IRS audit QuickBooks fileAs we have discussed before, the IRS has the authority to request QuickBooks data files from US taxpayers as part of their audit procedures. (And not only QuickBooks – they can request Peachtree data as well.)

We also hear of state agencies and insurance companies sometimes requiring copies of QuickBooks data for their audits.

If you are selected for this, you can send them your regular QuickBooks data file, and they will have access to all your financial records, including the years before and after the audit period. The problem with that is it gives the auditors access to much more information than is necessary. Tax accountants worry about auditors going on “fishing expeditions” in those situations.

One approach that could prevent additional complications is to have an Audit Disclosure Copy created. The Audit Disclosure Copy contains only the QuickBooks information for the year under audit. That will give the auditors complete information for the audit period in question, but nothing beyond that.

Creation of an Audit Disclosure Copy is available as a third party service. Get more information here or call 1-800-999-9209.

Have you ever seen the classic 1968 short film, Powers of Ten? It’s an amazing demonstration of the power of adding zeros, one at a time. I love it. Check it out:

Somehow it reminds me a bit of QuickBooks files. The power of adding a zero, you see.

With your company file open in QuickBooks, press the F2 key. It will tell you, in the left column, how big your file size is. It expresses it in kilobytes (KB): thousands of bytes. A byte is a single character of information in a digital file.

A medium-sized QuickBooks Pro file might have 80,000KB of information, or 80 million bytes. We usually notate that as 80MB, or call it 80 megabytes. That sounds like a lot of bytes, but it’s not for a QuickBooks file.

Add a zero. That would make for a file of 800 megabytes. Now that’s an oversized file, bursting at the seams, if you are using QuickBooks Pro or Premier. A file of that size in Pro or Premier would likely be having performance and/or stability problems and would be a great candidate for supercondensing. An 800MB file would not be uncommon for Enterprise, though.

Add another zero. Now your file is 8,000,000,000 bytes big – 8 gigabytes. That’s a huge file, even for Enterprise. We have repaired or supercondensed a handful of files like that before. 8GB is about the biggest we’ve seen.

Until now. A user is planning to send us a file with another zero added, and then some: a file of 88 gigabytes, by far the largest QuickBooks file we’ve ever personally worked with. Is it the biggest QuickBooks file in the world? I’ve never heard of a bigger one. Have you?

Now this file is not a QBW file; it’s a TLG file – an auxiliary data file that QuickBooks maintains along with the main QBW file. We will use it to repair his damaged QBW file. Still, for QuickBooks to maintain any file that big is stupendous, and again reminds me of Powers of Ten.

Most startups struggle at the beginning and mine was no exception.

My business partner and I started our software consulting company in 1986. By mid-1987, I had little left in savings. My wife and I did have a new baby on the way. And we had a new mortgage too…with a wonderful mid-80s fixed rate note at 13.5%! (What were we thinking?!)

I was more than a little discouraged at my consulting business’ prospects and my personal finance situation.

It seemed that it was time to bail out and get a job again. I sent my resume out to a few companies in Austin.

Here’s what I got back from IBM:

Not the response I wanted

That was September of 1987. No offers. Troubled Texas economy. In the absence of other options, I plugged away at my consulting business.

Fast forward a few months. My partner and I created an add-on program to a now-defunct accounting app called BPI Accounting. Our little program allowed users to archive and report general ledger information for a whole fiscal year, instead of just four months. (Primitive! This was for the first generation of PC-based accounting software.)

Somebody helped us reach out to the user base, and the next thing I knew, our mailbox was full of order forms and checks. Wowee!

Developing accounting software add-ons and troubleshooting accounting data files became our niche, and the second part of that equation still works for us 24 years later in the QuickBooks world.

In an alternate life, I’m sure that a career at IBM would have been very challenging and rewarding. But it was not to be; I got to be a long-term software entrepreneur instead.

“A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.” ~Jean de La Fontaine

QuickBooks file missing customers and vendor piecesWe’ve been hearing from a number of users in the last month about this problem.

One day, everything is fine. Then suddenly, the users notice that a lot of their bills, or bill payments, or invoices have missing vendor or customer information. The name, in particular. Or their customer or vendor lists go blank. This is called list damage in a QuickBooks file.

Rebuilding the file in QuickBooks doesn’t seem to help; rebuild fails.

The problem is usually repairable. But it is still a bit of a mystery as to why we’re seeing more instances of list damage than usual (We’ve seen and repaired this problem over the years, but it has not been commonplace.)

Anyone seen this problem recently? Did the problem seem to appear randomly, or in association with something else happening in QuickBooks?

Have you ever had a QuickBooks problem where all the normal troubleshooting techniques don’t work?

Maybe your computer got infected with a virus or a trojan program. You got that cleaned up and you reinstalled QuickBooks. But now QuickBooks just won’t launch, or it’s operating at a snail’s pace, or something that used to work just fine now won’t work.

You might get the wonderful error, “QuickBooks has experienced a problem and needs to be shut down. Error ….” or “Unrecoverable error …”.

If the relationship between QuickBooks and Windows gets messed up, QuickBooks will be messed up. If something alters or corrupts your Windows registry settings for QuickBooks, just uninstalling/reinstalling QuickBooks often won’t help.

[NOTE: This has nothing to do with registering your installation of QuickBooks with Intuit, by the way.]

Here’s a tool you can use that might help, and it’s already right there on your computer. The REBOOT.BAT file gives you a one-click way to re-register your QuickBooks program files to the Windows registry.

QuickBooks reboot file
When reinstalling doesn't help...

The REBOOT.BAT file (sometimes seen as just REBOOT in your Windows folder view) can be located simply by right-clicking your QuickBooks icon on your computer’s desktop.

If a menu item then appears saying “Open file location”, click that and it will take you to the folder where REBOOT.BAT lives. If you don’t see “Open file location”, click instead on “Properties” and under the Shortcut tab, look at “Target”. Don’t change the contents of “Target”, but make a note of the path it specifies. Then open My Computer and open the folders to drill down to that location on your computer.

Then double-click REBOOT.BAT (or REBOOT) and your QuickBooks program files will be re-registered to Windows. You’ll see a command prompt-style window open and a number of commands execute. When I ran this on my computer, one of the commands took several seconds to complete. Be patient. When it runs through all the commands, the window will automatically close. Your computer will NOT reboot (I think this command is badly named.)

Then run QuickBooks again and see if REBOOT has cleared up your problem.

NOTE: This troubleshooting tip won’t help solve company data file problems in QuickBooks. Data corruption issues have to be handled in a different way.

You want to keep good books? Then read a good book.

There are good training resources available for beginning and advanced users of QuickBooks. Here are some of the highest rated ones on Amazon:

QuickBooks 2011, the Missing Manual, by Bonnie Biafore. 720 pages. Pogue Press. 4.7/5 Stars on Amazon. Great balance between instructions on specific features and basic accounting advice.

Running QuickBooks 2011 Premier Editions: The Only Definitive Guide to the Premier Editions, by Kathy Ivens. 608 pages. CPA911 Publishing. 5/5 Stars on Amazon. Tips, tricks, shortcuts, and workarounds to unleash the full power of the Premier editions.

QuickBooks 2010 Solutions Guide for Business Owners and Accountants, Laura Madeira. 528 pages. Que Publishing. 4.5/5 Stars on Amazon. For intermediate to advanced users, this guide helps you use QuickBooks to understand where your business is currently, and where it’s going.

This last one is not a book, but it is a great do-it-yourself training resource: QuickBooks Essentials LiveLessons (Video Training): For All QuickBooks Users [DVD-ROM], by Laura Madeira. 1 DVD. Published by Que Publishing. 4.4/5 Stars on Amazon. This training DVD has 18 lessons to help walk you through every essential QuickBooks skill.

These resources cost under $30, but can fill in some of the gaps in your QuickBooks knowledge.