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.

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

Have you ever crashed Quickbooks? It ain’t pretty. Here is an often-ignored tip to avoid bringing down QuickBooks on your network. This is not a hardware-based tip, like plugging every network component into a battery backup unit.

This one requires cooperation from every one of your QuickBooks users.

TIP: Close QuickBooks whenever you are going to be gone from your computer for awhile.

Lunchtime, trip to the dentist time, staff meeting time, quitting time…get out of QuickBooks.

Why?  For some reason, if you leave your company open (but inactive) in QuickBooks for a long time, it tends to lose connection with your company data file. So when you come back to your computer and try to resume your work, QuickBooks will often be unresponsive. It may crash. You may get a “Connection Lost” message. You may get a fatal error code. None of these are good.

This has happened to ME…more than once. One time, it corrupted the file so that I had to restore my last good online backup. (Yes, fortunately, I had one.)

The simple prevention is to just log out of QuickBooks when you are going to walk away from your desk for awhile. When you get back, run QuickBooks again, open up your company, and get to work.

You would maybe think that you could leave QuickBooks running indefinitely across your network without problems. That is not so.

So this tip is simply one of making office policy: Before you walk away, close QuickBooks. Easy.

Have you ever lost connection in QuickBooks because of extended inactivity? What happened?

My yard was full of robins this morning. A post-Easter bunny rabbit was snuffling around and grazing on new spring growth. The aspen trees are about to display their caterpillar-like blooms. I love all that.

And I love it when QuickBooks seems responsive and energetic when I run a report or pull up a customer’s details. It’s like…springtime in accounting-land!

But what if QuickBooks seems caught in an icy grip? Has QuickBooks ever frozen up on you? It has to me.

There are a number of things that can make QuickBooks freeze.

Complex processes. If QuickBooks is working on something complicated, like rebuilding a file, creating a portable copy, or filtering a big report, it can seem to freeze up. You might see the anxiety-inducing “Not Responding” message at the top of your QuickBooks window.

This is a temporary freeze and nothing to worry about. It’s like a Colorado spring snowstorm. You wait it out; it will be over and gone soon. Go get a cup of coffee, and probably by the time you get back, QuickBooks will have finished its work. Everything will be back to normal.

I wish that the Intuit development team would put up a message in QuickBooks that would say “Processing, please stand by…” to lower the anxiety of bookkeepers staring at that “Not Responding” message…

RELATED: What to Do When QuickBooks Is (Not Responding)?

Big databases. Big files can make QuickBooks seem to freeze even for non-intensive tasks, like saving an invoice.

What is big, you ask? Well, for Pro files, maybe 200MB. For Premier files, perhaps 350MB. For Enterprise files, perhaps 1.5GB. But the proof is in the pudding: your file may be getting on the big side whenever it starts to become sluggish or unstable.

When your database gets large, then some of the processes in QuickBooks have to crank through a lot of information to deliver accounting results on your screen. The bigger the file, the more the information it has to sift through, and the more time it takes. That can make it seem to freeze.

The solution? You can upgrade to Enterprise, if you are using Pro or Premier now. Enterprise is more robust with larger files.

You can also put your QuickBooks files on a SSD drive, which reportedly can speed things up.

Or you can have your existing file supercondensed, which makes it smaller, faster, and more stable. You can try the built-in condense command too, but results vary there, so make sure to try it on a copy of your file first, not your live file.

RELATED: Interview/case study: User with Big, Slow QuickBooks File

Corrupt data. This one sounds scary. Who wants to contemplate the possibility that the lifeblood file of their business might get corrupted?

But QuickBooks files, like any complex file, can get corrupted by a number of things. When that happens, one of the symptoms may be that QuickBooks freezes when you try to do certain things. It may freeze when you try to go into a certain screen, or look at a particular piece of information.

RELATED: What Damages QuickBooks Data Files?

If Quickbooks freezes because of data corruption, the obvious solution is to restore your last good backup. Especially if not much work has been done in the file since that backup was made.

If that is not possible, then data repair services are available, and downtime should be minimal.

RELATED: Can a Corrupted QuickBooks File Be Recovered?

Has QuickBooks ever frozen up for you? How did you thaw it out?