If you run a pretty recent version of QuickBooks, you know about “Live Community” — the connection point between QuickBooks and the Intuit Community. That’s a great support resource.

But it’s not the only resource.

The QuickBooks Forums is the largest independent (non-Intuit) community of QuickBooks users and experts.

There are about 50,000 members, and membership is free. The forum is frequented by QuickBooks experts like retired Intuit senior support rep Joe Williams, as well as several Certified Advanced QuickBooks Pro Advisors, and regular users who have tons of day-to-day experience with QuickBooks.

Check it out! There are subforums for various editions of QuickBooks, and special discussion areas for users in the UK, Australia, and Canada.

The QuickBooks Jobs and the QuickBooks Local Workshops sections help you connect with employment and training opportunities.

See you there!

It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last, but it still gets to me: a QuickBooks user with catastrophic data loss and a safety net with a big hole in it.

The story? A lady in Texas called this afternoon. Her Windows 7 machine had crashed and she had had to reinstall her operating system. Of course, that made all the files on her hard drive go away, including her QuickBooks files.

Fortunately, she had an online backup service in place. I won’t say which one, but it is one you’ve probably heard of.

Unfortunately, her QuickBooks files hadn’t been getting backed up. I think the reason was that her QuickBooks data files were located under her QuickBooks program folder, rather than under her user folder or My Documents or otherwise a folder that it would be obvious to backup. She hadn’t thought to backup up data from a program folder. (Lesson: You might want to double check to make sure your backup software is looking in the right place for your QuickBooks company files.)

It was just plain sad! Her only recourse now was to take her hard drive to a company that specializes in media recovery and see if any of her original files could be salvaged from her original hard drive.

Sometimes that works, but many times not. Files recovered under those kinds of circumstances may look OK in Windows, but QuickBooks can’t open them because they are not 100% original data. Now we can jump into the loop at that point, because if the file is, say, 98% original QuickBooks data and 2% garbage, we can repair the file with no or minimal data loss. There’s really no way to know in advance. So I told the lady to call me back if she got some files back that weren’t openable.

I hope it works out OK for her.

NOTE: This problem wasn’t a problem with the online backup service per se. Online backup services are great, and add a layer of protection to your data because the backups are automated and off site. One of the backup services we’ve heard good things about is Global Data Vault.

QuickBooks 2008 discontinued, unsupported, sunsetServices supporting QuickBooks Pro and Premier 2008, and Enterprise 8, were discontinued on May 31. It is Intuit’s policy to only support the current and prior two versions of their accounting products, and the end of May has been their cut off point for the last few years.

What is affected?

QuickBooks Payroll Services
For Assisted, Basic, Standard, and Enhanced Payroll, QuickBooks will no longer automatically calculate correct payroll taxes or provide payroll forms. Assisted Payroll will no longer send your payroll data.

Credit Card Processing
Merchant Service customers will no longer be able to process credit card transactions through QuickBooks, or download credit card transactions into QuickBooks if you use a terminal. Automatic credit card service will be discontinued.

Bill Pay
You will get an error and not be able to connect to your financial institution to pay bills.

Online Banking
You will get an error when trying to send online payments, download transactions, or conduct online transfers.

QuickBooks Email
You can no longer use the QuickBooks Email service to email sales receipts, purchase orders, etc. directly from QuickBooks. You CAN continue to email documents and reports out of QuickBooks by using Outlook, Outlook Express, or Windows Mail accounts, or by printing to PDF files and attaching those to emails outside of QuickBooks.

It would seem that the general pattern here is that QuickBooks 2008 will no longer be able to interface with much of anything in the outside world (through the internet).

If you are using QuickBooks 2008 with services that are now unavailable, the obvious, fast solution is to get a more current, supported version. Buying it new from Amazon seems to often be less expensive than getting an upgrade. The software is downloadable, so you don’t have to wait for delivery of a CD.

It is usually a painless experience to upgrade your company file from an older version to a newer version. You just open the company under the new version. But if your QuickBooks 2008 file will not verify, it won’t upgrade either, and the file may need to be repaired first, before it can be upgraded.

As far as I know, no company that makes accounting software supports old versions forever. It would be too expensive and would take technical resources away from development teams trying to make the product better for the future.

My company, AccountingUsers, Inc., will still continue to support QuickBooks 2008 and Enterprise 8 as far as troubleshooting data issues goes.

But for keeping Intuit services connected with QuickBooks 2008, the sun has already gone down.