We seem to be getting more and more calls from people who have somehow lost their current data file and don’t have a very recent backup.

Some folks try retrieving their lost/deleted current file from their hard drive using special IT tools for that purpose. Most of the time, however, what they retrieve doesn’t actually have QuickBooks data in it — it just has random garbage. I don’t know why that is, but I can tell you that that’s the usual outcome.

But there is another approach that works quite well: Taking a current TLG file and using it to update an old backup and bring the data up to current.

What is a TLG file? It’s the Transaction Log file — an auxilliary data file that QuickBooks maintains along with your regular QBW file. The TLG file has the same file name, and lives in the same folder, as your main file. But it has a .TLG extension on it.

TLG files can be quite large. Sometimes they are bigger than the QBW file itself.

Normally you don’t think or care about the TLG file. But if you somehow lost your main QBW file, the humble TLG file can step up and be the hero of the day.

If you have an old backup and a current TLG file, we can take both files and essentially merge them together, giving you a complete, current data file.

The TLG file has to be current, intact, and have a create date that precedes the date of your old backup.

Just today, we returned some data to a QuickBooks Pro 2009 user with this scenario. His main file had been overwritten accidentally by the restoration of an old backup. We took the old backup, the current TLG file, merged the two, and returned to him a file that was complete and current.

The TLG file was the hero — without it, we wouldn’t have been able to do anything to help at all.

Whenever you make a verified backup in QuickBooks, QuickBooks blanks out the TLG file. I wish it didn’t do that, for the sake of scenarios like the above. If you verify separately, the TLG is left alone. If you backup without verifying, the TLG file is left alone. It’s just the combination of those processes that wipes it out.

That makes me think that smart users should verify their data separately, and when they make backups in QuickBooks, turn off the verify switch.

Have you ever lost your QuickBooks company file? Tell us about it.

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