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Moving QuickBooks Desktop to Online Experience

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I have recently had to move some complicated QuickBooks (QB) Enterprise companies to QB Online for some clients. I like QB Online because of the lower cost and flexibility for remote work and access to different users. There are some Pros and Cons that need to be considered, but lately, the Pros to moving are making it worthwhile. Check out more of the Pros and Cons in my article titled QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop? What’s Better?

Converting QB Desktop

QuickBooks (QB) makes this process extremely easy and seamless. It can take minutes to do the conversion, especially if you aren’t doing payroll through QuickBooks. I recently did this with QB Desktop 2020. All I had to do was go to the Company tab and select “Export Your Company File to QB Online.” You will then be taken to login to QB Online, where you can either log in or set up an account. You have to select between Essentials, Plus, and Advanced. They do a good job of explaining the differences. I usually get QB Plus unless I have too many accounts or users. I have a client that recently chose QB Advanced, which does have even more features for larger teams and more complex companies.

The reason I converted this client to QB Online was simple. I was given a Portable Company file from the client, which took some time to get set up with a good password that the client wanted to give me. There was quite a bit of back and forth just to get the file I needed. Once I logged in, I would be the only one who could make changes. I wanted other people to be able to log in and update in real-time. QB Online is so much easier for multi-users and allowing me to share with other people.

Converting QuickBooks Enterprise

I recently converted two clients from QB Enterprise to QB Online. It is a different setup to do this. First, you have to log in to QB Enterprise as an Admin and single user. Then they make you enter a back end code (Ctrl+1) to open the Product Information window and then Ctrl + B + Q, then OK. I felt like I was getting some kind of special back door privileges like in a video game. Once you do this, it will walk you through the steps to convert, which are similar to QB Desktop. You have to login or setup QB Online and then select the version. If you use inventory, it will ask if you have experience using FIFO. I will discuss more about the inventory conversion below.

It can take some time for QB to read all the data depending on how many transactions there are. One client took 30 minutes, and other clients took less than a minute. Then, it will start loading the data to the cloud in the back end. Once the Online importing is complete, you should compare the company Income statement for all periods and by year. I also look at the latest Balance Sheet date and the end of the last fiscal year. If everything agrees, you are in good shape.

Payroll and Inventory Challenges

One of my clients had both payroll and inventory, which has made the conversion more time-consuming. The payroll does not completely convert well. QB Online will take you through some prompts, but sometimes you can get through it without help. I ended up having to download historical payroll information and send it to QuickBooks for them to correct on the back-end. We also had to get approval for the amount we can direct deposit. It seems that QB Online Payroll is completely separate from Desktop Payroll and requires a brand new setup.

Inventory has probably been the most challenging to convert as the inventory didn’t come over with the correct quantity on hand. It also labeled all the items as Non-Inventory vs. Inventory. We have to correct the inventory to agree to the latest physical counts, so this was not a significant issue. It will just require some work.


After all the work I have done lately, I would not change my decision to convert to QB Online. It will require some training, and terminology and workflows are different. The training is good, and you will get used to it. I will say people are usually happy within a month or two after making the switch, and you probably will save some money and be more productive.