This happens to some QuickBooks users: When they open the program, they get an Internet Explorer dialog box that opens up in QuickBooks (not in IE) and asks “Do you want to view only the webpage content that was delivered securely?”

You have to say NO several times before QuickBooks will finish loading up. What’s that about? It is an annoyance.

If you are getting these prompts, here’s the workaround:

Open up Internet Explorer (even if IE is not your default browser).

Click Tools / Internet Options / Security / Custom Level.

Scroll down to the Miscellaneous section. For “Display Mixed Content”, click the Enable radio button. OK your changes.

The next time you open QuickBooks, voila! No nagging message from Internet Explorer in QuickBooks.

What if your computer crashes, and you can’t find your QuickBooks install CD to install it on your new computer?

No worries. Just download QuickBooks from Intuit’s site. That page is here. As of today, you can download QuickBooks versions from 2005-2011.

Note: You’ll need to have your original install codes to be able to install QuickBooks after you download it.

So you are getting a fatal error in QuickBooks…

* Error -6000
* QuickBooks reports “Connection to database lost”
* Your file is “not a QuickBooks data file, or is damaged…”
* Customers or vendors are missing or scrambled
* Your file fails one of these: Backup, restore, upgrade, verify, or rebuild

How can you repair these situations?

If you have a current backup made before the problem occured, you can simply restore your backup.

But if you don’t have a current backup, you still have options:

1. Run the Rebuild command on your company file (if you can open the file). Click File / Utilities / Rebuild Data. Some people claim that running the Rebuild command several times can fix problems that running it once cannot. I don’t know why that would be, but it wouldn’t hurt to try it if the first rebuild doesn’t solve your problems.

2. Create, and then restore, a portable file (File / Create Copy / Portable Company File) . This is a known fix for certain kinds of problems in the customer, vendor, or account lists. When you restore a portable file, it recreates some of the indexes in the file, and that can solve certain problems.

3. Run the Verify command (File / Utilities / Verify Data) and then examine the QBWIN.LOG file. To access the QBWIN.LOG file, open your QuickBooks company, press the F2 key, then press the F3 key. Click the Open File tab, select QBWIN.LOG, and click Open File. Scroll down towards the bottom of the log. See if you can locate the transactions that are causing it to fail. Edit or delete those problematic transactions if you can. This method doesn’t work as well in 2006+ versions of QuickBooks as pre-2006, but it still might be worth a try.

4. If the above don’t fix the problem, contact us at 1-800-999-9209 for guaranteed data repair services. In 95% of the cases, we can recover 100% of the data.

p.s. If we can’t repair the file either (which occasionally happens if the original file is full of garbage and there is no good TLG file), there is one last recourse: check with your CPA to see if they have a more recent good copy of your data than you do. Better to rekey two or three months’ worth of data than to have to start over from scratch.

Joe Williams, of Piedmont, OK, is one of the biggest voices on the QuickBooks Forums. He just posted his 6,000th answer on the forums, and there is a reason why he knows so much about QuickBooks: He was a veteran QuickBooks support rep for Intuit.

Me: Joe, thanks for talking with us today. You have an interesting background, having worked for Intuit — supporting QuickBooks — for quite a few years. What can you tell us about that? What kind of support were you involved with?

Joe: I started in 1990 supporting Turbo Tax for DOS, both the personal 1040 and the business PRO Tax. Then, after tax season, I started supporting QuickBooks DOS 1.0 and 2.0 with the great payroll add on Quick Pay that worked most of the time. I migrated to the Windows version 3.0 of QuickBooks and was part of the first support team for the integrated payroll in version 4.1.

Me: Joe, I suppose you have talked to thousands or tens of thousands of QuickBooks users over the years. What were some of the common problems you saw over and over again?

Joe: The most common problem was “My account disappeared”, caused when “creating a new account”. It was usually caused by clicking Edit instead of New and then changing the account type and name. The most difficult thing was explaining to a CPA that QuickBooks CANNOT make a one sided journal entry, even if it “just a program”.

Me: When your job is helping people, strange things happen from time to time. Do you remember any notably humorous or strange conversations you had with users?

Joe: Two of the most remembered ones:

1. A secretary was handed QuickBooks and told to install it and start using it. She called in tears because she could not get it installed and could not find the PC. The support tech finally got it installed. She had the computer on the desk but it did not have a drive door. On the desk was also a TV and on the floor was some other box.

2. A customer called with a network connection issue and data damage. We got the damage cleared up and the connection fixed. As we were closing the call, there was a loud yell “Oh my G..”.

When asked what happened, he answered, “Well, my partner’s office is across the alley on the 2nd floor. I turned the BNC connector to lock it and the trash truck just came by and the PC flew out the window”.

Me: Wow. Everybody must have been surprised by that one.

Joe, you’ve seen QuickBooks evolve over the years. What trends have you seen? Where do you think QuickBooks is heading as a product?

Joe: I have seen it become more graphics-oriented and organized into the different centers. I will say that I still use the menu bar and control keys to get what I want to see and find.

Me: You’ve posted 6,000 answers on our QuickBooks Forums. That’s an amazing accomplishment and represents a tremendous amount of help for QuickBooks users. Thank you! It’s a pleasure having you in our community. Any final thoughts or words for your fellow forum members?

Joe: 1. Keep up the good work and remember “Use QuickBooks like you would do the books manually.” If you get a notice (bill) and then immediately pay it just use a check.

2. No, Intuit has not created the Kreskin version of QuickBooks yet.

Get free expert QuickBooks help from Joe Williams and others at the QuickBooks Forums.

I’m an ice fisherman and I’m going to tell you where my secret fishing spot is. Fishermen are not supposed to divulge their secrets, but here goes:

I start at the boat ramp, sight in on the gap between two mountains, and step off 315 paces in that exact direction. That’s a sweet spot, and I don’t get skunked there very often. (What lake? See below.)

My wife thinks I’m crazy for going out in the subzero dark and sitting on a vast expanse of ice, hunkering over and paying intense attention to a 7” diameter hole in the hard water – just for the sake of catching a trout. But that’s another story.

The point is, I have a specific way to get to the place that pays off.

Where is the payoff-place in your business? What do you set your sights on — and then execute a sequence of specific steps — to get to a profitable place for your business?

Is it…

* Regularly talking (not necessarily selling) to your best customers to cultivate the relationship and keep the pipeline open for future sales?

* Regularly promoting your goods/services through systematic direct mail, outbound telesales, and/or email marketing? Have you tried an eNewsletter?

* Regularly introducing new but related-to-existing products or services that your regular customers might well be interested in?

* Regularly tracking your online advertising campaigns, and modifying them to maximize return-on-investment?

Although it takes discipline for a small business owner to consistently give time to these tasks (or to delegate them to someone else), the end results over time are consistently positive.

Oh, and one last thing about ice fishing. You might ask, “Why don’t you just GPS your secret spot?” Answer: Ask any pirate with a treasure map! It’s more fun to step it off!

What steps do you take to increase sales and profitability?

(Bonus question: Any of you Colorado folks want to guess what lake this is? I’ll tell you if you guess right.)

I’ll bet QuickBooks is a mission-critical application for your office. What would happen to your business if QuickBooks went down? Here are 7 ways to avoid that:

1. Maintain your network. Actually, get your IT guy or girl to do it. Nothing can take down QuickBooks like a flaky network.

Keep your server defragged and your whole network optimized for speed. Use the highest-performing server you can afford. Use the same kind of routers and connectors across your network. Have plenty of memory on every workstation accessing QuickBooks.

2. Be careful with your imports. Importing bank or other transactions into QuickBooks is a tremendous time saver. Except when they’re messed up. If you are getting ready to import transactions from a new source, make sure you’re well backed up first. After you import, check the results immediately. If there’s a problem, restore your backup. Otherwise, it can be really difficult to undo the effects of badly imported transactions, especially if there are hundreds of them.

3. Back up often and effectively. Global Data Vault is a great online backup service. Many small businesses have been greatly inconvenienced because their backups weren’t what they assumed.

4. Verify/Rebuild. Run these commands periodically to get early warning on data problems.

5. Schedule data work for weekends. Sending your data off to be supercondensed, repaired, recreated, or something else? Schedule it for a weekend so the wheels don’t stop turning at your office on weekdays.

6. Send Accountant’s Copies. Taking advantage of this QuickBooks feature lets you get your data to your accountant for corrections without you having to pause in the use of QuickBooks — you can keep working at the same time your CPA is reviewing your file.

7. If down, get up. If your file becomes unopenable or has fatal errors, get overnight data repair services to be up and running by the next morning.

Do you have another suggestion to avoid QuickBooks downtime?

We recently analyzed and supercondensed a large Enterprise 11 file for a client. Their problem was unusual – one we hadn’t heard of before. Their data’s TLG file was growing at 1.5GB (yes, gigabytes!) per day. And this wasn’t a high volume operation. The TLG’s stupendous growth was unexplainable.

We did remove some garbage records from the file and found and repaired some damaged templates. We also supercondensed it, bringing the QBW’s file size down. But these things did not eliminate the main problem – the exploding TLG file.

The customer reported that Intuit was aware of, and working on, the problem. We found out that a number of other Enterprise 11 users were experiencing the problem. But no one had an explanation.

Until…our client figured it out. He noticed that the new “Search” feature in Enterprise 11 automatically updates its searchable database every hour. He turned that feature off, and voila! The TLG file stopped growing at an abnormal pace.

Why? Nobody knows, except maybe some Intuit programmers who are troubleshooting this even now. It is not intuitively obvious why a search function would have anything to do with the transaction log file, unless with version 11 that file is now doing double-duty as a big search index file.

Bottomline: The end user discovered a workaround that the pros, including the data experts at my company and at Intuit tech support, apparently didn’t know about.

Three cheers for power users!

When you’re online, who’s the guy everybody loves to hate? The spammer, of course.

The QuickBooks Forums, the largest independent online community of QuickBooks users and experts, attracts spammers. Why shouldn’t it? Just *maybe* someone will click their link and buy a hot tub online…

So we actively police our forums for spammers, and we enforce a “one strike, you’re out” policy. Anyone who spams our forums at all has their posts deleted and their account banned. That means they can’t log in to the forums anymore or post anything else.

We believe that because of the way we have our forum registration process set up, there are no longer any “spambots” registering and flooding the forums with irrelevancies. But real human spammers do show up, as they do in every online community.

We have several moderators who act as constables for the community. Thank you Lisa, Laura, Al, and Patsy! We appreciate the work you do! The QuickBooks Forums also enjoys a virtual ‘neighborhood watch’ of members who report spammers. Thanks to all of you too!

If you see a spammy post, click the red and white triangle icon above and to the right of the post. That’s the way to “Report Post” and notify us that we should look at it and possibly remove it.

Do you have a suggestion of how to control spammers in our forums?