Occasionally, QuickBooks users find themselves in a Catch-22: They need to restore a backup in QuickBooks, but they can’t get QuickBooks itself to open.

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This can happen if your company file got damaged during your last session in the program. Perhaps the power went off and your computer turned off without closing out QuickBooks first, or there was a network hiccup, or some other kind of hardware problem.

So the next time you run QuickBooks, QuickBooks automatically tries to open that data file. But if the company file is corrupted enough that it can’t be opened, then QuickBooks will give an error and shut down. What do you do then?

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Here’s the workaround if this (unfortunately) happens to you: Simply hold the CTRL key down while you are launching QuickBooks. Doing so will bypass the automatic opening of your company file and put you at the No Company Open dialog box. You’ll then be able to click “Open or restore an existing company” and restore a good backup, if you have one. (If not, give us a call at 1-800-999-9209; we can probably repair your damaged file.)

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125 thoughts on “How to Open QuickBooks When It Won’t Open

  1. Please i have a backup from QBES 6.0 and would like to restore the backup into QB Premier 2014 but i wont work.

    Please help because we just purchased the QB2014 and it cannot be returned

  2. I had to reinstall Quickbooks Premier 2011 on a new computer when my hard disk died. I reinstalled from a download. I can open the sample company file, but when I try to restore from my backup (.qbb) file, the program immediately closes. Any suggestions would be appreciated. When my secretary called tech support, she got transferred to someone with heavily accented English who wanted us to buy a $499 support plan.,

    • Hi Richard,

      Was the backup QBB file on the hard drive that died? If so, it was probably corrupted as part of the hard drive failure. If you can find a QBB, QBW, or QBM file that was not on that hard drive, try restoring that. Thanks for the question.

      • Actually, the backup was on a USB drive which was not attached at the time of the failure. I have tried two backups (.qbb files) from that drive – we make one each month after billing – and both lead to the same problem – the program closes when I get to the point where it asks where to save the new .qbw file.

        • Are you restoring to the new hard drive? Or to the USB drive? QB files can’t really be reliably used directly from USBs…

          Otherwise, it sounds like the QBBs on the USBs are corrupted. Sometimes if backups are made directly to USBs they don’t get saved correctly. Do you have any QBW files that got copied to a USB or other drive?

          • Thanks. I am restoring to the new hard drive. Unfortunately, the only files i have are the QBBs on the USB drive. (I tried to first move one of the QBB files to the desktop and to restore from there, but it did not help.) We lost the only QBW, which was on the hard drive. Is there a tool or service for repairing a corrupt QBB file?

  3. When I try to login, the pop-up box states, “Login fail. This user is already logged in. Try logging in with a different user”. Then, when I try to login with the administrator’s login, it tells me that Multi-user mode needs to be turned off. I am the only one to access to Quickbooks and it is only the the current computer I use. What are my options for logging in without losing all of my data?

    • Hi Danielle,

      Have you tried something as simple as restarting the computer, then trying to log in as Admin? If you are the only user, then I can’t think of a reason you’d need to log in as anyone other than Admin. Thanks for the question.

      • Shannon,

        I did try restarting the computer to no avail. The owner of the company has an admin login but does not use it has been out of town for the past week. This issue came up today and that is the only reason I tried logging in as admin rather than under my own login. When I spoke with our owner he says he has not logged into Quickbooks in a very long time. I just don’t want to lose our company’s information which is seeming like a possibility.

        • Danielle,

          I don’t think that losing your data is likely, but I think that you do need to figure out how to log in as the admin. Your own user profile may be corrupt. If you don’t know the admin password for your file, you could try resetting it in QuickBooks. See https://support.quickbooks.intuit.com/support/pages/inproducthelp/core/qb2k12/contentpackage/core/passwords/nf_login.html?family=pro

          Before taking any action, however, I would be sure that I backed up the existing company file. I know you can’t do that in QuickBooks, but you could copy your files through Windows to another location.

          • Shannon,

            Thank you, I will try to back it up somehow. Unfortunately, even the Admin cannot login either as it says it is not set to multi-user.


        • Quickbooks is casing the user profile corruption. I have just installed 2016. During the installation process it deleted all my shortcuts from the start menu.

          Say OK….

          I run it. It runs for the first time. Then the second time I install the updates. Here you go… the fun begins… QB started crashing. Three hours on the phone with the tech support… All what i got is: “you arr the only one who is having this type of issue…”

          Isn’t that a shame?

  4. I’m having issues with QB 2015 Premier. It was working fine this morning then kicked me off saying it had an error. Since then I’ve been unable to login. It now doesn’t even go to the login screen. I have 4 users and they’re able to login, but I can’t from my computer, which hosts the company file. I’ve tried all of the recommendations I can find on QB website except their Component Repair Tool. I can’t find that anywhere to download. All “links” to the download don’t go anywhere. Do you have any recommendations or suggestions I could try before uninstalling and reinstalling? I hate to do that if it’s actually a windows error.

    • Hi Renetta,

      So when you are unable to log in, are you trying to log in as Admin or someone else? If you can’t log in as Admin, then your file has gotten corrupted and you’ll want to restore your last good backup. If you are logging in as a non-Admin, then try creating a new user for yourself with a slightly different name (e.g. Renetta -> Renetta1) and then log in with the new name. Thanks for the question.

  5. my quickbooks pro 2015 wont open, tried the control key trick and tried to restore a backup but the software still does not open the file and says there is an error and closes

  6. Help, I am taking an online quickbooks class. I can’t open the company files. I made too many and may have deleted them. It just says to register then goes to a blank page then back to the box with company files in them. It won’t open or restore company files

  7. Hi Jemma,

    If you click on File / Open Existing Companies and navigate to the folder where the companies are, you should be able to open them there. If you deleted them, then they won’t be there, of course. If you have backups, then you should be able to restore them…if you get errors, let me know what it says and maybe I can help. Thanks for the question.

  8. I keep trying to sign in for my QuickBooks on line account and when done on the computers it comes back session timed out. I can sign in on my phone. QuickBooks customer service can not help or solve the problem.. They say it is my computer but I have tried on three different ones and am using a fast network. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Steve,

      That’s a whole other problem than QB desktop not working, and I’m afraid I can’t help except for general advice like clearing your browser cookies for the QBO website, and clearing your browser cache. Surely someone at QBO support could help you if that doesn’t work?? Thanks for your question.

  9. I have been getting an update message on my quickbooks but my boss said not to update until he had installed an automatic backup in fear of losing our company information. It stalled on me a few a weeks ago and I contacted the customer service and they said it had been corrupted. I then had the other office personel shut down the computer and pull it back up and it all came back up again and worked. Today when I entered work it doesnt show any of my company files at all. What do I do. I pray they have not been lossed.

    • Hi Brandi,

      That sounds pretty stressful. Maybe you could just search the hard drive through Windows for *.QBW. That should pull up a list of all the QuickBooks company files on the drive, and you can see where they are located. Then, in QuickBooks, click on File / Open Existing Company and navigate to the folder where the files are, and you should be able to open them. Hopefully they are still out there. Thanks for your question.

  10. i have installed quickbooks and validated, i restored a back up and log in and before quickbooks is good and ready i get an error message 19844 80301. i have reinstalled, used a different install file, i have used quickbooks repair. i have deleted all intuit volders from my computer and reinstalled (clean install) and still quickbooks logs in half way and then gives me this error

  11. I am freaking out – trying to open my file and it is telling me that it has failed!! Having a heart attack, please help!

  12. I had to restore QuickBooks and I can open my main QuickBook account but I have a secondary account that won’t open I’ve tried to re-restore from a backup and it still wont work. Not sure what to do.

  13. Good Morning Mr. Tucker,
    I have updated the OS of my PC from 8 to 8.1, and now my QBooks will not open. When I was opening my QB, it asked me to update the QB file (due to update the OS of windows) which I agreed. The file is there and goes to all the way opening by asking my password, but then it fails. I have uninstall and reinstalled the QB few times, and it did not help.
    I even tried to open my QBB from my backup from three weeks ago, and it does not open. Please help. Thank You SO MUCH. Mason

  14. I can not even open the Sample from QB. It seems that Microsoft update of the OS has changed something that the QB has a problem with it. Also, what is the best way to cleanup (every history of the QB except the data file), so a new installation will be free of any previous track. Just thought if the new installation still using some parameter from the old installation and make the failing.

    Thanks Again, Mason

  15. Good Morning & Thank You for the info,
    I tried it yesterday (by looking to other people’s suggestions) and just tried it now, and it is failing again.
    I know that my backup from three weeks ago should work (if my latest QB file was affected by the update), but why I can not open any thing even a sample or my backup.
    I would appreciate for any other suggestions. THANKS BUNCH. Mason

  16. Hi,
    Just had a network drive die and am trying to see where I am with my latest backup. With that drive dead, it has been restored to a new network location. Everything seems fine, open the Company file, get my login, but it never opens. Tried it on two separate back ups from different points in time, same exact thing with both.

    The message I get is:
    We’re sorry. Quickbooks could not open your company file.

    We’ll try to fix the problem. Click start to begin.

    If the problem continues, contact support for assistance and report error codes: (-6144, -82).

    –> when i click start, I get a message:
    Intuit Quickbooks File Doctor
    Company file is used by another application

    Click OK

    Then I get the gather information screen and continue, but nothing ever happens.

    Any idea what is going on here? Could it be a rights issue, didn’t seem likely because I get into the directory to start the existing company.

    P.S. I can open a sample company….

  17. Last Friday we had a wind storm that cut off the power. The computer turned off, so I didn’t get to get out of QuikBooks. Today I tried to open QuikBooks and it won’t open. Now what do I do?

    Thanks Russell

  18. Hi there,

    I am running Quickbooks pro 2012 and was working fine now it is asking me to register.
    When I click the registration it says that action is available right now and then closes Quickbooks.

    What Can I do.


    • Hi Julie,

      So it was registered, but now it thinks it’s not? You might try uninstalling and reinstalling. Unfortunately, your version is too old now for Intuit to support it and help you. Thanks for the question.

  19. Reinstalled QuickBooks pro onto rebuilding of office PC (Windows 10,and pro 2012 ) I was able to log into file but won’t let me load a back up . I even let QB do updates and now I can’t even access the file I was on get error. saying I don’t have admin permissions to ,and worked fine before updates.

    • Hi Terry,

      Pro 2012 is not compatible with Windows 10, so that may be a big part of the problem. Are you able to open sample companies in QuickBooks, back them up, restore them? If not, then I’d think even more strongly that you have a Windows compatibility problem. Thanks for your question.

      • Well I able to open an out of date file but it won’t let me open the most recent back up to pull the info the he needs up. But I can open it in 2013 copy on my computer with no issues once it did updates. Is there a way to back it up and port it back to 2012 version. ?

  20. My company file crashed which is Intuit Quickbooks Interprise Solution 12.0 and its saying when i try to enter an invoice “this number is larger than the maximum allowed ” even it 1 dollar, also when i try to recieve a payment it says “this invalid character” and i obviously know that my payment is right and my invoice is used to be ok can you help me solve this

    • Hi Carl,

      The versions of QuickBooks that will work with Windows 10 are versions 2015 and 2016. So I think you’ll either need to upgrade QB, or find a machine with Vista on it to run your old version…sorry no magic bullet. Thanks for the question.

  21. I have quickbooks for nonprofits 2013. Windows did an update and now I get “unrecoverable” message when I try to open quickbooks. I tried to restore a previous backup, but message says I can’t do it that way, I have to open quickbooks first. Tried holding CTRL down when opening, tried reboot, tried restarting computer. Any ideas?


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