4 Additional Answers
Tyler Wells, CPA
(CPA and Business Advisor, WebBizFinance.com)
It is interesting that more and more of the accounting platforms are moving to online systems and it may soon come to pass that the more traditional offline model won't be available to small business. As Rick noted, QuickBooks' most basic and cost-effective edition is online.
As far as which is better, I don't think that one is inherently better than the other. Right now it seems that the online version is the introductory model for most providers and, if you want a more sophisticated or tailored model then you will have to go offline but I expect that will continue to change and that we will see increasingly robust options online. If I was starting out I would start out with an online model if just because I believe that is were we are headed, anyway.
(Managing Director & CEO, Green Network Services)
Well the real answer in my view is 'It depends'. If you are a small business who does not depend a whole lot on the local systems...and/or cannot maintain local systems...then yes, you should go to an on-line model. The quick-book example is perfect. For all practical purposes...if you are generalist...personally or professionally or business wise, you will find that doing things online would be cheaper, better, and depending upon the vendor more safer too! But suppose, if you have very specific needs ...then you need more local systems...where in you have to tweak on a regular basis...and maintain those systems at any cost to serve your elite customers.
(CEO,CFO,VP,Director, Fred Blauer and Associates)
You can have both with solutions like xtuple (postbooks). Chose the deployment method that suits you, or change your mind. Both are supported:
I am amazed at how complicated it is to retrofit a proprietary, legacy application like Quickbooks for remote access.
On the other hand, If you use xtuple postbooks (which BTW is free), you don't have to worry about hosting, since it can be accessed from anywhere, natively. You have a lot of deployment options:
You can install it in-house, and access it from anywhere
You can install it at your office and host it for your client (if you are a professional or VAR)
You can use it at a third party hosting location like xtuple, Amazon, Rackspace or wherever you chose (you could also move it from one to the other).
You don't have to worry about things like terminal services, or remote desktop. Its platform independent, so you can use it from windows, Mac, Linux, or a mobile phone if you want. There are lots of other benefits. (ex. The features are quite extensive, but you have to look at your requirements)
(Tax Accountant, Ballard Beancounters)
It depends on the nature of your business, how many people are using it, Mac or PC, and personal preference. For a traditional brick and mortar business that operates from one location and uses a PC, QuickBooks desktop is what people use. For Mac users, or people who travel, or companies where users might be in different locations, online software such as Xero works better. QB online is just not as good as the desktop version. It's still buggy and lacking functionality. I have clients who use Xero, so I know it's solid. I haven't tried postbooks or kashoo but those are other possibilities.