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Converting your QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online: Is it worth it? How can you decide? Here is everything you need to know about the process.

Posted: Jun 29, 2016
Categories: Blog Posts
Comments: 0

If you visit the homepage of the QuickBooks website, you will only find the reference for QuickBooks Desktop versions buried in the lower left hand corner of the site, or hidden in the “all products” link at the top of the page. You definitely have to search to find references to QB Desktop on the QuickBooks website. If you didn’t know better, you might think that QuickBooks Online was the only edition available today.

Does this mean that Intuit is leaving Desktop users behind? Not yet! Intuit says that they are still developing the Desktop products and providing support to them for now. However, it does look like Desktop will certainly be left behind at some point in the future. A small sign of this pending change, is that Intuit is now giving priority to ProAdvisors that are certified in QBO rather than Desktop, and also as I mentioned earlier, you have to search to find Desktop on their website. Who knows how long it will take to completely fade out Desktop, though… It could take 3 years, or 10. We will just have to wait and see.

So what should you do in the meantime?

I would suggest building out a list of requirements needed for you or your company, and then compare versions of QuickBooks. You can also take a test drive of QuickBooks Online, to ensure fit for your needs before making the switch from Desktop to QBO.

Here are some considerations that should also be taken before making the change to QBO:

1.)  If any of the following are a MUST HAVE, you will either need to look to the Intuit App Center or workarounds to assist you, or you might want to stick with Desktop until QuickBooks has added these functions to QBO:

                        Progress Invoicing

                        Receiving Partial Purchase Orders

                        Job Costing

                        Online Bill Pay

                        Inventory Assemblies

                        IIF Import

                        Price Levels

                        Collections Letters

2.)  If your Desktop file is over 200mb, you will need to condense it, or create a period copy before converting.


3.)  QBO doesn’t have as many default reports, but any report can be easily created and added to a group, as well as scheduled to be emailed out to clients automatically.


4.)  Any budget set up in Desktop will not convert. But if you are using QBO Plus, you can create new budgets.


5.)  Closing dates and passwords are converted, however, the accumulated exceptions will not show. QBO will begin to track new exceptions.


6.)  Custom fields for customers, vendors, employees or items will not convert. QBO does have custom fields that can be added though.


7.)  Any inactive elements, in any list will be converted as active.


8.)  Price levels, tax items, sales rep, customer type, credit limits and job status are not converted.


9.)  All employee contact info is retained, but only some payroll info will convert.


10.)      Any existing reconciliation will be lost. This can easily be fixed by making sure that the accounts are current in QBDT prior to conversion, then do one large reconciliation once converted to QBO.


11.)      QBO has the ability to create estimates and POs, but existing Desktop purchase orders will not be converted.


12.)      All invoices will be converted.


13.)      Statement charges are available in QBO, but existing Desktop statement charges will transfer to QBO as invoices.


14.)    The QBDT audit trail does not get converted, but you will still have this is your original QBDT file is this ever comes up and is needed. QBO has a more useful way of tracking what goes on with its Activity Log as well.


There are many more considerations you should make before making the switch from QBDT to QBO. For a complete list, visit the QuickBooks website.

It’s a great idea to run QBDT and QBO parallel for 30 days, which is free, to make sure it’s a good fit. Yes, the double entry time will be a pain, but it’s worth it to find out if making the switch is right for you!

You should note that once you create a QBO company, you have 60 days to import QBDT data, and you can do it over and over again during that 60 days. Any existing data will be overwritten, so if you don’t like the way the import worked the first time, you can tweak your Desktop data and try again.


Now, you might be wondering what the BENEFITS of making the move to QBO are. So here is a list that will hopefully make your decision easier:

♦ Time Savings – With cloud computing, your firm will save time with everything as the technology and data are always available and reliable. From not having to manage your software infrastructure to not having to travel back and forth to visit clients, to far less data entry, QBO offers a huge time savings for you, your firm, and your clients.

♦ Anytime, Anywhere Access – No matter where you are – Iowa, Illinois or Istanbul, and no matter what time it is, the functionality of the cloud allows you to have access and work anywhere with an always-on connection to your clients’ data. There are no location or time-zone restrictions for filing that tax return.

With easy and mobile access using any of the supported browsers, users can do the following from anywhere, at any time:

  • Add and edit customers, vendors, and employees
  • Create and email invoices
  • View Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss reports
  • Access vendor, customer, and employee lists
  • View Bank account and credit card balances
  • Understand who owes you money and to whom you owe money
  • QBO contact information works with your phone to make calls, create emails, and even look up addresses using Google Maps TM

♦ Easy Client Collaboration – Cloud software is making client collaboration a reality for many small firms around the world, without it costing a fortune. Firms of all types are able to benefit from cloud collaboration, particularly those with clients eager to be involved in much of the workflow. QBO lets the client see what work is being done at every single stage of the process. The possibilities for both your business and your clients are endless.

♦ Secure Sharing – Many of the data centers in which SaaS (Software as a Service) environments are housed have security infrastructures that are much stronger and more secure than those infrastructures most individual firms are able to provide or afford. QuickBooks Online uses the same data-encryption technology as leading banks. QBO’s servers are protected by firewall software, intrusion detection software and hardware, and security systems and personnel. QuickBooks Online is also a VeriSign Secured™ product.

♦ Speed and Productivity – No lengthy planning and implementation guide is necessary. The setup is so easy, that it’s virtually non-existent. This means a shorter deployment time, which means more time with your clients.

♦ Automatic Backup and Upgrades – You and your clients will save enormous amounts of time not worrying about backing up data, taking it off-site, or upgrading the data and software to the latest version or release. It’s all done for you with QuickBooks Online.

♦ It’s Affordable – You’ll experience cost efficiencies. Since SaaS applications are subscription-based, there are no license fees, meaning lower initial costs. QBO’s support is free, included in the cost of the subscription. In addition, having a SaaS provider manage all your IT infrastructure means lower IT costs for hardware, software, and the people needed to manage it all.

 Here is the list of QBO-supported browsers, along with information on mobile access:

Windows Supported browsers

  • Internet Explorer for Windows, version 9 or higher
  • Firefox for Windows, version 4 or higher
  • Google Chrome (We recommend Chrome for accounting professionals as you will learn in a later course)
  • Safari for Windows 5.0.1 or higher

Mac Supported browsers

  • Safari for Mac, version 4.1.1 or higher
  • Firefox for Mac, version 3.6 or higher
  • Google Chrome (We recommend Chrome for accounting professionals as you will learn in a later course)

Mobile support for Blackberry, iPhone and Android, iPad*

  • There is a mobile version of QBO for the iPad using Safari to login, but the features are limited.


If you are thinking you are ready to make the jump to QBO, and are looking for step by step instructions, here is a great website for just that:


We, however, would recommend giving us a call if you are ready to switch from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online, or if you simply have questions that need answering. We are experienced in the process, and can make the crossover for you painlessly! Why do it yourself, when you can have an expert do it for you?? Call us today to get started switching to QuickBooks Online!




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