Do you have two different copies of the same company data on your system? Maybe one is an old copy that you use just for historical reporting, and the other is your working day-to-day current file.

There is a potential danger lurking here: You could confuse the two copies and start entering data in the old one instead of the current one. I occasionally get a call from a user who says “All of a sudden, I have a nine month gap in my file — everything from January to September is missing!” This is almost always because they inadvertently started using an old file and putting current information into it. Then they didn’t discover their error until well down the road.

This problem is much easier to prevent than to fix. Basically, you need to make it so that the two copies look quite different from one another, and the old copy is password protected against accidental entry.

So here are the three steps you need to take to prevent confusion.

Let’s say that this is your working, current company file.

 

 

Now, say you have another copy of this company data on your system. And you DO NOT want to make any entries into the copy. You want it to be perfectly clear to your users which is the current working file, and which is a copy that is not to be altered.

So do the following steps on the COPY:

1. Open the COPY of your company and click on Company / My Company. Click the Edit button for Company Information. Change the Contact Name and Address to “DO NOT USE – ARCHIVE” or something of the sort. Save your changes.

2. Click Edit / Preferences / Desktop View. For Company File Color Scheme, change it to Red or some other color that will get your attention, and that is different from your normal color scheme. OK your changes.

It will look like this:

Pretty obviously not the same company, eh? That’s the point.

3. If you really want to lock down the COPY so that no one gets confused and starts entering transactions into it, click Edit / Preferences / Accounting / Company Preferences. In the Closing Date box, click Set Date/Password. Enter a Closing Date that is very far in the future. Then enter a Closing Date Password.

It will look like this.

Click OK.

So what you’ve done here is make it so that in order for a user to enter a transaction in the COPY, they will have to know a special password. Don’t tell anyone what this password is. It is supposed to be unknown, so that no one can make entries to this COPY file.

So between the company name change, the color change, and the transaction lockdown, it should be clear to your user team: this file is not the current working file.

[My thanks to David Warlick, a blog commenter, for the tip on color coding files.]

Do you have any advice to share on avoiding confusion with your QuickBooks files?

Most users of QuickBooks Enterprise have heard about the changes in Intuit’s licensing model. As of October 6, 2014, new users of Enterprise are required to pay an annual subscription fee to use the software. Depending on the number of licenses you have, and which level of support you want, the cost is in the thousands of dollars every year.

So what are the options for users? A lot of it depends on whether you bought Enterprise before or after October 6.

If you bought Enterprise before October 6, 2014: Keep doing what you’re doing, for as long as you can. Intuit is not forcing pre-October 6 users to use the new pricing model. In fact, the new pricing model is not available to pre-October 6 users at this time.

If you have a support plan with your existing version, you can choose to renew that or not when it comes due. If you don’t have a support plan with your existing version, you can continue that way too.

Prediction: Within three years, all pre-October 6 Enterprise users will have to sign up for the new licensing model in order to get any support at all for their product. Why? Because that would be in line with Intuit’s trend towards prioritizing subscription based revenue streams, as opposed to standalone desktop software sales. And after three years, all existing users of current versions will have to upgrade to a newer, post-October 6 2014 version anyway to get support, as the older versions will have been sunsetted.

If you bought Enterprise on or after October 6, 2014: You’re in the new system, and you can’t choose the old system. What you can choose is the annual subscription level you want. There are three subscription levels to pick from, depending on whether you need payroll (Gold) or payroll plus advanced inventory/pricing capabilities (Platinum), or just a core subscription (Silver).

You cannot opt out of this subscription system. In particular, if you don’t stay current with your annual subscription, your software won’t work anymore. This will not be popular with budget-minded users who like to use their software with minimal or no support for three years, then upgrade to the current version. Under the new protocol, you have to pay every year.

The only other option for companies with 5 or fewer users is to downgrade from Enterprise to Premier or Pro. This is a good option for users for whom Enterprise is overkill anyway. It is not a good option in larger-volume situations.

RELATED: Is It Possible to Convert an Enterprise File to Premier or Pro?
                        “Data Migrated from Enterprise to Pro with 100% Accuracy”

How do you see it? What are you going to do?

 

If your QuickBooks file seems to be getting more and more sluggish, or if it has suddenly gone from fast to slow, here’s something you can try. This might speed up your reports. It might even speed up transaction saving, if that is taking awhile for your company file.

The nice thing about this tip is that you don’t lose anything you use. And you don’t have to cajole the cooperation of your users.

All you have to do is get rid of memorized reports that you don’t need anymore.

This can make a significant difference. A lot of users save memorized reports and then kind of forget about them. So the list of memorized reports keeps growing over the years without ever being pared down — or even used.

QuickBooks can really get sluggish when you have lots and lots of memorized reports. We don’t know why, exactly. We just know anecdotally that sometimes there are performance increases when one significantly pares down the list of memorized reports.

Sometimes memorized reports get corrupted or contain no-longer-valid accounts or names, and that might affect performance too.

It’s an easy fix.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Make a backup of your data before deleting reports.

 

Click Reports / Memorized Reports / Memorized Reports List.

memorized_reports

Right click on any unneeded report and select Delete Memorized Report.

Delete any and all obsolete Memorized Reports. Then log out of the company, log in again, and see if it speeds things up.

RELATED:  Interview/Case Study: User with a Big, Slow QuickBooks File

This tip won’t help if your file is huge, or if you have tens of thousands of customers or items (these situations create their own bottlenecks and a different solution is required). But it might help otherwise. And the worst that can happen is that you have a cleaner memorized reports list than you had before.

Have you ever been anxious and then did something stupid that fed your anxieties even more? Have you ever done EXACTLY the wrong thing? Boy, I did.

When my family went camping in Yellowstone National Park, we were anxious about bears. Grizzlies had harmed other campers that summer, and we did not want to experience bears that way.

Almost all of the other campers in the Park were in hard-sided RVs. And there we were with our tent. Hmm.

So I gave strict instructions to my family about how we should handle food in our campsite: No food in the tent, no food left outside, no food smells on us or our stuff: we’d live by the book in bear country.

They got it. We were oh-so-careful during supper.

Then, while cleaning up afterwards, I tripped and — wait for it — sloshed a whole mess of chicken soup on the ground right next to our tent. OohhhNooo! I had soaked the ground with chicken broth, inches from where we’d be sleeping. “Dad, the bears!!!” I was so annoyed at myself, and my children were so terrified.

Sigh.

RELATED:
Bear Spray, QuickBooks, and Your Computer
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Car Camping in Colorado: Things That Should and Should Not Be

We decided after supper to walk around the campground a bit, so we headed up the road. Every campsite had a trailer, truck, lawn chairs, folks enjoying the nice evening. After going just a little ways up our road, I started to smell something….chicken…fried chicken. Fried chicken?!?

A guy had a propane deep fryer out by his RV and he was cooking up a big batch of chicken. Everybody within 100 yards of his campsite, and every bear within probably three miles, was smelling that chicken. It was a strong smell, a very good smell.

Whew! We were saved! There wouldn’t be any bears interested in my chicken soup that night!

Sure enough, in the wee hours that night, I heard a car alarm go off, and keep going off, for a long time. Did the fried chicken guy hit the panic button on his key fob when a bear showed up? Did a bear try to break into his truck? Or had some other random camper gotten up for something and accidentally tripped his alarm?

Personally, I think a bear was making a late night chicken run.

QuickBooks 2015 has now been released. What’s new? What’s to like? Here are a few new things that caught my eye.

1. Better Dashboard. It’s called “Insights”, and it is a tab next to the Home Page. I like how it now shows a Net Income trend, and not merely total income and expenses. I asked for this feature in a 2012 blog post. The old “Company Snapshot”, which has graphs in it that “Insights” does not, is still available at Company / Company Snapshot.

quickbooks_2015_insights

 

2. Pinned Note for Customers. If you have a bunch of notes for a customer, this new feature allows you to specify which one shows up on the Customer screen. A small improvement, but if your customer notes are important, this helps you see what you want to see on the Customer screen. It keeps you from having to open up the Notes tab and scrolling around.

quickbooks_2015_pinned_note

 

3. Comments on Reports. On any report, you can click “Comment on Report”.

quickbooks_2015_comment_report1

The report will then show a little comment bubble next to each dollar amount. You can click on any of those comment bubbles and add text in a text entry window that will appear at the bottom of the screen. When you save your comment, it will number your comments and show them as footnotes at the bottom of the report. Nice!

quickbooks_2015_comment_report2

 

4. Sorting Columns on Forms (Enterprise only). Another small change, but important if you need it. On your input forms, you can click on the column by which you want the line items sorted (in the screenshot below, “DESCRIPTION” has been selected for sort order).

quickbooks_2015_sort_form

 

5. Showing Cost on Sales Transactions (Enterprise only). If you want to show line item costs on your sales entry screens, you can now do so. You click the “Customize Data Layout” button, then the “Columns” tab, and check “Cost”. That will enable a Cost column on your screen, which will automatically be populated.

quickbooks_2015_sales_cost

 

Have you tried QuickBooks 2015 yet? What do you think?

For one reason or another, you may find yourself in a position where QuickBooks needs to be reinstalled:

* QuickBooks won’t start anymore on your computer
* QuickBooks crashes because it can’t load pieces of its own program anymore
* Viruses or malware corrupted the QuickBooks installation on your computer.
* Your hard drive crashed and was replaced with a new hard drive
* You replaced your old QuickBooks computer with a new one

So you need to reinstall. Before you reinstall, however, there are two things you should do first:

Backup.

Theoretically, reinstalling QuickBooks as per below shouldn’t do anything to your existing data. BUT, you can never be too careful, especially before performing system functions. So make a backup or your company data first. If you can’t run QuickBooks to make a backup, then make a copy of your company data with Windows, and copy it somewhere off your hard drive (a cloud drive, a USB drive, etc.) That way, if something goes really wrong with the reinstall steps, at least your data will not be lost.

Uninstall.

If QuickBooks is already installed on your hard drive, you should first uninstall the existing QuickBooks installation before you install the software again.

Where do you do that? There is no uninstall option under your QuickBooks group in your Start List. So you uninstall it through Windows.

(The following shows how to do this with Windows 7. Other versions of Windows may be slightly different.)

Get to your Windows Control Panel. Click on Programs and Features. You will see a list of every program installed on your computer.  Scroll down until you see your QuickBooks program in the list. Double-click it.

uninstall_quickbooks

It will bring up the QuickBooks Maintenance Wizard. Click Next. You will see this:

remove_quickbooks

 

Select Remove and finish.

QuickBooks will be uninstalled/removed from your computer.

[If your QuickBooks program was too badly damaged for the uninstall to work, then omit that step.]

Install.

Find your original install CD, or if you downloaded your QuickBooks program, the downloaded install file.

If your software is on a CD, insert it in your CD drive and follow the instructions to install it.

If you downloaded your QuickBooks program, then locate and double-click your downloaded QuickBooks install program and follow the prompts.

downloaded_quickbooks

[If you don’t know where you downloaded your QuickBooks program to, search your computer for setup_quickbooks to find the download file(s). One way to search (with Windows 7) is to press the Windows key on your keyboard, and then enter setup_quickbooks in the prompt that appears.]

If you don’t have the CD anymore, and/or you can’t find your download install file anymore, click here for links to download install files from Intuit.

At some point in the install process, you’ll be prompted for your product code and license number in order for the install to complete. You should have received those codes with your CD packaging, or if you downloaded QuickBooks, with your download order. If you don’t have the codes, you’ll have to call Intuit to get them.

After your product is installed, you’ll need to register it. Most of the time, you can do that without having to talk to Intuit.

After you’ve uninstalled, reinstalled, and registered QuickBooks, how does it work? Great, hopefully.

If not, here’s one more tool that might help.

Sometimes you want to send statements to customers to remind them of overdue balances or to list statement charges a customer owes. There are two types of statements in QuickBooks. The first is called an open transaction statement. This shows only open transactions as of the statement date. This way, a customer knows exactly how much they owe you but doesn’t see the history of payments and credits.

The second type of statement is called “activity based.” This shows you the customer’s activity over a period of time, including payments and credits. In the following practice exercise, you prepare an open transaction statement and a list of the customer’s activity over a period of time.

Customer statements—Process an open transaction statement

  1. From the Home page, click the Statements icon.
  2. In the Select Statement Options section, select a type of statement, in this case, All open transactions as of Statement Date. This statement shows only open transactions as of a specific date.
  3. Under the Select Customers section, select One Customer.
  4. Click the drop-down arrow and select Brian Cook.
  5. Click Preview.
  6. Click the mouse to zoom in. This statement shows only what the customer owes you. The description shows the original invoice amount, and the Amount column shows the unpaid portion of the invoice. Prepare this type of statement if your customer only wants to see outstanding balances without the detail.
  7. Click Close.

Customer statements—Process a customer activity statement

  1. Brian Cook claims he sent a check that wasn’t applied to his account. Prepare a statement that shows his activity over a date range. In the Select Statement Options section, select Statement Period From.
  2. Enter a date of November 1st, 2015 to November 30, 2018.
  3. In the Select Customers section, select Brian Cook.
  4. Click the Preview button.
  5. Click the mouse to zoom in. An Activity-Based Statement shows all customer account transactions during the time period. Note that it only shows accounts receivable transactions that include invoices, payments, statement charges, and credit memos. It does not show sales receipts or cash transactions. Prepare this type of statement if your customer wants to see the transactions that make up their outstanding balance. This statement also shows the aging periods.
  6. Click Close.
  7. Brian Cook reviews his statement but can’t find the invoice you sent earlier, so he wants to see the detail of each invoice. Select the box next to Show invoice item details on statements.
  8. Click Preview.
  9. Click the mouse to zoom in. Now the statement shows each line item on every invoice. Use this if your customer needs to see the invoice detail as a reminder.

Today’s tip is a guest post by Tom Dahm from Real World Training. Catch one of their QuickBooks classes in New York, Miami and other great cities.

Have a computer at home? How can you keep it healthy? I spoke with computer tech Casey Champie about common home-office computer problems and how to avoid them. He suggests small but important tweaks to typical computer setups that can help home users avoid computer catastrophes.

Shannon: Casey, can you tell me a little bit about your computer support company, and the services you provide?

Casey: Certainly. My company focuses on home-office computer support and repair. The goal is to go into the client’s home and help them with any and all computer-related problems. These can range from something as simple as installing a printer or second monitor, to more complex problems like spyware/malware removal and data recovery. We also offer a range of other products like Windows 7/8 tutorials, smart phone tutorials, and hard drive backups.

Shannon: What do you find to be some of the biggest computer problems in home offices?

Casey: The two most frequent issues I have seen so far are the severe lack of malware protection, and zero forms of backups. Malware can be tricky, so that is fairly understandable. Not having a backup can be a huge risk, so I certainly try to convince my clients to use one of the many available options to ensure they don’t lose everything.

Shannon: With all we’ve been hearing about the Target data theft, the Heartbleed hack and more, how concerned do you think individuals and small businesses should be about their data and online security?

Casey: You definitely need to be cautious these days, especially businesses. Storing financial data is so easy and convenient with a computer, but you certainly have to understand the risks involved in doing so. You can take a few simple steps to give yourself much better protection, but at the end of the day no one is 100% safe all the time.

Shannon: What backup solutions do you normally recommend for small businesses and individuals?

Casey: There are two options available when considering doing backups. You can do the in-house approach using an external hard drive to back up all your data locally. There are risks involved in taking this approach, however. Your local drive can break, be stolen, or simply malfunction and all your data is lost. I call this the “putting your eggs in one basket” approach. It is certainly doable, but not recommended. My go-to backup is definitely going online. Carbonite or Mozy offer solid back up protection for a reasonable annual cost.

Shannon: What symptoms might appear in someone’s computer if they were infected with a virus or malware?

Casey: Some viruses and malware can be pretty subtle, while others can be fairly obvious. The usual tell-tale signs are things like slow boot speeds, sluggish response in Windows, internet browser auto-loads, pop-ups or a search engine you usually do not use, or you can’t load certain programs. These are some of the usual suspects associated with malware and/or a virus, but this isn’t a 100% foolproof way of knowing for sure. Having reliable malware protection and solid anti-virus software are solid first steps to take to ensure you are better prepared for these attacks.

Shannon: If you only had a $100 budget to spend on bullet-proofing your computer, how would you spend it?

Casey: I am a huge fan of two programs, and you can have both for this kind of budget. Kaspersky Internet Security is my go-to anti-virus, and would be first on my list of must-haves. There are definitely cheaper (even free) alternatives to anti-virus, but this is an area where I definitely feel that you get what you pay for. Kaspersky is very user friendly and incredibly effective in stopping malicious attacks. For 50 to 60 dollars, depending on discounts, you simply can’t go wrong with this program.

My other must-have product is Carbonite. This is an online backup program that can copy as little or as much of your computer as you desire to their servers for immediate restore. This program gives you ultimate peace of mind in knowing that if your hard drive dies on you, all is not lost. Having a backup can save you tons of time and money, so I see this as an absolute must for the price.

Shannon: What about people who don’t see themselves as very tech-savvy? Any words of advice for them?

Casey: Technology seems like it is always moving at a thousand miles per hour. Keeping up with the constant changes and advancements can certainly be overwhelming, even to most tech-savvy people. My best advice is to stay patient and never be afraid to ask for help. In my line of work, I get calls from people saying “this is going to sound stupid, but…” and this could not be farther from the truth. The reality is, there are no dumb questions when it comes to technology, because every person has a different learning curve. So never hesitate to ask for help, no matter how big or small you might consider the problem to be.

Shannon: Thanks, Casey.

Casey Champie is the owner of BVComputerGuy.com in Buena Vista, CO.

Let’s start with the dark side.

Three Reasons Why You Don’t Like QuickBooks

1. It’s not exactly right for your business.

No, it’s probably not. QuickBooks is used (by Intuit’s count) by 5 million businesses. None of them are exactly like yours. You have a particular way you like your income statement to look, or a particular thing you want to track in your sales, or a particular formatting you want for your invoice, and QuickBooks doesn’t and can’t do it exactly like that. That is a characteristic of almost all off-the-shelf software.

RELATED: How Many QuickBooks Users Are There?

 

The alternative? Industry-specific software, or custom software. Both are many times more expensive than QuickBooks.

2. There are technical glitches.

Yep. In our opinion, there are bugs in QuickBooks. Always have been, always will be. There is no way to write hundreds of thousands of lines of code (purely a guess) with perfect logic, that will anticipate and respond correctly to every possible user action and IT event. My first tech job was as an accounting software quality tester. My second tech job was as an accounting software development code writer. So I’ve seen software quality from different angles, and it’s just hard to write really good accounting code, and perfect code is a mythical beast. We shouldn’t expect unicorn horns and phoenix feathers.

RELATED: Should I Upgrade to QuickBooks 2014…Now?
                     Handling QuickBooks Upgrades and Updates

3. It’s not supported the way it should be.

I guess we all have an opinion about what we should expect of a software company in their support of their product. I hear people express dissatisfaction with Intuit’s sunset policy, the cost of their support plans, and the quality of help received through support staff. (Less complaints about that last issue in the last year or so, it seems to me.) What we’d all like is great support, delivered fast, that’s free. But unless the cost of providing that kind of support were built into the initial product cost, that’s not going to happen. Resources like the Intuit Community and the QuickBooks Forums do offer free support that is often of high quality.

RELATED: The User Who Sailed Around the QuickBooks Sunset (Policy)

One Reason Why You Like QuickBooks. Maybe a Lot.

1. It’s a complete, affordable, flexible system.

Between QuickBooks Pro, Premier industry editions, Enterprise Series, Mac, and Online editions, there is a completeness to what QuickBooks can do for small to medium-sized businesses.

RELATED: QuickBooks Comes in Lots of Flavors

 

The price of the software and support is reasonable for what you get (in my opinion). And it’s flexible. You can scale up from Pro to Premier to Enterprise, (and even scale down from Enterprise if necessary), or you can scale over to online editions.

It’s not perfect, but there’s a lot to like.

RELATED: What Users Like and Do Not Like About QuickBooks

Sometimes your company might have a job that takes months or even years to finish. Do you wait until the job is finished to start invoicing? In most cases, you want to be paid for the work you’ve completed. This process is called progress invoicing. Essentially, you invoice in increments based on an estimate. In this exercise, assume you have already created an estimate for $3,114 for customer Kristy Abercrombie.

  1. First, make sure to turn on the progress invoicing feature. To do this, choose Edit > Preferences and click the Jobs & Estimates icon. Click the Company Preferences tab. In this window, select “yes” below Do you create estimates? and Do you do progress invoicing?
  2. Prepare an invoice based on the Kristy Abercrombie estimate. Click the Create Invoices icon.
  3. Click the Customer:Job drop-down arrow and select the Kristy Abercrombie job.
  4. QuickBooks opens the Available Estimates window.

Now select an estimate to convert it to an invoice. Select estimate number 606.

  1. Click OK.
  2. QuickBooks opens the Create Progress Invoice Based on Estimate window.

Progress Invoicing means you invoice against the estimate in increments until the job or contract is complete. If you choose the first option, Create invoice for the entire estimate, QuickBooks copies all line items and quantities from the estimate to the invoice. The second choice lets you invoice a percentage of the estimate. The third choice lets you specify the items and quantities to transfer from the estimate to the invoice. In this case, select the third option.

  1. Click OK.
  2. Decide which items and quantities to invoice. Select the Show Quantity and Rate and the Show Percentage boxes.
  3. The first four columns show information from the Estimate. The next three columns show anything already invoiced for the job. The last six columns show what you want to charge the customer on this invoice.

To transfer an item to the invoice, enter a Quantity, Amount, or Percentage. In this case, enter 3 quantities. For the first line item, enter 5 for Framing.

10. For the second line item, enter that you installed 5 Frames.

11. For the third line item, enter that you removed 5 Frames.

12. Click OK.

13. QuickBooks opens the Billable Time and Costs window.

14. You can choose to include or exclude existing charges from this customer’s account.  Let’s Exclude outstanding billable time and costs for now.

15. Click OK.

16. QuickBooks copies the selected items to the invoice.  To print the invoice later, select the Print Later checkbox.

17. Click Save & Close.


Today’s tip is a guest post by Tom Dahm from Real World Training, the country’s largest provider of QuickBooks training.