Move your Desktop Accounting Software to QuickBooks or Xero

Written by Stephen Beard, Managing Director of Plyo Bookkeeping, a Vancouver-based bookkeeping firm.

In today’s fast-paced business world, cloud-based accounting software like QuickBooks and Xero have become the go-to solutions for managing finances efficiently. If you’ve been using desktop accounting software and are considering leaping to the cloud, you’re on the right track. This transition can bring numerous benefits, including accessibility, collaboration, automatic backups, and live bank feeds. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to successfully Migrate From Desktop Accounts Software to QuickBooks or Xero.

Step 1: Evaluate Your Needs

Before making the switch, it’s essential to evaluate your business needs and goals. Consider the features and functionalities you require, the number of users who need access, and your budget. Both QuickBooks and Xero offer various plans to cater to different needs, so choose the one that aligns best with your requirements.

Step 2: Select the Right Cloud Accounting Software

Once you’ve assessed your needs, choose the cloud accounting software that suits your business best. We’ve written an article reviewing the best cloud-based software on the market, and while the long didn’t read version is that we prefer Xero, you need to consider what other apps you may want to integrate with your cloud accounting system and make sure that they have an integration with your chosen system.   

Step 3: Cut-Over Date

You’ll need to pick a specific date to move your books over on. This is usually a month’s end, so make sure that the books in your old system are fully reconciled up to the changeover date. Cleaning up your data ensures that you start fresh with accurate information in your new cloud-based accounting system, and it also minimizes how much time you’ll have to spend continuing to use the old system.

Step 4: Back Up Your Data

Before you start the migration process, make sure to create a backup of all your financial data from your desktop accounting software. This backup ensures that you have a safety net in case anything goes wrong during the transition. Export your data into a format that can be easily imported into the new cloud software.

Step 5: Import Your Data

Most cloud accounting software, including QuickBooks and Xero, provide tools or guidance on importing data from desktop accounting software. Normally when migrating an accounting system, you just bring over the conversion balances at a specific date, which means you can’t see any of the underlying transactions from your old system. However, MoveMyBooks ( is a great tool that often allows you to migrate over several years worth of transactions into Xero or QuickBooks, meaning you don’t need to keep your old accounting software around to look up historic transactions.

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Step 6: Import Receivables and Payables

You probably use your old system to keep track of supplier and customer invoices. When migrating an accounting system you usually need to bring these in separately. If you used MoveMyBooks this should have been done automatically, but otherwise, you’ll need to not upload the accounts receivable and payable balances when doing the conversion balances. Instead, you can upload all of your previous supplier bills and customer invoices into Xero/Quickbooks using their data import features.  

Step 7: Set Up Bank Feeds and Integrations

Cloud-based accounting software allows you to connect your bank accounts and credit cards for real-time updates. Take advantage of this feature to streamline your financial management. Additionally, explore integrations with other tools you use, such as payment processors or expense management apps, to automate data entry and save time.

Step 8: Train Your Team

If you have a team that will be using the new software, provide them with training and resources to ensure a smooth transition. Both Xero and QuickBooks offer free training and accreditation courses.

Step 9: Monitor and Adjust

After the migration, closely monitor your financial activities to ensure everything is running smoothly. Be prepared to make adjustments as needed and address any issues that may arise. The transition to a new system may require some fine-tuning to match your specific business processes.

Step 10: Seek Professional Assistance

If you’re unsure about any aspect of the migration process or want to ensure a seamless transition, consider seeking professional assistance. Accountants or consultants experienced with cloud accounting software can provide valuable guidance and support.


Migrating from desktop accounting software to cloud-based solutions like QuickBooks or Xero can significantly improve your business’s financial management capabilities. However, it’s essential to approach the transition methodically and with careful planning to avoid disruptions in your financial operations. By following the steps outlined in this guide and seeking assistance when needed, you can successfully make the shift to cloud accounting and enjoy the benefits of greater accessibility, collaboration, and efficiency in managing your finances.

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