Maybe you’ve found yourself in this situation:

* You use QuickBooks 2012 and your client uses QuickBooks 2013. They want to send you their file for review.

* You have an old computer with an old version of QuickBooks on it, and you want to open up your current QB file on that computer.

* Your computer crashes and dies. You buy a new computer. When you go to install QuickBooks, you can only find your install disk for an earlier version. You install it anyway. You restore the backup you made to the cloud (whew!), but it was made by a later version of QuickBooks.

In all of these cases, you are trying to use an old version of QuickBooks to open a new file.

It doesn’t work.

QuickBooks is backwards compatible — it can open and convert files made from earlier versions — but it is not forwards compatible. If you think about it, there’s no way it could be. The version of QuickBooks you have installed on your system today doesn’t know what future releases of QuickBooks will be like, including their revised data structures.

You see, most new releases of QuickBooks come with internal changes to the database. That’s why the size of your QuickBooks file changes when you upgrade to a newer version. It almost always grows. And that’s why, when you upgrade your file to a newer version, QuickBooks gives you a warning that that change to your file is irrevocable.

So the bottom line is that, unfortunately, you can never use an older version to open a newer file. You can never open a QuickBooks 2013 file with QuickBooks 2012, as one example.

The solution is simple, if not free: get a version of QuickBooks that is equal to or later than the version of the QuickBooks file you are trying to open.

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116 thoughts on “Can Older Versions of QuickBooks Open Newer Versions’ Files?

  1. That is what I thought you were going to tell me…. 🙁 Next question then is – everywhere I look for QB Pro 2015 w/ 3 user lisc. is not available. Tried QB, Amazon etc and have hit road blocks everywhere….. any thoughts on this ?? Thank you so much for the quick reply. 🙂

    • Hmm, I don’t know about that. We don’t sell QuickBooks ourselves. I’d stay away from buying a used copy… Might have to go with 2016, or just get 3 individual licenses for 2015. Sorry no magic bullet there.

  2. My client uses 2012 Pro, The last version I have is 2010. I cannot find a copy of 2012 or 2013 anywhere as I recently read they are discontinued. How can I work on a client’s books if I cannot access with 2017 and can’t find 2012/2013?

    • Hi April,

      Well, you probably don’t want to hear this, but you’d probably both want to upgrade to the same currently supported version, either 2016 or 2017. Sorry no magic bullet. Thanks for your question.


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