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.

Here’s a neat opportunity: Learn the inventory part of QuickBooks and get a chance to win a free copy of QuickBooks Premier 2012 too.

Our online training seminar, scheduled for March 22, 2012, will help you increase your understanding and confidence with the inventory functions in QuickBooks. Learn to set up items and track inventory activity from purchase orders through sales. Get a handle on the reports that will help you manage your inventory effectively. Find out how to troubleshoot problems in QuickBooks inventory.

At the end of the seminar, we’ll be drawing a name from among those who have registered. The winner will get a free copy of QuickBooks Premier 2012 — a $400 value.

Get details and register here.

Upgrading your version of QuickBooks is supposed to be easy: You install the new software, open your QuickBooks company file, and voila! Your data converts to the the new version, and you carry on.

But sometimes you hit a bump. You open your data file with the new version and you get an error. Sometimes it says you have to rebuild your file first — but it fails the rebuild. Or sometimes it just freezes up and never completes the upgrade process.

That’s a tough place to be. Sometimes your QuickBooks data file appears to be healthy in your day-to-day use of it, but there is a data integrity issue under the surface that isn’t revealed until you try to upgrade it.

If you find yourself in that spot, you have a couple of options.

1. You can just keep using the version of QuickBooks you were using before. This is obviously not a great option, because there was a reason that you are trying to upgrade — you want some of the new version’s features, or you’re trying to maintain payroll support, etc. So not upgrading has some disadvantage for you. But this is the cheapest alternative. If you were not having problems in the previous version, you can probably keep using that version for awhile (or maybe even indefinitely) without encountering data errors. You’ll have to restore a backup of your company to use under your prior version; the semi-converted copy of your file won’t be usable by either version.

2. You can get your data repaired and converted. This can be done overnight or over a weekend, so there shouldn’t be too much downtime for you. There have only been a couple of instances over the years where we couldn’t correct the data problem and convert the file.

Most upgrades have tweaks to the underlying database structure, which is why the file has to be upgraded in the first place. Does the new version have new features in it? Then there are new places for data in the file to support those features. The underlying structure has to be modified to account for the changes. Sometimes the version of Sybase (the underlying database QuickBooks uses) changes, and so the database has to be updated.

Hopefully, in your case, everything will update just fine. But if you are reading this blog post to its end, there’s a pretty good chance everything is not fine in your situation. Give us a call for options.

I hunted around to find you the best articles and short videos on QuickBooks 2012′s new features. Enjoy.

Charlie Russell / Sleeter

Excel Integration Improvements
Improvements for Accounting Professionals
Miscellaneous new features
Inventory Control Center (Premier and Enterprise 12)
Enhanced Inventory Receiving (Enterprise 12)
Automatic Cost and Price Updates (Enterprise 12)

Cordasco & Company P.C.
Document Management Changes in 2012

Laura Madeira
Notable New Features in 2012
Accountant Center (Video)
QuickBooks Accountant 2012 – File Manager (Video)
QuickBooks Accountant 2012 – Starter Copy (Video)

Nancy Smyth / Sunburst Software
Batch Timesheets (Video)

Reesa McKenzie
QuickBooks 2012 Accountant Statement Writer (Video)

AppleInsider Forum
New Features for QuickBooks for Mac 2012
More on QuickBooks for Mac 2012

Have you seen other good content online that highlights new features in QuickBooks 2012?

Favorite things about QuickBooks 2012QuickBooks 2012 editions just went on sale to the public. While the list of new features is perhaps not as extensive as in the 2010 and 2011 upgrades, there are still some things that might be quite helpful to you, depending on how you use QuickBooks:

* Better interfacing with Excel. If you export a report to Excel and then run the report again with new information, you can now update that previously created worksheet, instead of having to recreate it from scratch. This is a big help if you did some reformatting in the worksheet — you won’t have to redo that reformatting work.

* Document management. Online document management has been available to QuickBooks users (for a fee) over the last couple of versions. But with the 2012 edition, local document management is built in (the documents are saved on your computer, instead of the cloud). Best of all, it is free. So you can easily attach scans of purchase orders, bills, etc. to corresponding transactions in your QuickBooks file. QuickBooks will keep these documents in a folder called Attach under your QuickBooks file. Nice!

* Lead Center. If you want to manage leads — people who aren’t customers yet — you can add them here and convert them to customers later. This lets you keep your customer list cleaner.

* Lots of Inventory improvements in Enterprise 12: A new Inventory Center, similar to the Customer and Vendor centers. Support for FIFO costing. Serial numbers. Lot tracking. Automatic price increases. Product images. Expanded number of price levels.

Have you tried out QuickBooks 2012 yet? What do you like best about it?

Getting ready to install a newer version of QuickBooks? Take a few minutes to prepare and you might save yourself some grief.

* Pick a good time. The installation will take a little bit of time, as well the data conversion when you first open your company file under the new version. Don’t do this right before your employees will be expecting their payroll to be run, etc. Pick a “down time” so that if there are any complications, it won’t result in an immediate crisis.

* If you are “downgrading as you upgrade” (moving from Enterprise 10 to Premier 2012, for example), coordinate the file conversion in advance to minimize or eliminate downtime.

* Set a Restore Point in Windows. It’s just good practice to do this before installing or uninstalling software. If for some reason you need to revert your Windows settings to their pre-install condition, you’ll have that option.

* Check your disk space, and defrag your hard drive. Computers have monstrously big hard drives on them these days, but even so, you can fill them up after a while. If your computer is a bit old, make sure you have several GBs of free space on your computer before installing a new version of QuickBooks. Simply click Start / My Computer, and then right click on your C: local drive to see the properties of your drive. If it has been a long time since you defragmented your hard drive, you can click the Tools tab and see an option to defragment your drive. That can speed everything up, including your install time.

* Test your company data. Successfully upgrading your QuickBooks company file to a higher version will require that the file’s data integrity is good. Upgrading sometimes brings data integrity problems to the surface — problems that are not evident in your day to day use of QuickBooks. The upgrade process will probably verify your company, but you don’t want surprises. So verify and rebuild your company in QuickBooks before upgrading to make sure that the data is in ready condition. If there are problems, your file can be repaired and converted for you.

* Backup your company data. QuickBooks will force you to do this when you first try to open your company under the new version, but it’s important that you do it correctly.

You can back up your data to your local drive or to an online resource like IDrive or Global DataVault where your files are not subject to localized problems on your system or office.

I’ve always found it helpful to name your backup something like “pre-upgrade backup” with today’s date as part of the backup name. If something goes awry with the upgrade data process, it’s much better to have a pre-converted backup available than otherwise. It’s also great in those circumstances to know exactly which backup is the last pre-converted one. This backup should be kept around for awhile, even after a successful upgrade.

* Have your install codes ready. Hopefully you will not have any issues registering your product, but if you do, have your software install codes at your fingertips so your time on the phone with support will be as short and painless as possible.

Anyone have any other suggestions for prepping an upgrade?