Confused about the difference between a desktop app and a web app? Look no further! This guide outlines the advantages and disadvantages of both.

As technology continues to advance, more businesses are turning to cloud-based software solutions. But is it always the best option? How does it compare to traditional desktop software?

If you're trying to decide between cloud and desktop software for your business, it's important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each. In this article, we will compare the two options and help you make an informed decision that best suits your needs.

What Is Cloud Software? 

Cloud software, also known as Software as a Service (SaaS), refers to applications that are accessed through the internet rather than being installed on an individual PC or a server. 

These tools are hosted and managed by a third-party provider who maintains the software and the infrastructure required to run it. Cloud software allows users to access the software and data from anywhere with an internet connection.

Furthermore, it eliminates the need for companies to purchase and maintain expensive hardware and software. Some common examples of cloud software include:

  • Email services
  • Project management tools
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) software

Although some people believe that web applications are also a form of cloud software, they are fundamentally different.  

What Is a Web Application?

A web application, like video streaming apps, is a software program that’s accessed through an internet browser. It’s designed to run on the Internet and can be accessed from any device with an Internet connection. Web applications are different from traditional desktop applications in that they don’t need to be installed on a computer or device. 

Application vs Software

To help you understand the differences between an application and software, we’ve provided a comparison table below: 


Application  Software 

Runs on a web browser

Runs on the operating system of a device
Requires an internet connection Can be used offline
Accessed through a URL  Installed on a device
Can be accessed from any device with an internet connection Limited to the device it is installed on
Often cloud-based and allows for collaboration Typically used for individual use
Often subscription-based or freemium model Can be purchased with a one-time payment or is subscription-based

What Is Desktop Software? 

Desktop software refers to computer programs that are installed and run directly on a user's personal computer or laptop. Unlike web-based software, which requires an internet connection to access and use, desktop software is self-contained and can be used offline.

What’s more, desktop software is typically purchased as a one-time license or subscription fee and is installed on the user's computer. As a result, it allows greater control and customization compared to web-based software. 

Examples of desktop software include Microsoft Word, Movavi Video Converter, Windows File Explorer, etc. 

Cloud Software Pros


One of the biggest advantages of cloud software is its cost-effectiveness. With cloud apps, businesses don’t need to invest in expensive hardware or software licenses, as everything is hosted in the cloud. This means that businesses can save money on upfront costs and ongoing maintenance fees.


Another benefit of cloud software is its scalability. Businesses can easily scale their software usage up or down depending on their needs. This makes it easier for businesses to adapt to changes in their operations without having to worry about purchasing new hardware or software.


Cloud software is accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. This means that employees can work from anywhere, whether they’re in the office, at home, or on the go. This makes it easier for businesses to offer flexible working arrangements, which can help to improve employee satisfaction and retention.

Automatic Updates

Cloud software is automatically updated by the provider, which means that businesses don’t need to worry about manually updating their software. This can save businesses time and money on IT maintenance and support.


Cloud software makes it easier for teams to collaborate on projects and share information. With cloud software, multiple users can access the same files and data from anywhere. As a result, it can help improve productivity and streamline workflows.

Disaster Recovery

Cloud software providers typically have robust disaster recovery plans in place to ensure that their customer's data is not lost in the event of a natural disaster, cyber-attack, or other unforeseen events. This can give businesses peace of mind knowing that their data is safe and protected.

Cloud Software Cons

Security Risks

One of the biggest concerns with cloud software is security. Since data is stored on remote servers, there is always the risk of unauthorized access, data breaches, and cyber-attacks. Companies must ensure that their cloud provider has robust security measures in place to protect their data.

Reliance on Internet Connection

Cloud software relies heavily on an internet connection to function. If the internet connection is slow or unreliable, it can slow down productivity and cause frustration. Additionally, if the internet connection goes down completely, users may not be able to access their data at all.

Potential for Downtime

While most cloud software providers offer uptime guarantees, there’s always the potential for unexpected downtime. Companies must have contingency plans in place to mitigate the impact of downtime on their businesses.

Limited Control

When using cloud software, companies rely on the cloud provider to manage and maintain the software. This means that companies have limited control over updates, upgrades, and customization. If a cloud provider decides to discontinue a certain feature or service, companies may be left with no alternative.

Desktop Software Pros 

Speed and Performance

One of the key advantages of desktop software is that it tends to run faster and more smoothly than web-based applications. 

Since the software is installed directly on a user's computer, it can take advantage of the full processing power and resources available on that machine. For example, any Mac video editing software will have faster load times, smoother animations, and better overall performance than a web-based video editor.

Offline Access

Another advantage of desktop software is that it can be used even when an internet connection is not available. This is particularly important for applications that require constant access to data or that need to be used in remote locations where internet connectivity may be limited or non-existent.

Customization and Control

Desktop software offers greater customization and control than web-based applications. Users can often configure settings to suit their specific needs, and they can also customize the user interface to make it more intuitive and efficient. Additionally, users have more control over their data and can choose where and how it is stored.


Desktop software is frequently perceived as being more secure than web-based applications because it’s installed locally on a user's computer rather than being accessed through a web browser. This can make it more difficult for hackers to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data.

Desktop Software Cons

Limited Accessibility

One of the biggest drawbacks of desktop software is that it’s limited in terms of accessibility. Users can only access the software from the computer on which it’s installed, making it difficult to work remotely or collaborate with others who aren’t physically present.

Compatibility Issues

Desktop software can also be prone to compatibility issues, particularly when it comes to different operating systems and hardware configurations. This can result in crashes, errors, and other technical problems that can disrupt workflow and productivity. So, you always need to test the software or check if it’s compatible with your computer settings.


Desktop software can be inflexible and may not be able to adapt to changing business needs or user preferences. This can limit customization and make it difficult to optimize workflow and productivity.

Final Thoughts 

For companies that require access to their data from an array of different locations and devices, cloud software would be the ideal choice. 

Alternatively, for companies where personnel don’t require access to mobile devices or those that handle large amounts of confidential data such as health records, a desktop solution would be better suited.  

Use the information in this article to help you make an informed decision on which app or software to choose. 

Posted by Olivia Morris

Olivia Morris
Storyteller at heart, tech enthusiast in practice. Passionate about bringing ideas to life through content marketing and copywriting. Currently making waves as a content manager @ Movavi

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