I spoke with a number of people last week who were experiencing problems with the condense feature in QuickBooks, particularly in the Enterprise 12 version.

The most disconcerting report I heard was of the condense command significantly changing the balances of accounts. Other reported problems are software crashes — when the condense command cannot complete — and also of not-significant-enough file reduction.

We’ve tested the new condense features in QuickBooks 2012, and have reproduced some of these issues, and other QuickBooks consultants I know have done likewise.

Our supercondense process, which is separate from the condense feature in QuickBooks, is an alternative to the built-in condense (or in older versions, clean up) commands.

How has the condense feature in QuickBooks worked out for you? Let us know in this super-quick survey.

Sometimes it's best to just start overLaura Dion, one of our moderators at the QuickBooks Forums, responded to this forum question: What’s the easiest way to recreate a QuickBooks company that is an unreconciled, scrambled-eggs-mess of bookkeeping?

She describes here the steps to create a new company and bring in beginning-year balances and subsequent activity.

If the purpose of a potential file recreate is to deal with very large file size, then supercondensing the file is often the most cost-effective alternative.

People frequently ask, “How often should I upgrade QuickBooks?”

Here’s the flip side of the question: “How often should I upgrade my QuickBooks computer?” Let’s talk about that.

In the corporate IT world, there are policies for that. Many will replace machines after three years.

Small businesses could adopt that policy too and establish a product life cycle of somewhere between two to five years, and just plan for scheduled equipment replacement.

But a lot of small businesses want to squeeze as much life out of their equipment (computers or otherwise) as they can to help keep expenses down. What then?

Here are a few scenarios that could trigger a computer replacement decision:

* One obvious time to get a new computer is when the old one has failed, or seems about to fail. I had a Dell desktop that was starting, after a few years’ use, to whine sometimes. I’m not sure if it was the power supply or the hard drive, but it really didn’t matter. It wasn’t going to get better, only worse. And when it finally failed for good, it would be a bad day for me. So why go there? I replaced the machine.

Now some might say, “Why not just replace the power supply and/or hard drive?” Well, you could do that. I’ve replaced power supplies in machines back in the day, and it’s not a super big deal. But you have to make sure that you acquire the right kind, take your machine apart a little bit…it’s a multi-step hassle to me now. Replacing parts costs less, but it still costs. I’d rather invest that money in a new machine that will last longer.

* Another scenario for replacing a computer is when the hardware, operating system, and main application (QuickBooks!) start to get out of sync. For example, if you buy a new computer today with Windows 7 on it, and install QuickBooks 2012 on it, everything is perfectly synced up. QuickBooks will have been well-tested under that hardware platform, and it will have been well-tested under Windows 7. Should work great.

However, if you are trying to run a really old version of QuickBooks on a brand new computer, it might not work right. Likewise if you are trying to run a brand new version of QuickBooks on a really old computer. Running QuickBooks under versions of Windows that weren’t on the market when your version of QuickBooks came out might not work. Versions of hardware, Windows, and QuickBooks should all sync up for best results.

* You should also maybe replace your QuickBooks computer when it gets too slow. Now, if QuickBooks is running slow for you and your computer is pretty new, then it is probably because the data file has gotten really big and needs to be supercondensed.

But if your computer is pretty old, and your file is not all that large, and things are slow, then it’s time to consider making a hardware upgrade. When QuickBooks runs slow, it is more likely to experience data corruption. Why go there?

* If you run QuickBooks on a network, it’s a very good idea to have all your workstations approximately of the same vintage and computing power — even the same brand and model, if you can manage that. Likewise with your networking hardware. Dull uniformity is a beautiful thing in a network.

On the other hand, sometimes you can keep using your old computer for a long time and don’t need to change anything for years. If you are content to run QuickBooks 99 on a decade-old-but-still-going-strong machine running Windows XP (but please, not Win ME!) then more power to you. (Just make sure your backup system is a good one…but then that would be the case on any computer!)

CRAZY EXAMPLE: We do data support for an old discontinued non-Intuit accounting software product line called BPI Accounting. We mostly do file repair for people who have damaged BPI data. I got a call the other day from a lady who until now had been running her BPI accounting software on an APPLE IIe! As in, from 1983 of so. Unbelievable. But it had been working just fine for her until she accidentally formatted one of her program disk(ette)s. Oops! NOW it’s time to shop a new computer, and maybe a new version of QuickBooks!

What’s your approach? Do you have a rule of thumb to guide the timing of your computer purchases?

Posted in IT.

We interviewed a client, Beth Simons at Transmark, who had a large QuickBooks data file that we supercondensed for her. Here is her story:

AccountingUsers: Beth, thanks for talking with us. To get started, can you tell us a little about your company, and your role there?

Beth Simons: We consist of three companies: fuel transporters, logistics broker, and patent-pending upper coupler supplier. I am the accountant and office manager for all three.

AccountingUsers: What does your office use QuickBooks for?

Beth Simons: Having all three companies on QuickBooks Pro 2012, I use it for everything – from inventory in the upper coupler business to purchase orders for our vendors to estimates for our customers. It takes care of everything I need and has for 14 years!

AccountingUsers: What prompted you to contact us to get some help with your QuickBooks file?

Beth Simons: I receive a weekly newsletter from QuickBooks Expert Scott Gregory and his topic a few weeks ago hit me square in the face – “File Size Problems?” My fuel transportation company file was suffering from these problems: taking forever to run a report (one took six minutes!), random error messages causing QB to shut down on its own, and failure to backup properly. I found out the file size was 30% too large for QB to handle and one day it would crash and burn, making it impossible to open at all. Mr. Gregory highly recommended your service to help me out of this precarious situation.

AccountingUsers: What did you hope would result from getting your file supercondensed? Did you have any particular expectations?

Beth Simons: I wanted to be able to sleep at night again without the threat of my QB imploding! I wanted my QB to go back to the way it was years ago – fast, no errors, and seamless – I wanted it all.

AccountingUsers: So you uploaded your file to us to be supercondensed. What was the process like – the steps you took to send your file, the scheduling and turnaround, etc.?

Beth Simons: Your service took the time to explain every step of the process and what I could expect upon completion. I simply made a portable company file on Friday evening, uploaded it to your secure filebox and went home. I arrived in the office Monday morning and restored the new supercondensed file to my QB.

AccountingUsers: When you got your file back from us, what was it like? How did it perform?

Beth Simons: My QB was off and running – the report that took 6 minutes now ran in 40 seconds – amazing! My evening backups work every time now and no more error messages shutting my program down in the middle of my workday!

AccountingUsers: Anything else you’d like to share about your experience?

Beth Simons: I want to stress how important it is to keep an eye on your QB file size – just hit your F2 key to look at your data information. I spent one week researching all the different avenues of getting my file size back in control. The only real solution was that offered by your file-shrinking service. I cannot thank you enough!

AccountingUsers: Glad to help. Thanks for telling your story.