I’ve talked to a lot of QuickBooks users who have told me their QuickBooks file is too big.

According to several Pro and Premier end users, they were told by different support resources that you should upgrade to QuickBooks Enterprise Edition if your company file size exceeds 150MB.

Whoa, hold on pardner!

Although Enterprise is designed to handle larger database sizes, it’s also several times more expensive than Pro or Premier, both for initial purchase and for annual upgrades. And the support plans cost much more.

I’m not sure where this perceived 150MB limit came from. The underlying database QuickBooks uses has not changed much since the 2006 version; the technical capacity of the database hasn’t changed recently. And most QuickBooks Pro and Premier users we talk to have file sizes of over 150MB.

Nonetheless, there is a point at which your file size gets too big and you notice slowdowns in QuickBooks. Or QuickBooks starts to crash. Whether that point is at 150MB, 300MB or 700MB…you tell me! Is QuickBooks working great for you, or are you starting to experience problems?

If your QBW file is getting too big to perform well, you do have options other than upgrading to Enterprise:

1. Condense/Cleanup your file. There is a built-in utility in QuickBooks that will reduce the file size to some extent. In many (most?) cases, however, the file size change resulting from this method is relatively small, or the command crashes or freezes.

2. Supercondense your file. This process removes old, closed transactions from your file. Optionally, old unused customers and/or items can be removed too. File sizes are typically reduced by 50-80%.

CASE STUDY/INTERVIEW: User with a Big, Slow QuickBooks File

The goal of these methods is to save money by avoiding software upgrades, but at the same time making QuickBooks perform better and with more stability.

By the way, you can check on the size of your company data file by pressing the F2 key in QuickBooks when you have your company open.

How big is your QuickBooks company file? Are you noticing any performance issues?

47 thoughts on “My QuickBooks file is HUGE! What Can I Do?

  1. Your article is incomplete and worthless if you do not give us insights on how to:
    Supercondense your file and
    Recreate your file
    Are there any tools on how to reduce the file size?

    Reply
  2. I am running QB Premiere 2010 and I do not believe the option to cleanup nor condense exists any longer. Our QB file is currently 550MB and growing by 2MB/day. We are forced to re-create our company file every 2 years and it is a VERY painful process. We have 420 memorized invoices which represent our customers standing orders (7 days x 60 customers/day). There is no way to copy these to the new QB file. As I said, VERY painful.

    Reply
    • Dave, the command in QB 2010 is under File / Utilities / Clean Up Company Data. That’s the new version of the old archive/condense command.

      Philippe, supercondensing is a proprietary process our company does to client data and is not something users have the tools to do…sorry. Now, recreating can be done on your own, as Dave said. More info. on that can be found here.

      Reply
  3. If your file is too big there are programs out there that condense – like winzip or other files that condense files. You don’t have to go and buy another QuickBooks program just because the file is huge. That’s a waste of money and simply ridiculous.

    Reply
  4. Catherine, if only it were that easy! Sure, you can winzip or winrar the QuickBooks file and it will make a compressed copy of the file. But QuickBooks wouldn’t be able to open that zip or rar file and use it. So zipping is fine for making backups, but doesn’t address the performance problems that QB has with big files. The working file (.QBW) would still be too big. Thanks for the comment.

    Reply
  5. We have a huge company file which can be very slow and also can not cope with doing the VAT on it as it crashes everytime we try and do it. The file I believe was started over 10 years ago so as you can imagine has A LOT of data in it. We are using QB Pro 2008 which does not have a clean up/ condense option on it – when asking QB why they said it was not reliable and sometimes data was incorrect when used. I have tried researching a lot on this for help, I look after the accounts for our company but am not a fully trained accountant. I have found companies who offer to start a new company file and transfer all your data over but this is expensive!! I know that you can import/export lots of data to a new company file but what I’d really like is clear instructions on how to start a new company file, and a check list of everything that needs to be done so nothing is missed out. And something that gives details as to how you get the balances across – we also have a lot of stock – how do you then get your stock levels and cost prices etc – all sorts of things like that. Any help on this would be really appreciated as we’ve been going around in circles for a while now with this and not got any further. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Hi Narelle! Good to see you here. That’s interesting that the UK version doesn’t have clean-up/condense. I found out yesterday that the same is true of the Canadian QB version. Perhaps QB doesn’t have it if there are non-US tax structures involved (VAT, GST, etc.)

      My accountant friend Scott Gregory wrote a paper on recreating a new company, and you can see it here. I also have a list of typical things we do when we recreate a company for someone. It’s a little long to post here, but I’ll email it to you.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Reply
  6. Cindy, I don’t know how the Online Edition handles large databases, except that in order to convert from a desktop edition like Pro or Premier to Online, your QBW file can’t be more than 120MB. We’ve recreated companies for people expressly for that purpose: to get the file size down enough so it could convert to Online Edition. I’d be interested to know what the list and transaction capacities are for QOE otherwise.

    Reply
  7. My QB Ent11 file is currently 1.6GB and contains nearly 7 years of data. It runs relatively smoothly with 5-6 users in the file at a time, but our hardware and network were recently upgraded for better performance. Intuit tech support reacts negatively when I tell them my file size, but I have been trying to hold on crossing my fingers that they will implement functionality in the software that allows for a genuine file size reduction with continued use of the same file.

    Given the current nightmare I am experiencing with runaway .tlg file growth, they appear to be going in the wrong direction. If Intuit does not produce a solution soon for these problems, I will have no choice but to start a new file…but that new file will likely not be in QuickBooks.

    Reply
  8. Paul, thanks for telling your story.

    I don’t know if Intuit is working on anything like that or not. The main problem, I understand, in having an archive/condense command that results in significant file size savings has to do with interdependencies in the transaction data. This is particularly so with inventory related transactions — QB looks at inventory transactions going way back to calculate inventory costs. So QB has to keep that old transaction data around.

    But of course it would be possible to code a (very complex) routine that could correctly summarize/condense old data. We’ll see.

    Reply
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  10. Seems like QB should be able to install a archive system where you could archive transactions before a set time period and then still having access to the archived transactions with a few extra clicks.

    Reply
  11. Joe, they *sort of* do…you can make a copy of your original file for historical reporting purposes. Then run the archive/condense/clean up command (name varies according to your version) as of a certain date, and it will archive it. Then you could open your old copy of your company whenever you want to run historical reports.

    Main problem with that is that in most versions, for most situations, the built-in archive command doesn’t really do a whole lot.

    Reply
  12. I have a client running Quickbooks Enterprise 11 that currently has a 48GB company file. No that’s not a typo – 48 Gigabytes. I’m scared to do anything with it at that size… Suggestions?

    Reply
  13. Hi John,

    Wow, well that’s a humongous file. I would strongly suggest that they talk to us about getting their file supercondensed (http://quickbooksusers.com/file-shrink.htm ). We’d probably want to create a test copy for them to see how small we could get it. A lot of times with really huge files like that, a lot of the space is taken up by the audit trail, and we can make the ending file really quite small.

    Thanks for the question.

    Reply
  14. Pingback: Interview/Case Study: User with Big, Slow QuickBooks File | QuickBooks and Your Business

  15. I am currently running Quickbooks Pro 2011. I have a 48 GB company file (as with the above entry, no this is not a typo). Other than logging on a bit slowly when initially opening up the company file, I have never noticed any appreciable slowing of the software. I have a two seat license and the company file resides on a server with the client side of the software installed on two other laptops. The file contains 9 years of company data. I back it up each night but have never had a system crash. I don’t know where the file size limitations being discussed here are coming from.

    Reply
  16. Hi JR,

    48GB…I think there must be some mistake. If you are looking at your F2 screen, 48GB would be 48000000KB. I’d wager that it’s maybe 480000KB (480MB). That would be quite large for a QB Pro file, but not unheard of. Let me know if I’m wrong, and thanks for the comment!

    Reply
  17. I just condensed my quickbooks file which had 10 years of data. It seemed to go okay but I just noticed that now I have a bunch of old inventory items that are showing -1 instead of 0. Any ideas on what happened? I’m really worried.

    Reply
  18. Cynthia, sounds like a bug to me — the condense command in QB calculated the quantities wrong. Did your inventory valuation and cost of goods sold get changed? If not, then maybe you could just go in and make a quantity-only adjustment on those items and it would be OK. You might try running Rebuild Company on your file too; maybe that would fix it.

    Reply
  19. Pingback: Condensing a Big QuickBooks File without Down Time | QuickBooks and Your Business

  20. In the “no, that’s not a typo” department, we’ve got a dozen or so company files, the largest of which is 471GB (YES, that’s 494,409,152KB). That’s some seriously bad handling of file compression!

    Anyhow, the databases are stable and not particularly slow. They are trouble to back up, though. We are shopping around for a third-party db compression took.

    Reply
  21. We tried to condense our QB file but it wouldn’t finalize, no matter how many years we tried to condense (1 or all 9) the process would not complete. It completed about 25% then just became unresponsive. We have QB 2008. Is this a problem with QB or our computer. We tried condensing the network file, then even moving the file to the desktop and it still would finalize. Any suggestions?

    Reply
  22. I’ve been using QuickBooks for 20 years now. Last year my file was too big and became corrupted. I was using QB Pro 2009 at the time. QB’s support sold me on Enterprise Solution. With buying that for a sale price of $1720 I was to receive rel.12 and next year (now) rel.13. Also they fixed my corrupted file. All went well all year until I tried to install the release 13 upgrade. It would not go on saying I was not in the support plan. I would need to pay another $950 for support for 2013! Thats out of the question. They also charge me $345 annually for payroll support. With taxes, I’m paying them over $1300 a year.

    Anyhow, enough background. I’d like to use QuickBooks Online Plus. I’m using it at another business I have and it’s great and far less expensive, especially if you pay the fee annually. My problem is with my database size. The most QB Online will import is 250 MB. My database is at 391 MB.

    Is there a way I can reduce the business sales activities to annual sums for say the first 5 or 10 years? I assume a summation would be smaller than all the details in my invoices. Also I would not like to loose any of the customer base.

    Anyy suggestions?

    Reply
  23. Rich,

    We can supercondense your file and create a QBOE export file for you that would be under 250MB. It would only contain the last few years of information. See http://quickbooksusers.com/file-shrink.htm for info.

    Otherwise, you could try running the condense command in your version 12 or 13 of Enterprise and attempt the same thing. Sometimes that works, sometimes not.

    Thanks for the question.

    Reply
  24. Great post. One thing though: sometimes a big data file is indicative of a bigger issue — the fact that it is time to move onto a bigger system. QB Enterprise is certainly an option, as is Blue Link ERP (an advanced inventory and accounting system that often replaces QuickBooks). The issue is that many companies struggle with QuickBooks for years when they should really be looking at the next step. Sometimes it is a rather dire situation by the time they finally give us a call.

    Reply
    • Hi David,

      Looks like you work for Blue Link. Yes, some businesses get to the point where they should consider upgrading to something more robust than Enterprise, but that is not a trivial undertaking. The costs in software, conversion, and training are significant when you make a jump like that. The point at which I usually recommend that QB users consider moving up to something else is when they need more than 25 users, or when their file is growing by 1.5GB per year or more because of high transaction volume. Or, when they need some industry-specific features that QB doesn’t have.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Reply
  25. Surely, the issue here is poorly designed software. There is no good reason the DB is taking up multiple megabytes let alone hundreds or even GB if it was planned accordingly. Its just text and some basic numbers. Ludicrous. The fact that it grows by megabytes when you do a simple operation like add a transaction is laughable. I’m stuck with it too. Luckily, there are alternatives when it gets too big.

    Reply
    • Hi Mike,

      I can see why you would think that a QuickBooks file should be small — information content-wise, it pretty much is text and numbers (as opposed to graphics or media content).

      The thing that pumps up the file size, however, is all the connections between all the text and all the numbers. There are a *lot* of connections, and also lots of information in the file that lets you sort the data quickly in lots of different ways. That’s why the files are big.

      We also do data consulting in the Sage world, and it’s the same story there. Accounting software files are just big files.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Reply
      • Hi Shannon,
        What for me is surprising is that these companies do not offer a version of their software that can use one (or more) of the popular Database Engines to store their data. For instance, they could easily give the option of using their proprietary “company file”, but also the option to connect to SQL Server Express, MySQL, etc. These DB engines are very robust and data does not get corrupted if well designed, and can grow without problem, can be easily backed up, are very fast, and all kind of benefits. Do you know if this may be a possibility with QB or some of the alternative accounting software? Thanks in advance!

        Reply
        • Hi German,

          There are some tools that allow you to export QuickBooks data into other databases, but there is no way to change the live database to anything other than database product that QuickBooks uses (Sybase).

          Thanks for your question.

          Reply
  26. ACCORDING TO MY EXPERIENCE, DON’T GET QB ENTERPRISE. IT IS EXPENSIVE AND WHEN YOU HAVE 10 USERS AND WANT TO HAVE 2 MORE, FOR INSTANCE, YOU HAVE TO GO TO THE NEXT LEVEL: YOU HAVE TO GO TO 30 USERS. IF YOU HAVE AN SMALL BUSINESS, YOU ARE NOT GROWING SO FAST THAT YOU WILL NEED TO ADD 20 USERS AT ONCE. ALSO, NEVER INSTALL NEW VERSIONS (2013). WAIT A COUPLE OF YEARS UNTIL THE FIX THE ISSUES. THE LAST TIME, WE INSTALL 2011 AND IT TOOK ALMOST HALF A YEAR TO TO KEEP RUNNING QB PROPERLY. SOMEBODY KNOWS ANOTHER COMPANY OTHER THAN QB? I WOULD APPRECIATE. THANKS.

    Reply
    • HI SHANNON:

      IF YOU AGREE, THEN WHAT QB SUGGESTS IN THIS CASE? IT IS TOO MUCH TO ASK FOR A LEVEL OF 15 OR 20 USERS? I BELIEVE IS NOT AND QB SHOULD DO EWVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO ADDRESS THIS ISSUE TO SERVE BETTER THEIR CUSTOMERS. IN MY OPINION, QB DOESN’T HAVE INTENTION TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM. VERY BAD. QB IS TO ARROGANT AND ABUSIVE.

      Reply
  27. Hi George,

    I don’t know what QB suggests. My company is a third party consulting company. You could contact Intuit (the makers of QuickBooks) with your suggestion. Maybe you could even work out some kind of special licensing agreement with them. Wouldn’t hurt to ask!

    Reply
  28. I use QB Enterprise and did a condense as suggested by a Reckon technical support person (can’t remember what issues we were having at the time). After doing that it created MAJOR issues. It corrupted nearly all of my older transactions which meant having to send the file to Reckon for correcting. It took them a week, left me with no database in the mean time and was a really stressful experience.
    After speaking with several other technicians they have said they believe the condensing tool within QB is a complete waste of time, creates more problems than it fixes and that it should be taken out of QB’s.
    So from my experience, I will NEVER use that tool again even if recommending by Reckon !!.
    (P.S. My file is now about 648mb so was probably around the 550 back then)

    Reply
  29. Pingback: Are you Pushing the 14,500 Limit in QuickBooks? « QuickBooks and Your Business

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