own local network, and you can run QuickBooks Desktop from anywhere that has fast internet access.

What about you? Are you planning on making a change of QuickBooks platform this year?