I am receiving an unusual number of calls right now from QuickBooks users who can no longer get into QuickBooks. They get a message like “QuickBooks has stopped working”, or QuickBooks has encountered a problem and must be closed”. Or they don’t get an error message, but QuickBooks won’t run all of a sudden.

This problem is showing up in the comments of other blog posts too.

All of these calls and posts have two things in common:

  1. The users are using Windows 10, which just installed an update
  2. The users are using a version of QuickBooks older than the 2015 version

Many of the users are frustrated and confused. Several have told me, “I know this is an old version of QuickBooks, but it was working just fine until today!”

Here’s the deal: Only QuickBooks 2015 or higher is certified to work correctly with Windows 10.

The users I’ve been talking to seem to have been using older versions of QuickBooks under Windows 10 without any problems…until last week! Once the Windows update was installed, their computer couldn’t run QuickBooks anymore.

I don’t know of a workaround for this in the old QuickBooks versions, or if a workaround will come. The oldest version of QuickBooks that Intuits still supports is 2014, and I will be quite surprised if they provide any kind of patch to the pre-2014 versions.

If you are running old QuickBooks and haven’t yet installed the Windows 10 update, I suppose you could turn off Windows Updates, and keep that update from hitting your computer (if it hasn’t already). But it’s not a good idea to freeze your installation of Windows and stop updating it. Bad security, bad IT strategy. So that’s not a good long-term solution.

The only ongoing solution I can think of right now is to get a version of QuickBooks that is coded to work correctly with Windows 10: QuickBooks 2015, QuickBooks 2016, or QuickBooks 2017. Sorry, no magic bullet for the old stuff. If I hear of anything, though, I’ll post it here.

Have any of you encountered this problem and found a solution?

RELATED: How to Transfer Files from Older Version to New Version of QuickBooks

There are different data or backup file formats in QuickBooks. Which ones do you need? Which ones should you use when you send data to your colleagues? Which ones do you want to backup to the cloud or offsite in case your drive crashes? Which ones would you send out for data repair in case of a data catastrophe?

QBW file. The first thing to understand is that your actual working data file is a QBW file. This is the most important QuickBooks data file you have on your system.

If you are looking at a QBW file in Windows, the Type is “QuickBooks Company File”. There will only be one of those for your company name.

Confusing: There is also a file called yourcompanyname.QBW, where the Type is “Data Source Name”. That file is not your actual data file.

QBB file. This is a regular backup file made within QuickBooks through the Backup Company / Create Local Backup command. It is often actually bigger than the main QBW file, and that’s normal. The QBB file contains the contents of the TLG file too, which makes it bigger.

RELATED: Why You Should NOT Backup to a USB Flash Drive

QBM file. This is a portable file, a kind of backup file made with the QuickBooks Create Copy… / Portable company file command. This file is quite small compared to the main QBW file; it is often only 20% the size of the main QBW file. That’s because the indexing in the file is largely removed. But when you restore it, everything is there. So this file format is best for when you need to transfer QuickBooks data to your colleagues. This is the file format we request that clients upload to us for data repair, supercondense, or Enterprise downgrade work.

So which of these files should you upload to your cloud backup service, or offsite backup solution? Answer: All of them. If your system gets infected by malware, or your server drive goes down, or somebody accidentally deletes your files, you’ll want all the backups you can get, from as many recent dates as you can get, and in any format. To me, you can never have too many copies or backups of your accounting data.

RELATED: A Humble Hero: The QuickBooks TLG File

Scenario: You find yourself in QuickBooks catastrophe mode: your server drive or local hard drive or RAID drive goes down. You don’t have the cloud or off-site backups you thought you did. Your IT pro recovers files from the crashed drive, including QuickBooks files. Yet, when you try to open the files, or restore backups, it fails. At that stage, only your QBW files might be salvaged. Damaged QBB or QBM files are not recoverable. But it might be possible to repair your damaged QBW file.

RELATED: QuickBooks Data Repair Services: User Reviews
RELATED: Some Data Problems We’ve Seen in QuickBooks 2016

Bottom-line: When you are setting up your backup system, make sure you will be backing up everything in your \Company Files folder and subfolders under it. Or if you create or store your QBW, QBB or QBM files in a different folder, specify that folder to be backed up daily.

RELATED: I Can’t Backup My QuickBooks File! Help!

In the last few weeks, we’ve seen a number of data stability issues in QuickBooks 2016 that have surprised us a bit. I don’t know if these issues are happening because of a particular QuickBooks update release, or a Windows update, or something else. Most version 2016 users haven’t had any problems, but from our vantage point in hearing from users who DO have data problems, there has been a definite uptick in database problems specific to version 2016 in the last few weeks.

  • Problems upgrading older versions. In the last few weeks, I have spoken with a number of people whose data has failed the upgrade from an earlier version to version 2016. I started getting more-than-usual calls about this when the 2013 version was sunsetted last month. That’s when many 2013 users were making the jump from version 2013 to version 2016. There are always some people that have trouble upgrading from an older version to the latest version. But there seems to have been more than usual problems with that lately. And the upgrade process itself seemed to trigger the problem; the users I’ve talked to were not having data problems in the older version. With most of the users I have spoken with in this situation, they are having to revert to their pre-upgraded backup (made in the old version) and rekey from there. That’s a bummer if you upgraded your file a month or two ago. In one case I’ve seen, a user had to remain in their 2015 version for now — the data is simply not upgradeable to version 2016 and they have to stick with version 2015.

RELATED: “QuickBooks Data Repair Services — User Reviews”

  • Broken transaction links. We’ve seen an unusual number of these in version 2016 data recently. Payments get disconnected from bills, and the bills are reopened, as one example. The only solution is to restore the last good backup (made before the problem occurred) and rekey to get caught up, or to manually delete and reenter the affected transactions. Sometimes this is happening to people when they upgrade, and sometimes it is happening to people who have been using QuickBooks 2016 for awhile (without problems).
  • Damaged lists. In some cases, jobs get spontaneously reassigned to different customers, transactions get reassigned to different customers or vendors, customer data gets out of sync on the customer center screen. Only solution: Restore last good backup.
  • Account balances corrupted. Again, this seems to happen during the upgrade, and the only recourse as per this writing is to restore the last good backup that was made before the upgrade.

RELATED: How to Transfer a QuickBooks File from an Older to a Newer Version

  • TLG file corrupted. A TLG file is an auxiliary data file that QuickBooks maintains alongside your working QBW file. We can often take a current TLG, apply it to an older backup, and bring the backup up to current condition.  With the data problems listed above, in version 2016 data, we can’t do that. The corruption affects the TLG file too and makes it unusable for our data repair efforts.

We can repair almost all QuickBooks data problems, including — usually — problems that prevent successful upgrading. Hopefully this particular uptick in unfixable 2016 data problems is a temporary blip.

RELATED: I Can’t Backup my QuickBooks File! Help!

Any of these data issues sound familiar? What do you think triggered the problem in your case? How did you resolve it?

If you have a gigantic QuickBooks data file, the classic approach is to recreate the file and start over. This approach works, but it takes a lot of effort and it opens the door to lots of data entry or importing mistakes.

One alternative, if your version has the built-in Condense command, is to try that command on a copy of your file and see what happens. Sometimes it works great, and sometimes it doesn’t.

RELATED: These are Large QuickBooks Data Files…and What Users Did

If the built-in condense doesn’t give you satisfactory results, you can have your file supercondensed. Some of our clients describe their supercondense experience:

“We are so pleased with our new Supercondensed QuickBooks file and the quick and professional service you provided. Our file was very large and over 20 years old. We were having many problems with the old file and were told by Quickbooks support to re-create the file and start from scratch. This would have required countless hours and days of downtime for our company. Also, we did not want to lose all of the transaction history and wanted to keep 2 years of history for comparison reports. We were thrilled when we found your service. We sent the file on Friday and the new file was here Monday morning. The instructions to upload the new file were very easy to follow and in no time we were using our new file. We highly recommend your service to other companies looking to condense their QuickBooks file. We plan on using this service every 3-5 years from now on. Thank you so much all your help!!!” — Sue Hamby, Motherlove Herbal Company

“Finished product came back just as advertised. Shannon and QuickbooksUsers.com reduced my file size by 70% and got it done and back to me in less time than expected for a weekday turnaround.  All questions were answered promptly and the process was very professional from start to finish.  Would highly recommend QuickbooksUsers.com and will use them again when my file gets too big again.” — John Clouse, Butler Color Press

“No down time. Massive data file repaired and condensed. We are thrilled that we did not have to start a new company file and were able to keep the data years our CPA recommended. Best customer service ever! Did what Intuit and 4 business days of down time could not achieve. These guys get it done!!” — Ann Mahoney, Bates Air Conditioning & Service Co Inc.

“We went with the weekend supercondense. Shannon explained the process up front and the entire project went exactly as planned – sent the file Friday and it was ready for first thing on Monday. Speed is greatly increased and we would definitely do it again.” — Rob Coleman, RCTENN

“We got our data back much smaller and ready to move to QuickBooks online.  So I was very happy.  Most importantly to me, Shannon was extremely responsive which was key for us.” — Cameron Struthers, Allen Print Ltd.

“100% satisfied. Best investment we made in getting our QB data file under control. We were able to get our supercondense done with no downtime. Very happy we used their service.” — Paul Perry, Precision Services

RELATED: Case Study: User with Big, Slow QuickBooks File

Have you evaluated recreating your company, versus condensing, versus supercondensing? What did you decide?

It’s not that version 13 is unlucky in itself. It’s just that Intuit is about to retire that version, and you won’t be able to get Intuit support for it anymore, or get it to connect to online services anymore.

If you’re using version 2013 and you always upgrade to the latest version every three years — to stay within that 3-year support window — then your time has come to get a new version.

The sun sets on QuickBooks version 2013 on May 31, 2016.

Which editions are affected? QuickBooks Pro, Premier, Accountant, Mac, and Enterprise (although with Enterprise, you’ll be able to continue using what you have until the expiration of your service plan).

QuickBooks Online lives outside the world of desktop versions and does not face version sunset issues.

The online services that are affected include credit card processing, online banking, bill pay, QuickBooks payroll services, and Intuit tech support. (You will still be able to get data services support for version 2013 through AccountingUsers, Inc., however.)

If you get a new version of QuickBooks, your version 2013 data should upgrade fine just by opening it in the new version (but contact us if it doesn’t…)

RELATED: How to Transfer Files from Older Version to New Version of QuickBooks
RELATED: “QuickBooks File Wouldn’t Upgrade…”

There are several scenarios where having a temporary copy of QuickBooks would be handy:

  • You’re thinking about upgrading from Pro or Premier to Enterprise, but you want to know what Enterprise looks like before buying it
  • You want to save money by downgrading from Enterprise but want to get a feel for what Pro or Premier is like first
  • You’ve got an old version of QuickBooks and you’ve been wondering if a new version would be worth it; you want to test drive it before taking the plunge
  • You need a later copy of QuickBooks in order to facilitate your data’s migration to QuickBooks Online
  • You used to use QuickBooks, but don’t have it anymore. You need to temporarily restore an old QuickBooks backup and run some company reports
  • You are shopping for accounting software, and are researching QuickBooks products

In answer to any of these situations, it might help you to get a free trial version of QuickBooks. Trial versions exist!

There are trial versions of QuickBooks available for Pro, Premier, Enterprise, and Mac versions. You can download US, Canadian, and UK editions as of today.

NOTE: These trial versions expire after 30 days, and cannot be registered. Don’t rely on them to do your books, or any other mission-critical function!

Find links to trial versions of QuickBooks here.

 

First, if you’ve been backing up to USB flash drives, you are to be commended for at least getting your data off your computer and onto a separate, removable backup drive. That’s better than keeping EVERY copy of your data on your hard drive alone. (Why? Because, of course, if all your backups are on your hard drive, and that hard drive goes down, you are in trouble!)

But you need to revise your backup strategy at least a little in order to be safer. Why? Because USB drives aren’t super reliable target drives for QuickBooks backups.

I talk to people all the time whose company file gets badly damaged somehow. They think they are OK — “I’ve got a ton of backups on my flash drive!” But when they plug in their flash drive and try to restore these backups, the backups are corrupted and unusable. Or the USB flash drive itself is dead. That makes for a bad day (and a day when people call me for QuickBooks file repair).

It’s better — more reliable — to backup to an external hard drive or a cloud drive.

But regardless of whether you want to have your backup file on a USB flash drive, external hard drive, or the cloud, do this: Backup to your Windows Desktop, then copy the backup file from Desktop to your ultimate backup destination through Windows.

Why do this extra step? Because writing data to your local hard drive (where Desktop lives) is fast and reliable. QuickBooks is designed to read and write data to hard drives very well. Writing data, especially large files, directly from QuickBooks to other kinds of drives, however, can be problematic. I believe that slower write times leads to file writing errors, which leads to restore problems later on.

RELATED: What Kind of Drives Can You Open QuickBooks On?

And if you make your backup initially to Desktop, it’s very easy to find your backup file when you copy it in Windows to your ultimate target drive, whether in the cloud, external HD or USB flash drive.

Bonus tip: If you try to restore a QuickBooks backup from a USB flash drive and the restore fails, try simply copying the backup file from the flash drive to Desktop, then try to restore the file from Desktop. This sometimes works when a restore directly from the flash drive fails.

Let’s face it….USB flash drives are as common as potato chips, and there is hardly anything more convenient than backing up to a USB flash drive and putting it in your pocket. But don’t rely on a USB flash drive as a mission critical piece of technology. And improve your odds by mediating the process through Windows Desktop.

Here’s a road sign in my town.

What does it mean?
What does it mean?

The first time I drove by this sign, I was flummoxed. I knew that it had to do with yielding and pedestrians, but for some reason I just couldn’t take it all in at one time and get the complete message. The “HERE”, the arrow, and “TO” made me think: “Here to…where?”

I felt embarrassed that I was confused by a public road sign. Then I remembered something I had read in a splendid book recently: If you see an object for the public’s use, but don’t understand how to use it, it’s not your fault. It is the product designer’s (in this case, the sign designer’s) fault.

The Design of Everyday Things explores the dos and don’ts of good design, and describes principles that enhance and detract from object usability. It’s fascinating to me.

I’m not a professional designer, but I believe that there are specific flaws in this particular road sign:

  • Mixture of multiple words and multiple symbols
  • Indistinct relationships between components
  • Indistinct sequence
  • Redundant words/symbols

I think it would have been clearer — better — without the HERE and without the arrow. HERE? Really? Where else would you obey a road sign?

Wouldn’t this be better?

yield_sign

So simple, so strong.

OK. Glad I got that off my chest. I’ve seen this confusing Yield sign in other towns now, and it makes me wonder if other folks in other locales have also been confused, at least at their first viewing.

The moral of the story: The next time you are entering a building and push the door when you are supposed to pull it…it’s not your fault. Or when you are trying to get coffee out of a coffee machine and you push wrong buttons…it’s not your fault. Or you find yourself staring at a microwave, not knowing how to make it start…it’s not your fault…etc. etc. etc.

Any designers want to chime in on this?

Problem: Inventory reports combine the item number and the item description into one field when generating reports. Also, parenthesis are inserted into the description. Sometimes, this is too much. You get this:

 

inventory_report_before

 

Solution: Go to Edit / Preferences / Reports & Graphs / Company Preferences and under REPORTS – SHOW ITEMS BY:  Click on “Name only”. Then you get this:

 

inventory_report_after

 

Problem solved! I picked up this tip from Deborah’s comment in another blog entry. Thanks, Deborah!

 

 

Some say “Once in Enterprise, always in Enterprise”. But that’s not so! We convert Enterprise files to Pro or Premier all the time. What do our client/users say?

“We were using a hosted version of Enterprise 15 and decided to go back to 2015 Premier desk top. We sent our file on Friday morning and received the converted file back on the following Monday. The file loaded into 2015 Premier with no issues and all information looks complete and correct. QuickbookUsers.com has a simple and effective process. We are thrilled with the results.” — Jim Work, TCB Interiors LLC

 

“Fast and reliable service!” — Julie Bedard, Vie Luxe International

 

“The conversion from Enterprise to Pro went perfectly. I couldn’t be happier with the service!” — Bruce Coates, Cottages By The Sea

 

“Quick, easy, accurate!” — Denise Doak, The Laurel Group

 

“Quickly converted our data and very simple! Thank you!” — John Burghardt, Bizcompass

 

“Service exactly as described with excellent support after the conversion!” — Tim Kessler, CDLM Technology Services

 

“This is the third time we’ve used you for our clients and you’ve done a stellar job each time. I’ve referred you to others in the National Advisor Network (now Woodard Network).” — Jeff Cecchini, QBPros, Inc.

Learn more about our QuickBooks Enterprise Downgrade Service.